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OVERNIGHT HEALTH: GOP prepares replacement plan

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health panel, gave reporters a preview of the year’s healthcare agenda on Wednesday — including the GOP's preparations for a Supreme Court ruling on the reform law's individual mandate. Republicans will be ready to go with a bill to replace Obama’s healthcare law no matter how the court rules, he said.

That bill will propose shifting the sickest, most expensive patients into new government-run programs. It will include caps on medical malpractice awards, the sale of insurance across state lines and broader use of health savings accounts. Healthwatch has more on the planning, and the strategy behind it.

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Energy and Commerce has pretty broad healthcare jurisdiction, and hammering the Affordable Care Act isn’t the only thing on its agenda. More odds and ends from Pitts:

He still has sights set on a two-year "doc fix," as opposed to the one-year patch lawmakers are trying to hammer out now. And he gave an unqualified "no" when asked whether he’d support paying for the doc fix with savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pitts said Republicans will instead try to pay for the doc fix by reversing Medicare cuts in the healthcare law. All of those cuts, however, reduce the deficit, so undoing them, and spending more money, could be a hard way to offset other spending.


Energy and Commerce has gotten input from roughly 50 doctors’ groups about how to approach a permanent doc fix, and will spend some time on the issue this year.

Republicans might try to move two more pieces of abortion-related legislation this year. Both are "conscience" proposals — allowing healthcare professionals and others to opt out of providing services with which they morally disagree.

The goal is to have this year’s Food and Drug Administration reauthorization bill on President Obama’s desk by June 30. That would be a big change from the 2007 reauthorization, which stretched right up to the Sept. 30 deadline. Pitts acknowledged that lawmakers want to get the must-pass measure done and head out to the campaign trail.

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFeehery: How GOP takes back the House in two years Warren, Brown voice support for controversial Biden budget office pick Principles to unify America MORE, too: Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFeehery: How GOP takes back the House in two years Warren, Brown voice support for controversial Biden budget office pick Principles to unify America MORE (R-Ohio) also outlined the GOP’s healthcare priorities Wednesday, during a speech before the National Association of Health Underwriters, which represents insurance agents and brokers. He noted that the House will vote next week to repeal the healthcare law’s CLASS program, knocked the Department of Health and Human Services for its recent regulation requiring health plans to cover contraception, and criticized the healthcare law as a whole.

"It’s exactly what the American people didn’t want," he said. "They want to be empowered to go see their own doctor. They want to be empowered to take care of their healthcare. They don’t want Big Brother in Washington, D.C., making every decision about the healthcare system, which is exactly what will happen with the president’s healthcare plan."

You can watch Boehner’s speech here.

Eat your vegetables: First lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaObama says he leans on daughters to create year-end playlists An immigrant to get the job done at Homeland Security Obama: 'Hopeless' to try to sell as many books as Michelle MORE on Wednesday unveiled tougher nutrition standards that school meals will have to meet starting this year.

The new standards were required by the 2010 school nutrition bill that increased funding for school meals. They drew praise from public health groups but mixed reactions from the food industry. Healthwatch's Julian Pecquet has the story.

New Yorker scoops GOP: Leaders on the Energy and Commerce panel wrote to President Obama's current and former chiefs of staff this week demanding that the administration turn over internal documents detailing its negotiations with industry groups during the healthcare reform debate. Republicans are irate that White House gave some of those memos to The New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza first. 

Healthwatch has more here.


Thursday's agenda

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services co-hosts the first-ever Care Innovations Summit, aimed at bringing together innovative health experts from across the country to achieve "better care and better health at lower cost through continuous improvement."

Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator at CMS, gets things started at 8:30 a.m. Here's the agenda.

And starting at noon, the conservative Heritage Foundation hosts a panel on reasons to repeal the healthcare reform law beyond just the individual mandate. Check out the agenda.


State by state

New rules in Oklahoma allow the state's high-risk pool to cover more children

A federal judge signed off on a legal settlement preventing the closing of adult day healthcare centers in California

Missouri Senate seeks to block Democratic governor from creating a health insurance exchange by executive order


Lobbying registrations

Ferguson Strategies / Eli Lilly and Company

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz / The Medicines Company

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz / Pharma Supply, Inc. (medical supplies and durable medical equipment)

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz / Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz / Med-Care Diabetic & Medical Supplies (diabetic, respiratory and medical supplies)

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz / Global Medical Direct (home delivery service for diabetic supplies)


Reading list

States waiting for a Supreme Court decision on healthcare are increasing the chances that the federal government will step in to run their exchanges, Politico reports.

Washington Post blogger Sarah Kliff breaks down the results so far from the healthcare reforms that Mitt Romney signed into law as Massachusetts governor.

Two healthcare economists say in the New England Journal of Medicine that this is the wrong time to convert Medicare into a premium-support system.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Consumer groups press Obama for quick action on insurance plan explanations

Obama largely avoids healthcare in State of the Union


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