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 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 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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimated Wednesday that a new rule aimed at killing unnecessary or out-of-date Medicare regulations will save providers $3.2 billion over five years.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 HarkinWisconsin lawmaker gets buzz-cut after vowing not to cut hair until sign language bill passed Democratic debates kick off Iowa summer sprint Key endorsements: A who's who in early states 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 ReidHarry Reid warns Trump 'can be reelected' Homeland Security Republican accuses Navy of withholding UFO info Poll: 47 percent back limits on Senate filibuster 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 GrahamWe've lost sight of the real scandal The Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? The Memo: Times correction gives GOP lifeline in latest Kavanaugh controversy 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.



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Rampy Northrup LLC/ Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc.

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Rampy Northrup LLC/ Quest Diagnostics Incorporated



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