OVERNIGHT HEALTHCARE: Wait isn't over for ObamaCare ruling

The Supreme Court has added decision days to its calendar on Thursday and Friday, when the King v. Burwell watch will continue. The Court has just seven opinions left to issue, and has three scheduled days to release them (including next Monday.)

Last week, Republicans in the House and Senate briefed their members on their contingency plans, trying to calm fears about what could happen to the 6.4 million people whose health insurance subsidies are at stake in the case. 


Some of K Street's biggest lobby firms are drafting "predecision" memos and briefing clients, even those outside of the healthcare realm about how they could be hit by a ruling. 

Democrats are also getting nervous. 

On the same afternoon as the Republican meetings, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell privately met with members of the New Democrat Coalition on Wednesday to talk about the case.

"In my state of Georgia, 500,000 people would lose their insurance -- 8 or 9 million people across the country. And all [states] have to do is put the exchanges in place," Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) said as he left the closed-door meeting.

A spokeswoman for the coalition's chairman, Rep. Ron KindRonald (Ron) James KindWisconsin Rep. Ron Kind wins primary Democrats exit briefing saying they fear elections under foreign threat Bottom line MORE (D-Wis.), said she couldn't discuss details, but confirmed the administration's response to the case was the "main topic of discussion." Read more here.

EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON GOP CONTINGENCY PLANS Experts say the proposals floated by Republicans in response to the looming Supreme Court ruling on ObamaCare could lead to higher premiums, but also create improvements in the healthcare system over time.

Some experts say the GOP push to repeal the mandate for buying insurance could be problematic. Without it, they warn, insurance premiums would likely skyrocket because people could wait until they are sick to buy coverage.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that repealing the individual mandate would increase insurance premiums by 15 to 20 percent.

"You can't have a system where sick people can sign up and healthy people can take a pass without consequences," said Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Consultants, a consulting firm.

Other healthcare experts say the importance of the individual mandate is exaggerated.

"The individual mandate didn't do that much to get people to sign up, it was the subsidies," said Joseph Antos, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "Will the insurance market collapse without the mandate? Of course it won't." Read more here

CANCER DOCTORS RELEASE TOOL TO MEASURE VALUE OF DRUGS A leading group of cancer doctors on Monday released a framework for helping patients weigh the cost and benefits of cancer drugs, amid concern over rising drug prices.  

The framework from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) presents patients with a "Net Health Benefit" score that rates the added benefit a patient can expect from a treatment, factoring in the side effects. That score, which uses data from clinical trials, is then presented next to the out-of-pocket cost to patients of the drug, allowing for comparing the price and the expected benefit. 

"Value and cost are among the biggest issues in healthcare today, but there are few tools to help doctors and patients objectively assess benefits, side effects and costs," ASCO President Julie Vose said in a statement. "Our goal is to help oncologists and their patients weigh potential treatment options based on high-quality scientific evidence and a thoughtful assessment of each patient's needs and goals. "

ASCO notes that cancer care is one of the fastest-growing areas of health spending in the U.S., with spending expected to increase from $125 billion in 2010 to $158 billion in 2020. 

Newly-approved cancer drugs, it notes, now cost an average of $10,000 a month, with some costing more than $30,000 a month. Even for people with insurance, costs can be high, due to deductibles, co-payments and other out-of-pocket costs. Read more here.  

Tuesday's schedule

A Senate Appropriations subcommittee marks up the HHS spending bill.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy will attend a White House summit on climate change and health. 

State by state 

California's ObamaCare exchange to collect insurance data on patients

Abortion clinic doctors will testify behind screens to protect identities

What we're reading

Health insurer Cigna rejects Anthem takeover bid 

States take few steps to fill gaps if Supreme Court blocks health subsidies  

CNN's GoPro antics rile Supreme Court 

What you might have missed from The Hill

Report: Gruber had larger role in ObamaCare

McConnell vows Senate will vote on 20-week abortion ban

Repealing ObamaCare would add $353 billion to deficits, CBO says

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