This week: Defunding battle begins

A week after Republican governors came to Washington asking for relief from their Medicaid obligations, Pitts said the panel will soon take up legislation that allows states to cut their Medicaid rolls and apply for block grants. The block grant program has been gaining traction among Republican governors as they look for more flexibility to cut their Medicaid budgets, but the administration already voiced its disapproval of the idea.
 
Implementation of the healthcare reform law will continue after a federal judge in Florida this week stayed his decision finding the law unconstitutional. However, under the terms of the stay, the administration will have to file a request for an expedited appeal this week. The administration will most likely appeal the decision to the 11th Circuit, upsetting Republicans who want the challenges fast-tracked to the Supreme Court.
 
Starting Tuesday, the health insurance lobby holds a three-day policy forum that also looks at state health insurance exchanges opening in 2014. The America’s Health Insurance Plans conference on Tuesday features Medicare chief Don Berwick and Steve Larsen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. Joel Ario, who heads the exchanges for the Department of Health and Human Services, will speak to the conference Wednesday.
 
The co-chairmen of last year’s presidential fiscal commission, which called healthcare spending the nation’s top fiscal challenge, launch a new project on Tuesday promoting bipartisan action on the deficit and debt. Joining Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson for the Tuesday launch announcement will be Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).
 
President Clinton, who established a foundation six years ago to fight childhood obesity, will address the School Nutrition Association's legislative action conference on Monday.