OVERNIGHT HEALTH: House votes to repeal device tax

The White House has threatened to veto the bill if it gets to Obama’s desk, which it almost certainly won’t.

Here’s the story from Thursday’s vote.

AdvaMed is happy: The Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), the device industry’s leading trade organization, praised the vote. The industry fought hard against the 2.3 percent tax during the legislative debate over the Affordable Care Act, but had a hard time killing the proposal altogether because Democrats had reached a similar tax deal with the pharmaceutical industry.

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“Today’s vote is a vote to protect high-wage American jobs, maintain our global competitive leadership and encourage the research and development needed to find tomorrow’s treatments and cures,” AdvaMed President Stephen Ubl said in a statement.

Best-laid plans: Both sides say they’ll be “ready” when the Supreme Court issues its landmark healthcare ruling this month, though their respective plans are either under wraps or still being formed. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters Thursday that the House will vote to repeal the entire healthcare law if the court only strikes part of it, but wouldn’t elaborate on any other possible outcomes.

Here’s our write-up of Bohener’s press conference.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the White House will also be prepared for the court’s decision. Sebelius said she is "confident and optimistic" that the high court will uphold the law, but added "we'll be ready for contingencies" if it does not.

Healthwatch has more on her comments.

Polls ad nauseam: A new poll Thursday found that nearly seven in 10 Americans hope the court will decide against all or part of the healthcare reform law, while just 24 percent want the law upheld. Among unaffiliated voters, a plurality (42 percent) want the entire law overturned, while a slightly smaller share (30 percent) said they wanted the individual mandate struck down but the rest of the law to stand. The poll was released by The New York Times and CBS and had a margin of error of 3 points. According to CBS, 70 percent of Tea Party supporters want the entire law thrown out — no surprise there.

Read Healthwatch's story here.

Inside Kennedy's head: Time magazine has a nearly 6,000-word profile of Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose unpredictability is at the heart of every uneasy prediction on how the court will rule on healthcare reform. The magazine chronicles everything from Kennedy's daily routine to his jurisprudence to his childhood. On how he'll come down on the Affordable Care Act, a former clerk offered this quote: "His way of making up his mind in tough cases frequently was for him to try out an idea for size, like trying on a hat, you know. Wearing it for a day, saying, ‘Well, maybe I don’t look so good in a Stetson. I think I’ll try a sombrero instead.’ ”

Even Kennedy's friend, the writer Joan Didion, weighs in. Subscribers can read the piece here.

Happy birthday, Griswold: Thursday marked 47 years since the Supreme Court struck down  a state's restrictions on birth control, arguing they violated a right to privacy, in Griswold v. Connecticut. Planned Parenthood's political arm celebrated by noting Mitt Romney's comment — in a January primary debate — that the court decided incorrectly in the case. That night, Romney also said that he would "totally and completely oppose any effort to ban contraception." The landmark 7-2 decision was decided under Chief Justice Earl Warren. Read the Oyez Project's summary here.


Friday's agenda

House Energy and Commerce's subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on Medicare contractors' anti-fraud efforts.

House Energy and Commerce's subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on medical imaging and radiation therapy standards.


State by state

A federal appeals court in New Orleans heard arguments in a Planned Parenthood suit against the state of Texas over funding cuts, The Associated Press reports.

In California, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld its August 2011 ruling that Blue Shield must cover a policyholder's anorexia treatment. California Healthline has more.

New York state Sen. Dean Skelos (R), the chamber's majority leader, says Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) proposal to reduce the penalty for possession of small quantities of marijuana won't pass. The Albany Times Union has the story.

Meanwhile, in Rhode Island, Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) says he is "inclined" to sign similar bills moving through that state's legislature, the Providence Journal reports.


Reading list

Anti-fraud efforts in Medicare and Medicaid need strengthening, according to testimony heard in a House committee Thursday. Modern Healthcare (registration required) has more.

Suicides are surging among U.S. troops, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

New research found that Hispanics are more likely than whites to die before receiving heart transplants. Reuters has the story.

The first trial of a vaccine to treat Parkinson's disease has begun, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Couples who sleep in the same bed see benefits, The Wall Street Journal reports.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

House Dem: China, India would benefit if US medical research is cut

Seniors group backs 'sweeping' dental health bills

House advances bill repealing healthcare law's medical device tax

NRCC seeks to rally anti-ObamaCare sentiment with new petition

Veterans, ACLU petition Congress to fund military abortions in cases of rape

Congress acknowledges US role in fueling worldwide drug violence


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

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

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