OVERNIGHT HEALTH: House to vote again on ObamaCare repeal

The House will vote yet again next week to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as GOP leaders try to help their freshmen stake out a firmly anti-ObamaCare voting record. Some conservatives balked at a bill last month that they saw as a "fix" to the healthcare law, saying freshmen shouldn't be asked to vote on smaller measures until they've had a chance to cast a purely symbolic vote for full repeal. That chance will come next week, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said.

Although conservatives are getting the repeal vote they wanted, some of them said they still won't back the "fix" bill Cantor pulled from the floor last month. The bill would cut the healthcare law's prevention fund and use the money to beef up high-risk insurance pools. Some Republican lawmakers say they just can't live with that, repeal vote or not.

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“No, I don’t think we ought to return to a bill that would expand parts of ObamaCare, whether or not we have the vote next week on full repeal,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) said. “The principle is the same: Do you want more federal government involvement in healthcare or less? And I don’t think it would be appropriate to return to that bill.”

Healthwatch has the story on next week's vote.

Picking apart prices: Medicare released stunning figures Wednesday on how much hospitals around the country charge for routine procedures. The findings weren't surprising — it turns out that even in the same metro area, the price of basic healthcare can vary by tens of thousands of dollars. Take Los Angeles, Calif., for example, where the cost of treating pneumonia varies by $100,000, or Dallas, where a joint replacement can run from $43,000 to $161,000.

The Obama administration and healthcare advocates touted the new report as a major step toward transparency in U.S. healthcare pricing. The American Hospital Association (AHA) emphasized that it backs price transparency legislation and that members provided $41 billion in charity care in 2011.

"Variation in charges ... is a byproduct of the marketplace so all parties must be involved in a solution, including the government," said AHA President Rich Umbdenstock. Read more on the Medicare figures at Healthwatch.

Tracking drugs: A bipartisan bill to allow federal regulators to track individual medication advanced in the House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday. Supporters touted the measure as a boon for the integrity of the U.S. drug supply, while others criticized the bill for setting a 2027 deadline for regulators to propose rules on unit-level traceability.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has urged Congress to enact more rigorous standards, citing rising sophistication among criminals that profit from counterfeit medications.

“If we don't know the chain of custody of a product,” she continued, “if we have to reconstruct that later, through questioning people, that could cause great delays” in recalling the product or finding out where the problems occurred, said Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Read more about the vote at RegWatch.


Thursday's agenda

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on pharmacy compounding.

The House Small Business subcommittee on Health and Technology will hold a hearing on the healthcare law's insurance fee.


State by state


Colorado launches ad campaign for new online marketplace

Brewer's Medicaid push still facing opposition

San Francisco surrenders in fight over cellphone warnings


Lobbying registrations


All-Circo / North Shore University Health System

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld / University of Houston


Reading list


Dems say there's a reason they're not selling ObamaCare yet

Understanding premium changes under ObamaCare

Sun's blood pressure benefits 'may outdo cancer risks'

Wrigley halts caffeinated gum


What you might have missed on Healthwatch


GOP lawmaker: I was almost aborted

Bill would enhance FDA's antibiotics reporting

Dems push regulators on arsenic in fruit juice

GOP questions stimulant use in dietary supplements


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Please let us know:

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

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