OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Healthcare politics get messy

White House likes healthcare reform: President Obama might not be giving quite as many speeches these days about healthcare reform, but don’t think the administration has walked away from its signature domestic achievement.

In the two years since Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, the administration has released a deluge of positive reports, press releases and blog posts from the White House and the Health and Human Services Department (HHS). The administration consistently highlights new policies as they take effect and tries to keep other popular provisions, such as discounts on prescription drugs, in the news.

Read the Healthwatch story.

Oh, politics: Rep. Michele Bachmann on Thursday endorsed Mitt Romney, whom she previously attacked as "the only governor in the history of the United States to put into place socialized medicine.” She also said Romney couldn’t beat Obama, in part because he couldn’t credibly promise to repeal Obama’s healthcare law. The Hill has the story from Bachmann’s endorsement event, and ThinkProgress runs down Bachmann’s top 10 digs at her former rival.

War for women: Democrats used Romney’s appearance in Virginia to launch another salvo in their attacks over women’s health. The Democratic National Committee hit Bachmann, Romney and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell in a web video that cuts together their respective pledges to defund Planned Parenthood and restrict access to abortion. The Hill has the video.

Neuter-gate: House Republicans who say taxpayer funds went to spay and neuter dogs in Nashville have the story wrong, according to a local public health official involved with the effort. 

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee charged that Nashville used money from the health law’s prevention fund to spay and neuter stray animals, but Nashville officials say the funding came from a private grant.

Here’s the Healthwatch post on Republicans’ accusation — and our follow-up with the Nashville official’s rebuttal.

We’re Number One: The U.S. spends a more money on healthcare than any other country, but isn’t any healthier for it. A new report from the Commonwealth Fund is the latest to confirm this well-established maxim of health policy. The study used data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Details are here.

It is definitely recess: How much time has Washington spent this week on the “Hey Girl, It’s Paul Ryan” Tumblr? A lot, is the answer. And there are a few health policy gems in the mix, including, “Hey girl, Don’t worry. IPAB might ration our healthcare. But it will never ration our love.”

Pelosi’s office tried to ride the publicity Thursday with a few mockups of its own, such as, “Hey Grandma, when I say ‘save Medicare, I mean let it wither on the vine."

Friday's agenda

The Brookings Institution will hold a discussion on healthcare reform from 1-2:30. The webcast will broadcast here.

State by state

A California senator calls for a probe into "meat glue," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Illinois may have former state employees pay in part for their retiree healthcare, Illinois Statehouse News reports.

The Kansas legislature sent a bill to the governor with more legal protections for healthcare providers who refuse to perform abortions, The Associated Press reports.


Reading list

A program in Los Angeles is offering healthcare to undocumented restaurant workers, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Blue Cross cut a base rate increase for its HMO fro 1.2 percent to 0.2 percent, the Boston Herald reports.

According to some, observational studies bias medical research. The Wall Street Journal looks at the debate.

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

Elise Viebeck: eviebeck@thehill.com / 202-628-8523

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