OVERNIGHT HEALTHCARE: ObamaCare loses 700,000 people

A federal official revealed Thursday that a total of 7.3 million people are paying for ObamaCare plans – a dropoff of about 700,000 from earlier White House figures this spring.   

The new numbers were provided to lawmakers by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.  The news is still a boon for the Obama administration, which had expected a total of 6 million sign-ups in the first year. 

Tavenner, who spoke during a hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, was also grilled about the number of sign-ups that had been subsidized. 

The federal government has for months declined to provide enrollment figures, and is still unable to provide a timeline for their release. The second year of ObamaCare sign-ups begins in two months.

“As soon as we have it, we will release it,” Tavenner said. Read more here

Fighting killer bacteria: President Obama moved via executive action Thursday to quell the rise of deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria blamed for tens of thousands of deaths a year in the United States.

Obama signed an order establishing a new interagency task force and directed its members to deliver a plan by February 15 to combat the threat of so-called “super bugs,” bacteria that have built up a resistance to antibiotics commonly prescribed to people and animals.

Top U.S. health officials called the rise of the bacteria an “urgent health threat” with major economic and national security implications. Antibiotic-resistant infections are already linked to 23,000 deaths and 2 million illnesses in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Read more here.

No SHOP data, no surprise: Republicans are slamming the Obama administration for failing to release enrollment data for ObamaCare's small business health insurance exchanges despite repeated inquiries. An official from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said again Thursday that she could not provide the numbers during a House Small Business subcommittee hearing.

The comment drew a rebuke from GOP members of the panel, including Chairman Chris Collins (R-N.Y.). "It's shocking that, after the billions of taxpayer money that has been spent on ObamaCare, there was no process created for recording and measuring the Small Business Health Options Program enrollment data on a regular basis," he said in a statement. Read more here.

Grimes's grandmother appears in new Medicare ad: Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is launching an emotional minute-long ad featuring her grandmother to hit Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 McConnell privately urged GOP senators to oppose debt ceiling hike On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE (R-Ky.) on Medicare. In the ad, Grimes and her grandmother Elsie tell the story of how her grandfather had a stroke, which Elsie says, “just took everything away.”

“We scrimped and saved but suddenly our finances were going to medical bills,” Elsie says. Grimes concludes the ad by knocking McConnell for voting “over and over again to raise seniors’ Medicare costs.” Read more here.

More growth in Medicare Advantage: Enrollment in private Medicare plans appears to be rising steadily despite substantial cuts to the program under ObamaCare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported Thursday that Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollment is on track to hit new records for its fifth straight year.

Premiums for policyholders are up $2.94 for next year on average, though three in five enrollees will see no increase at all, the report stated. CMS attributed the positive trends to the healthcare law, which critics blast for trimming government reimbursements to Medicare Advantage. Read more here.

Anti-abortion groups warn Dems: Anti-abortion activists are pledging to turn the Senate red with help from a federal investigation finding that ObamaCare subsidies could be paying for abortions. With Congress close to recess, seven anti-abortion groups held a press conference to warn vulnerable Democrats to prepare for a fight on the campaign trail as they leave Washington.

"For every senator who voted for taxpayer funding for abortion, we will be proclaiming that," said Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. Read more here.

Friday's schedule

The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing on combating antibiotic resistance as part of its "21st Century Cures" initiative.

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins will deliver the keynote address at the 5th Annual Childhood Cancer Summit.

CVS Health President and CEO Larry J. Merlo will speak at the National Press Club about the role that corporations should take to reduce chronic illness.  

State by state

Corbett responds to suggestion of misspent ObamaCare funds

No Medicaid action expected in Virginia special session

Louisiana health leader defends criticized Medicaid report

Reading list

Companies race to adjust benefits as ACA takes hold, Washington Post

IOM: Americans endure unwanted care near death, The Associated Press

Sierra Leone to shut down for 3 days to slow Ebola, The Associated Press

How to reboot HealthCare.gov, The New Republic 

What you might have missed at The Hill

Oregon GOP Senate candidate facing plagiarism charges

Poll: Republican leads in Colorado Senate

Poll: Majority happy with ObamaCare plans

Bill would ensure contraceptive access for female service members


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