GOP May Vote On Obamacare 'Replacement'
TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Four years, two election cycles and 40-plus repeal votes after Obamacare became the law of the land, Republicans say they're moving toward a replacement plan. House Republican leaders said at their party retreat yesterday that they will vote on a replacement plan this year, and Senate Republicans sought the advice of Republican governors on what a replacement should contain. Whether the GOP will offer a true alternative -- one that acknowledges the tradeoffs inevitable to any piece of health care policy -- remains to be seen, but the goal is to push back against the perception that Republicans are fixated on an anti-Obama, anti-Obamacare agenda. Meanwhile, Democrats are losing yet another health care advocate in Congress, as Rep. Waxman announces he will not seek reelection this year.
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OBAMACARE REPLACEMENT VOTE. Majority Leader Cantor promised an Obamacare replacement vote, and encouraged members to think about ways to address the health law, jobs, the middle class, and "opportunity" in 2014. (Tim Alberta, National Journal)
GOP GOVERNORS. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with Sens. Lamar Alexander and John Barrasso sent a letter Thursday asking Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Policy Chairman of the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee, to solicit health policy ideas from his fellow governors. (Elise Viebeck, The Hill)
WAXMAN. The California Democrat has a 40 year legacy of health care initiatives in Congress, including tobacco regulations, generic drugs, AIDS research and treatment, expanding Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and the Affordable Care Act. (Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times)
DEM'S HEALTH CARE BRAIN DRAIN IS IN FULL SWING. With Waxman's announcement that he will not seek reelection, four of the five committee chairmen who helped write the ACA are gone or leaving. (Sam Baker, National Journal)
SANDRA FLUKE 'STRONGLY CONSIDERING' RUNNING FOR WAXMAN'S SEAT. The lawyer Rush Limbaugh once called a 'slut' over her defense of the Obamacare contraception mandate is reportedly mulling a congressional campaign. (Marina Koren, National Journal)
IN A FOOTNOTE, GOP GIVES UP TOTAL OBAMACARE REPEAL. Repeal the president's health law, says the authors of the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment (CARE) Act...except for the changes to Medicare. (Michael Millenson, Forbes)
WHERE OBAMACARE IS SUCCEEDING...AND WHERE IT'S FALLING SHORT. With two months to go, exchange enrollment is uneven—and breaks sharply along partisan lines. A state-by-state breakdown of percentage of marketplace-eligible population that has enrolled in coverage thus far, with graphics! (Sophie Novack and Stephanie Stamm, National Journal)
CALIFORNIA EXCHANGE POSTS CONSUMER RATINGS OF HEALTH PLANS. Customer quality ratings and cost are two comparison points available to Californians shopping for health insurance. (Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News)
Providers and Medicine
HHS REPORTS $380 MILLION IN SAVINGS TO MEDICARE THROUGH ACCOUNTABLE CARE ORGANIZATIONS IN 2012. Part of Obama's health care law, the 360+ ACOs are networks of doctors, hospitals, and other providers intended to focus on improved outcomes and help move Medicare away from the traditional fee-for-service model of medicine. (David Morgan, Reuters)
GYNECOLOGY BOARD REVERSES BAN ON TREATING MALE PATIENTS. "The decision, announced Thursday by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, was a reversal of its September directive, and followed partial concessions the group had made in November and December in an effort to mollify critics." (Denise Grady, New York Times)
A BOTCHED OPERATION. Steven Brigham's abortion clinics keep being sanctioned for offering substandard care. Why is he still in business? (Eyal Press, The New Yorker)
DRUG COSTS ARE SPIKING AND IT'S NOT CLEAR WHY. Pharmacists want Congress to investigate a sharp increase in medicinal costs. (Clara Ritger, National Journal)
ANTHEM TO RAISE SOME PREMIUMS AS MUCH AS 25 PERCENT (NOT BECAUSE OF OBAMACARE). Up to 306,000 Californians with older grandfathered Anthem health plans will see their premiums increase 16 percent on average beginning April 1, unless state regulators persuade the state's largest for-profit insurer to change its mind. (Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times)
ABOUT 20 PERCENT WHO ENROLLED IN ACA EXCHANGES HAVEN'T YET PAID THEIR FIRST MONTH'S PREMIUM. Around 2.1 million people signed up for coverage beginning Jan. 1, but with payment deadlines extending to Jan. 31 at the latest, between 12 and 30 percent still have not paid, according to a CNNMoney poll of insurers. (Tami Luhby, CNNMoney)
DOJ TO EXPAND FEDERAL DEFINITION OF DISABLED. "Draft regulations unveiled Thursday are meant to fulfill the agency's mandate under the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. Congress approved the measure in response to a series of court decisions that took a narrow view of what it means to be disabled, limiting the reach of the landmark 1990 statute." (Ben Goad, The Hill)
STATE OF THE ACA EXCHANGES BRIEFING. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will hold a discussion titled "Where We Are Now? State of Exchanges and Enrollment," with several state exchange directors at 9 a.m. at the National Press Club.
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