OVERNIGHT HEALTH: With judge's order, implementation goes forward


Everyone finds something to like: The National Federation of Independent Business, which joined the 26 states in the lawsuit, said it was glad Vinson ordered an expedited review. The pro-reform Families USA said Vinson was right now to stop the law's implementation.

The conservative Heritage Foundation labeled the decision a "serious strategic loss" for the administration.

"Judge Vinson has challenged the federal government to speed up the appeals process, which would normally take much longer, forcing the hand of the Administration, which would like to slow down the litigation through questionably legal tactics if it can get away with it so it can implement as much of Obamacare as possible before it gets to the Supreme Court," Heritage said on its blog.

GOP wants to remove barrier to starving health reform: House Republicans will hold hearings next week to help craft legislation that would make it possible to defund healthcare reform, Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) said Thursday.

The chairman of the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee said he wants to redesignate healthcare reform spending so that it's discretionary rather than mandatory. He also said the panel intends to take up legislation allowing states to cut their Medicaid rolls and get federal block grants to run the program as they see fit.

"We're going to move to try to make mandatory spending discretionary," Pitts told reporters after a hearing on the president's 2012 budget proposal. "We'd like to make them authorizations."

The panel will also hold a field hearing in Harrisburg, Pa., with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R). The hearing, scheduled for the week of March 21, will include state Medicaid officials. The Hill's Julian Pecquet has the story.

Anti-abortion legislation clears panel: Le
gislation that would eliminate the tax breaks for healthcare plans that cover abortions sailed through the House Judiciary Committee, 23-14. Democrats and Republicans traded barbs about the full impact of the legislation.

"This bill seeks to expand restrictions in current law and to impose an unprecedented penalty — by use of the tax code — on privately funded healthcare choices made by women and their families," said John Conyers (D-Mich.), the panel's top Democrat "Its goal — and effect, if ever enacted — is to make abortion and coverage for abortion services completely unavailable."

Chairman Lamar Smith disagreed.

"H.R. 3 does not ban abortion," he said. "It also does not restrict abortions, or abortion coverage in healthcare plans, as long as those abortions or plans use only private or state funds."

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (D-N.J.), is expected to pass the full House but not the Senate.

Anti-abortion group plans tour: The Susan B. Anthony List announced it will make a congressional district tour next week to thank/condemn members for their votes on Rep. Mike Pence's (R-Ind.) amendment banning federal funds for Planned Parenthood. Those getting the group's praises: Reps. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.), Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Frank Guinta (R-N.H.), Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) and Joe Walsh (R-Ill.). Those not: Reps. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Bill Owens (D-N.Y.).

1099 saga goes on: Seventy-six Democrats joined all House Republicans in approving repeal of the reform law's 1099 reporting requirement on Thursday, but the big question is will the Senate and White House back the bill's funding mechanism? House Democratic leadership and the White House have already labeled the GOP bill a tax hike on the middle class. The Hill's Jason Millman has the story.

WH health staffer back to HHS: Yvette Fontenot, with her White House detail coming to an end, is returning to The Department of Health and Human Services to serve as deputy director of the Office of Health Reform.

Friday agenda:

Staffers get briefed on global health: The Kaiser Family Foundation briefs congressional staffers on U.S. global health programs in developing countries. The House briefing is hosted by Reps. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), the co-founder of the Global Health Caucus; on the Senate side, Sens. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) do the hosting.

Staffers who want to attend can contact the Kaiser Family Foundation at (202) 347-5270.


Reading List:

Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will push Medicare vouchers in his upcoming budget proposal, Kaiser Health News reports.

Tea Party Caucus leader Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) will insist that the next long-term continuing resolution defunds healthcare reform, the MinnPost reports.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) is considering a Medicaid enrollment freeze, the Arizona Republic reports.

Maryland state lawmakers are trying to pass single-payer healthcare reform, the Baltimore Sun reports.

What you might have missed on Healthwatch:

Forty-two senators wrote to President Obama objecting to his nomination of Donald Berwick to run Medicare.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) said he will drop a bill that funds training for resident pediatricians at children's hospitals after Obama's 2012 budget called for the elimination of $300 million in annual appropriations for graduate medical education programs.

Fewer than one in five say they support Medicare cuts to rein in the federal budget deficit, a new poll finds.

A progressive group launched a billboard campaign in the districts of three GOP lawmakers, urging them to oppose Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) Medicare voucher plan. 

Comments / complaints / suggestions?

Please let us know:

Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com / 202-628-8527

Jason Millman: jmillman@thehill.com / 202-628-8351