OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Obama unveils new reforms for Medicare, Medicaid

It's all about Ryan: House Democrats unveiled a budget Wednesday whose main contribution to the healthcare debate is to repudiate Ryan's proposals to use block grants for Medicaid and turn Medicare into a type of voucher program. Erik Wasson has the story.

Progressives have a plan, too: Lost in the deficit debate is House progressives' own proposal, which was formally unveiled Wednesday. The plan aims to balance the budget within a decade, according to a "score" by the liberal Economic Policy Institute.

The healthcare savings over that timespan, EPI said, would be roughly $300 billion, largely from the creation of a public insurance option and by empowering Medicare to negotiate drug prices for seniors.

Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs said the Progressive Caucus's proposal is "a lot more serious than anything else on the table," including Obama's 2012 budget.

Veto threat: The House voted 236-183 Wednesday to defund the healthcare reform law's prevention efforts shortly after the White House put out a statement of administration policy warning that the president would veto the legislation. Democrats were forced to agree to votes on defunding the $18 billion Prevention and Public Health Fund and Planned Parenthood as part of the budget deal struck Friday evening.

Pill-popping gets personal: Rep. Mary Bono Mack on Thursday will use her seat atop the Energy and Commerce Committee's Commerce panel to draw attention to an issue that has directly affected her own family. The Hill sat down with the congresswoman ahead of her hearing.

The California Republican is holding a massive hearing — no fewer than 17 witnesses are invited, including federal officials and two governors — on prescription drug abuse, the second leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Bono Mack's own son, Chesare, came close to suffering a similar fate when he became addicted to OxyContin as a teenager after the death of his father, musician and congressman Sonny Bono. Read the committee memo here. 

New Hampshire decision delayed: The Obama administration will take up to one extra month to decide whether New Hampshire should get a waiver on the healthcare reform law's medical loss ratio requirement. A decision was due Thursday.


Thursday's agenda:

Medical device approvals questioned: The House Oversight Health subcommittee will grill the Food and Drug Administration about its approval process for medical devices in order to "study the FDA's inconsistent application of reasonable standards for safety and effectiveness in approving medical devices, and the impact it has on American job creators." The hearing comes as the FDA reviews its approval process for low-risk devices.

New group to fight for healthcare reform law: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) and former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) will pair up with Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress to announce the creation of a new healthcare organization. The group says it plans to undertake "an aggressive campaign educating the American people about the Affordable Care Act’s life-saving consumer and patient protections that are already benefiting millions of Americans and protecting these rights from being taken take away by repealing or defunding the law."


Reading list:

The Senate Special Committee on Aging heard horror stories about defective medical devices approved by the Food and Drug Administration, MassDevice reports.


Lobbying registrations (since Monday):

— GSP Consulting Corp. / Lipella Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NIH funding)

— GSP Consulting Corp. / McGuire Memorial Foundation (CMS reimbursements for school for disabled youth and adults)

— Liberty Square Group / Tufts Health Care Institute (Training and distance learning related to healthcare quality and accountable care organizations)

— Madison Associates / AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AIDS research funding)

— Ogilvy Government Relations / Consumer Healthcare Products Association (Over-the-counter drug tax issues)

— Venn Strategies / Liberty Dialysis (Medicare payment reforms)

— B&D Consulting / Leavitt Partners, on behalf of Tru Hearing (Regulation of health plan value-added service-provider marketing arrangements)


What you might have missed on Healthwatch:

The White House got blasted for supporting Planned Parenthood but caving on health center funding.


Comments / complaints / suggestions? Please let us know:

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