By Sarah Ferris - 03/03/16 07:00 PM EST
President Obama is building up Democrats' case for preserving his healthcare law, arming the party with fresh data about its success and with heavier attacks against the GOP's healthcare plans.
In Milwaukee, Wis., on Thursday, Obama announced a new enrollment tally that shows 20 million people have gained coverage since 2013 – a gain of 2.3 million people since last fall.
The uninsured rate has dropped 43 percent between fall 2013 and spring 2016 – an unprecedented spike in coverage that Obama is now highlighting to give a boost to Democrats during this fall's elections.
In the speech, Obama also touted new data on value-based payments in Medicare – which officials credited to ObamaCare – and the declining number of patients being readmitted to hospitals nationwide. And just as he began speaking, the administration released a 14-page summary of the coverage expansions under the law.
Obama is also using his speech to lay out what he says will be a grim future for healthcare access if anyone other than a Democrat follows him into the Oval Office, coming out swinging against Congressional Republicans.
"Congressional Republicans have tried and failed to undermine it about 60 times. They've told you what they'll replace it with about 0 times," Obama said.
"They sure won't tell you what would happen if they actually repeal it. Twenty million people would have their insurance taken away from them," he added, as the crowd cheered.
He made the case for his law just one day after GOP front-runner Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: Muslim soldier was a hero but his father 'has no right' to criticize me Mother of soldier killed in Iraq: I was too 'in pain' to speak at convention Top Koch network adviser rejects Trump's talk of law and order MORE released a vague outline of his own healthcare plan, which quickly captured national headlines. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1p2yTWa
MORE ABOUT THAT BIG MEDICARE ANNOUNCEMENT: Federal health officials beat their own goals in an ambitious push to reform Medicare payments by tying doctor fees to quality rather than quantity.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Thursday it reached its goal of tying 30 percent of Medicare payments to value, instead of volume, with 10 months left in 2016.
"There were many who doubted whether we could reach the goal and certainly the exact timeline," said Dr. Patrick Conway, chief medical officer for CMS. "We even, internally, questioned whether we could reach the goal or not." Read more here: http://bit.ly/1Qvs4TC
REID NOT GIVING UP ON OPIOID FUNDING: Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidMeet the rising Dem star positioned to help Clinton on gun control Reid: Congress should return 'immediately' to fight Zika Classified briefings to begin for Clinton, Trump MORE (D-Nev.) is warning that Democrats want more amendments to a bipartisan opioid bill or they may block it.
"We should be able to offer amendments on this legislation. So I hope the Senate will be able to have a full and open amendment process," Reid said Thursday. "If not, we may not be able to proceed forward on this legislation. It would be too bad."
While Democrats helped the legislation easily overcome a procedural hurdle earlier this week, they could still block Republicans from getting the 60 votes needed to end debate.
Reid suggested Dems have not been allowed to offer enough amendments, adding that the Senate hasn't had a "robust amendment process." Read more here: http://bit.ly/1nk2HvQ
OBAMA SAYS YES TO MICHIGAN'S MEDICAID PLAN: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Thursday it will expand Medicaid coverage to about 15,000 low-income residents of Flint, Mich., amid the city's ongoing water crisis.
"It is a top priority for the administration and for the department to ensure that all children and pregnant women exposed to lead in their water in Flint have access to the services they need," HHS wrote in a statement.
Pregnant women and children up to age 21 will be eligible for Medicaid as long as their incomes do not exceed four times the federal poverty level, which is $24,300 for a family of four. The coverage expansion will go into effect for five years.
Under current law, Michigan residents are eligible for Medicaid coverage if their incomes are up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1LXmrM9
The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services reported Thursday that Texas owes the federal government about $2 million in ObamaCare funds.
The state was one of the biggest recipients of the law's grant program for Medicaid, which incentivized community-based care. Texas has already began reimbursing the funds, and said that it will pay back the rest. Read more here: http://1.usa.gov/21atLe9
ON TAP TOMORROW:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) heads to Flint, Mich. to assess the city's water crisis.
The Blood, Vaccines and Other Biologics Advisory Committee meets at 8:30 a.m.
WHAT WE'RE READING:
Fact-checking the GOP candidates on healthcare (New York Times)
D.C. appeals court grapples with 'ObamaCare exemption' (Washington Times)
CDC: Superbugs cause 1 in 7 hospital infections (Associated Press)
How Google is helping map the Zika virus's spread (STAT)
IN THE STATES:
North Carolina health companies teaming up to shape Medicaid reform (Charlotte Business Journal)
ObamaCare enrollment mix signals 2016 losses for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (Tennessean)
Maine may adopt one of nation's strictest prescription drug laws (Governing Magazine)
State Medicaid agencies seek permanent repeal of health insurer tax (Modern Healthcare)
ICYMI FROM THE HILL:
GOP senators are holding up Flint aid deal http://bit.ly/1L6FOra
Trump releases healthcare plan http://bit.ly/1njZo7L