OVERNIGHT HEALTH: CBO adjusts health law projections

Implementation of the healthcare law has continued steadily since last August, contributing new variables to CBO projections, but the report also blamed the fiscal-cliff deal for de-incentivizing employer-provided health insurance. The deal's reduction in marginal tax rates "reduces the tax benefits associated with health insurance provided by employers," report authors said.

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Overall, more employers will pay penalties for failing to offer health coverage than had been previously expected, for a total of $13 billion in additional revenue, according to the report. Individuals, meanwhile, will pay $11 billion less in individual-mandate penalties than previously expected.

The report also lowered spending projections for Medicare, noting that the program's bills have been "significantly" lower than expected for three years straight. Read more of Healthwatch's coverage here.

No on Medicaid: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) said Tuesday that he "cannot recommend" expanding Medicaid under healthcare reform because the move would be financially risky to the state. Corbett alerted Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to his decision in a letter Tuesday, breaking a recent trend of Republican governors who oppose the law but will pursue wider Medicaid eligibility. Read more about the announcement at Healthwatch. 

Also at Healthwatch ... Cantor: Repeal 'ObamaCare' taxes

Smoking and mental illness: Incidence of smoking is 70 percent higher among U.S. adults with mental illness than those who are psychologically healthy, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Officials warned that the figure represents a major public health problem, shaving a decade off the lives of many people who report mental, behavioral or emotional challenges.

CDC Director Tom Frieden explained the trend by saying that a "greater proportion of people with mental illness who have started to smoke have not yet quit" as other former smokers have. "There are effects of nicotine which can mask some of the negative effects of mental illness," Frieden said. "People with mental illness may, on average, smoke more heavily," making quitting more difficult, he added.

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. Read the CDC Vital Signs report here.

Pay-for-delay: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is bringing back a bill to outlaw "pay for delay" deals in the pharmaceutical industry, which keep generic medications off the market for set periods of time. The Federal Trade Commission recently released a report showing that the number of "reverse payments" are on the rise, and critics of the deals say they limit consumer access to cheaper drugs — something industry disputes. The Grassley bill is the Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is the lead Dem sponsor, replacing former Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.).


Wednesday's agenda

Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) and Joe Heck (R-Nev.) will host a discussion on the sustainable growth rate formula in the Longworth House Office Building. The two lawmakers are planning to reintroduce their SGR repeal bill this week.


State by state

Pressure growing on Christie to approve Medicaid expansion

Massachusetts cites violations at 32 compounding pharmacies

Critics seek to delay NYC sugary drinks size limit


Reading list

Rep. Gohmert weighs in on healthcare for immigrants

Aggressive care still the norm for dying seniors

CVS's Medicare drug program causing headaches for enrollees

Study: Telehealth reduced readmissions, hospital days [free reg. req'd]


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

House sends two children's health bills to the Senate

House bill could create new 'national nurse' public health position

Analyst issues sequester warning for FDA

Insurers press doctors to file more claims electronically


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Please let us know:

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

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

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