OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Picking on the AARP

Stop implementation, groups say: A group of more than 250 trade associations are backing a senator’s plan to halt healthcare reform implementation until legal challenges are completely settled. 

The StartOver! Coalition, which includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, says it is “prudent” to block implementation efforts as the courts hash out the constitutionality of healthcare reform. 

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) is sponsoring an amendment to a small-business bill that would halt the law’s implementation until the courts have their final say; she has 36 GOP senators on board. Healthwatch's Jason Millman has the story.

Abortion ads hit home: The Susan B. Anthony List launched a radio ad in the D.C. area claiming that Planned Parenthood clinics must meet an abortion quota and don't offer the preventive care services they say they do. The ad aims to put pressure on House Republicans as they debate how far to push their demand for a rider cutting all funding for the clinics in the stopgap budget for the rest of the year.

Planned Parenthood called the ads "entirely false and baseless."

Bye-bye IPAB: Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) reintroduced their bill to strike the healthcare reform law's Independent Payment Advisory Board, tasked with recommending cuts to Medicare payments if the program's costs grow too fast. Similar House legislation has a handful of Democratic co-sponsors.

Paging all docs: The House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a bipartisan letter to 51 medical associations Monday seeking their feedback on how to improve Medicare payments. President Obama's 2012 budget proposes a two-year "fix" to the unsustainable payment formula, but the Congressional Budget Office projects a 10-year fix would cost $379.9 billion.

Waiver madness: Capitalizing on the thousand-plus waivers the Obama administration has granted for a healthcare reform provision, a coalition of anti-reform groups are launching a website that encourages like-minded individuals to ask for an exemption from the individual mandate, employer mandate and other pieces the groups hate. The site, wheresmywaiver.com, is backed by Let Freedom Ring USA, Americans for Tax Reform, 60 Plus, Heritage Action and more.

Progressives claim hypocrisy on research funding: Americans United for Change is calling out Republican lawmakers for sponsoring medical research bills while voting for a continuing resolution that cuts funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The group is targeting "two-faced" Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Leonard Lance (N.J.) and Dave Reichert (Wash.) with Facebook ads for sponsoring a bill that would create a national Pancreatic Cancer Initiative. The group is also targeting Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) for co-sponsoring a bill boosting awareness and treatment of heart disease and stroke in women. Here's the Fitzpatrick ad.


Wednesday's agenda:

Healthcare reform good, bad — never indifferent: Dueling experts testify before the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee about "The True Cost of PPACA: Effects on the Budget and Jobs." The show stars Doug Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, and Rick Foster, Medicare actuary.

Sebelius talks numbers: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who by now must be beyond tired of visiting Capitol Hill, testifies before the Senate Appropriations Health subcommittee in the morning. The topic is President Obama's HHS budget request for FY 2012, but questions about healthcare reform seem to pop up wherever Sebelius goes these days.

You gonna eat that? The Food and Drug Administration's food advisory committee debates whether scientific research suggests a link between omnipresent food additives and changes to children's behavior.

HHS meets with innovators: Federal regulators start a two-day meeting with representatives of the seven states that have been awarded Early Innovator Grants to set up health insurance exchanges. Kansas, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Wisconsin and a consortium of New England states centered around the University of Massachusetts Medical School were awarded $241 million last month.

The meeting's purpose is to help determine how states should spend the money and what deadlines they'll have. HHS wants the states to have their plans in place by a certain time so other states can follow their lead, but there's no set deadline yet. The meetings are closed to the press.

No silver bullet here: The consumer advocacy group Public Citizen releases a new white paper claiming to debunk the idea that the threat of lawsuits is driving doctors and hospitals to order costly and useless tests and procedures to cover their rear. Republicans have made "defensive medicine" a centerpiece of their strategy to pass medical malpractice legislation limiting non-economic damages.


Reading list:

The feds are releasing more data on kidney dialysis clinics, sparked in part by dogged reporting by ProPublica.

Massachusetts's pool for uncompensated care is riddled with fraud, the Boston Herald reports

The healthcare economist who designed Massachusetts's reform says Mitt Romney's opposition to the federal reform is all politics, the Huffington Post writes.

U.S. News & World Report ranks the best hospitals by metro area. 

Colorado business groups are backing efforts to create a state-run health exchange, the Denver Business Journal reports

A Food and Drug Administration chemist was charged with insider trading, The Washington Post writes


What you might have missed on Healthwatch:

Bipartisan senators are fighting against cuts to home healthcare.

A federal official acknowledged employers may end up dumping workers into state health insurance exchanges, but argues that may not be a bad thing.


Comments / complaints / suggestions? Please let us know:

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

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