Obamacare Improving As Obama Heads Into SOTU
TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: The White House is starting this week, ahead of the State of the Union, with a vastly improved Obamacare. Roughly 3 million people have signed up for private coverage through the law, putting it nearly on track with the administration's pre-launch targets. The law remains unpopular in polling, but a new AP-GfK poll out today found that negative perceptions of the ACA rollout have eased, and robust enrollment could help validate Democrats' long-held belief that the polling will improve once people see the law's benefits. Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee passed a resolution Friday that encourages members to actively embrace abortion as an election issue. Republicans in the House will take this to heart this week, with a meeting of the Committee on Rules today on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, followed by a full House vote on the bill later this week. The legislation would take the already existing ban on federal funding for abortion services a step further by prohibiting Obamacare tax subsidies for individuals and small businesses from going towards any plans that include abortion coverage. The measure is expected to pass in the House and be stopped in the Senate.
Top Health Care News
ENROLLMENT. The administration is on pace to approach its original target of 7 million people enrolled in Obamacare by the close of open enrollment period at the end of March. (Sam Baker, National Journal)
POLL. Despite decline in negative views of ACA implementation, two-thirds say things are still not going well, according to the latest AP-GfK poll. (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Jennifer Agiesta, Associated Press)
RNC. Despite the risk of the GOP wading further into the controversial abortion issue, the RNC resolution states that the party "will support Republican pro-life candidates who fight back against Democratic deceptive 'war on women' rhetoric by pointing out the extreme positions on abortion held by Democratic opponents." (Alexandra Jaffe, The Hill)
State of the Union
ADMINISTRATION TO REORGANIZE GOVERNING STYLE IN 2014. "I think he was asking the right questions, but he wasn't getting the right answers," senior advisor John Podesta--brought in to help design an effective governing strategy around the president's goals--said of the Obamacare rollout. "And we have to debug that process at the management level." (Scott Wilson, Washington Post)
STRATEGISTS: EXPECT OBAMA TO LINGER ON HEALTH LAW IN SPEECH. "The bottom line: Obama needs a speech that rallies the faithful without losing credibility with the rest of the country." (David Nather, Politico)
Contraception and Abortion
OPINION: GOP EMPHASIS ON ABORTION A 'FORMULA FOR REPELLING WOMEN VOTERS.' "Instead of backing off, they're digging in, clinging to an approach that gave President Obama a 12-point advantage among women in the 2012 election and provided the slim margin of victory for Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia, in 2013." (The Editorial Board, New York Times)
SUPREME COURT GRANTS LITTLE SISTERS TEMPORARY EXEMPTION FROM ACA CONTRACEPTION MANDATE. The Court said the nursing homes run by Catholic nuns will not be subject to the mandate penalty while their case is pending in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. (Robert Barnes, Washington Post)
TEXAS HOSPITAL REMOVES PREGNANT WOMAN FROM LIFE SUPPORT FOLLOWING JUDGE'S ORDER. The order ends Marlise Muñoz's family's legal battle to challenge a Texas law prohibiting doctors from ending life support to a pregnant woman, despite the fact that she has been pronounced brain-dead for two months. (Manny Fernandez, New York Times)
POLL: MOST US COMPANIES SAY ACA WILL HAVE LITTLE EFFECT ON HIRING. About 75 percent of those surveyed said the law hasn't influenced their planning or expectations for 2014, 85 percent said it wouldn't prompt a change in their hiring practices, according to a National Association for Business Economics poll. (Carlos Torres, Bloomberg)
CUTTING SPOUSAL BENEFITS MIGHT NOT SAVE FIRMS MONEY AFTER ALL. A new study suggests there could be a trend in eliminating coverage for spouses who have employer-offered care, simply driving workers back on their own company's plan. (Julie Rovner, National Public Radio)
DOCTORS CUT FROM MEDICARE ADVANTAGE NETWORKS STRUGGLE WITH WHAT TO TELL PATIENTS. Medical associations say the doctors dropped from health insurance networks mean some patients are stopping mid-treatment. (Ariana Eunjung Cha, Washington Post)
MAN FOUND DEAD IN ER AFTER WAITING 8 HOURS FOR A DOCTOR. Average wait times at Saint Barnabas Hospital are twice the New York state and national averages. (Laura Italiano and Lia Eustachewich, New York Post)
SCHUMER PROPOSES 'AVONTE'S LAW' TO PROTECT CHILDREN WITH AUTISM. The law would finance a program to offer optional electronic tracking devices to kids with autism. (Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times)
Happening This Week
HOUSE RULES COMMITTEE MEETING. The committee will meet to draft a rule on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act at 5 p.m. in H-313 in the U.S. Capitol.
HOUSE OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE HEARING. The committee will hold a hearing on "A Roadmap for Hackers? - Documents Detailing HealthCare.gov Security Vulnerabilities" at 10 a.m. in 2154 Rayburn.
STATE OF THE UNION. Obama will deliver his State of the Union address at 9 p.m. ET.
HOUSE VOTE ON ABORTION BILL. A floor vote on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act is expected this week, before House Republicans leave for their issues retreat.
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.
Join National Journal on Thursday, February 13 for "Conversations with the Chair: Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)" underwritten by The National Association of Broadcasters. Metropolitan Ballroom, The Liaison Capital Hill Hotel, 8:30 - 10:00 am. RSVP @ http://www.eventbrite.com/e/conversations-with-the-chair-representative-bob-goodlatte-r-va-tickets-10276179329
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