Kaiser Health News Original Stories

5. Political Cartoon: 'The Power Of Positive Thinking'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'The Power Of Positive Thinking'" by Harley Schwadron.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Important to note
Those who make a difference.
Thank you, McDermott.

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Capitol Hill Watch

6. House To Vote On Health Law Repeal On Wednesday

Although the legislation is doomed to a veto from President Barack Obama, Republicans are eager to accomplish what they haven't been able to in the five years the Affordable Care Act has been law: getting a repeal measure on the president's desk.

CNN: Paul Ryan's 2016 Plans Start With Obamacare Repeal Vote
House Speaker Paul Ryan kicks off the new year with an old Republican priority: repealing Obamacare. With the presidential campaign kicking into high gear, Ryan has said his 2016 plan is largely about drawing a contrast with Democrats and delivering a blueprint for the eventual Republican nominee to pick up and use as a platform once the party coalesces around a candidate later this year. (Walsh, 1/6)

The Associated Press: House Vote To Send Health Law Repeal To Obama For First Time
After dozens of failed attempts to undo President Barack Obama’s health care law, the GOP-led Congress will finally put a bill on the president’s desk striking at the heart of his signature legislative achievement. Obama will veto the bill, and so the ultimate outcome will be the same as the many previous GOP attempts to repeal “Obamacare.” But Wednesday’s vote in the House will mark the first time such a bill makes it all the way to the White House. (Werner, 1/6)

The Hill: House Poised To Pass ObamaCare Repeal
For the first time, Republicans on Wednesday are expected to send a bill to President Obama’s desk that would repeal most of his signature healthcare law. While the bill faces a certain veto, the vote in the House brings Republicans closer than ever before to dismantling the healthcare legislation that they say has failed the country. “With this bill, we will force President Obama to show the American people where he stands,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a blog post on Monday. He said the vote would “immediately set a tone that represents a better path for our country.” (Ferris, 1/6)

7. Obama To GOP On Mental Health: 'Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is'

Unlike his other proposals to curb gun violence, President Barack Obama's plan to invest $500 million in mental health care must come from Congress. The president told Republicans, who he says have been vocal in attributing mass shootings to mental health, that they should feel obligated to support it.

The Hill: Obama Dares GOP For Mental Health Reforms
President Obama is pressuring congressional Republicans to make good on their promise to fix the nation’s broken mental health system, which the GOP has frequently blamed for gun violence. As part of his wide-reaching efforts to rein in gun violence, Obama on Tuesday called for a half-billion dollars in new mental health spending, taunting the GOP on their failure to pass a mental health reform bill since pledging to do so in 2013. ... "Put your money where your mouth is,” Obama said during an emotional speech at the White House. (Ferris, 1/5)

Roll Call: GOP Sidesteps Obama Mental Health Proposal
Bypassing Congress on new rules for gun purchases, President Barack Obama Tuesday offered GOP lawmakers exactly what they have been asking for: expanded access to mental health services. But Republicans, angered by his unilateral actions, didn’t bite. Republicans have consistently pointed to mental health legislation in the wake of mass shootings, while Democrats focused on tighter rules for buying guns. On Tuesday, Obama proposed a $500 million investment in the mental health system. (Bowman, 1/5)

Modern Healthcare: Obama's Actions On Guns Could Bolster Mental Health Bills Before Congress
President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced $500 million for expanding access to mental health treatment as part of a series of executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence. ... The White House did not elaborate on how the $500 million for mental health would be spent. A fact sheet states it would help improve access to care by increasing service capacity and the number of behavioral healthcare providers. (Muchmore, 1/5)

Health Law Issues And Implementation

8. Medicaid Expansion Improves Health Access, Study Finds

Even with different approaches, both Arkansas and Kentucky saw progress in low-income adults' access to medical care after expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, a new study in Health Affairs says. In contrast, Texas -- where Republican leaders have refused to expand the program -- saw far more modest gains in coverage and access.

The New York Times: Better Health Care Access In Kentucky And Arkansas, Study Says
Low-income adults in Kentucky and Arkansas have had similar improvements in access to medical care under the Affordable Care Act, a new study found, despite the two states’ differing approaches to expanding Medicaid. ... The study, published in Health Affairs, found that Arkansas and Kentucky had significant reductions in the number of low-income adults without insurance from 2013 to 2014. (Goodnough, 1/5)

USA Today: Study: Expanding Medicaid Aids Health Access
Poor adults in two states that expanded Medicaid saw much bigger improvements in access to health care than their peers in Texas, which didn’t expand the government insurance program, a new study says. The research shows that the uninsured rate dropped 14 percentage points more in Kentucky and Arkansas than in Texas. ... “The big message we found is an expansion — any expansion — makes a big difference compared with no expansion,” says lead author Benjamin Sommers. (Ungar, 1/5)

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Helping Improve Access To Medical Care For The Poor, New Studies Show
States’ Medicaid expansions through the Affordable Care Act are helping low-income patients access medical care and improving hospitals’ bottom lines, according to two new studies that add to growing evidence about the benefits of the health law. ... Researchers also found major gains in the share of residents who said they had a check-up in the prior year, which increased more than eight percentage points in both Kentucky and Arkansas. And they found sizable increases in the percentage of patients with chronic medical conditions who got regular care, which increased more than 6 percentage points in the two states. (Levey, 1/5)

Arkansas Online: Study On Medicaid Expansion Finds Increased Access To Health Care
Low-income, non-elderly Arkansas adults were more likely last year than a year earlier to be insured and less likely to report skipping a prescription because of the cost, according to a study released Tuesday. The study, published in the journal Health Affairs, found similar changes in Kentucky, which, like Arkansas, expanded its Medicaid program. It found that both states appeared to make comparable gains in improving access to medical care when compared with Texas, which did not expand Medicaid. (Davis, 1/6)

9. IG Investigation Finds Flaws In Oversight Of Health Law Tax-Credit Payments

The report, however, notes that the administration is moving to an automated system that might help with the problem. In other health law news, a study finds the Affordable Care Act has not caused employers to move workers to part-time status and has not discouraged people from working. Also 50,000 new enrollees sign up for insurance in Washington state.

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Law Tax-Credit Payments To Insurers Questioned
The Obama administration wasn’t able to ensure that all tax-credit payments made to insurers under the health law in 2014 were on behalf of consumers who had paid their premiums, according to a federal oversight agency. However, the agency noted the Obama administration this year is moving to a new automated system that should alleviate potential problems identified in its investigation. The Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General is scheduled to release the report Wednesday. (Armour, 1/6)

The Hill: Study: ObamaCare Not Shifting Workers To Part-Time Jobs
ObamaCare has not caused employers to shift workers into part-time work, according to a new study. The study, released Tuesday in the journal Health Affairs, examines the claim made by critics of the law that employers will make more people work part-time in order to avoid having to give them health insurance. The law mandates that employ

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