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KHN First Edition: December 17, 2015


First Edition

Thursday, December 17, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations.

Kaiser Health News: Baby Boomers Set Another Trend: More Golden Years In Poorer Health
Kaiser Health News staff writer Lisa Gillespie reports: "After the last of the baby boomers become fully eligible for Medicare, the federal health program can expect significantly higher costs in 2030 both because of the high number of beneficiaries and because many are expected to be significantly less healthy than previous generations." (Gillespie, 12/17)

Kaiser Health News: ‘Soft’ Social Skills Might Prevent A Hard Knocks Life
Kaiser Health News' Lynn Shallcross reporters: "Academic learning is usually in the spotlight at school, but teaching elementary-age students “soft” skills like self-control and how to get along with others might help to keep at-risk kids out of criminal trouble in the future, a study finds." (Shallcross, 12/17)

The New York Times: In Likely Spending Plan, Congress Readies Blows To Obama’s Health Care Law
The legislation will also suspend a tax on medical devices for two years. The device tax, which took effect in 2013, will be suspended through 2017. Congress also agreed to suspend for one year a tax on health insurance providers. The tax applies to insurance purchased by individuals, families and many businesses, as well as to private plans that manage care for millions of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. (Pear, 12/16)

The Associated Press: Budget Deal Cues Up 2-Year Freeze To Medical Device Tax
A federal budget proposal brought good news Wednesday for Minnesota's medical device companies by freezing for two years a tax on products like pacemakers and ventilators that they have long opposed. The package of tax cuts and spending cued up for final votes in Congress this week would suspend the 2.3 percent excise tax on those devices, ultrasound machines and more that took effect in 2013 as part of the funding mechanism for President Barack Obama's health care law. (Potter, 12/16)

The Associated Press: Congress To Delay ACA’S ‘Cadillac’ Tax On Pricey Health Plans Until 2020
The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated that the tax would bring in $2.2 billion in 2018 and $7.2 billion in 2019. Its revenue would balloon after that, totaling an estimated $91 billion by 2025. ... Orszag, President Barack Obama’s first director of the Office of Management and Budget, said that “the big concern with delay is, it’s not a delay, it becomes a rolling permanent deferral.” (Goldstein, 12/16)

The Associated Press: Workers Unlikely To See Relief From Delay Of Health Plan Tax
Don’t expect to see much relief from rising costs for workplace health coverage under a federal budget deal that postpones a widely feared tax on generous insurance plans, experts say. The so-called Cadillac tax, which would be delayed two-years in the proposed deal, meant to discourage extravagant coverage and help keep costs in check. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 12/16)

The Washington Post's Wonkblog: Congress Offers No Lifeline As Puerto Rico Heads Toward Default
Drowning in $73 billion of debt, Puerto Rico had hoped Congress would cast it a lifeline in the end-of-the-year spending bill. Instead, the territory got next to nothing. The omnibus bill did include some good news for Puerto Rico, in the form of enhanced Medicare reimbursement rates that are projected to bring in more than $900 million to the island’s faltering health-care system over the next decade. But that is small consolation for Puerto Rico. (Mufson and Fletcher, 12/16)

The Washington Post: McAuliffe To Unveil Budget Plan
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday morning plans to unveil a two-year budget proposal that represents his priorities for the second half of his term. In recent weeks he has rolled out some plans, including funding for teachers and economic development incentives, but he left the big question unanswered: Will he try to expand Medicaid for the third consecutive year? (Portnoy, 12/17)

The Associated Press: House Delays Vote Targeting Planned Parenthood, Health Law
Republican leaders have decided to delay until January a House vote to unravel President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and block federal money for Planned Parenthood, hoping to increase attention on their drive against two of conservatives’ favorite targets. The measure has already cleared the Senate, and House passage seems assured. (Fram, 12/16)

The Associated Press: CVS Health Hikes Low End Of 2016 Forecast Range, Dividend
CVS Health hiked its dividend, tightened its 2016 earnings forecast and repeated its message of patience, as the nation’s second largest drugstore chain laid out its growth expectations on Wednesday. Acquisitions and other business gains will help boost revenue next year, but it will take a few months for some of that to trickle down to the bottom line. (Murphy, 12/16)

The Washington Post: VA’s Own Internal Probe Finds Impunity Of Agency Leaders At Scandal-Ridden Hospital
Investigators at the Department of Veterans Affairs found that two senior managers retaliated against whistleblowers who reported dangers to patient care and financial mismanagement at the Phoenix hospital at the center of a nationwide scandal over falsified waiting lists. But 15 months after the internal probes were finished and sent to Secretary Robert McDonald recommending that the managers be disciplined or fired, VA has done neither. (Rein, 12/16)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2014 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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