OVERNIGHT HEALTH: IPAB repeal moves forward

“Governor McDonnell clearly has a political agenda to restrict women’s access to health care, and the ultrasound law is just the latest example of his extreme agenda,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Personhood lives on: The polarizing “personhood” movement won a small victory Wednesday in the Colorado Supreme Court when the court rejected a challenge designed to keep a personhood measure off of the state’s ballot in November. Supporters will still have time to collect the roughly 86,000 signatures they still need to get the measure on the ballot. The Denver Post has the story.

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Colorado voters have already rejected personhood amendments twice. Similar proposals could be on the ballot this fall in several key swing states, including Florida. The personhood movement seeks to define human life as beginning at the moment an egg is fertilized, which opponents say would go far beyond a restriction on abortion. The measures could also jeopardize access to contraception and in vitro fertilization.

Nothing to see here: Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh pooh-poohed reports that he’s losing advertisers after calling a Georgetown University law student a “slut.” Limbaugh’s critics, including Media Matters for America, have been pressing his advertisers to quit buying time on the show, and roughly 30 companies have pulled their ads. But Limbaugh said Wednesday that he isn’t worried.

“The whole effort is to dispirit you,” Limbaugh told his listeners. “It’s to make you think the left is being successful in its campaign when it isn’t.”

The Hill has more on Limbaugh’s reaction.

Fake drugs: Federal officials announced Wednesday that they arrested a man trying to smuggle 40,000 counterfeit erectile dysfunction drugs into the United States. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the 71-year-old man concealed "29,827 counterfeit Viagra tablets, 8,993 counterfeit Cialis pills and 793 phony Levitra tablets."

Medicaid bills: House Republicans are floating dueling Medicaid reform bills as Budget Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThree-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea MORE (R-Wis.) prepares to unveil his own proposal in the coming weeks.

Leaders of the conservative Republican Study Committee were set to introduce legislation on Wednesday that gives states maximum flexibility to run the program as they see fit. Separately, Energy and Commerce member Bill Cassidy (R-La.) has been touting his own Medicaid reform proposal, which would replace the current open-ended federal matching rate system for states with a per patient, per month budget depending on the characteristics of each state's patient population. Healthwatch's Julian Pecquet has the story.

Boustany wants answers: Rep. Charles BoustanyCharles William BoustanyMarch tariff increase would cost 934K jobs, advocacy group says Bottom Line On The Money: US adds 155k jobs in November | Unemployment holds at 3.7 percent | Wage growth strengthening | Trump signs stopgap spending bill delaying shutdown MORE (R-La.), chairman of the Ways and Means subcommittee on Oversight, wrote to Health and Justice department officials on Wednesday asking for answers about the Obama administration's efforts to fight Medicare fraud. 

Boustany wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusJerry Moran: 'I wouldn't be surprised' if Pompeo ran for Senate in Kansas Mark Halperin inks book deal 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care MORE and Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderEric Holder says Trump is subject to prosecution after leaving office Eric Holder: Democrats 'have to understand' that 'borders mean something' Trump lawyers ask judge to toss out Dems' tax return lawsuit MORE for more information about criminal healthcare fraud investigations conducted by the Health Care Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT). He also wrote a letter to the Medicare agency requesting that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services identify areas vulnerable to Medicare fraud and explain what CMS is doing to combat additional fraudulent actions.


Thursday's agenda

The Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee holds a hearing on the Food and Drug Administration's proposed user fees for FY 2012. The hearing will focus on "Issues Related to Accelerated Approval, Medical Gas, Antibiotic Development and Downstream Pharmaceutical Supply Chain."

Janet Woodcock, the director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, is scheduled to testify along with industry leaders. Here's the panel's internal memo.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) starts off its two-day meeting. On the agenda: bundling post-acute care services; care coordination in fee-for-service Medicare; outpatient therapy services in Medicare; reforming Medicare's benefit design; and serving rural Medicare beneficiaries. Here's the agenda.

Timothy Hill, the deputy director of the federal Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight charged with implementing the healthcare law's insurance reforms, addresses "Federal and State Preparation for Exchanges" at America's Health Insurance Plans'w conference. Joshua Sharfstein, the No. 2 man at the FDA before taking over Maryland's Health Department, is also on the panel. Here's the agenda.

And Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) hosts a panel of scientists to discuss "new research linking antibiotic use in animal agriculture to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria and infections in people." That's at 10:30 a.m. in Room 2168 of the Rayburn building.


State by state

Washington state has come up with about 500 emergency room diagnoses that hospitals won't be allowed to bill Medicaid for anymore.

Colorado will get a third shot at a personhood amendment that has failed twice.

Idaho scraps plans for a state-run health insurance exchange.


Bill tracker

Rep. James Moran (D-Va.) has legislation to provide states with an option to cover a children's program of all-inclusive coordinated care (ChiPACC) under the Medicaid Program (H.R. 4147).

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) introduced a bill to improve Medicare benefits for individuals with kidney disease (S. 2163). The bill would:

• ensure patients can retain their private insurance options even after they qualify for Medicare;

• improve access to preventive and educational services by expanding access to coverage for kidney disease education services; 

• address barriers to receiving life-sustaining treatment, including transportation issues and factors that lead to disparities among minority populations; and 

• call on the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services to report gaps in service so the  Medicare End Stage Renal Disease program can be improved. 


Reading list

Georgetown University's healthcare plan might cover birth control for some of the non-contraceptive uses that law student Sandra Fluke testified about, according to Buzzfeed.

The Huffington Post asks whether a new diet pill, currently under review by the FDA, could be the first to help patients lose weight without dangerous side effects.

The physician marketplace is shifting rapidly toward an environment more dominated by large healthcare provider networks, California Healthline reports.


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Republicans worry about healthcare law repeal's impact on health programs

Consumer groups oppose delay in health insurance benefits summaries

Report: Americans still struggling with medical debt


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