OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Medicare fight continues

Indiana showdown: Planned Parenthood warned Gov. Mitch Daniels that women across the country won't forgive him for signing legislation that defunds the organization should he run for president. The group filed an injunction Tuesday to block the law from going into effect.

"Clearly, Governor Daniels, who has called for a truce on social issues, would rather play politics with women's health than show leadership and fiscal responsibility by rejecting a bill that will ultimately cost the state millions in federal funding," Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said in a statement. "If Governor Daniels chooses to run for president, women across this country will not forget that he failed them when they needed him."

Medicaid math: A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation says up to 44 million people could lose their coverage under Republican proposals to convert federal Medicaid funding into block grants for the states. The change would lead to major cuts in doctors’ payments and states would drop sick patients from their Medicaid rolls, the study said. Read the Healthwatch story.

Lawsuit watch: The Obama administration’s top litigator defended the healthcare reform law before a federal court on Tuesday. Requiring most Americans to buy health insurance is well within Congress’s power to regulate commerce, Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal said. 

Politics of repeal: Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist urged the House GOP to force a vote on every tax and fee included in the new healthcare law. He said there are 20 such taxes — enough for 20 freshman Republicans to each pick one and “get famous” by championing its repeal. Healthwatch’s Julian Pecquet has the story.


Wednesday's agenda:

Malpractice bill on deck: The House Energy and Commerce Committee is scheduled to finish marking up a medical malpractice bill Wednesday. The bill would cap non-economic damages at $250,000 and put other restrictions on patients’ ability to sue their doctors. The committee got members’ opening statements out of the way Tuesday and will reconvene in the morning for amendments and a vote.

Doctors want it: The American Medical Association strongly supports the malpractice bill and urged lawmakers to support it ahead of Wednesday’s vote. The AMA launched a new print ad Tuesday citing a Congressional Budget Office estimate that tort reform would save the government $54 billion over 10 years.

Medicaid movement: After the malpractice markup, the Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee will begin considering the “State Flexibility Act” — a bill to repeal provisions of healthcare reform that block states from cutting Medicaid eligibility before 2014. Wednesday will be devoted to opening statements, with votes following on Thursday.

Notably, the bill is starting out in the Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee. Committee Democrats complained earlier in the week about the number of times the GOP majority has bypassed subcommittees and gone straight to a full-committee markup.

Dual eligibles: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will announce new initiatives to help states save money with the 9 million low-income seniors and people with disabilities who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. 

It's an emergency: The Senate HELP Committee tackles ways to lower healthcare costs and provide better care by diverting patients away from emergency rooms.

Trip to the ATM: The Department of Defense defends its healthcare budget before House appropriators, while the Senate Appropriations Health panel reviews the National Institutes of Health's FY 2012  sign into law legislation creating a state health insurance exchange, as called for by the reform law.

Health challenge, Florida version: Amicus briefs are due in the appeal of the 26-state challenge to the healthcare reform law.


Reading list: 

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) is locked in battle with the nursing-home industry over $427 million in proposed Medicaid cuts, reports the Columbus Dispatch.

Boston Scientific chief executive J. Raymond Elliott is resigning, The New York Times reports.


What you might have missed:

The Heritage Foundation budget proposal cuts benefits for seniors currently on Medicare.

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney plans a major healthcare speech on Thursday.

The Obama administration touts the insurance benefits of the healthcare reform law.


Comments / complaints / suggestions? Please let us know:

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

Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351

Follow us on Twitter @hillhealthwatch