OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Romney in the spotlight

The House GOP’s proposals would push roughly 1.7 million children out of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Most of those children would regain coverage, many of them through the new health insurance exchanges that are slated to be in place in 2014. But advocates say that coverage isn’t as tailored to kids’ needs — or as efficient — as Medicaid.

Healthwatch has more.

More Medicaid messaging: Republican governors didn’t specifically call for Medicaid block grants as they laid out “guiding principles” for the program in a letter to Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchHatch urged Trump to ‘speak clearly’ against hate groups The Memo: Trump tries to quiet race storm Senators push FTC to finalize changes to contact lens rule MORE (R-Utah) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.). The letter uses some of the same rhetoric that surrounds the block-grant proposal as well as a bill to let states cut eligibility before 2014. But it doesn’t draw a line in the sand on specific policies.

“States and territories should also have the opportunity to innovate by using flexible, accountable financing mechanisms that are transparent and that hold states accountable for efficiency and quality healthcare,” the letter says. “Such mechanisms may include a block grant, a capped allotment outside of a waiver, or other accountable and transparent financing approaches.”

Read the letter here.

McKinsey madness: It was clear as soon as McKinsey & Co. released its report on the new healthcare law that Republicans were going to have a field day with the findings. The study, released last week, said 30 percent of employers will quit offering health benefits because of the new law’s mandates.

What remains unclear, though, is how McKinsey arrived at that estimate. The consulting firm has refused to release its methodology, and people familiar with the work have reportedly said it doesn’t measure up to the firm’s usual standards. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) defended the study Monday by tying it to HHS’s regulation on “grandfathered” plans. A grandfathered plan is exempt from many of the new law’s requirements, but plans lose their grandfathered status if they make major changes to the existing plan.

HHS has said that more than half of all plans will lose their grandfathered status by 2013, which Stearns cited as supporting evidence for McKinsey’s findings. But the two are different: A company whose plan loses its grandfathered status doesn’t have to quit offering healthcare benefits — it simply has to find a plan that complies with the new law.

Healthwatch has the story.

Don’t look back: Stearns made that comparison during a hearing about HHS’ views on regulatory reform. The department said it’s complying with President Obama’s directive to review potentially burdensome regulations but the review won’t lead it to revisit rules that implement the healthcare law.

Those rules are new, and therefore not redundant, and were reviewed for their economic impact as they were drafted, according to Sherry Glied, assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at HHS.

Healthwatch has more from the hearing.

Tuesday’s agenda:
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society kicks off a health information technology conference. Rep. Michael BurgessMichael BurgessMedicaid efficiency is needed now, more than ever In the politics of healthcare reform, past is prologue New hope for ObamaCare repeal? Key GOP lawmaker working on amendment MORE (R-Texas) is scheduled to speak Tuesday morning.

The House begins consideration of the 2012 agriculture appropriations bill, which includes the Food and Drug Administration.

Reading list:
Politico delves into the top GOP contenders’ records on healthcare reform, including the key differences between insurance exchanges that Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman crafted as governors.

ThinkProgress blogger Igor Volsky argues that Medicare controls healthcare costs more effectively than private insurance.

The Associated Press looks at cost barriers facing Medicare recipients who need cancer medication.

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

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

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