OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Burwell on the hot seat

All eyes will be on Sylvia Mathews Burwell on Thursday as the likely replacement for Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mike Roman says 3M on track to deliver 2 billion respirators globally and 1 billion in US by end of year; US, Pfizer agree to 100M doses of COVID-19 vaccine that will be free to Americans The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Former HHS Secretary Sebelius gives Trump administration a D in handling pandemic; Oxford, AstraZeneca report positive dual immunity results from early vaccine trial Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Kathleen Sebelius MORE faces her first confirmation hearing.

The event, hosted by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, will shed light on how much Republican opposition Burwell can expect as she moves through the process. A handful of rank-and-file Republican senators have already expressed support for her, signaling that the confirmation battle may lack the rancor that normally accompanies healthcare debates in Congress.


Burwell currently serves as the White House budget director, a position in which she's been commended by both Republicans and Democrats. But there are still many questions about how she would run HHS, a vastly larger and more politically contentious institution.

Republicans are expected to use the hearing to further hammer the healthcare law, though GOP lawmakers have been quieter on the issue in recent weeks. Read The Hill's past coverage of Burwell's nomination here, here, and here.

Hearing debacle: Republicans struggled to land punches against ObamaCare in a hearing Wednesday, as responses from insurance companies deflated several lines of questioning. Democratic lawmakers were emboldened to defend the Affordable Care Act with renewed vigor and levity, creating a dynamic rarely seen in the debate over ObamaCare. Adding to the irregularity, exits on the Republican side at a subcommittee hearing led by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) allowed multiple Democrats to speak in a row and let heavy Democratic criticism of Republicans go unanswered, a contrast with the heated exchanges of last fall. Read more here.

80 percent and up: Major health insurers said Wednesday that at least 80 percent of the people enrolled in their ObamaCare plans have paid their first premium, contrary to a report by Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee. In total, four out of five companies represented said more than 80 percent of their new customers had paid. The fifth, Cigna, did not offer an estimate. The Hill breaks down the numbers here.

Saving money: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimated Wednesday that a new rule aimed at killing unnecessary or out-of-date Medicare regulations will save providers $3.2 billion over five years. The rule loosens certain physician supervision and scheduling requirements and eliminates what officials called a redundant data submission protocol for transplant centers. Read more of the regulation here.

GOP plays “Where’s Sebelius?”: Republicans criticized HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ absence from a Senate budget hearing Wednesday to discuss the agency’s funding. While other HHS heads were present at the meeting, Sen. Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinErnst challenges Greenfield to six debates in Iowa Senate race Biden unveils disability rights plan: 'Your voices must be heard' Bottom line MORE (D-Iowa), chairman of the appropriations subcommittee, said he decided not to invite her to the meeting as she would soon be leaving her position. Read more here.

Senators want abortion bill vote: Thirty-three Republican senators have written to Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidKamala Harris to young Black women at conference: 'I want you to be ambitious' Obama calls filibuster 'Jim Crow relic,' backs new Voting Rights Act bill McConnell warns Democrats not to change filibuster rule MORE (D-Nev.) asking him to call a vote on a controversial late-term abortion bill. The senators are pushing for passage of Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamNavarro: 'Don't fall for' message from TikTok lobbyists, 'puppet CEO' Graham defends Trump on TikTok, backs Microsoft purchase The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - At loggerheads, Congress, White House to let jobless payout lapse MORE’s (R-S.C.) bill which would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy expect for cases of incest, rape or to save the life of the mother. Read more here.

Saving lives and money: An HHS report Wednesday says ObamaCare helped save 15,000 lives at hospitals around the country and taxpayers $4 billion in its first year of implementation. According to the agency, the benefits were a result of private-public partnerships developed under the new healthcare law. The study also found 560,000 fewer hospital injuries in 2011 and 2012, compared to 2010. Read more here.



The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a nomination hearing for Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace Kathleen Sebelius as Health and Human Services Secretary.

The Cato Institute will hold a discussion on ObamaCare.



Obamacare czar wants to make single-payer happen in Massachusetts

Louisiana anti-abortion bill advances

Illinois sets deadline for insurers to submit Obamacare applications

W.Va. governor restores some social services funding he previously vetoed



Hawk International, LLC / The Chanda Plan Foundation

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Rampy Northrup LLC/ Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc.

Rampy Northrup LLC/ National Retail Federation

Rampy Northrup LLC/ Quest Diagnostics Incorporated



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