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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

5. Political Cartoon: 'Push Poll?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Push Poll?'" by Ron Morgan.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

GUESS WHAT THE SENATE IS UP TO

Just another week
On the Hill … And another
Health law repeal vote.

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Capitol Hill Watch

6. Senate Scheduled To Vote This Week On Obamacare Repeal

The Senate legislation would delete large parts of the 2010 health law and will likely set up a veto fight with President Barack Obama. At the same time, Congress will attempt to move forward on key budget issues.

The Washington Post: Senate To Vote On Obamacare Repeal This Week
Senate Republicans plan to vote this week on legislation that would repeal large parts of President Obama’s signature health care law, setting up a veto fight in the coming weeks. Leaders expect a final vote on a budget reconciliation bill targeting Obamacare as early as Thursday with debate beginning no later than Wednesday. The legislation would also cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood, allowing Republicans a chance to force a veto confrontation with Obama over both issues before the end of the year. (Snell, 11/30)

Politico: Obamacare Repeal May Finally Land On Obama's Desk
Republicans are closer than ever to putting a repeal of Obamacare on the president’s desk. After an all-out effort by emissaries and allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the past two weeks to woo skeptical GOP senators, Senate Republicans are lining up behind a more aggressive plan to gut President Barack Obama's signature achievement through a majority-vote budget mechanism known as reconciliation. Obama, of course, would veto the proposal. But it would allow Republicans to finally say that Congress voted to overturn the health care law they've been railing against since it was signed into law nearly six years ago. Republicans have voted more than 50 times over the past five years to repeal Obamacare, with most of the attempts made in the House. (Everett and Haberkorn, 11/30)

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Bipartisan Talks Aimed At Making Tax Breaks Permanent
Republicans could win permanent extensions of the research and development tax credit, the deductibility of state sales taxes and a handful of other business tax breaks that expired at the end of 2014. The GOP would also get an extension, though perhaps not permanent, of bonus depreciation, a tax break for capital investment that’s been in place in some form since 2008. ... Democrats would get permanent extensions of tax credits for low-income families that are expiring at the end of 2017. They could also get an extension of the solar energy tax credit. The wind energy credit could also get extended and would be phased out, Hatch said. Delays of two pieces of Obamacare—the medical device tax and the Cadillac tax on high-cost health insurance—could also be included, [Sen. Orrin] Hatch said. Those taxes have bipartisan opposition. (Rubin, 11/30)

7. GOP Leader Indicates No Shutdown Expected On Planned Parenthood Funding

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., signaled that Republicans are unlikely to force a government shutdown over federal funding for the reproductive health group. Meanwhile, U.S. senators from California are urging colleagues to "tone down" their rhetoric on the abortion issue after Friday's shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic. However, other news outlets examine the dynamics in this heated debate and report on some of the most recent verbal salvos.

The New York Times: No Shutdown Expected On Planned Parenthood
Days after a gunman killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, the House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy, said that Republicans were not planning to force a showdown with the White House over cutting federal financing to the group as many conservative lawmakers had been demanding just a few weeks ago. “I do not hear people shutting the government down over it right now, so that’s the bottom line,” Mr. McCarthy said at a news conference at the Capitol on Monday, where he was pressed about whether a measure cutting off Planned Parenthood’s funding would be attached to a must-pass spending measure later this month. (Herszenhorn, 11/30)

The Wall Street Journal: National Security Will Be Focus In Year-End Spending Bill, GOP Leader Says
The California Republican’s comments suggested that party members won’t make defunding Planned Parenthood their primary focus in the negotiations over the spending bill. “Security is becoming the top issue I’m hearing [from lawmakers], especially in the last couple of weeks,” Mr. McCarthy said, when asked whether lawmakers were pushing to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding. Mr. Ryan has been reluctant to rule out the possibility of a shutdown, saying that doing so would diminish Republicans’ bargaining power in negotiations over the bill. But Mr. McCarthy said he expects Congress would pass the spending bill by Dec. 11 or in the following week. (son, 11/30)

The Associated Press: Planned Parenthood Inquiry Defended
Republican congressional leader on Monday defended a House investigation of Planned Parenthood's provision of fetal tissue to researchers, offering no suggestion that last week's shooting deaths at one of the group's clinics will cause the GOP to retreat from that probe. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) also indicated that the Republican-run Congress will not risk a government shutdown fight with President Obama over GOP efforts to halt federal funding for the organization, which provides abortions and other health services to women. (Fram, 12/1)

Los Angeles Times: California Senators Are Worried About Planned Parenthood Rhetoric
Friday's shooting deaths of three people at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado, and a series of arson incidents in recent months — including one in the Los Angeles area — have prompted California’s senators to urge colleagues to tone down partisan rhetoric on Planned Parenthood. “Doctors, nurses and patients shouldn’t be terrorized or threatened. The poisonous rhetoric must stop,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) tweeted Monday. (Wire, 11/30)

The Washington Post: The Very Bitter Debate Over Planned Parenthood, In 6 Moments
The shootings at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colo., over the holiday have put the debate over the women's health services and abortion provider back in the news. And already, left and right are arguing in very heated terms over the shooter reportedly saying "no more baby parts" while discussing his motives. (Phillips, 11/30)

The Washington Post: Ted Cruz Cites Reports That Planned Parenthood Shooter Could Be ‘Transgendered Leftist Activist.’ What?
Officially, the motive of alleged Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Lewis Dear remains unclear. ... But abortion rights advocates and opponents have quickly formed vastly different theories based on their own hand-picked media reports. On one side, Dear is basically what you’d imagine an abortion clinic attacker to be — an antiabortion activist. On the other, as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) put it Sunday, Dear might be a "transgendered leftist activist." Cruz's campaign later said he was not making this allegation himself, but simply pointing out that there are conflicting reports — including some that Dear was registered to vote as a woman. (Borchers, 11/30)

And here's an update on the alleged shooter -

The Wall Street Journal: Suspect In Colorado Planned Parenthood Shootings Makes First Court Appearance
The man accused of killing three people and wounding numerous others at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo., said little in his first court appearance Monday. Robert Lewis Dear, 57 years old, who allegedly opened fire at the clinic on Friday before surrendering to police after a lengthy standoff, appeared via a video feed in a courtroom in Colorado’s El Paso County. (Frosch, 11/30)

Health Law Issues And Implementation

8. Insurance Shoppers Beware: Experts Warn Against Picking Health Insurance Just On Premium Costs

In other health law and insurance news, media outlets report on continued problems on Vermont's health insurance exchange, families struggle with growing long-term care costs and the Supreme Court is set to hear a case on states' efforts to collect health insurance claims in a database.

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Don't Just Grab Lowest Premium
If you're in the individual market for health insurance and want to be covered by New Year's Day, you have until Dec. 15 to choose your plan on the Affordable Care Act exchange. Choosing a health plan is confusing, so it's understandable if you're tempted to just grab the lowest premium you can find. But don't do it. Depending on your family's income and health needs, you could come out ahead with a plan that has a higher monthly premium but that offers better coverage. (Calandra, 11/29)

Burlington Free Press: Vermont Health Connect Promises Fixes
Although Gov. Shumlin recently proclaimed the Vermont Health Connect a “totally different ballgame” in comparison to last year’s performance, a House committee on Monday heard of several unresolved problems affecting the insurance exchange. Cassandra Gekas, operations director for Vermont Health Connect, said staff members are working on a problem in which hundreds of people who paid their monthly premiums on time were canceled for nonpayment. Apparently, the ca
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