In it, but not of it. TPM DC

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear two landmark cases about the validity of a rule under Obamacare that employer health plans must cover emergency contraceptives for female employees without co-pays.

The cases carry potentially far-reaching implications for Obamacare, access to birth control, the concept of corporate personhood and the extent to which religious liberty can exempt entities from laws they object to.

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The country's most aggressive anti-tax lobbyist is taking aim at Chris Christie over a new sales tax on electronic cigarettes endorsed by the New Jersey governor in his recent budget proposal.

Grover Norquist, the guardian of the notorious anti-tax pledge signed by most national Republicans, name-checked Christie in a recent letter calling on the New Jersey legislature to reject the GOP governor's "misguided" proposal, which would tax e-cigarette products at the same rate as traditional cigarettes.

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The Georgia state legislature passed a bill on Tuesday to prohibit abortion coverage from being included in insurance sold under Obamacare within its borders. It is now the 22nd state, almost all of them with statehouses controlled by Republicans, to pass such a bill since the federal law took effect in March 2010.

GOP lawmakers are taking advantage of the Affordable Care Act's approach to abortion coverage, a hotly contested issue when the bill was being debated, but pro-choice advocates have no illusions about what's happening: Conservatives are using the hated health care reform law to further the effort to restrict abortion coverage.

"This has been a big trend in state legislatures since as soon as the ink was dry on the ACA," Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice advocacy organization, told TPM.

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Engaged in all-out war with the liberal group MoveOn.org over a pro-Obamacare billboard, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has accused the organization -- and liberals in general -- of endorsing discrimination against the disabled through their support of the federal health care reform law and its Medicaid expansion.

"Liberal groups like MoveOn.org won’t say one word about caring for individuals with disabilities, or how Obamacare prioritizes coverage of childless adults ahead of the most vulnerable," Jindal wrote in an op-ed in the Shreveport Times last Thursday. "They just want to intimidate states into accepting Obamacare’s massive new spending programs."

The Louisiana state government and MoveOn have been feuding over a pro-Medicaid expansion billboard that the organization put up. After the group refused to take it down, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R) sued MoveOn last Friday. The Medicaid expansion has become a hot issue in the state: MoveOn attacking Jindal, Jindal attacking MoveOn; Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) attacking Jindal, and Jindal giving it right back. About 242,000 Louisianans have been left without health coverage under Obamacare because the state didn't expand Medicaid.

Of Landrieu, who's facing a tough re-election race in the state, Jindal inquired in the Times op-ed: "Why did she support -- and provide the critical 60th vote to enact -- legislation that discriminates against individuals with disabilities, by prioritizing coverage for childless adults over the needs of the most vulnerable?"

There's only one problem: According to health policy experts, Obamacare does no such thing. Furthermore, it actually sets up new demonstrations to help improve care for the disabled enrolled in Medicaid -- and Jindal should know that because his state has participated in several of them.

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The National Rifle Association has targeted President Barack Obama's nominee for surgeon general, and Democrats are in retreat.

Vivek Hallegere Murthy was tapped for the coveted role to serve as the federal government's top spokesman on public health. He's a uniquely accomplished physician -- a physician-instructor at Harvard Medical School since 2006 and a co-founder of VISIONS Worldwide in 1995, a nonprofit group working to fight HIV/AIDS. He received a B.A. from Harvard, an M.B.A. from Yale School of Management and an M.D. from Yale School of Medicine.

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One year after the GOP's brutal post-election "autopsy" report, the party has shunned meaningful changes to its governing agenda and is instead relying on stylistic shifts to make itself relevant to the changing American electorate.

In a joint op-ed published Monday in RealClearPolitics.com, the authors of the Republican National Committee report, which was released one year ago today, emphasized and re-emphasized their recent efforts to expand voter outreach, adopt the latest technologies and craft a message that appeals to voters outside their core tent. They expounded on their successes in those areas in a conference call with reporters in the afternoon.

Conspicuously missing in both venues was a single policy change embraced by the congressional GOP in the wake of the RNC's introspective look at where its party went astray.

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Updated: March 17, 2014, 6:12 PM

A journalist for an alt-weekly in Kentucky said he was barred from entering an event and given bogus reasons why.

Journalist Joe Sonka, the news editor for the liberal-leaning LEO Weekly in Kentucky, said Monday that he was barred from entering a press conference featuring Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).

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For a supposed government takeover of health care, there is some serious evidence that Obamacare is actually making the individual health insurance market even more competitive than it was before the law.

The empirical results are mixed thus far, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, but one of the authors told TPM on Monday that his takeaway from the law's opening act is that it's been a net positive on price competition.

"The bottom line in my view is that this is now a much more price competitive market," Larry Levitt, vice president at the non-profit, non-partisan foundation, said via email. "It will be hard for insurers to be much more expensive than their competitors and maintain market share."

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