OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Conservative momentum builds to defund ObamaCare

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Whether this strategy will gain additional support is another question. Only one member of Senate GOP leadership — Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.) — has officially endorsed it, and another five GOP senators reportedly dropped off Thursday's letter before it was sent. But conservative pressure groups are rallying behind the plan, which could exert pressure on waffling GOP members.

On the Senate floor Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) urged colleagues to embrace their "chance to stop" healthcare reform. "If this issue isn’t important enough for us to draw a line in the sand on, what issue is?" he said.

Read more about the letters and Rubio's speech at Healthwatch and and Floor Action. And in case you missed it, The Hill wrote earlier this week about the possibility of a government shutdown over ObamaCare.

Making healthcare funny: The comedy website Funny or Die was part of this week's White House meeting with members of the entertainment industry who want to help promote ObamaCare, and the site's writers are already hard at work coming up with ideas. President of Production Mike Farah told The Hill in an interview that the site's content won't be especially political, but he's happy to help encourage young people to get health insurance.

"No one really cares outside of D.C. about the red vs. blue and how many times Republicans have tried to vote it down," Farah said. "We're going to focus more on the positive stuff and really how it relates to young people who aren't thinking about healthcare in a serious way."

Read more from Healthwatch's interview with Farah.

Pharmacists wary of drug bill: The National Community Pharmacists Association said Thursday that the Senate should break into two pieces a bill that aims to protect the safety of the pharmaceutical supply chain. The bill includes measures to track and trace drugs' ingredients, and it also imposes new rules for "compounded" drugs — products in which a pharmacist changes to a prescription drug. The NCPA said it supports the first half of the bill but not the compounding provisions.

"Lawmakers should move forward with supply chain integrity legislation, and continue to work constructively to resolve the remaining issues on compounding," the NCPA said in a statement.

Black targets income reporting: Legislation introduced this week in the House would prohibit the distribution of federal subsidies to ObamaCare exchanges until a system is in place to counter fraud. The bill, introduced by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), comes in response to hundreds of pages of new regulations setting forth, among other provisions, verification rules for those applying for insurance under the law. 

The Hill has more details.

Ready for battle: The nursing home industry is facing a major test of its lobbying clout as lawmakers weigh whether to slash its Medicare funding. Nursing homes got a pass in January when Congress approved a short-term “doc fix” for Medicare spending that left hospitals to foot the bill for the second year in a row.

But there’s no guarantee that lawmakers will go down that route again, leaving long-term and post-acute care facilities at risk of a significant cut to their reimbursement rates. Anticipating the fight, two leading industry groups merged this month under the banner of the American Health Care Association (AHCA), creating a united front for a sustained lobbying campaign this fall.

Healthwatch has more about the merger and the AHCA's strategy. 


State by state

Mich. workgroup proposes changes to Medicaid bill

Humana to buy key player in Fla.'s Medicaid program

Senate report critical of dental clinic chains


Lobbying registrations

Witt O'Brien's / Pocket Protein

Mercury/Clark & Weinstock / Zero to Three

Keller McIntyre & Associates / American Association of Teaching Health Centers

Capstone National Partners / Kettering College

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney / Munich Reinsurance America


Reading list

ObamaCare's insurance exchanges probably won't be as smooth and user-friendly as advertised, The Associated Press reports.

Tech entrepreneurs see a new opportunity in the exchanges, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

HHS is scaling back fraud and abuse investigations as it tries to cut spending, the Center for Public Integrity reports.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch


Rubio wants to introduce 20-week abortion ban

Heritage Action officially backs House shutdown threat over ObamaCare

Poll: Most voters support banning abortion after 20 weeks

Bill targets ObamaCare 'honor system'

Nationals' Teddy Roosevelt mascot appears in ObamaCare video

Comedy site eager to promote ObamaCare


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