OVERNIGHT HEALTH: House to vote on ObamaCare repeal

Dems on offense: Democratic campaign officials are going after Republicans who will vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act Thursday. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched phone ads against 10 Republicans considered vulnerable in 2014, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) distributed statements against potential GOP Senate candidates in six states, citing the coming vote.

"[Reps.] Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, and Jack Kingston are far more interested in scoring partisan political points than helping middle-class Georgians, and voting for the 37th time to repeal healthcare reform proves it,” said DSCC spokesman Justin Barasky. 

Democratic leaders also sought to ward off GOP criticism of the law Wednesday. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) circulated a document challenging Republican claims about the law's effect on the deficit and U.S. healthcare costs, and House Energy and Commerce ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) released state-by-state numbers on the law's benefits.

Read that report here.

GOP probes navigators: House Republicans on Wednesday announced their latest investigation into the healthcare law: the "navigators" program. Navigators are similar to insurance agents, but can't be paid by insurance companies — they'll help people make sense of their options on newly created insurance exchanges.

But Reps. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.) and Kevin Brady (R-Texas) have some questions about how the program will work. They sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday asking for more information about who is eligible to become a navigator and the information navigators will have.

Read the full letter here.

Finally: Medicare and Medicaid have an official administrator for the first time since 2006. The Senate confirmed Obama nominee and acting Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Marilyn Tavenner in a 91-7 vote on Wednesday.

Read more about it at The Hill's Floor Action blog.

Personnel moves: Lanhee Chen, former policy chief for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, has joined the advisory board for Partnership for the Future of Medicare.

Read the announcement here

About that IRS scandal: A growing number of Democratic leaders are denying that the controversy surrounding the Internal Revenue Sevice will hamper the agency from implementing key parts of healthcare reform. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), head of the Democrats' Steering and Policy Committee, said Wednesday that the agency can "walk and chew gum at the same time." Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) had previously blasted GOP lawmakers for seeking to link the two issues.

Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint joined other prominent Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in questioning the agency's credibility Wednesday. "While we don't yet know all the details about these scandals, we do know that the IRS grossly abused its power, at a time when Obamacare grants it massive new authority," DeMint wrote in an op-ed. 

Outbreak response: Leading senators have unveiled a bill to strengthen the Food and Drug Administration's role in regulating non-traditional drug compounders, such as the company behind the deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis that began last year. The measure answers the agency's request for clarity while allowing state regulators to oversee small compounders as they have in the past.

Read the bill at the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee site.

Medical bankruptcy: People with cancer are more than two and a half times as likely to file for bankruptcy than other patients, according to a new study published online by Health Affairs. Researchers found that cancer diagnoses pose particular financial challenges for younger patients compared with older ones enrolled in Medicare and Social Security.

Read the study here

Thursday's schedule

The House GOP Doctors Caucus will hold a news conference on the ObamaCare repeal vote.

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade will hold a hearing on elder fraud.

The Kaiser Family Foundation will hold a briefing on the Pentagon's role in global health.

State by state

Legal challenges begin against ND abortion laws

Arizona House Speaker wants voters to decide on Medicaid plan

Maine panel votes to link Medicaid expansion with hospital debt repayment

Gov. Beshear unveils new website for Ky. health insurance exchange

Lobbying registrations

BioMarin Pharmaceutical / self-registration

Dutko Worldwide / HSA Bank

Reading list

Health reform penalizes some Native Americans

Obama planning June 3 mental health conference

Shrinks, critics face off over psychiatric manual

Docs, nurses disagree over expanded nurse roles

What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Dems target Republicans with attack ads ahead of ObamaCare repeal vote

Reid: House GOP have 'lost their minds' on ObamaCare repeal

HHS launches $1 billion healthcare innovation effort

Feds ease rules for 'smart pills'

House panel approves drug-tracking bill

House GOP knocks ObamaCare in 'Arrested Development' spoof

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

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