'Doc Fix' Deflating?
GOP ATTACKS OBAMACARE IN DOC FIX BILL: House Republicans said yesterday that they've found an offset for the cost of a permanent "doc fix," the white whale that has eluded Washington for so long. Only problem is, their offset is a delay in Obamacare's individual mandate. The search for a permanent fix has been a remarkably bipartisan process so far, and lawmakers saved the offset for last to try to keep it that way, but this is clearly a non-starter for the administration. Unless Republicans are simply staking out a bargaining position and plan to move on, this isn't a good sign for the doc fix.
Top Health Care News
HOUSE TO VOTE ON 'DOC FIX,' PAID FOR WITH OBAMACARE FUNDS: GOP leaders plan to bring legislation to repeal the SGR to the floor next week, and are linking a delay of the ACA's individual mandate to the bill. (Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico)
HEALTH INSURANCE MARKETPLACES SIGNING UP FEW UNINSURED AMERICANS, SURVEYS SAY: A pair of surveys released on Thursday suggest that just one in 10 uninsured people who qualify for private health plans through the new marketplace have signed up for one — and that about half of uninsured adults has looked for information on the online exchanges or plans to look. (Amy Goldstein, Washington Post)
BUT THE NUMBER OF UNINSURED BUYING COVERAGE UNDER THE HEALTH LAW IS RISING: The trend suggests more people could gain coverage as the enrollment period approaches its final weeks. (Christopher Weaver and Anna Wilde Mathews, Wall Street Journal)
On the Uninsured
HHS DOESN'T KNOW HOW MANY UNINSURED ARE SIGNING UP FOR OBAMACARE: "That's not a data point we're really collecting in any sort of systemic way," says a senior administration official. (Sam Baker, National Journal)
ONE-FOURTH OF UNINSURED ADULTS DON'T KNOW ABOUT OBAMACARE'S EXCHANGES: With the administration working desperately to get people enrolled, the information gap presents a high hurdle. (Clara Ritger, National Journal)
YOUR WORKPLACE HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS $1,200 MORE: Employees are shelling out 28 percent more for workplace health benefits than just three years ago. (Tami Luhby, CNN Money)
COMPANIES TEST PLANS TO CUT THEIR HEALTH COSTS: Companies are shifting their costs onto employees, a new survey finds, but they are also experimenting with private exchanges that allow them to offer more plan choice to workers. (Reed Abelson, New York Times)
Drugs and Medicine
EXPERTS: OFFICIALS MISSED SIGNS OF PRESCRIPTION DRUG CRACKDOWN'S EFFECT ON HEROIN USE: At the same time that some pain medications have become less available on the street and pricier, many users have switched to cheaper heroin, since prescription pills and heroin are in the same class of drugs and provide a comparable, euphoric high. (Jerry Markon and Alice Crites, Washington Post)
E-CIGARETTES DON'T DISCOURAGE SMOKING AMONG TEENS: A new study suggests that people who use e-cigarettes are also likely to be regular cigarette users. (Alexandra Sifferlin, TIME)
OBAMACARE PENALTY TO EXCEED $95 FOR MANY AMERICANS: According to the Tax Policy Center's new calculator, some families could pay into the five figures. (John D. McKinnon, Wall Street Journal)
ANOTHER STATE TO FLIP ON MEDICAID EXPANSION: The New Hampshire Senate voted to approve expansion, clearing the way for passage in the state. (Sophie Novack, National Journal)
PITFALLS SEEN IN A TURN TO PRIVATELY RUN LONG-TERM CARE: As public attention is focused on the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, states are undertaking ambitious efforts to reign in Medicare spending. In many cases in model-state Tennessee, care was denied after needs grew costlier. (Nina Bernstein, New York Times)
MEDPAC CONFERENCE FOCUSES ON MEDICARE PAYMENT REFORM: The congressional advisory body will weigh quality-based payments, site-neutral payments for rehab, and primary care payments. The first session begins at 10 a.m. in the Ronald Reagan building and the conference continues through Friday.
AMERICA'S HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS EXCHANGE CONFERENCE: AHIP's National Health Policy Conference will be held Wednesday and Thursday at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Events surrounding the Affordable Care Act's implementation begin at 8:30 a.m.