OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Bye-bye CLASS Act

Over in the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) criticized President Obama for standing in the way of repeal, calling it an effort to "distract people from his own legislative record" by refusing to talk about it. Senate Republicans also unearthed a 2009 roll-call vote when 10 current Senate Democrats — Max Baucus (Mont.), Tom Carper (Del.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Joe Lieberman (Conn,), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Mark Udall (D-Col.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) — voted to remove the program from a health spending bill.

Backlash: The Susan G. Komen cancer foundation made a lot of enemies very quickly by yanking its grants to Planned Parenthood clinics. In the first 24 hours since Komen's move became public, Planned Parenthood had raised almost enough money to make up for losing the cancer group, and powerful Democrats clamored for Komen to reverse its decision. The group's Facebook page was overflowing with comments from people who said they wouldn't give money to Komen or participate in its events. But there were cheers on the right, where abortion-rights opponents notched another victory in their long campaign to defund Planned Parenthood.

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Healthwatch's Sam Baker will have more on the political firestorm around Komen in Thursday's edition of The Hill.

No backing down: Far from hiding behind a rock, Planned Parenthood began running TV ads in eight key states praising the Obama administration's controversial decision to require religiously affiliated health plans to cover birth control without co-pays or deductibles. Healthwatch has the story.

Coastal surge: Meanwhile, EMILY's List, a pro-Democrat organization that supports the election of pro-abortion-rights women, claimed a historic victory with Wednesday's election of Oregon Democrat Suzanne Bonamici to Congress. Bonamici's victory comes on the heels of two other special-election victories this election cycle: Janice Hahn in California and Kathy Hochul in New York. Healthwatch's Julian Pecquet has more here.

Prime seating: The American Geriatrics Society has gained a coveted permanent spot on the independent physicians panel that recommends Medicare payment rates. Read more here.


Thursday's agenda

The American Association for Cancer Research hosts a congressional briefing on 40 years of progress in cancer research and releases a new report on melanoma research. Reps. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) are scheduled to make remarks.

The briefing comes as Energy and Commerce Democrats released a new report Wednesday on the dangers of tanning beds.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius makes yet another healthcare reform announcement. She'll be joined by Medicare Director Jonathan Blum and Sherry Glied, assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at HHS.

The conference committee handling the Medicare "doc fix" holds its third meeting starting at 10 a.m.


Bill tracker

Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) will team up Thursday with Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.) to unveil legislation aimed at spurring innovation in research and drug development for chronic health conditions such as Alzheimer's.

Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), co-chairmen of the Congressional Rural Health Coalition, introduced legislation that increases payments for rural healthcare providers.


State by state

A federal judge in California granted a preliminary injunction barring the state from cutting Medicaid rates by 10 percent.

Maine is considering a bill that would stop insurers from requiring patients to pay a percentage of the costs of specialty drugs.


Revolving door

Mike Bloomquist has been named general counsel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He succeeds Jim Barnette, who served as general counsel under four GOP chairmen. Bloomquist is the committee’s deputy general counsel and previously served as general counsel to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.


Reading list

Rick Santorum's personal history of seeking damages for his wife's medical injury feeds into lawyers' criticism of Republicans' push for malpractice limits.

The Huffington Post examines drug industry lobbying in tandem with a new MSNBC program looking at money in politics.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Tentative deal reached on $595 million in medical device user fees

New administration figures aim to show health law strengthened private Medicare plans


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