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OVERNIGHT HEALTH: GOP ready for Gruber

The Jonathan Gruber show is coming to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, with Republicans set to grill the former ObamaCare adviser for his controversial remarks about the "stupidity" of voters.

The hearing is likely to be a spectacle, with cable news networks planning heavy coverage as Gruber takes the witness stand to answer questions about his ties to the Obama administration and his consulting work for the Department of Health and Human Services.

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"Tomorrow is all about giving him the opportunity to say something stupid," a Republican aide said. "It’s going to be a lot of fun."

Gruber's connections in the White House – as well as his nearly half-million dollar contract – will likely dominate the hearing, which is one of the last for outgoing House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), who has served on the Oversight committee for more than 20 years, said he wants to know exactly how closely Gruber worked with Democrats shaping the law and how much money he made.

"Within the administration and the White House, there’s plenty of ties to this guy," he said in an interview.

Mica said Democrats have left Gruber "high and dry" after multiple videos surfaced in which he suggested the administration took advantage of an ill-informed public to pass ObamaCare.

In one video, Gruber said voters were "too stupid to understand" the law's main tax; in another, he said the legislative process relied on "the exploitation" of the public.

Read the full story Tuesday morning on TheHill.com.

 

GOP lawmaker to grill Tavenner: A GOP member of the House Oversight Committee is preparing to grill the Obama administration on the surprise tax bills that will hit some ObamaCare enrollees who do not choose a different health plan by Feb. 15.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) plans to bring up the issue with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner when she testifies before the panel on Tuesday.

The hearing is likely to focus on witness Jonathan Gruber, an ObamaCare consultant now infamous for his comment that the "stupidity of the American voter" helped the healthcare law to pass. But Meadows says he's more interested in hearing from Tavenner on subtle changes in how ObamaCare subsidies are calculated that will leave some enrollees owing money to the IRS.

"The significance of this is troubling to me when you realize what CMS is doing and not doing to inform people that they will get a tax bill [if they do not actively re-enroll]," he said in an interview Monday. Read more here.

 

Ebola czar to return to private sector: Ebola czar Ron Klain is reportedly returning to the private sector after wrapping up his duties this spring, despite speculation the former chief of staff to Vice President Biden was jockeying for a spot as a top presidential adviser.

Klain will return to his job leading technology investment firm Case Holdings by the beginning of March, according to a report in Fortune magazine.

Former AOL chief Steve Case, the founder of the eponymous investment firm, told the magazine Klain will also return to his post as general council of the venture capital firm Revolution LLC. An administration official confirmed Monday that Klain intended to return to the private sector.

"Mr. Klain was appointed to this role as a 'Special Government Employee,' a position whose term is 130 days," the official said. "As he started in late October, his term expires in late February. Ron has always intended to return to his private sector job after finishing his term here." Read more here.

 

Pressure for surgeon general: Public health professionals are making a last-ditch effort this week to pressure the Senate to confirm Surgeon General nominee Vivek MurthyVivek Hallegere MurthyCan Scott Gottlieb reverse the opioid crisis? Blame a ‘loneliness epidemic’ for risks to nation’s well-being Surgeon general: ‘We are going to run out of funds’ for Zika MORE before lawmakers leave for the holidays. The American Public Health Association (APHA) issued a strongly worded statement Monday calling out the National Rifle Association (NRA) for its opposition to Murthy's nomination.

"[Murthy] has undergone a full public vetting and weathered any criticisms," said APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin. "The few concerns that have surfaced during this period have shown no merit.

"As I said previously, competence not age should be the primary qualification for this position. And one concern raised by the National Rifle Association runs counter to mainstream, science-based medical opinion. His nomination deserves our full support."

Permanently filling the surgeon general position is a priority for the APHA, whose founders campaigned for the office to be created in the 1870s. Read more here.

 

Liberals push back on Dem criticism of O-Care: Liberals on and off Capitol Hill are defending President Obama's healthcare law from the friendly fire of fellow Democrats. The liberals say the criticisms from Sens. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerPush to pay congressional interns an hour gains traction with progressives House approves two-week spending measure to avert shutdown Manchin’s likely senior role on key energy panel rankles progressives MORE (N.Y.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) are not only flat wrong, but also pointless coming four years after the law’s passage.

"I disagree with both of them," said Rep. Henry WaxmanHenry Arnold WaxmanGeorge H.W. Bush put environment above politics — we should too Dems rally for Green New Deal FDA lets vaping flourish as it eyes crackdown on cigarettes MORE (D-Calif.), who helped usher the bill into law as then-chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. "I disagree with what they said, and I can't quite see a lot of value in it."

Schumer and Harkin – both of whom played an outsized role in crafting the legislation in 2009 and 2010 – have raised eyebrows in recent weeks by second-guessing the wisdom of their work. Schumer said the Democrats' timing was poor, arguing that party leaders should have used the momentum coming out of the Democrats' 2008 election sweep to focus on bread-and-butter economic issues. Read more here.

 

Tuesday’s schedule:

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell will deliver remarks about ObamaCare in Orlando, Fla.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will host a hearing about ObamaCare transparency featuring MIT professor Jonathan Gruber.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing about healthcare spending in the federal budget.

 

State by state:

Despite decline, elective early births remain a Medicaid problem

NH Medicaid enrollment exceeds expectations

Problems need fixing before Alaska Medicaid expansion moves forward, state says

NY health industry, patients brace for $15B reform

Can CMS 'concessions' save Medicare ACOs?

 

What we’re reading:

Doc who sent Ebola patient home says care was appropriate

Good news for the Affordable Care Act in jobs reports

ObamaCare helps private equity get its rehab clinic fix

Half of the senators who voted for O-Care won't be part of new Senate

Opinion: ObamaCare's threat to private practice

 

What you might have missed from The Hill:

McConnell: ObamaCare repeal could be first vote

GOP pins hopes of dismantling ObamaCare on the courts

Feds ban smoking in prisons

 

Please send tips and comments to Sarah Ferris, sferris@thehill.com, and Elise Viebeck, eviebeck@thehill.com.

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