OVERNIGHT HEALTH: House votes to delay ObamaCare mandates

Delaying the individual mandate would throw a major wrench in ObamaCare's design. One of the law's most popular provisions bars insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions. That rule would cause premiums to spike unless millions of young, healthy people enter the market via the individual mandate.

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney blasted Republicans, arguing they have no alternative plan to ensure people with pre-existing conditions receive coverage.

"When discussing their goal of repealing ObamaCare, Republican lawmakers were asked on Capitol Hill, 'Well, what would you do if it were repealed on the matter of preexisting conditions?' And a senator, a Republican senator, conceded that they had no alternative proposal to deal with that. And I think that that speaks volumes about the effort underway here, which is to refight old battles that have been fought," Carney said.

Read more about the debate at The Hill's Floor Action blog. Healthwatch also has a story about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's threat to score Wednesday's votes.

Obama to speak: President Obama will deliver another high-profile defense of his healthcare law Thursday, focusing on the rebates insurance companies have paid to customers as a result of the law. Insurers have also lowered their premiums to comply with new regulations that limit how much they can spend on profit and administrative expenses. 

White House press secretary Jay Carney framed the event, as well as Wednesday's news about premiums in New York, against the backdrop of the GOP's repeal votes.

"They go about the business again of trying to overturn a law that is providing enormous benefits," Carney said, "and, as we've seen again, will provide even more benefits to the American [people]. We're going about the business of implementing a law that provides those benefits."

The Hill has the story.

PR contract grows: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has added about $33 million to a public relations contract to help sell ObamaCare. The CMS upped its contract with the PR firm Weber Shandwick to help promote the healthcare law's insurance exchanges. Healthwatch has more details.

Back to abortion:House appropriators sparred Wednesday over abortion-related restrictions on a 2014 Financial Services spending bill. The bill, which was approved by the panel Wednesday, prevents the District of Columbia from spending its own funds on abortion services and contains language stopping the ObamaCare insurance exchanges from containing plans that pay for abortion.

Just as philosophical debates on abortion hinge on nuanced arguments over when life begins and what constitutes the right to privacy, the funding debate focused on several nuanced debates about what it means for something to be federally funded.

Read more at The Hill's On The Money blog. 

Thursday's schedule

President Obama will deliver remarks on the Affordable Care Act.

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on the employer mandate delay. J. Mark Iwry, the Treasury Department's deputy assistant secretary for Retirement and Health Policy, will testify.

Blood cancer patients and bone marrow donors will host a bone marrow donor registry drive in Hart Senate Office Building. The advocates will also meet with lawmakers.

State by state

A look at the Oregon Medicaid experiment

NC gov: Medicaid costs making budget deal harder

Mich. Senate makes little progress on Medicaid expansion

Lobbying registrations

Strategic Health Care / Dubuis Health System

Mercury / Kythera Biopharmaceuticals

Jean Kranz / Chrysalis BioTherapeutics

Mercury / Atlas Holdings

Alston & Bird / Connolly

Forbes-Tate / Crossroads Strategies

What you might have missed on Healthwatch

ObamaCare lowers NY premiums by half

Retail lobby backs anti-ObamaCare bill

CMS touts wider adoption of electronic health records

GOP lawmaker says delaying insurance mandates a step toward ObamaCare repeal

ObamaCare supporter backs bill to repeal insurance tax

Republicans attack top Obama official on ObamaCare delay

Top health official wasn't consulted on mandate delay

Republicans slam Obama for making mess of ObamaCare

Union, consumer group push for healthcare worker protections

Comments / complaints / suggestions?

Please let us know:

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

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