OVERNIGHT HEALTHCARE: 'Crunch time' for medical innovation bill

Senior members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are close to completing a new draft of their long-awaited "21st Century Cures" bill, which could be released as early as Wednesday.

Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and ranking member Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) are expected to release the latest draft of the legislation after a joint trip to Upton's home state of Michigan to promote their initiative, which aims to speed up the development of new medicines and treatments.

"This week really does become crunch time," a Democratic aide said.

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The plans released this week will not come in the form of a completed bill, but will provide key details about the bill's fate. The scope of the bill will likely signal whether it stands a chance of meeting the committee's anticipated deadline.

Upton had said he wants to hold a hearing before April 30 and aim for passage before Memorial Day.

Committee leaders from both parties are expecting the legislation to attract far more support than the first version released in January, which was not endorsed by DeGette or Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.).

That version, which was 13 pages, was heavy on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health – two areas that the aide said are likely to be included in the latest draft.

The same day that draft was released in January, Upton and DeGette began meeting with several other members to help advance the legislation, such as Pallone, Rep. Gene GreenRaymond (Gene) Eugene GreenTexas New Members 2019 Two Democrats become first Texas Latinas to serve in Congress Latina Leaders to Watch 2018 MORE (D-Texas) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), who leads the health subcommittee.

"As things are standing right now, there's a lot of consensus on a lot of areas," the aide said. Read more here

OBAMACARE COURT FIGHT ESCALATES: The fight over ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion escalated Monday, as Texas's Republican governor backed a lawsuit from Florida against the Obama administration.

"When the federal government exceeds its constitutional authority, the States must take action," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. "[I] commend Governor Rick Scott's decision to take legal action to protect these important constitutional principles."

Last week, Scott announced he would sue the Obama administration over what he called an effort to illegally force Florida into expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

"It is appalling that President Obama would cut off federal healthcare dollars to Florida in an effort to force our state further into ObamaCare," Scott said last week. Read more here

70,000 ENROLLED WITH TWO WEEKS TO GO: More than 68,000 people have signed up for healthcare during ObamaCare's extra enrollment period so far this year, the federal government announced Monday.

People who lack insurance have 10 more days to buy coverage through the federal marketplace to avoid next year's penalty, which will rise to at least $325 a person.

The Obama administration announced in February that it would give people a second chance to buy coverage if they learned about the fee for the first time while paying their taxes.

While officials had not said how many people they expected to sign up during the special enrollment period, the current tally is a small fraction of the administration's previous estimates that as many as 6 million people could pay the penalty.

The enrollment period will run from March 15 to April 30. About 36,000 people had signed up during the first two weeks of the enrollment period. Read more here

Tuesday's schedule

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will mark up legislation on a D.C. Council law called the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act.

The Consumer Federation of America will kick off its annual National Food Policy Conference.

State by state

Missouri Republicans inch forward on Medicaid reforms

GOP balks at more money for Montana state hospitals

Why won't Florida adopt Medicaid expansion?  

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