Kaiser Health News Original Stories

2. Political Cartoon: 'Is There An Alternative?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Is There An Alternative?'" by Hilary Price.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


If you feel the “Bern”
It might be a health issue.
Is it contagious?

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.

Spending And Fiscal Battles

3. Obama Leans On Health Care Savings, Targets Opioid Abuse And Cancer In $4.15 Trillion Budget

The Department of Health and Human Services's funding would bump up to $1.1 trillion and the National Institutes of Health would get $33.1 billion. The president also proposes deep health program cuts to save $375 billion over the next 10 years.

The New York Times: Obama’s Last Budget, And Last Budget Battle With Congress
President Obama on Tuesday sent his final annual budget proposal to a hostile Republican-led Congress, rejecting the lame-duck label to declare that his plan “is about looking forward,” with new initiatives that include $19 billion for a broad cybersecurity plan. Mr. Obama’s proposed 10-year savings would push deficits down again for a couple years and offset costs of the president’s proposed initiatives. Then deficits would begin increasing again with the retirement and health costs of aging Americans. (Calmes, 2/9)

The Washington Post: HHS Budget Would Rise To $1.1 Trillion And Encourage States To Expand Medicaid
Spending for the Department of Health and Human Services would increase to $1.1 trillion under a proposal that would add large mandatory expenditures for cancer research and fighting drug addictions while slightly decreasing the department’s discretionary programs. The budget furthers the administration’s efforts to move toward new payment methods in Medicare, including a new competitive bidding system for private Medicare Advantage health plans. (Goldstein, 2/9)

The Associated Press: A Look At Obama's Final Budget Proposal
President Barack Obama proposed a record $4.1 trillion budget on Tuesday. Here's a look at each agency and department. ... [Department of Health and Human Services is] up 3 percent. Responding to an epidemic of heroin addiction and abuse of prescription painkillers, Obama's budget would provide $1 billion in new funding over the next two years for states to help more people get and complete treatment. The money would be allocated to states based on the severity of the epidemic and the strength of their strategy. The budget also includes $500 million in new funding to increase access to treatment for people with serious mental health problems. (2/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Obama’s Budget Has Modest Provisions For Affordable Care Act
The Obama administration stopped short of writing a detailed prescription for its signature health law into the president’s final budget, but called for growth for the nation’s premier agency for biomedical research for the first time in a decade. In the fiscal 2017 budget proposal, widely seen as a template for a Democratic successor, officials stuck to modest recommendations for the Affordable Care Act aimed at encouraging more states to expand their Medicaid programs as part of the law, and tweaking its so-called ‘Cadillac tax’ on high-cost health plans. (Radnofsky and Burton, 2/9)

Bloomberg: Wall Street Partners Targeted For Obamacare Tax In Budget Plan
Some high-earning partners in hedge funds, private-equity firms and other businesses organized as so-called pass-throughs would pay a 3.8 percent health-care income tax under President Barack Obama’s 2017 budget request. The proposal would extend a “net investment income tax” for Medicare that’s been in place since 2013 to taxpayers who have successfully characterized their income in ways the tax doesn’t reach, according to Obama administration officials. Combined with another provision, which is designed to require more business owners to pay self-employment taxes, the change is projected to raise $271.7 billion over the next decade. (Browning, 2/9)

The Washington Post: Budget Breakdown: What The White House Wants To Spend Money On
The CDC is seeking $15 million in new funding to improve health and wellness for Native Americans and $30 million in mandatory funding for suicide prevention. The latter is part of the administration’s proposal to boost federal mental health spending by $500 million over two years to improve access to care and prevent suicides. ... Funding for Vice President Biden’s cancer “moonshot,” advances in precision medicine and research on the complexity of the brain highlight the president’s $33.1 billion proposed 2017 budget for the National Institutes of Health. About $680 million would expand clinical trials to include more minorities and others who suffer from higher cancer rates. (Sun and Bernstein, 2/9)

Bloomberg: Obama Targets Drug Costs In Health Section Of Final Budget
President Barack Obama proposed $375 billion in spending cuts to U.S. health programs in his fiscal 2017 budget, including deep reductions to rates the U.S. pays drugmakers for their products, and changes to how doctors and hospitals care for patients. The proposals are part of the $4.1 trillion budget that the Obama administration is proposing, which starts Oct. 1. Some items -- like cuts to drug spending under Medicare -- have been proposed before. With a Republican-controlled Congress, it’s unlikely that many, or any, of them will become law. The proposed savings would be realized over 10 years. (Tracer, 2/9)

USA Today: Obama's Last Budget Proposal Would Spend $4.1 Trillion
"The budget that we’re releasing today reflects my priorities and the priorities that I believe will help advance security and prosperity in America for many years to come," President Barack Obama told reporters at the White House. "It adheres to last year’s bipartisan budget agreement. It drives down the deficit. It includes smart savings on health care, immigration, tax reform." (Korte, 2/9)

Campaign 2016

4. Trump, Sanders Win New Hampshire

With the results, voters sent a clear anti-establishment message Tuesday night.

The Washington Post: Trump Notches An Easy Victory In New Hampshire’s Republican Primary
Donald Trump resoundingly won the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary Tuesday night, giving the billionaire mogul his first victory in an improbable and brash campaign that already has turned American politics upside down. On the Democratic side, Sen. Bernie Sanders notched a decisive win over Hillary Clinton in a state she had won in 2008. (Rucker and Costa, 2/10)

Politico: Trump Vs. Sanders?
There is no ignoring it now, the American electorate’s disregard for establishment politicians promising incremental change. If the country’s fatigue with the prospect of a Clinton-Bush presidential matchup has hovered above this 2016 race like a latent current of electricity, Tuesday’s New Hampshire results were the long-awaited lightning strike. (Stokols, 2/10)

The Seattle Times: Election Night Highlights New Hampshire's Heroin Crisis; How Does King County Compare?
In the run-up to today’s presidential primaries in New Hampshire, candidates, voters and the national media have focused attention on the state’s growing heroin and opiate problem. In USA Today, Manchester, N.H.’s police chief called the state’s heroin problem “an apocalypse.” NBC News billed the state’s “heroin crisis” as a “hidden war.” Fox Business labeled it an “epidemic.” (Bush, 2/9)

NBC News: New Hampshire Primary Could Fundamentally Change Both Political Parties
[Donald] Trump is essentially creating a political wing of his own, defined by his outlandish promises to singularly change American government with his leadership and business acumen and his ability to tap into the concerns many Americans have about illegal immigration, the threat of home-grown terrorism, the rising cost of health care and other threats to the middle class. [Sen. Bernie] Sanders has pushed well beyond the liberalism of past progressive candidates like Bill Bradley and Howard Dean, directly arguing America should be more like countries in Western Europe that have much larger safety nets and define themselves as socialist, not capitalist. (Bacon, Jr., 2/10)

Meanwhile, The Washington Post looks at veteran health care claims made by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Susan B. Anthony List find something to agree on —

The Washington Post's Fact Checker: Democrats’ Claims That A Koch-Backed Group Wants To ‘Privatize’ The VA
During an exchange about veterans’ health care, moderator Rachel Maddow asked the two candidates: “How will you win the argument on that issue given the problems that have been exposed at the V.A. in the last few years? What’s your argument that the V.A. should still exist and should not be privatized?” Maddow cited efforts to “abolish” or privatize large portions of the VA. Then, just days after the debate, Clinton was quoted referring to the plan to “abolish the Veterans’ Administration.” Such an effort is most closely associated with Concerned Veterans for America, a veterans advocacy group in the Koch brothers’ political network. What exactly is the group’s proposal to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs? (Ye Hee Lee, 2/10)

Politico: Why An Anti-Abortion Group Is Applauding NARAL
Anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List announced its support for pro-abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America, on at least one thing. On Monday NARAL sent an email to supporters asking them to sign a petition requesting that the hosts of Thursday night’s Democratic debate in Milwaukee, PBS’ NewsHour's Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff, ask the candidates about abortion rights. (Collins, 2/9)

Health Law Issues And Implementation