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KHN First Edition: December 18, 2015


First Edition

Friday, December 18, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Opening Doctors’ Office-Visit Notes: A Push To Make Transparent Medical Records The National Standard Of Care
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "Perched on an exam table at the doctor’s office watching the clinician type details about their medical problems into their file, what patient hasn’t wondered exactly what the doctor is writing? As many as 50 million patients may have a chance to find out in the next few years, following the announcement this week of $10 million in new grants to expand the OpenNotes project, which works with medical providers to expand patient access to clinician notes." (Andrews, 12/18)

Kaiser Health News: Kaiser Permanente To Open Medical School In Southern California
KQED's Lisa Aliferis, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News, reports: "Kaiser Permanente, the managed health care giant that now offers patients an integrated system combining insurance, hospitals and outpatient physicians, is adding a Southern California medical school to its portfolio, the company announced Thursday." (Aliferis, 12/18)

The New York Times: Under Wire, House Passes Big Package Of Tax Cuts
By a vote of 318 to 109, the House on Thursday approved the tax-cut package, which will add more than a half-trillion dollars to the deficit, and supporters and critics alike said that the bill represented Mr. Ryan’s deeply held belief that tax cuts ultimately pay for themselves by fostering economic growth. The measure would postpone some key components of the Affordable Care Act, by delaying, for example, the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost, employer-sponsored health plans. (Herszenhorn, 12/17)

USA Today: House Passes $622 Billion In Tax Breaks
The tax and spending package is the last major legislation that Congress will pass before it adjourns for the year. It was the first big budget compromise negotiated under new House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. (Kelly, 12/17)

The Wall Street Journal: House Passes $622 Billion Tax Measure
Going forward, Republicans will need to do less annual maintenance work in the tax code because fewer provisions will expire, thus freeing up time for their bigger goal of lowering tax rates and broadening the tax base. By locking the breaks in now, Republicans also lower the government’s total revenue forecast for the next decade. (Rubin, 12/17)

Politico: Concerns Rise Over $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill
The dynamics on the spending bill are far different than those of the tax measure, and at this time, passage is far from assured. The Capitol isn't in full panic yet, but there does appear to be a rising level of concern on the Democratic side of the aisle that they will be short the votes needed to pass the omnibus spending bill. (Sherman, Bresnahan and French, 12/17)

The Associated Press: House, Senate Rush To Send Huge Budget And Tax Deal To Obama
The House and Senate are rushing to send President Barack Obama the massive budget package that would fund the entire government through September 2016. Obama has promised to sign the measure, but it must first overcome some resistance. House Democrats are upset over a victory for big oil, while tea party lawmakers say it spends too much money. (12/18)

The Washington Post: Congressional Spending Bill Curtails D.C. Victory On Using Health Surplus
A rider in the federal spending bill creates a significant obstacle to the District’s ability to assess and spend excess surplus dollars collected by the Washington region’s largest health insurer. District insurance regulators last year ordered CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield to spend $56 million out of its billion-dollar cash reserves on local community health needs, effectively upholding a D.C. law passed in 2009 that required assessments of the company’s surplus dollars every three years. (Hauslohner, 12/17)

Reuters: White House Calls For 'Common Sense Steps' To Help Puerto Rico
The administration also reiterated its view that reforms to Puerto Rico's Medicaid system should be put in place to help relieve budgetary pressures and again called on lawmakers to make the island's residents eligible for the Earned-Income Tax Credit for low- and moderate-income individuals. (12/17)

The Associated Press: Pharma's Bad Boy: Livestreaming, Rap-Fan CEO Faces Charges
He's a millionaire music aficionado who riled rap fans by buying the only known copy of an album by the Wu-Tang Clan. He's an unabashed self-promoter who livestreams his daily life and boasts he's "the world's most eligible bachelor" and "the most successful Albanian to ever walk the face of this Earth." And he's an equally unabashed provocateur who jousts online with his critics. Now, prosecutors say Martin Shkreli is a fraudster. (12/18)

The New York Times: An Executive’s Arrest Gives Drug Makers Cover
During his three months as a household name, Martin Shkreli has been a walking, talking (incessantly) personification of one of the pharmaceutical industry’s worst nightmares — the greedy drug company executive. So his arrest Thursday on securities fraud charges might bring some private cheer to pharmaceutical company executives, who blame him for setting off a public uproar over drug prices. (Pollack, 12/17)

The Wall Street Journal: Accenture Profit Dips On Stronger Dollar And Higher Tax Rate
Accenture PLC said profit declined in its latest quarter, thanks to a higher tax rate and the impact of a stronger U.S. dollar, though revenue topped expectations. The firm was tapped last year to help fix the website, and last December Accenture said it won a five-year, $563 million contract to continue its work on the federal insurance site. (Beilfuss, 12/17)

The Washington Post: McAuliffe Unveils $109 Billion Budget Plan
Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced a two-year budget proposal Thursday that calls for expanding Medicaid, defying a Republican-dominated General Assembly that has vowed to strip that out for a third consecutive year. The spending plan totals $109 billion, and includes $3 billion for the federal health insurance program. It also calls for a new tax on hospitals to help bankroll Medicaid expansion, but would slightly cut personal and corporate taxes. (Portnoy and Vozzella, 12/17)

The Associated Press: D.C. Health Exchange Hoping To Sign Up ‘Star Wars’ Fans
You may be strong with the Force, but you still need health insurance. That’s the message the District of Columbia’s health insurance exchange hopes to send to moviegoers this weekend. DC Health Link will have representatives stationed at the Regal Gallery Place Stadium 14 theater in downtown Washington starting Friday afternoon. (12/18)

Reuters: Beyond Fitbit: The Quest To Develop Medical-Grade Wearables
A new wave of wearable computing devices that detect and monitor serious diseases is moving from the laboratory to the market, potentially transforming the treatment of conditions ranging from epilepsy to diabetes and creating business opportunities estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars. (12/18)

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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