Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Single-Payer Health Care On Colorado Ballot In 2016

The group ColoradoCareYES gathered enough signatures — more than 100,000 — to put a single-payer health system on the ballot next fall. But the price tag is a worry to some. (John Daley, Colorado Public Radio, 12/21)

5. Political Cartoon: 'Cross Paths'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Cross Paths'" by Roy Delgado.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

Kaiser Permanente To Open Medical School In Southern California

New medical school
From Kaiser Permanente
One hopes it will thrive.

If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.

Health Law Issues And Implementation

6. After Last-Minute Extension, Federal Exchange Enrollment Hits Nearly 6 Million

The administration says about 2.4 million of those are new customers who signed up in time to get coverage starting Jan. 1. Enrollment numbers from states running their own marketplaces are still to come.

Los Angeles Times: Big Surge In Enrollment Lifts Obamacare Marketplaces
Hundreds of thousands of additional consumers have selected plans through marketplaces operated by the remaining states, including California, New York, Connecticut and Maryland. The strong demand for Obamacare coverage in the law’s third enrollment period may further solidify the markets, which are still evolving as insurance companies and consumers continue to adapt to the new healthcare environment. (Levey, 12/18)

7. Potential Battles Loom Over Arkansas Medicaid Expansion Plans

Although Gov. Asa Hutchinson's proposal hasn't faced vocal opposition yet, that doesn't mean the path is clear to impose new restrictions on the Medicaid expansion program known as the private option. And pressure is building in Republican states to expand Medicaid.

Arkansas News: Fights Over Medicaid Expected In 2016
Gov. Asa Hutchinson encountered no vocal opposition last week when he outlined to a legislative task force his plan for a modified version of Medicaid expansion and his goal of cutting $835 million in costs from the traditional Medicaid program over five years — but that doesn’t mean fights aren’t coming. ... Hutchinson wants to impose new restrictions on the Medicaid expansion program known as the private option .... To get the changes approved, Hutchinson will need to obtain federal waivers and — perhaps a bigger hurdle — win over both supporters and opponents of the current program. “Some of these things sound great, but administratively the costs to them outweigh any benefit that you get from them,” said Sen. Keith Ingram, D-West Memphis, a member of the task force and a supporter of the private option. (Lyon, 12/20)

Forbes: GOP States Pressured To Expand Medicaid Under Obamacare
Pressure is building on some of the remaining 20 states that have yet to take advantage of federal dollars available to expand Medicaid programs for poor Americans under the Affordable Care Act. ... A snapshot of the pressure on the 20 states still opposed to Medicaid expansion can be seen this month in Kansas where GOP lawmakers and Republican Governor Sam Brownback have faced an onslaught of lobbying from hospitals in the state, advocates for the uninsured, media and Kathleen Sebelius, Kansas’ former Democratic governor and the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services in President Obama’s first term. (Japsen, 12/20)

Campaign 2016

8. Democratic Candidates Delve Into Health Care At Debate

At Saturday night's event, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sparred over the health law, premiums, a single-payer system and painkiller addiction.

The Washington Post: At The Democratic Debate, Only Clinton Promises No Middle Class Tax Increases
Hillary Clinton was the only one of the three Democrats on stage Saturday night willing to pledge that she wouldn’t raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year. ... Her chief rival Bernie Sanders said he wants to move to a “Medicare for all” health-care system under which taxes would increase for many middle-class Americans. But Sanders argued the overall cost of care would go down for most people by “thousands of dollars” because they would no longer pay premiums or co-pays. (Wagner, 12/19)

CNN: Obamacare Glitches Are Back
Two years ago, the Obama administration called the near-total, initial meltdown of the Obamacare federal exchange a technical "glitch." The term was widely ridiculed at the time, especially since it took weeks to fix the exchange's website, healthcare.gov. At Saturday night's Democratic debate, front-runner Hillary Clinton called soaring health care costs and deductibles "glitches" resulting from the Affordable Care Act. (Luhby, 12/20)

Capitol Hill Watch

9. Obama Signs Sweeping Spending Package

The funding bill highlights a lesson health law opponents have learned: that delays and suspensions work better than a frontal attack on the Affordable Care Act. But President Barack Obama is eyeing coverage expansion in the new year.

Los Angeles Times: President Obama Signs Massive Year-End Tax Cut And Spending Package
Congress gave final approval Friday to one of the most ambitious legislative packages in years — a $1.1-trillion funding bill, up to $680 billion in tax breaks and dozens of other substantial policy initiatives. The measure, which averts another shutdown and keeps the federal government running through September, was sent to President Obama, who signed it into law. (Mascaro, 12/18)