OVERNIGHT HEALTH: GOP squabbles over who should lead ObamaCare fight

Tensions are rising between House and Senate Republicans over who should make the final stand to defund ObamaCare in the government funding fight. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) each said Wednesday that the task is for Republicans in the other chamber as Oct. 1 nears. Rank-and-file House Republicans immediately came to Boehner's aid, accusing Cruz of giving up before the spending bill even reaches the Senate.

It all started Wednesday after Boehner and his deputies announced they would strip funding for ObamaCare in the continuing resolution to fund the government. The strategy, a capitulation to the right, would pass the defunding effort to the Senate, where Cruz and his allies have vowed for months to aggressively fight funding for the law. 

But in a statement Wednesday, Cruz suggested that the ultimate battle still rests with the House.

"[Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution, and right now he likely has the votes to do so," Cruz said. "At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people." 

This drew immediate criticism from congressmen like Reps. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) and Sean Duffy (R-Wis.). 

"House agrees to send [continuing resolution] to Senate that defunds ObamaCare. Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee refuse to fight. Wave white flag and surrender," Duffy tweeted. 

Read more about the squabbling at Healthwatch.

'All-out civil war': The White House said Wednesday that the GOP was engaged in "essentially an all-out civil war," and accused the House Speaker of bending to "the will" of a small group of House conservatives after deciding to press forward with a government funding bill that would strip funds for ObamaCare. "What has become more and more apparent is the leaders of the Republican Party in Congress may want to avoid a shutdown ... but there are members of that party, especially in the House, who seem to embrace the prospect," press secretary Jay Carney said.

The Hill has more from the briefing.


Did you hear? House recess is canceled. The Hill's Floor Action blog has the details.

'Quite dicey': Those are the words used by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) to describe congressional Republicans' push to defund ObamaCare by edging the government closer to a shutdown. 

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"I'd just add a little dose of reality," the potential presidential candidate said at the National Press Club. "If you control one-half of one-third of leverage in Washington, D.C., your ability to influence things are also relative to the fact that you have one-half of one-third of the government. ... It's a reality." 

The Hill's Ballot Box blog has more.

Never mind ... JPMorgan Chase is backing away from a client alert that ObamaCare would be delayed. Read more at Reuters.

Flying raccoons? Check out the six best ObamaCare ads at Bloomberg Businessweek.

Slower cost growth, fewer insured:
Those were the ObamaCare projections from federal health officials published Wednesday in the journal Health Affairs. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 11 million people will obtain coverage next year instead of the 22 million estimated in 2012. Healthcare spending will also rise 6.1 percent instead of 7.4 percent, the report stated. The change in forecast was attributed in part to many states' decision to reject the Medicaid expansion. Reuters has the story. Read the report here.

Good news for kids: A new analysis by The Urban Institute found that participation rates in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program are up while the number of eligible uninsured children is down. Federal health officials called the trend "encouraging" in a blog post. Read the analysis here.

Fighting back: The Obama administration is taking new steps to make sure that Americans are not scammed and won't have their identities stolen under ObamaCare. State and federal officials met at the White House on Wednesday to start off an effort to crack down on fraud in new healthcare marketplaces, scheduled to get off the ground in less than two weeks.

The effort comes amid concerns from Republicans in Congress that “navigators” and “assisters” tasked with helping consumers shop for insurance on the new marketplaces will not be held to strong enough standards to protect consumers. Read more at The Hill's RegWatch blog.

Replacement bill: Conservatives representing nearly three-quarters of the House Republican Conference unveiled their proposed replacement for President Obama’s healthcare law Wednesday, delivering on a long-delayed GOP promise. The bill from the Republican Study Committee would fully repeal the 2010 law and replace it with an expansion of health savings accounts, medical liability reform and the elimination of restrictions on purchasing insurance across state lines. Healthwatch has the story.


Thursday's schedule

The Federal Trade Commission will hold a roundtable on consumer protections within ObamaCare's insurance exchanges.

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will grill Gary Cohen, one of the key officials implementing the exchanges, at a hearing.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be in St. Louis to meet with community stakeholders and talk with the press about ObamaCare.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) will unveil the "Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2013," alongside consumer advocates.

Members of the Congressional Pediatric Caucus, the National Cancer Institute and the Children's Oncology Group will join Hyundai Hope On Wheels for a press conference about pediatric cancer.


State by state

States with most uninsured citizens not expanding Medicaid

Sebelius spends third day touting health law in Florida


Lobbying registrations

Cassidy & Associates / Cerner Corporation


Reading list

Americans' upside-down view of Medicare's problems

Google CEO seeks to tackle health, aging with new company

Harvard study finds food expiration labels are misleading


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Murray: GOP in the middle of 'full-scale civil war'

Sen. Kirk and 9-year-old bond over post-stroke recoveries

Chamber pleads with Congress to step back from the brink

Michelle Obama targets cartoon characters in junk food ads

House Republicans up ante in showdown over federal shutdown

Report: Top officials to meet on ObamaCare security

Walgreens to move workers into healthcare exchange


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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