OVERNIGHT HEALTH: White House rules out raising Medicare age

Healthwatch has the lowdown from Carney's briefing.

The youth are starting to change: Will the Affordable Care Act "screw" young people? That was the big debate Monday in the policy blogosphere. It all started with a BuzzFeed story noting (accurately) that the law offers new benefits to older, sicker patients and offsets them with policies — primarily the individual mandate and limits on age rating — that require young people to pay more, or simply pay into the system at all.

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But at Slate, Matt Yglesias argued that overall improvements to the system are more important — there will always be older people who need coverage, and meeting that need is a big structural improvement even if the first generation of affected young people happens to be the generation that helped Obama win (and thus helped ObamaCare become law).

And at the Washington Post, Sarah Kliff interviewed Young Invincibles — the group of young people formed specifically to back healthcare reform. They're not too worried about the law's impact on young people's premiums, it turns out.

“We feel generally the age rating strikes a fair balance between keeping insurance affordable for young adults but also recognizes the societal value of expanding coverage for everyone” the group said. “Those are our parents, our grandparents, and someday us. We want to keep coverage affordable for everyone.”

McConnell's pre-buttal: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) challenged Obama to discuss the healthcare law during tomorrow's speech, arguing the reform has led to "higher premiums, the tax hikes, the lost jobs, and the potential for millions to lose their plans" as Republicans predicted. 

"Will [Obama] be open and honest with the American people about the consequences of ObamaCare?" McConnell asked on the Senate floor Monday. He obliquely referred to a recent Congressional Budget Office report forecasting that 7 million people will lose employer-based health coverage as a result of the law. Read more about that report here

Speaking of McConnell: The Kentucky Republican appointed Neil Pruitt, chairman of the American Health Care Association Board of Governors, to a panel studying long-term care. The commission was created late last year and is designed to study the best ways to cover long-term care in light of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's CLASS program. 

Pruitt is Chairman and CEO of UHS-Pruitt Corporation, which provides assisted living, skilled nursing and other healthcare services. He joins several other health leaders on the panel, including Bruce Chernof, president and chief executive of the SCAN Foundation, and Judith Stein, founder of the Center for Medicare Advocacy.

Win for Planned Parenthood: A federal judge overturned an Arizona law barring Planned Parenthood from Medicaid because some of the group's clinics provide abortions. The decision from U.S. District Judge Neil Wake is the latest blow to efforts to defund Planned Parenthood at the state level. The Susan B. Anthony List, which opposes abortion rights, vowed to continuing fighting and lamented that Arizona tax dollars flow to "big abortion businesses." State and federal law prevent tax dollars from directly funding the procedures. Read more at Healthwatch. 

To the White House: The Obama administration has begun its final review of two major Affordable Care Act regulations — one to create standards for essential health benefits and another involving parameters of programs designed to protect insurers from financial losses. Both carry an annual economic impact exceeding $100 million, and would take effect next January. Read RegWatch's write-up here.

In a paper near you: A coalition of patient groups is preparing a campaign against looming sequester cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In a print advertisement set to run this week in Beltway publications, the groups argue that cutting the NIH budget will threaten treatments and cures for diabetes, Alzheimer's, asthma and several cancers. "Unless Congress acts, these devastating cuts will delay medical progress that could help millions of patients and their families for years to come," the ad states. View it here. Among the sponsors are the Alzheimer's Association, the American Heart Association, the March of Dimes, and the Association of American Medical Colleges. Budget sequestration would cut NIH funding by 5.1 percent on March 1.

Early retirement: Pope Benedict XVI's decision to step down — the first papal resignation since the 1410s — won him praise Monday as a vocal opponent of abortion rights. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York called Benedict's stance on abortion a "message for eternity," and Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest praised the pope for integrating the issue into discussions of human rights. The statements brought to mind Benedict's meeting with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in 2009, which reportedly featured a discussion of abortion and the healthcare law. Read more from Healthwatch here and about Catholic lawmakers' response to the news here.

Tuesday's agenda

The American Medical Association will launch its National Advocacy Conference with a keynote address from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius scheduled in the morning.

Union activists will hold a rally on Capitol Hill urging lawmakers to protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security from cuts. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will speak.

The House will consider the Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act under suspension of the rules.

The Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution will hold a hearing on gun violence prevention.


State by state

Beebe: Don't delay Medicaid vote until next year

Va. House GOP says Medicaid fixes must precede expansion

Constitutionality of Ark. abortion measures in doubt

Docs say N.C. leaders should expand Medicaid


Lobbying registrations

The Picard Group / Our Lady of the Lake Regional Hospital and Foundation

The Citizens Advocacy / self-registration

Rubin Health Policy Consulting / Visiting Nurses Associations of America

Rubin Health Policy Consulting / The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care

Rubin Health Policy Consulting / Kindred Healthcare Operating

Rubin Health Policy Consulting / Association of American Medical Colleges

Hooper, Lundy & Bookman / UPMC CancerCenter

Hooper, Lundy & Bookman / Radiation Therapy Alliance

Hooper, Lundy & Bookman / Priority Health

Hooper, Lundy & Bookman / Independent Health

Hooper, Lundy & Bookman / Dialysis Clinic

Hooper, Lundy & Bookman / National Quality Forum


Reading list

Is the healthcare law bad for young people?

Boomerang patients to penalize hospitals under ACA

Novartis MS drug wins FDA clearance for trial as ALS treatment


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Week ahead: Senate checks up on exchanges

Teen births hit new low

HHS touts record recoveries from healthcare fraud

Report: SEAL who shot bin Laden left military, lost health coverage


Comments / complaints / suggestions?


Please let us know:

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

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

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