Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Political Cartoon: 'The Smell Test'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'The Smell Test'" by Ron Morgan.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

MORE HATED THAN OBAMACARE?

7-Point TrumpCare
Not so highly trumpeted.
Question is - who cares?

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Campaign 2016

5. Democratic Candidates Asked About Abortion For First Time At Fox Town Hall

At Fox's town hall on Monday, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both said they support a woman's right to choose when moderator Brett Baier grilled them on late-term abortions. The lack of questions on the topic in debates and town halls sparked an #AskAboutAbortion movement from those who want the candidates to solidify their positions.

The Washington Post: Clinton, Sanders Asked About Abortion At Fox News Town Hall — Some Say Too Late
For more than a generation, the Democratic Party has been the party of choice. With the Republican field tripping over itself to prove its anti-abortion bona fides, there seems no need to ask Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders what they think about the procedure, or what limits, if any, should be imposed on the women who seek abortions and the doctors who provide them. Not in the minds of some. For months now, as seven Democratic debates have passed without a question about abortion, those who want Sanders and Clinton to clarify their positions on Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood and the right to choose have been complaining about unasked questions. Hashtag: #AskAboutAbortion. (Moyer, 3/8)

The New York Times: Bernie Sanders And Hillary Clinton Draw Sharp Questions At Fox News Forum
The night after a testy Democratic debate, Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton had the chance to confront another adversary: Fox News. ... Pressed on his budget-busting plans for universal health care, Mr. Sanders reiterated his belief that health care is a right for all people. “Excuse me, where does that right come from, in your mind?” Mr. Baier asked. “Being a human being,” Mr. Sanders replied, “being a human being.” (Chozick, 3/7)

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton, in North Carolina, focuses on Sanders' health care plan —

The New York Times: Bill Clinton Has Tough Words For Bernie Sanders In North Carolina
As Hillary Clinton focused on Bernie Sanders in Michigan on Monday, her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had some tough words for Mr. Sanders in North Carolina. If Mr. Clinton’s line of attack was familiar – that Mr. Sanders dismisses all critics as being part of “the establishment” – the former president added some sharp language at a small rally here at Elon University law school. He argued that Mr. Sanders was ducking arguments over his health care plan, then kicked his speech up a notch as he accused Mr. Sanders of resorting to name-calling with his tirades against the “establishment.” “That’s killing America, that kind of politics,” Mr. Clinton said after describing Mr. Sanders’s rejection of skeptical reports by liberal economists on his Medicare-for-all plan. (Healy, 3/7)

And on the Republican side of the 2016 race, the candidates tout health savings accounts —

Modern Healthcare: Trump, Cruz And Rubio Push HSAs As Key Part Of Post-ACA Coverage, But Details Are Scarce
The leading Republican presidential candidates say health savings accounts should figure prominently in replacing the Affordable Care Act. That would require significant changes to HSAs and to healthcare more broadly. Even then, higher income Americans would benefit most. ... Joe Antos, a health policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-of-center think tank, said for HSAs to be a bigger factor in the healthcare system, there would need to be far more transparency in pricing. (Muchmore, 3/7)

Health Law Issues And Implementation

6. N.H. Lawmakers Weigh Work Requirement As They Prepare For Medicaid Expansion Vote

The legislature is expected to vote this week on a measure determining whether to continue the state's Medicaid expansion program. In Arkansas, a panel backs the governor's plan to continue the state's expansion, and a Kansas poll finds community support growing for Medicaid.

New Hampshire Public Radio: N.H.'s Medicaid Expansion Could Face Hurdle Around Work Requirements
On Wednesday the House will take up one of this session’s most significant pieces of legislation – whether to continue the state’s Medicaid expansion program another two years. One of the biggest hurdles supporters of the bill have to overcome on the floor this week relies on the measure’s work requirements. Under the current proposal, Medicaid recipients would be required to work or volunteer a total of 30 hours a week to receive benefits. Several other states have tried such requirements, but the federal government rejected them. (Sutherland, 3/7)

New Hampshire Union Leader: Future Of Medicaid Divides NH Business Community
The New Hampshire business community is divided over the future of Medicaid in the state, as the House prepares for a key vote this week on the health insurance program for low-income families and individuals. The statewide Business and Industry Association on Monday urged lawmakers to continue the Medicaid expansion launched two years ago, while a coalition of conservative business owners called the program “corporate welfare” for the hospitals and insurance companies. (Solomon, 3/7)

The Associated Press: Arkansas Panel Backs Medicaid Plan, Split Over Managed Care
A legislative panel on Monday endorsed Gov. Asa Hutchinson's plan to keep Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion, but it deadlocked on his proposal to have private companies manage some of the state's services for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. The Health Reform Legislative Task Force recommended lawmakers consider Hutchinson's proposal to keep and rework the state's "private option," which uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. Hutchinson, a Republican, has proposed renaming the program "Arkansas Works" and adding new restrictions on its eligibility and benefits. (DeMillo, 3/7)

Arkansas Online: Task Force: Sustain Reach Of Medicaid
In a 10-2 vote, a state legislative task force on Monday expressed support for continuing health coverage for more than 267,000 low-income Arkansans under the state’s expanded Medicaid program, but it split on whether the state should turn to managed-care companies to reduce the cost of caring for the disabled and mentally ill. Eight members of the Health Care Reform Legislative Task Force voted in favor of the managed-care proposal, supported by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, while seven members voted to recommend an alternate proposal supported by opponents of managed care. (Davis, 3/8)

KUAR (Little Rock, Ark.): Legislators Give Go Ahead To Arkansas Governor's Medicaid Expansion Plan
More detailed legislation embodying what Gov. Asa Hutchinson has lined out for his Arkansas Works program is expected for a task force vote on March 29 now that the concept has been approved. It then would head to a special session April 6th requiring a majority vote on enabling legislation followed by the fiscal session April 13th requiring a three-fourths vote for funding. The continuation of Medicaid expansion has been predicated on federal officials approving several waivers from the Hutchinson administration to add new restrictions to coverage and on eliminating $835 million in five years from the traditional, non-expanded Medicaid population. (Kauffman, 3/7)

Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal: Poll Finds Kansans Support Budget-Neutral Medicaid Expansion
Kansans overwhelmingly support expanding a budget-neutral Medicaid proposal, a poll released Monday said, but the chairman of the House health committee challenged the “budget-neutral” aspect of the KanCare Bridge to a Healthy Kansas Program. The legislation, proposed in House Bill 2633 and Senate Bill 371, has been promoted by the Kansas Hospital Association and other proponents of KanCare expansion as budget neutral, with the potential to generate revenue for the state. (Chilson, 3/7)

Pharmaceuticals

7. Prescription Drug Costs Trigger State Pushes For Transparency

Stateline reports that 11 states have introduced legislation that would require drug makers to justify their prices by disclosing spending on marketing and research, among other things. Meanwhile, STAT reports on how Harvoni's ad blitz is generating significant interest in the hepatitis C drug despite its high cost. In other news, Texas officials are studying whether adding more generics into the Medicaid program would help control costs, and Valeant is poised to release its fourth-quarter results.

Stateline: High Drug Prices Prompt Demands For Transparency
Outraged by exorbitant prices for certain prescription drugs, lawmakers in at least 11 states have introduced legislation that would require pharmaceutical companies to justify their prices by disclosing how much they spend on research, manufacturing and marketing. The bills are similar to a provision in President Barack Obama’s proposed 2017 budget. The sponsors of the measures say they have a variety of goals: to educate policymakers and consumers about the reason for high prescription drug prices; to shame pharmaceutical companies into moderating their prices; and, in some states, including Massachusetts, to actually place a ceiling on prices that are determined to be unjustified. (Ollove, 3/7)

The Wall Street Journal: Valeant Expects To Report Results, Upd
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