OVERNIGHT HEALTHCARE: Officials hope good ObamaCare numbers sway court

The administration got a wave of good news Monday about ObamaCare that it hopes will sway the Supreme Court to uphold the health law in full.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) again lowered the expected price tag for ObamaCare, pointing to lower healthcare spending nationally.


And at a packed White House event later on Monday, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced that the number of people signing up for ObamaCare is continuing to rise. A total of 11.7 million signed up this year, according to the government's preliminary estimates.

The health secretary highlighted the figures in warning of the potential fallout if the high court rules against ObamaCare subsidies in King v. Burwell.

"Those who support this lawsuit believe that the law should be dismantled or repealed and they are content to roll back the progress that we have achieved together," she told the crowd.

For Democrats, the new figures offer further proof that ObamaCare is covering more people and helping to stem rising healthcare costs. Opponents of the law argue that healthcare spending had been already declining during the recession and that many of the new signups were added to the Medicaid rolls.

Both reports come at a crucial time for the Obama administration, which is fighting off its second major court challenge in three years. If the court rules against the administration, as many as 8 million people could lose their subsidies. The massive shakeup of the insurance market could then cause huge hikes in premium rates, experts have warned – erasing most of the reforms that the administration pushed through five years ago. Read more here.

GOP CONSIDERS BUDGET TOOL DURING LONG WAIT FOR SCOTUS: GOP aides say a little-known budget tool called reconciliation is becoming an increasingly attractive option to avert the healthcare meltdown that could result from a ruling against ObamaCare this June.

Congressional Republicans will decide in the next two weeks whether to use reconciliation to deliver a bill to President Obama outlining their party's response to the looming Supreme Court challenge against the law.

The budget procedure would allow Republicans to signal to the justices and to state leaders that they are working on a plan, while buying themselves several months to hammer out details.

GOP GOVERNOR STIRS UP SUBSIDY DEBATE: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) said Monday that she is counting on Republicans in Congress to come up with a backup plan in case the Supreme Court delivers a blow to ObamaCare this year.

Oklahoma is one of 37 states in which millions of people could lose their healthcare subsidies if the court decides that Congress did not have the power to create them under the original ObamaCare text.

"We hope that Congress would offer targeted, temporary relief for people to maintain their current coverage while we work together on free-market, consumer-friendly solutions for the future," she wrote in an op-ed in the Tulsa World.

Separate proposals to create "temporary assistance" have also been put forward by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). Read the story here and op-ed here:

ALSO FROM THE SUPREME COURT -- BIRTH CONTROL: The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a lower court must revisit its ruling in the University of Notre Dame's high-profile lawsuit against ObamaCare's contraception mandate.

The Roman Catholic university had been seeking an exemption from ObamaCare's contraception mandate because of its religious ties, but a federal appeals court in Chicago ruled against the school. That court is must now revisit its decision in light of the Supreme Court's ruling in the Hobby Lobby case last summer. Read more here:

Tuesday's schedule

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg will testify about medical innovation at a panel before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions at 10 a.m.

State by state

Kansas Gov. Brownback softens stance on Medicaid expansion

Abortion bills move to Minn.'s front burner

Bill banning late-term abortion heads to NM Senate

What we're reading

Report: Rural hospitals get billions in extra Medicare funds  

ObamaCare's cost is falling as fewer receive coverage

Rural, urban suicide gap widening among youth

More states consider 'death with dignity' laws

What you might have missed from The Hill

Senate bill would legalize medical marijuana in some states

Cost of ObamaCare subsidies shrinks 11 percent

CBO: Deficit to grow in 2015

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