OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Parties prep for another year of intense healthcare fighting


It’s been exactly a year since the House voted to repeal President Obama’s healthcare reform law. And the next year could bring an even more sustained political attack on the law.

House Republicans marked the anniversary Thursday by touting their success in chipping away at a handful of small provisions, including a tax reporting requirement that small businesses strongly protested. The biggest piece of the healthcare law to fall apart in the past year, the CLASS program, collapsed on its own. But it was still part of the GOP’s quasi-victory lap on Thursday.

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Healthwatch has more on Republicans’ pledge to keep pushing for full repeal over the next year.

Democrats, meanwhile, tried to pump up their allies to defend healthcare reform over the next 11 months. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusMark Halperin inks book deal 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care Biden, Harris tangle over heath care in Democratic debate MORE told a group of supporters that the election, the upcoming Supreme Court case, and the second anniversary of the law’s passage will prompt a new level of attacks from Obama’s critics.

Read our story about Sebelius’s appeal to the healthcare base.

This again: There is another Republican debate tonight; Mitt Romney still has a healthcare record that is unpopular with conservatives. So this debate, like all the ones before it, would seem like a good opportunity for one of Romney’s rivals to attack his healthcare record. We thought the same thing going into Monday’s debate, though, and nobody even tried. Maybe this time will be different?

Abortion battle: States passed a whopping 67 new laws last year that restrict access to abortion, NARAL Pro-Choice America said Thursday. And the House took eight votes on anti-abortion-rights measures, the most since 2000. Healthwatch has the story on NARAL’s report.

Pharmacy shut-out: The pharmacy lobby is asking Medicare to allow beneficiaries to enroll in new plans if they feel misled by the so-called "preferred network" plans they signed up for.

The National Community Pharmacists Association says it has been hearing complaints since the beginning of the year from Medicare beneficiaries who are finding out they can't get advertised co-pays at their favorite pharmacies because the pharmacies aren't in a plan's "preferred" network. The trade association thinks the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services owes it to beneficiaries to let them re-enroll — especially since some of them say they were misled by the agency itself.

Healthwatch's Julian Pecquet has more on that here.

Mental health: One in five Americans — 45.9 million adults — suffered from some form of mental illness in 2010, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said in a new report released Thursday. Healthwatch has more.


Friday's agenda

The annual Families USA conference continues for its second day. Following appearances by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Reps. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) on Thursday, Friday's agenda will bring former White House healthcare adviser Ezekiel Emanuel and renowned medical journalist Atul Gawande of Harvard's School of Public Health.

Also, former Senate HELP Committee staffer John McDonough and past Health Care for America Now! President Richard Kirsch will be on hand to sign their books, Inside National Health Reform and "Fighting for our Health." Kirsch in particular has made waves over the past week, with its criticism of the Obama administration "weak-kneed" defense of the public option. Here's the agenda.

Who's up, who's down? We'll tell after we crunch Q4 lobbying numbers, due out tomorrow.


State by state

Utah lawmakers want a formal denial letter from federal health officials explaining why they partially rejected the state's Medicaid waiver request.

Maine lawmakers are deadlocked on how to create a state health insurance exchange.

Kansas debates allowing personal belief exemptions from vaccination laws for schoolchildren.


Lobbying registrations

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz / Hartford Healthcare

Capitol Hill Consulting Group / McBride Orthopedic Hospital

Cavarocchi Ruscio Dennis Associates / Academy Health

Fabiani & Company / Regenesis Biomedical


Reading list

The economic downturn doesn't explain the projected slowdown in health spending over the next decade, Karen Davis writes on the Commonwealth Fund blog.

The Pacific Research Institute's Sally Pipes outlines how to repeal the healthcare reform law in The Washington Times.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

GOP hopefuls tout abortion stances at 'personhood' forum


Comments / complaints / suggestions? Please let us know:

Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com / 202-628-8527

Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351

Follow us on Twitter @hillhealthwatch