OVERNIGHT HEALTHCARE: O-Care funding bill delayed

Legislation funding ObamaCare for 2015 is not likely to come to the Senate floor as a standalone measure open to amendment, the subcommittee chairman in charge of the legislation said Thursday.

The Labor, Health and Human Services bill was supposed to be marked up in the full Appropriations Committee hearing this week, said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), but now it is at the back of the line.

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He said because of the difficulty in securing floor time and in getting agreements on amendments with Republicans, it is unlikely to be considered separately on the floor and will end up in an omnibus package.

Harkin denied that leaders have taken the bill off the schedule because vulnerable Democrats feared it would provoke "gotcha" amendments hurting their reelection chances in November.

He said the immediate decision to postpone a markup this week had more to do with the funeral of the father of subcommittee ranking member Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) than anything else. http://bit.ly/1hNOio4

 

NOT BUYING IT:  Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), though, thinks it’s all politics and chided Democrats for canceling the markup bill. 

“Our markup was indefinitely postponed ... because some senators don’t want to vote on difficult or tough amendments,” Alexander said on the Senate floor Thursday. “That’s what we do.”

He said he hoped to offer at least four amendments at that hearing, one of which would have required the administration to provide weekly reports on who is enrolling in the ObamaCare health exchange. http://bit.ly/1hSfBOp

 

HEALTHCARE TRANSPARENCY: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is asking the healthcare world for its input on how big data could promote reform. 

In a letter to roughly 100 stakeholder groups and individuals, Wyden and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) posed broad questions about how data transparency could benefit their work.

It provides a glimpse into one of Wyden's interests and priorities as the new Finance Committee chairman.

The Oregon Democrat has repeatedly touted moves by the Obama administration under the healthcare law to publish data on hospital prices and Medicare billing by physicians. http://bit.ly/1oYKM9k

 

WYDEN TOUTS BUNDLED PAYMENTS: While pushing his healthcare transparency initiative at a data transparency event sponsored by AARP and the Business Rountable, Wyden also suggested that bundled payments must be part of a permanent "doc fix" in order to deal a blow to fee-for-service medicine.

"What we would do is for the first time, change the law and say that the government could give a collective payment ... that's why [reforming the sustainable growth rate] is so important,” he said. “SGR [reform] finally moves the biggest American program aggressively away from fee-for-service. It takes us to the next step which is chronic disease reform."

Congress failed to pass a permanent SGR fix earlier this year despite serious momentum in House and Senate committees. The final sticking point was how to pay for the reform, which would cost between $150 and $180 billion over 10 years.

 

INSURERS LINING UP FOR EXCHANGES: A growing number of insurers say they intend to offer coverage on the ObamaCare exchanges next year. 

Insurance plans in New Hampshire, Michigan and Illinois are planning to enter into the federal marketplaces after deciding not to participate during ObamaCare’s first enrollment period, according to news reports.

In New Hampshire, the number of ObamaCare insurers is set to rise from one to five next year; from 13 to 18 in Michigan; and from six to 10 in Illinois.

The White House seized on the growing participation in ObamaCare to argue the law is succeeding. http://bit.ly/1v6gOnx

 

GOP SHIFTS TACTICS: House Republicans sought to open a new line of attack on ObamaCare Thursday by criticizing narrow doctor and hospital networks on some exchange plans. 

"This trend is particularly dangerous for those dealing with serious diseases that may have to go out-of-network," said House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) at a hearing on the issue.

"Even those with serious illnesses have found that the doctors they know and like are no longer participating in the new exchange plans."

GOP lawmakers blamed the healthcare law rather than insurance companies, saying that new requirements and costs are forcing plans to limit the providers they cover. http://bit.ly/1oYSEHS

 

STATE BY STATE:

Facing a $168-million price tag for new hepatitis C drugs, Oregon Health Plan balks: http://bit.ly/1l327Qh

Oklahoma judge to hear arguments in Fallin records case: http://bit.ly/1xQfkju

McAuliffe pushes for Medicaid expansion amid looming budget deadline: http://bit.ly/1xQjhEQ

Massachusetts provider coalition protests Partners' expansion: http://bit.ly/1ksHxCT

State health officials face July deadline regarding online insurance: http://bit.ly/1ksE1Zt

Indiana program adds options for at-home caregiving: http://bit.ly/1ll2wfL

Kentucky to get additional $57M over 3 years in settlement with tobacco companies: http://bit.ly/1qCiraa

GlaxoSmithKline, W.Va. settle lawsuit: http://bit.ly/1oUlvit

17,000 Arkansans newly deemed eligible for the private option: http://bit.ly/1nznirV

Perry, Texas hospitals propose plan for VA backlog: http://bit.ly/1lrqmGt

Study reveals low health quality for Virginia, Tennessee: http://bit.ly/1ppuKZS

Jindal signs anti-abortion bills in West Monroe: http://tnsne.ws/1mOlkAM

  

READING LIST:

Saudi MERS response hobbled by institutional failings: http://reut.rs/1hRgFSE

How the White House sold ObamaCare: http://bit.ly/1l5qUDo

Mixed results in latest survey of risky youth behavior, CDC reports: http://bit.ly/SEadlG

Feds don't track some hospital complications: http://bit.ly/1ksHPtH

 

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED AT THE HILL: 

Obama 'occasionally' chews nicotine gum: http://bit.ly/1n8cXl6

Poll: Most oppose O-Care but want to keep the law: http://bit.ly/1ksIOKa

CDC: Costs of cancer don't end for survivors: http://bit.ly/1hSlWJG

Issa slams O-Care co-ops: http://bit.ly/1oiTVO1

POM triumphs over Coca-Cola at the Supreme Court: http://bit.ly/SEbkBU

Report: Vote on spending bill delayed over O-Care: http://bit.ly/1irYOMT

Court upholds Obama's birth control mandate: http://bit.ly/1nzp2RZ