OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Obama drops Medicare changes

The Obama administration is abandoning a surprise plan to alter Medicare’s drug coverage after withering criticism from Congress and K Street.


Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner alerted lawmakers Monday that her agency would not go forward with a proposal to give insurers more leeway to limit the number of drugs they cover for Medicare beneficiaries.

Critics argued that making the change, which was designed to save money, would have hampered seniors’ access to necessary drugs.

Democrats worried the issue would hurt them in the midterm elections, and House Republicans had scheduled a vote this week on a bill blocking the regulation from going forward.

The about-face is the latest example in which the Obama administration has changed its healthcare policies to try to benefit the president’s party. Elise Viebeck at The Hill reports.

RNC: The Republican National Committee (RNC) is building a database with the names of those who received insurance cancellation notices under ObamaCare, with the hope of capturing voters who believe they’ve been negatively affected by the healthcare law. Republicans are seeking to keep Democrats on the run from ObamaCare as the 2014 midterm election cycle heats up, and drawing attention to the president’s broken promise that 'If you like your healthcare plan you can keep it' has been a primary focus of those efforts. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

War: MoveOn and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) are locked in a fight over ObamaCare, billboards and free speech. Louisiana's lieutenant governor has issued a cease-and-desist order to MoveOn, arguing the liberal group is improperly using Louisiana's "Pick your passion" tourism slogan to slam Jindal's refusal to accept an expansion of Medicaid. MoveOn has said the billboard is protected by the First Amendment’s free speech protections for parody and satire, and is refusing to take it down. The matter may have to be settled in court. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

Moms: The ObamaCare enrollment focus turns to women and moms this week in the latest effort by the administration to target specific demographic groups. According to a White House official, the administration will start off “Mom Knows Best!” week on Monday through online engagement, local events and targeted media appearances ahead of the March 31 open enrollment deadline. The efforts are “focused on highlighting the critical role women and moms are playing in helping their families access quality, affordable healthcare by encouraging their adult children, family members and peers” to sign up for health insurance, the administration official said. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

State by State:

Feds open investigation of Maryland ObamaCare site.

Medicaid expansion gets first hearing in Missouri statehouse.

Virginia assembly adjourns with no Medicaid expansion deal.

Reading List:

Proof the healthcare law is working?

How not to help the uninsured.

Prison inmates signing up for Medicaid under ObamaCare.

Feds urging states to ignore Medicaid death rules.

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GOP eyes Dem help on ObamaCare.