OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Birth-control battle shifts to House

Healthwatch has all the details and reaction from Thursday’s vote.

Jobs, jobs, jobs: Just kidding. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: VA nominee on the ropes | White House signals it will fight for pick | Trump talks Syria with Macron | McConnell tees up Pompeo vote Schumer to oppose Pompeo as secretary of State Trump's nominee for the VA is on the ropes MORE (R-Ky.) got scolded Thursday after The Hill reported he told his conference he wouldn't be pushing more healthcare reform repeal votes until after the election. 

After a conservative group called for his head if he didn't disavow the comments, McConnell's office promised to make March into "Repeal Obamacare Month" in conjunction with Supreme Court arguments and the two-year anniversary of the law. Healthwatch has the latest here.

The House has its own celebration planned: the Energy and Commerce Committee announced Thursday that it will vote on Tuesday to repeal the law's cost-cutting panel, the IPAB.

Medicaid efficiency: Six former governors endorsed a new Bipartisan Policy Center report calling for the federal government to allow states greater flexibility in how they run their Medicaid programs.

The report recommends that the federal health officials: 

• establish a detailed and transparent process for state-federal budget neutrality negotiations and waiver evaluations;

• create a mechanism for converting successful waivers into permanent or semi-permanent state innovations in the Medicaid program; 

• develop State Plan Amendment templates that would encourage the dissemination of successful reforms and best practices;

• design waiver templates that support state efforts to quickly and effectively respond to changes in the marketplace caused by the healthcare reform law; and

• make guidance and assistance provided to state leaders by the Medicaid State Technical Assistance Teams transparent and public on Medicaid.gov.

Friday's agenda

The Aspen Institute's newest initiative, the Health Innovation Project, releases its first report: "Reinventing Health Care: The Barriers to Innovation." The unveiling will take place at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Here's the agenda.

Sam Nussbaum, Wellpoint's chief medical officer, will keynote the event. An expert panel will explore:

• the financial, cultural and regulatory barriers that have impeded healthcare delivery system innovations in the United States;

• models to engage physicians and providers in the pursuit of innovation;

• strategies to encourage consumers to participate more knowledgeably in their own care; and

• recommendations for making electronic health records ubiquitous, and information more frequently shared among providers.

State by state

Indiana senators gutted a proposed statewide smoking ban.

Alabama senators approved a bill Wednesday that would allow healthcare providers to refuse to perform abortions and other procedures they find morally objectionable.

Minnesota officials are reporting a handful of doctors to the state medical board for potential disciplinary action because of their high rate of painkiller prescriptions.

Bill tracker

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) has legislation that would eliminate cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries receiving a colonoscopy, even if a polyp is removed during the procedure (H.R. 4120).

Reg watch 

The leading association for professional administrators and leaders of medical group practices released their recommendations for federal health officials to modify the implementation process for the ICD-10 insurance coding system. The Obama administration announced last month that it would give the nation's doctors more time to switch to ICD-10, which critics say would cost millions of dollars for little gain to patients.

Reading list

Atlantic blogger Megan McArdle says cutting healthcare costs involves some difficult choices.

The Washington Post's Plum Line blog explains how both parties hope to capitalize on the contraception debate.

An op-ed in the Houston Chronicle says healthcare reform could strain the healthcare workforce.

What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Democrats vow to move ahead on cigarette warnings despite legal setback

Obama administration 'confident' it can find birth-control compromise for self-insured plans

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

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

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