Kaiser Health News Original Stories

3. Political Cartoon: 'Your Turn'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Your Turn'" by Harley Schwadron.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

COULD IT BE? DOC VISITS WITHOUT FINANCIAL PAIN

To sweeten the deal
some plans give new benefit…
free doctor visits!

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Capitol Hill Watch

4. House Targets Health Law, Planned Parenthood To Open Session

The GOP-led chamber will vote Tuesday to send a bill rolling back the Affordable Care Act and cutting funding to Planned Parenthood to the president's desk, where it will draw a veto.

The Associated Press: Health Care Repeal Vote To Open A Political Year In Congress
It's been like a long-delayed New Year's resolution for Republicans. But 2016 will finally be the year when they put legislation on President Barack Obama's desk repealing his health care law. The bill undoing the president's prized overhaul will be the first order of business when the House reconvenes this coming week, marking a sharply partisan start on Capitol Hill to a congressional year in which legislating may take a back seat to politics. ... Obama will veto the health law repeal bill, which also would cut money for Planned Parenthood. (Werner, 1/2)

Fox News: GOP-Led Congress Set For First Time To Vote, Pass Bill To Replace Obamacare, Not Just Repeal
Within hours of reconvening Tuesday, the GOP-led Congress will finally act to fulfill a 2010 promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare. The effort is set to begin Tuesday afternoon when the House Rules Committee meets on the repeal measure, with a full debate and vote as early as Tuesday. With the Republican-led Senate having already passed its version, GOP congressional leaders will send the measure to President Obama, daring him to veto it. (Pergram, 1/4)

The Hill: Republican Calls For Effort To Repeal Obamacare
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) on Saturday touted legislation in the House that would repeal key aspects of Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood. “As Congress returns next week, in one of our first acts of the New Year, the House will vote on a bill that would eliminate key parts of Obamacare and stop taxpayer funding for abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood,” she said in the GOP’s weekly address. (Richardson, 1/2)

The New York Times: Break Is Likely in Planned Parenthood Funding Battle
Congressional Republicans are planning to start the new year with another attempt to ban federal funds for Planned Parenthood. But after five years of fruitless legislative attacks, the House vote next week is likely to be the last, conservative activists say, until a Republican moves into the White House. (Calmes, 12/29)

Bloomberg: Expectations Low For Dealmaking In Congress Before Election
Don’t expect an avalanche of big legislative accomplishments by Congress in 2016, with leaders already lowering expectations and political parties sharpening their contrasts for a year in which the White House and Senate control are up for grabs. First thing up for the new session: hitting President Barack Obama with a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s core provisions that he will veto. Republicans who won the Senate in 2014 to complement their House majority are eager to show voters they’re still focused on the health-care law even though this vote -- like more than 50 previous ones in the House -- won’t succeed in repealing Obamacare. (House and Miller, 1/4)

5. Health Care Stories To Watch In 2016

Media outlets report on what health stories will dominate coverage in the year to come, including courts, the 2016 election and mergers, among many others.

Politico Pro: 2016 Health Stories To Watch
It's 2016, and the health policy world’s focus will shift from Capitol Hill to the courts and the campaign trail. The courts will determine how far states can go in limiting abortion — and will also take up the House GOP lawsuit over whether the Obama administration overreached in financing the health law. The presidential contenders in both parties will keep debating the future of Obamacare and what, if anything, to do about prescription drug prices. (Haberkorn, 1/4)

The Hill: Stronger ObamaCare Faces New Fights In 2016
ObamaCare left 2015 in a stronger position than it began, though the threats of rising premiums, skittish insurers and challenges from Washington loom for the president’s signature health law during his final year in office. The law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, emerged largely unscathed from a government funding debate last month, a far cry from a 2013 shutdown fight in which opponents delivered fiery floor speeches against it and plotted its demise during infamous meetings at Capitol Hill’s Tortilla Coast restaurant. (Sullivan, 1/3)

Modern Healthcare: Outlook For 2016: Election Uncertainty Clouds Business Climate
Healthcare stakeholders should brace for a year of business uncertainty in 2016—an election year where the Senate and White House are up for grabs with Democrats and Republicans offering competing visions of the government's role in healthcare. The political conflict will play out across a public opinion landscape that has been transformed in recent months by high prescription drug prices, which have upstaged the Affordable Care Act as healthcare's biggest policy issue. (Meyer and Muchmore, 1/1)

The Tennessean: Health Care News To Watch For In 2016
While King v. Burwell made 2015 exciting, 2016 is shaping up to be a pretty exciting year for health care as well. The following are the top three news items to watch for in the new year. 1. Penalties for not having coverage skyrocket. ... 2. UnitedHealthcare stays — or leaves — the exchanges. ... 3. November’s election. Republicans running for president have promised, in one way or another, to repeal “Obamacare.” (Tolbert, 12/29)

Health Law Issues And Implementation

6. A Great Divide: As Republicans On Hill Rail Against ACA, GOP Governors Work To Expand Medicaid

The battles highlight a bigger war between the realistic need of governors and the ideological wing of the party that wants to destroy the health law at all costs. Outlets also report on Medicaid expansion developments in Kentucky, Florida, Vermont and California.

The New York Times: State-Level Brawls Over Medicaid Reflect Divide In G.O.P.
In state after state, a gulf is opening between Republican governors willing to expand Medicaid coverage through the Affordable Care Act and Republican members of Congress convinced the law is collapsing and determined to help it fail. In recent months, insurers have increased premiums and deductibles for many policies sold online, and a dozen nonprofit insurance co-ops are shutting down, forcing consumers to seek other coverage. But in Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and Ohio, Republican governors have expanded Medicaid under the health care law or defended past expansions. In South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah, Republican governors are pressing for wider Medicaid coverage. ... That has created tension with Washington that some lawmakers can no longer ignore. (Pear, 12/27)

Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: Question Linger Over Bevin's Medicaid Plans
As the 2016 session of the Kentucky General Assembly opens, lawmakers say they plan to keep a close eye on changes to the state's Medicaid system proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin, who has said he wants to reshape it along the lines of one operated by Indiana, which requires premiums, co-pays and provides different tiers of coverage. "It's going to be interesting to see how it shakes out," said Rep. David Watkins, a Henderson Democrat and retired physician who serves as co-chairman of the legislature's Medicaid Oversight and Advisory Committee. "We're already at the bottom of the heap here in Kentucky. We don't need to go down any further." ... Senate President Robert Stivers, a Manchester Republican, told the Kentucky Health News last week that lawmakers could enact legislation, but Bevin has the authority to redesign Kentucky's Medicaid program without legislative approval. (Yetter, 1/4)

Tampa Tribune/Naples Daily News: Medicaid Still A Thorny Subject For Legislators In Florida
Don’t expect another bruising fight this year in the Legislature over expanding Medicaid in Florida. But there are still issues to resolve as lawmakers decide how much more the state will have to contribute t
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