OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Ryan, Obama clash over Medicare

Lawsuit advances: There didn’t seem to be a clear outlook following oral arguments Wednesday in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard one of the lawsuits challenging that the healthcare law’s coverage mandate is unconstitutional. The consensus after the last appeals court hearing seemed to be that Democrats were in a good position, but the response to the 6th Circuit arguments was more muted.

Ron Pollack, executive director of the pro-reform group Families USA, said he was encouraged because the court spent a considerable amount of time asking whether one of the plaintiffs has the right to sue.

The Justice Department says the plaintiff doesn’t have standing to bring the suit because she has employer-sponsored insurance, and wants the appellate panel to send the case back to a lower court. Healthwatch has the backstory.

Teaching hospitals concerned: The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) raised concerns with the Institute of Medicine's recommendation to rely on Bureau of Labor Statistics data for hospital payments.

"We remain concerned that the recommendation to use Bureau of Labor Statistics data for the purposes of constructing the hospital wage index will fail to include important factors that affect teaching hospitals," AAMC President and CEO Darrell Kirch said in a statement. "Currently, this information can only be derived from data available in Medicare cost reports."

Geographic variations: The Institute of Medicine said Wednesday that Congress and the administration should standardize the labor markets and the wage and benefits indexes it uses when adjusting Medicare payments for hospitals and physicians based on local costs. Healthwatch's Julian Pecquet has the story.

Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce BraleyTen years later, House Dems reunite and look forward Trump: Ernst wanted 'more seasoning' before entertaining VP offer Criminal sentencing bill tests McConnell-Grassley relationship MORE (D-Iowa), a co-founder of the House Quality Care Coalition and one of two lawmakers (along with Rep. Allyson Schwartz) to address the IOM committee, applauded the recommendations.

"This is an important step towards permanently fixing geographic disparities in health care, and ensuring access to care for Iowa seniors," Braley told The Hill via email. "While I would have preferred the complete study at this time, this preliminary report is a positive step, and should help improve the accuracy of Medicare reimbursements. I'm pleased to see that, with my help, this is moving towards full implementation. And I look forward to finally ending the disparities that have unfairly penalized Iowa providers and seniors for decades."

Thursday’s agenda

It’ll be a busy day on Capitol Hill. In the morning, the House Ways and Means Social Security subcommittee holds a hearing on the Social Security trustees’ report. And the healthcare panel of the House Small Business Committee has a hearing scheduled on health information technology.

Separately, Medicare administrator Don Berwick and former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) will discuss health IT at an event sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

In the afternoon, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee holds a hearing on the Food and Drug Administration’s process for approving medical devices. And the Energy and Commerce Committee holds a hearing on the regulatory impact of the healthcare law.

Reading list

Suzy Khimm asks House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about the low enrollment in healthcare reform's high-risk insurance pools.

Colorado is the eighth state to establish a health insurance exchange, as mandated by the healthcare law, the AP reports.

The fertility doctor who treated the "Octomom" has lost his medical license, according to the Los Angeles Times.