OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Entitlements in the crosshairs

Democrats, meanwhile, revived their attack that the Ryan plan would “end the Medicare guarantee” and shift a greater burden to seniors without tackling the underlying problem of rising healthcare costs.

The Hill’s coverage of Ryan’s latest Medicare plan is here, and a quick rundown of the Democratic reaction is here. We also have more details about his proposed cuts to Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.

Dems push back on chained CPI: Congressional Democrats and President Obama are united on the Ryan plan, but they’re further apart on the “chained CPI” proposal for Social Security benefits. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) told reporters Tuesday that he and other liberal members of the caucus pushed back against Obama’s openness to the change as part of a “grand bargain” on the deficit. Obama held firm, indicating that chained CPI remained on the table if Republicans agree to close tax loopholes for the purpose of deficit reduction. Healthwatch has more.

HHS won’t get exchanges funding: The White House had asked for more than $800 million in this year’s continuing resolution to help fund the implementation of new insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. But that money didn’t make the cut as Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) unveiled her CR Tuesday. Mikulski said on the Senate floor that she fought for the funds, but they were simply too big of a political hurdle.

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Harkin told reporters much the same thing, and said the White House backed off a hard push for the funds after it realized Republicans wouldn’t bend. Healthwatch has the story.

CR amendment: Harkin, who leads the Appropriations subcommittee governing the federal Health department, offered an amendment to the Senate's continuing resolution Tuesday to increase funding for several agencies and programs. Under the bill, the National Institutes of Health would see a $211 million bump, and the Ryan White AIDS Drug Assistance Program would be given $29 million more, for example. Harkin urged colleagues to support the measure, which he said would cost the exact same amount as the original CR language.

"The amendment to be offered fits within the budget allocation by applying a very small across-the-board cut of 0.127 percent — one-eighth of 1 percent — to every program in the bill that was negotiated in December," Harkin wrote in a memo.

Paperwork: “Tell us about yourself,” implores the first page of the Obama administration’s application for the uninsured to obtain coverage. The 15-page form asks about age, race, income and employer-based health insurance, according to a draft of the application obtained by The Associated Press. The online version has 21 steps, the outlet said, and is being revamped after critics feared it might be too daunting for some Americans, who then might not finish. Read more at RegWatch.

Cue attack ads:
Paul Ryan slipped Tuesday in describing the way his proposed budget treats the Affordable Care Act. The gaffe — "We are not going to give up on destroying the healthcare system for the American people" — quickly took off on Twitter. Watch the clip at The Hill's video page.

'Disappointed': The Obama administration voiced concerns over a GOP bill to block state welfare waivers but stopped short of threatening to veto the measure Tuesday. In a statement of administration policy, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) slammed the House bill (H.R. 890) for seeking to hamper "innovative" programs that would help more welfare recipients find work. The administration also said the bill would have "no practical effect," given that no states have applied for or been given waivers under welfare reform. Read more about the statement of administration policy and the bill at Healthwatch.

Wednesday's agenda

America's Health Insurance Plans will launch its National Policy Forum at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C.

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on the healthcare reform law and its effect on jobs.

President Obama will be on Capitol Hill meeting with House Republicans.

Research!America will give advocacy awards to Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) at a dinner.


State by state

Maine's GOP governor reconsiders opposition to Medicaid expansion

South Carolina House defeats Medicaid expansion

Arkansas's abortion ban and one man's strong will

Why have so many states banned abortions?


Lobbying registrations

Williams and Jensen / Zoetis

Da Vinci Group / Avella Specialty Pharmacy

Armory Hill Advocates / AnazaoHealth Corporation


Reading list

Paul Ryan: Welfare reform can be a model for the rest of the safety net

Study: Cancer survival rates not affected by spending differences

Doctors urge mental health screenings with physicals


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

McCaskill slams Ryan as blatantly 'disingenuous' on Medicare cuts

Rep. Gingrey, mulling Senate bid, regrets defending Todd Akin

Ryan budget blocks Obama welfare waivers

Medicare would negotiate drug prices under Dem bill


Comments / complaints / suggestions?


Please let us know:

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

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

Follow us on Twitter @hillhealthwatch