OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Parties take stock after high court arguments

House Republicans cast a potentially dangerous Medicare vote on Thursday, but any trepidation about the political consequences was overshadowed by excitement over the Supreme Court’s healthcare arguments this week.

By Thursday, GOP lawmakers had had some time to digest the full six hours of oral arguments over President Obama’s healthcare law. And they’re still feeling confident the decision will go their way.

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A House leadership aide said committees will be busy over the next few months trying to capitalize on arguments that didn’t go especially well for the White House, and the Ways and Means Health subcommittee began Thursday with a hearing on the law’s individual mandate — the same policy the Supreme Court is weighing. The Hill has more on Republicans’ enthusiasm.

Vote of confidence: Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. has not gotten many positive reviews of his performance at the Supreme Court this week. But President Obama thought it went just fine, according to White House press secretary Jay Carney.

"The president was pleased with the presentation and remains convinced that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional," Carney told reporters Thursday, adding that Obama "agrees with the opinions of conservative judges who have said the same thing about the Affordable Care Act, that it's constitutional."

Carney also said the administration will “be ready” for the court’s ruling, though the White House has previously said it’s not mapping out contingencies in case the court strikes the mandate. The Hill has the story.

Ryan budget passes: Zero House Democrats voted for Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget proposal Thursday as it passed the House 228-191. That could help the party push against the claims that Ryan’s controversial plans for Medicare have bipartisan support. Although Ryan crafted the proposal with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Democrats have made clear they still see it as a winning issue in November.

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Ten Republicans voted against Ryan’s budget Thursday, compared with four who opposed last year’s version. The new defections, though, came mostly from conservatives who wanted the budget to make even deeper spending cuts — not from vulnerable members concerned about attack ads in the fall.

Read The Hill’s coverage of Thursday’s vote.

Device delays: Republicans have said they want to focus on delays in the approval process for medical devices when they take up a big Food and Drug Administration reauthorization this year. And they got some ammunition Thursday from the Government Accountability Office, which said approval times have gotten longer over the past several years. Republican senators highlighted the GAO report, saying it “confirms a disturbing trend.” Read the Healthwatch post.


State by state

The Arizona Senate defeated a birth-control measure similar to the federal proposal offered by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

A judge in Oklahoma struck down a state law requiring women who want an abortion to see an ultrasound of the fetus.


Bill tracker

A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers introduced legislation (H.R. 4292) that would for the first time give states a standard means to share information about prescription drug trafficking. Healthwatch has more.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) introduced legislation to permanently extend the provisions of the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act and the Pediatric Research Equity Act of 2003 (H.R. 4274).

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced legislation establishing a program to provide incentive payments to participating Medicare beneficiaries who voluntarily establish and maintain better health (S. 2243). Here's Wyden's press release about the proposal.


Lobbying registrations

McDermott Will & Emery / Healthland (health information technology vendor)

McDermott Will & Emery / Trinity Health (Michigan hospital system)


Reading list

Karl Rove says Obama should calmly accept a Supreme Court ruling striking down the individual mandate.

Conservatives criticized Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) for proposing an individual mandate in the '90s, the Gainesville Sun notes.

The Boston Globe looks at how the Supreme Court’s decision could affect Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.


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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

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