OVERNIGHT HEALTH: CLASS alternative gets Democrat sponsor

Republicans acknowledged they don't have time to repeal the healthcare law's CLASS Act this year, but they scored the next best thing: A Democratic co-sponsor on replacement legislation.

Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) is expected to unveil the bill along with CLASS repeal sponsor Charles BoustanyCharles William BoustanyLobbying world Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response Americans worried about retirement should look to employee ownership MORE (R-La.) as early as this week. 

Co-sponsoring the bill is seen as a risky move politically for Neal, because it gives Republicans cover to claim that they're offering alternatives to the healthcare reform law. Healthwatch's Julian Pecquet has more on the CLASS Act repeal effort and the long-term-care alternative.

House approves two-year Medicare 'doc fix': The House voted 234-193 Tuesday evening to approve a payroll tax extenders package that includes a two-year "fix" to the formula for Medicare payments to doctors. It's expected to die Wednesday in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Healthwatch has more.

Hospitals attack: A coalition of hospitals and businesses is launching a national print campaign Wednesday to pressure lawmakers to reject cuts to hospital payments as they seek to pay for the payroll tax extension and the "doc fix" to physician Medicare payments.

The House Republican bill unveiled Friday includes about $20 billion in cuts to hospitals, including  a $10.6 billion cut to federal reimbursements for bad debts and a $6.8 billion cut to payments for hospital outpatient department evaluation and management services.

No cancer cuts: Cancer patient advocacy groups sent a letter to House and Senate leaders urging them to reject any cuts to federal reimbursements for cancer drugs.

Recusal fight rages on: Although lawmakers and outside groups are still pushing the Justice Department to release more records about Elena Kagan's role in healthcare reform, conservative legal activists say there's already enough evidence that she should recuse herself from the court’s healthcare case.

Carrie Severino, policy director at the Judicial Crisis Network, said it’s clear that Kagan wasn’t totally absent from discussions about the health law during her time as the Obama administration's solicitor general. The Justice Department’s response to Freedom of Information Act requests shows that Kagan received sensitive information about the administration’s legal position, Severino said Tuesday during a forum sponsored by Judicial Watch.

She said Kagan has "retreated" to certain phrases, such as saying she did not have a "substantial" role in planning the administration’s defense of the healthcare law — but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t in the room.

Chase, don't pay: The Obama administration urged health insurance plans Tuesday to withhold payment when they think patients might be fraudulently obtaining prescription drugs. Read the Healthwatch post here.

Plan B fallout: Fourteen Senate Democrats publicly broke with the White House on Tuesday over the Plan B contraceptive. Healthwatch's Sam Baker has more here.

Generic user fees: The FDA released a draft explanation of the "goals and procedures" of proposed user fees for reviewing generic drugs. The Generic Drug User Fee Program aims to provide FDA regulators $1.5 billion more than five years to review generic drug applications more quickly. It would have to be approved by Congress to take effect.

Cartoon coverage: Still unclear about how the healthcare reform law affects single workers, illegal immigrants or small businesses? The Kaiser Family Foundation shows you how with illustrated characters.

Wednesday's agenda

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusMr. President, let markets help save Medicare IRS Tax Day glitch exposes antiquated tech infrastructure Trump administration's reforms could make welfare work again MORE will make an announcement at 11 a.m. about the administration's "Partnership for Patients" initiative.

A separate "important announcement about the Affordable Care Act" is slated for later in the afternoon.

Happy Birthday: The Senate Special Committee on Aging celebrates its 50th anniversary with a forum on, you guessed it, "Aging in America."

The two-hour forum on the "Future Challenges, Promise and Potential" facing aging Americans will feature a panel of experts who will "recognize the committee's accomplishments and explore the future challenges and opportunities related to our rapidly aging populations."

State by state

HHS approved one Medicaid waiver for Texas while denying another.

Stakeholders in Florida are looking ahead to what changes the state might see if HHS grants its Medicaid waiver.

The website Kids Well has put together several maps and state-by-state analysis of where the states stand on various healthcare issues, including reform implementation and Medicaid.

Lobbying registrations

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld / Texas Association for Home Care & Hospice

K&L Gates / North Carolina Center of Innovation for Nanobiotechnology

Reading list

Americans are increasingly confident in their ability to pay for healthcare, The Wall Street Journal reports.

There's too much money at stake to replace wasteful medical technology with low-cost alternatives, MIT's Technology Review concludes.

The FDA has warned California surgery centers to take down misleading billboards and other advertisements touting weight-loss surgery, NPR reports.

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Comments / complaints / suggestions? Please let us know:

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

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

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