OVERNIGHT HEALTHCARE: Republicans say White House hiding ObamaCare plan

Tune in to tomorrow at 8:30 am for a live discussion on fixing America's healthcare system. Featuring Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

And Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.). Click here to view the livestream: http://bit.ly/17zLaZ0

* * * * * 

Some Republicans say it's impossible to believe that the Obama administration is not working on a fallback plan in case the Supreme Court dismantles a major piece of its healthcare law this summer.

The court begins arguments next week on a GOP-backed lawsuit, King v. Burwell, that could eliminate subsidies for more than 7 million people. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said Tuesday that the White House has "no plans" if the subsidies become illegal.


"No credible person would believe that," Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) told The Hill on Wednesday.

"It would be executive malpractice not to have a plan, a contingency plan, for what happens when that court ruling comes down and I'm going to assume that this government doesn't practice executive malpractice," he said.

Burwell's warning, which was delivered to several GOP offices on Tuesday, dramatically raises the stakes for an already crucial Supreme Court decision. Both parties have repeatedly said that a plaintiff victory could cause massive damage to ObamaCare.

With such high stakes, Republicans say the administration is surely preparing some way to avert the impending disaster.

"It's hard to fathom that the administration would bury its head in the sand and fail to engage in any contingency planning," Rep, Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), who chairs the health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said.

He plans to grill Burwell on the administration's claim that it does not have a "back up plan" when she testifies at his hearing on Thursday.

One Senate GOP aide who is also skeptical of the White House's lack of planning said the administration is likely looking to influence the court ahead of the March 4 arguments.

"OK, so they say they're not doing anything. So what? They can show up a week after a King ruling and show they had done something," the aide said. "Does it influence next Wednesday? I'd like to think that the Supreme Court is not that shallow."

... ALTHOUGH A GOP HEARING ON WEDNESDAY IGNORED THE CASE: Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell testified on the Hill on Wednesday after a rough two-week stretch for ObamaCare.

But even with the clock ticking ahead on the high court challenge and the new tax season struggles, more than a dozen House Appropriations committee members made no mention of King v. Burwell or the new taxes. Instead, the two-hour hearing focused on abortion funding, travel budgets, Ebola and budgets of rural hospitals.

Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) used his time to question Burwell about a recent report that the department had spent millions on first-class and business-class flights.

As Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), began his questioning, he welcomed Burwell to what he joked was the "friendly committee." He said while reading through the secretary's 18-page testimony on the budget proposal, he was largely in support.

"I actually agree with you on most of it," Simpson said.

Burwell will be back on Capitol Hill on Thursday for a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing, where Chairman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) is already saying he will be tough.

NEW SIGN-UPS HINT AT SUCCESS FOR YEAR 2: More than half of the nearly 9 million people who enrolled in ObamaCare coverage through the federal website were new customers, the administration said Wednesday, touting the number to show the vibrancy of the law.

Fifty-three percent of the 8.84 million people who signed up through Healthcare.gov were new to ObamaCare this year. The administration had previously praised the better-than-expected total number of enrollments, but it was unclear how many already had health insurance.

The other 47 percent of sign-ups were re-enrollments from people who already had coverage. Twenty-two percent were automatically re-enrolled, and 25 percent actively chose a plan again.

The administration touted that more than half of the people who actively re-enrolled in coverage, around 1.2 million people, chose a new plan. It said that was a higher rate than with other kinds of health insurance and an indication that people are engaged with ObamaCare.

Thursday's schedule

Burwell will testify at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing at 10 a.m.

Marketplace CEO Kevin Counihan testifies at a House Oversight Committee hearing at 10 a.m.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) will discuss mental health reforms at an event hosted by The Hill at 8:30 a.m.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) will host Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to speak about the Ebola crisis at 1:30 p.m.

State by state

GOP-backed bill would make it criminal to enforce ACA in W.Va.

Christie budget aims to ease Medicaid doctor shortage

Utah Senate gives early OK to governor's Medicaid plan

Oregon seeks to force Oracle to keep hosting Medicaid system

What we're reading

Major insurers are finally revealing one of healthcare's greatest mysteries

Supreme Court says dentists can't decide who gets to whiten your teeth

CDC warns overuse of antibiotics has fueled more infections

King v. Burwell: A quick take on a crucial case

Phil Gramm's 'Freedom Option' reveals the GOP's real agenda for Obamacare

What you might have missed from The Hill

Washington State's ObamaCare overcharges 13K

GOP senators blast union 'carve out' in ObamaCare tax

Insurance group raises alarms about looming ObamaCare case

Republican threatens DC mayor with jail time over marijuana law

Please send tips and comments to Sarah Ferris, sferris@thehill.com, and Peter Sullivan, psullivan@thehill.com. Follow on Twitter: @thehill@sarahnferris@PeterSullivan4