OVERNIGHT HEALTH: SCOTUS, over and out

Even the law's so-called 'Cornhusker Kickback' to get Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) on board came under fire from Justice Antonin Scalia. The Hill has more on that exchange here.

Tough sell: Why is the healthcare law so unpopular? Maybe because it's so darn complicated. Former White House health spokesman Reid Cherlin explains in this month's GQ magazine.

On to the next fight: With the Supreme Court arguments out of the way, the health policy focus switches back to the House Republican budget and its Medicare overhaul. After starting debate on Wednesday, House lawmakers are expected to vote Thursday on no fewer than seven budget proposals — Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.), three Democratic substitutes, two Republican alternatives and a bipartisan option. Only Ryan's budget is expected to pass the House, but likely will never see a Senate vote.

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The attack ads started early, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee using a billboard in Ryan's hometown to accuse him of "protecting millionaires instead of Medicare." Healthwatch has the story.

In an early sign that Ryan's Medicare proposal isn't any more popular than President Obama's healthcare reform law, Senate candidates on both sides of the aisle have avoided embracing their party's signature healthcare reform policies, The Hill's Cameron Joseph and Josh Lederman report.

IPAB do-over: The House on Tuesday approved a resolution that asks the Senate to return its legislation repealing the healthcare reform law's cost-cutting panel, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, so that technical changes can be made. 

The fixes to the bill, which also caps medical malpractice damages, will likely be made shortly, allowing the House to pass the bill again by unanimous consent so it can be sent back to the Senate. The House passed the bill last week.


Thursday's agenda

The House Ways and Means subcommittee on Health wraps up a tough week for President Obama's healthcare reform law with a 9 a.m. hearing on the constitutionality of the law's individual and the economic impact of its employer mandates. Here's the hearing advisory.

The House Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies grills Labor Secretary Hilda Solis starting at 10 a.m.

And the House Judiciary subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet holds a hearing at 9:30 a.m. on the "Preserving Our Hometown Independent Pharmacies Act of 2011." Here's the witness list.

In the afternoon, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on Food and Drug Administration user fees for medicines and medical devices. Witnesses include Janet Woodcock, the director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, and Jeffrey Shuren, the director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health.


State by state

Some Massachusetts residents defy the state's insurance mandate.

The Arizona Senate takes up legislation allowing employers to refuse to provide contraceptive coverage for their workers on religious grounds.

The Georgia Senate is considering a bill to make assisted suicide a felony.


Bill tracker

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced legislation requiring a health advisory and drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium (H.R. 4266).


Lobbying registrations

The Nickles Group / UCB (biopharmaceutical company/Medicare reimbursement for prescription drugs)


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Report warns of deep cuts to medical research if budget sequester goes through


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

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

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