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From Kaiser Health News:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

2. Political Cartoon: 'Short End Of The Stick'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Short End Of The Stick'" by Dan Piraro.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

OPTING FOR SHORT-TERM COVERAGE

A tax penalty?
Missing a few benefits?
Most affordable.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law Issues And Implementation

3. HHS Report Repudiates Dire Warnings About Premiums Spiking Under Health Law

Premiums have gone up 8 percent, and when subsidies were factored in the increase was even smaller at 4 percent. The report counters predictions that premiums would see double-digit jumps.

The Hill: HHS Report: Dire Warnings Of ObamaCare Price Spikes Wrong
A new report from the Obama administration finds that ObamaCare premiums rose 8 percent last year, pushing back on warnings of larger price hikes. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report released Tuesday finds that ObamaCare premiums rose 8 percent on average — from $356 a month to $386 a month — from 2015 to 2016. (Sullivan, 4/12)

4. Ark. Governor Says Failure To Fund Medicaid Expansion Will Kill Highway Initiative

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says if the legislature fails to approve his efforts to keep and revamp the expanded Medicaid program, the remaining budget gap will prevent him from moving forward on plans for new highways. Meanwhile, in Maine, the state Senate approved Medicaid expansion by one vote and South Dakota officials are still planning for an expansion.

(KUAR) Arkansas Public Radio: Governor Hutchinson: Highway Plan Dead Without Medicaid Expansion
Failure to pass his Arkansas Works program could lead to the cancellation of a planned special session for highways, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday. Hutchinson spoke the day before the Legislature enters its even-numbered-year fiscal session, where the signature issue will be Arkansas Works, his plan to continue the private option. That’s the government program where the state uses federal Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance for adults with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level. Created in 2013, the private option expires at the end of this year. (Brawner, 4/12)

Arkansas Times Record: Hutchinson: No Highways Session If Arkansas Medicaid Plan Not Funded
In a news conference at the state Capitol where he was joined by members of the Arkansas Highway Commission and several state legislators, Hutchinson said that if the Legislature does not approve funding for Arkansas Works, which would continue and modify the program now known as the private option, then his plan to boost highway funding will be impossible. ... Since its creation in 2013, the private option has used federal Medicaid money to subsidize private health insurance for more than 267,000 low-income Arkansans and has reduced uncompensated care costs at hospitals across the state. The plan received approval in a special session last week, but the votes it received fell short of three-fourths majorities that will be needed in both chambers to fund the program. (Lyon, 4/12)

The Associated Press: Hutchinson: Highway Plan Dead Without Medicaid Expansion
In January, Hutchinson unveiled his highway plan, which he said would boost funding to match federal highway dollars — a move that would generate about $750 million over a 10-year period, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette previously reported. Hutchinson said that without approval of his Medicaid plan, his highway funding proposal to use $40 million from accumulated and unallocated surplus for one-time use would be impossible given a budget gap of more than $100 million. (4/12)

Arkansas Online: Governor: Road Plan At Risk If Medicaid Plan Fails
But a leading opponent of the Medicaid expansion, Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, said it would be hard to find many Arkansans who think the highways aren't adequately funded with several million dollars a day in state and federal funding. "It is not a credible threat," he said in a telephone interview after Hutchinson's news conference. "We are adequately funded for highways. "We could always use more, and there is always a desire for more highways. But I think [the funding level] is fine," he said. (Wickline, 4/13)

Maine Public Radio: Maine Senate Narrowly Passes Medicaid Expansion
In a 18-17 vote, the Maine Senate has supported a measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Tom Saviello of Wilton that would provide health insurance to nearly 80,000 Mainers. The measure would use Medicaid funds from the federal government to buy private health insurance for poor Mainers. ... It’s estimated the proposal would bring in more than $2 billion in federal funds over the next five years and create 3,000 jobs. Opponents argued that the cost of the program increases in future years and questioned whether the state should rely on a federal government that continues to build up its debt. (Leary, 4/12)

Portland Press Democrat: Maine Senate Passes Medicaid Expansion By One-Vote Margin
A bill to expand Medicaid eligibility to more low-income Mainers won initial support in the Republican-controlled Senate by a single vote Tuesday. The measure is likely to pass in the Democratic-controlled House, but faces an all-but-guaranteed veto from Gov. Paul LePage, who has rebuffed past attempts to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. (Miller, 4/12)

Rapid City (S.D.) Journal: No Decision Yet, But State Prepping For Medicaid Expansion
Although nothing is certain yet about South Dakota's proposed expansion of Medicaid coverage, a member of Gov. Dennis Daugaard's cabinet on Monday said preparations for adding 50,000 Medicaid recipients are moving "full speed ahead." Daugaard would call a special session of the Legislature on expanding Medicaid eligibility, and a decision on whether to do that probably will come by summer. But Social Services Secretary Lynne Valenti said five teams of tribal, state and federal government officials are working with health care providers on the operational plans. She provided an update to members of the state Board of Social Services. (Mercer, 4/12)

Public Health And Education

5. With $250M Immunotherapy Donation, Parker Aims To Crash Through Bureaucratic Research Roadblocks

Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster, is creating the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, which will focus on collaboration between scientists in their efforts to unlock the body's own immune system to fight cancer.

The New York Times: Facebook And Napster Pioneer To Start Cancer Immunotherapy Effort
Sean Parker was a pioneer in music sharing when he co-founded Napster and in social media as the early president of Facebook. Now he wants to pioneer in a field that is already jumping with activity: cancer immunotherapy. Mr. Parker is announcing Wednesday that he is donating $250 million to a new effort that will bring together six leading academic centers to develop ways to unleash patients’ own immune systems to fight cancer. (Pollack, 4/13)

Reuters: Sean Parker Sets Up $250 Million Cancer Immunotherapy Collaboration
"Any breakthrough made at one center is immediately available to another center without any kind of IP (intellectual property) entanglements or bureaucracy," Parker, the co-founder of music-sharing website Napster and the first president of Facebook, told Reuters in an interview. The institute will focus on the emerging field of cancer immunotherapy, which harnesses the body's immune system to fight cancer cells. (Beasley, 4/13)

USA Today: Billionaire Announces $250 Million In Cancer Immunotherapy Funding
Parker's enormous cash infusion is the largest ever for cancer immunotherapy — and one of the largest ever for cancer research — and comes three months after President Obama called for a $1 billion federal cancer research program that he dubbed a “moonshot." The estate of the billionaire shipping magnate Daniel Ludwig donated $540 million to six cancer centers in 2014 and Nike co-founder Phil Knight pledged $500 million to cancer researchers at Oregon Health & Science University in 2013. (O'Donnell, 4/13)

The Associated Press: Collaborative Institute Aims To Speed Cancer Drug Creation
“Everybody knows that we need to move forward and change the model” for cancer research, Jeffrey Bluestone, an immunology researcher and the institute’s CEO, told The Associated Press Tuesday. “The goal here is to rapidly move our discoveries to patients.” For decades, fiercely competitive and secretive drugmakers protected their money-making discoveries with patents and lawsuits. Academic researchers likewise often guarded their work closely until it was published because their promotions, awards and sometimes revenue from licensing patents depended on individual achievement. That often slowed progress. (Johnson, 4/13)

The Washington Post: $250 Million, 300 Scientists And 40 Labs: Sean Parker’s Revolutionary Project To ‘Solve’ Cancer
“Cancer immunotherapy is such an incredibly complex field, and for every answer it seems to pose 10 more questions. I’m an entrepreneur so I wish some of these questions had been answered yesterday,” Parker said. He describes the effort as a way to remove obstacles related to bureaucracy and personality that will allow scientists to borrow from each other’s labs unencumbered. The researchers will continue to be based at their home institutions but will receive additional funding and access to other resources, including specialized data scientists and genetic engineering equipment set to become part of the nonprofit Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy in San Francisco. (Cha, 4/13)

Los Angeles Times: Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Launches Initiative To Advance Cancer Immunotherapies
Specifically, Parker said his institute will place its initial bets on three broad areas of research: developing a new generation of T-cell therapies; investigating new uses for, and effective new combinations of, the kinds of "checkpoint inhibitor" drugs that have already proved effective for skin, lung and kidney cancers; and improving the effectiveness and potential uses for vaccines and cellular therapies in fighting a wider array of cancers. (Healy, 4/12)

The Wall Street Journal: Sean Parker Turns To Cancer Research
Bold cancer campaigns have proved disappointing in the past, and big advances aren’t likely overnight. Researchers are learning that tumor cells and immune-system cells are enormously complex, complicating efforts to understand how their interactions promote or inhibit disease. In addition, the high costs of immunotherapy drugs that reach the market are prompting concerns about the affordability of potentially life-saving treatments. The new efforts are fueled in part by the initial success of drugs called checkpoint inhibitors from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Merck & Co. as wel
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