OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Obama reassures Dems on ObamaCare

Veto threat: Another anti-ObamaCare vote in the House, another veto threat from the White House. The White House budget office made it official in a statement of policy Wednesday that President Obama would veto the House's bill to prohibit the Treasury Department, including the IRS, from implementing any part of the Affordable Care Act. 

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“Rather than attempting once again to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which the House has tried nearly 40 times, it is time for the Congress to stop fighting old political battles and join the President in an agenda focused on providing greater economic opportunity and security for middle class families and all those working to get into the middle class,” the White House said. 

The House is expected to vote on the ObamaCare bill Friday. The Hill has the story on the veto threat.

Lee still pushing: Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) isn't backing down from his push to risk a government shutdown over ObamaCare. He said again on Wednesday that voting to keep the government open without defunding ObamaCare is the same as casting an affirmative vote to fund the healthcare reform law.

“Those of us who are Republicans and those of us to claim to be against ObamaCare, who happen to vote to fund it, will have a lot to pay, will have a lot to answer for with our constituents,” Lee said on Fox News.

Shutting down the government would not stop the Obama administration from implementing its signature healthcare law — most of the implementation funding has already been provided. But Lee is hoping it would appear that Obama was responsible for the shutdown. We have Lee's full comments here.

No Plan B: Heritage Action reportedly has no Plan B if the government shuts down and the president still refuses to defund ObamaCare. The issue has reportedly come up in meetings between GOP representatives and the group, which is pushing lawmakers to oppose any government funding bill that includes money for the healthcare law.

"There is no 'what if,' " said one anonymous GOP congressman. "That's leaving us in the lurch. That's not proper planning."

Read more here about how the strategy has not gained traction with senior House Republicans.

Friendly fire: Tea Party group ForAmerica is launching an online campaign urging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to back a conservative plan to force a government shutdown unless Obama agrees to kill funds for ObamaCare. The ad compares McConnell to a chicken for his silence on the strategy. This is not the first time the Senate GOP leader has been pushed to back the movement — the Club for Growth, which has said it's open to backing McConnell's GOP challenger, urged the Kentucky Republican to join conservatives in a letter last week.

“Senator McConnell, conservatives don’t need a chicken when it comes to Obamacare. Leaders lead. But if you fund it, you own it!" the ForAmerica ad says.

Watch it here.

Georgia seeks delay: Georgia's insurance commissioner is asking the Department of Health and Human Services for a one-month "emergency delay" in filing its rates for next year. Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, a critic of the Affordable Care Act, said insurers in his state have filed for rate increases next year of up to 198 percent. Hudgens asked HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to give him an extra month to review the increase, and asked the department to "show cause why these massive requested increases are not justified under PPACA." His letter is here.

'Doc fix' advances: The House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved a bill Wednesday to replace Medicare's payment formula for doctors. The permanent "doc fix" bill has enjoyed broad, consistent support from lawmakers and stakeholders alike, as evidenced by the rare bipartisan vote on a healthcare bill. But the hard part is yet to come: finding a way to pay for it. The bill has advanced so far without an offset, and it will be much harder to find a palatable $100 billion cut than to agree on a new payment formula. Still, everyone agrees the current formula is broken, and this is a lot further than a permanent fix has gotten before.

“The time of temporary patches and kicking the can down the road is over," Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) said in a statement.


Thursday's schedule

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner will testify before the House Energy and Commerce committee on ObamaCare's implementation.

Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement at the Internal Revenue Service Daniel Werfel and Director of the federal Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Gary Cohen will testify on ObamaCare's implementation before the House Ways and Means Committee.

Conservative and Tea Party leaders will hold a press conference at the House Triangle on efforts to defund ObamaCare during negotiations over funding the government. Representatives from ForAmerica, the Tea Party Patriots, the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, Heritage Action, Citizens United, the Family Research Council and the Senate Conservatives Fund will attend.

The bipartisan Commission on Long-Term Care will hold its third public hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. 

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) will unveil legislation to strengthen rules in Medicare that bar physicians from referring patients for services in which the doctor has a financial interest.

Opponents of ObamaCare's birth-control coverage mandate will rally in Lafayette Square.


State by state

Women's health claims in Texas decline under new program

Mich. Senate panel OKs Medicaid bill, 2 alternatives

NJ audit finds lax Medicaid fraud checking


Reading list

Definition of 'full time' becomes a sticking point in ObamaCare

Will ObamaCare mean fewer jobs? Depends on whom you ask

Opinion: Fix the 'doc fix' for good

US breast-feeding rates rise


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Senate Dems: Energy drinks marketed like cigarettes

Study: Single-payer healthcare system would save billions

Coburn to block OPM nominee over ObamaCare concerns

Judge blocks North Dakota abortion law

Health insurers revamp lobby team

Sen. Lee: Shutdown critics 'will have a lot to answer for' if ObamaCare survives

Liberals blast Dems who voted to delay ObamaCare mandate

Tea Party group slams ObamaCare in latest ad

Poll: Voters oppose shutdown threat over ObamaCare

Republican civil war on ObamaCare flares



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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