In This Edition:

From Kaiser Health News:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

1. Zooming In On Millennials

Zoom, a medical group and insurer, is targeting millennials in Oregon and Washington with quick, accessible care as well as fitness, yoga and cooking classes. (Anna Gorman, 5/10)

3. Political Cartoon: 'In Great Demand'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'In Great Demand'" by Mike s.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Hepatitis C ...
An inmate epidemic.
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Summaries Of The News:

Campaign 2016

4. Price Tag On Sanders' Health Plan More Than $30 Trillion, Study Claims

However, an aide to the candidate says the study, released by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and the Urban Institute Health Policy Center, wildly exaggerates the cost and understates the savings from the health plan.

The Associated Press: Study: Sanders' Economic Plan Piles $18T On Federal Debt
Sen. Bernie Sanders' tax and spending proposals would provide new levels of health and education benefits for American families, but they'd also blow an $18-trillion hole in federal deficits, piling on so much debt they would damage the economy. That sobering assessment comes from a joint analysis released Monday by the nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and the Urban Institute Health Policy Center, well-known Washington think tanks. Democratic presidential candidate Sanders would raise taxes by more than $15 trillion over 10 years, with most of that paid by upper-income earners. But that wouldn't be enough to cover the cost of his proposed government-run health care system. (5/9)

Modern Healthcare: Sanders' Health Plan Revenue Again Found To Fall Short Of Costs
Another analysis has found that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' ambitious Medicare-for-all plan would not come close to raising enough revenue to pay for itself. The analysis by the Urban Institute's Health Policy Center and the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center found that federal expenditures under Sanders' plan would increase by $32 trillion from 2017 to 2026 while his revenue proposals would raise $15.3 trillion in the same time period. Both organizations are bipartisan. (Muchmore, 5/9)

Politico: Bernie Sanders' $33 Trillion Spending Explosion
The Tax Policy Center got it “half right,” a Sanders aide said in a statement. While the analysis found Sanders' plan would help low- and middle-income people even more than the campaign estimated, Warren Gunnels said the center “wildly exaggerated” the cost of Sanders’ health care plans. “This study significantly understates the savings in administration, paperwork, and prescription drug prices that every major country on earth has successfully achieved by adopting a universal health care program,” said Gunnells, Sanders’ policy director. “If every other major country can spend less on health care and insure all of their people, so can the U.S.” (Faler, 5/9)

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton calls for a Medicare buy-in option for those younger than retirement age —

Bloomberg: In Virginia, Clinton Calls For Health-Care Public Option, Medicare Buy-In
At a campaign stop Monday in Northern Virginia, Hillary Clinton reiterated her support for a government-run health plan in the insurance market, possibly by letting let Americans buy into Medicare, to stem the rise of health-care costs. ... While Clinton long has supported including a public option in the insurance market, her campaign said she was floating the idea of letting Americans not yet of retirement age buy into the Medicare system as one way of accomplishing that. She's also open to creating a separate government-run option on the Obamacare exchanges. (Kapur, 5/9)

On the Republican side of the 2016 election —

Politico: The Guessing Game Begins Over Trump's Health Care Picks
A Donald Trump administration is likely to prove as unorthodox as his campaign — and that extends to the health care realm. The presumptive GOP nominee has not named any advisers with notable health care policy experience, and few names have emerged as possible picks for top administration jobs — and some wouldn't want to serve a President Trump. But a few names are being floated as potential HHS secretary — particularly Ben Carson, given his medical pedigree and strong support for Trump. The other names in the ether: Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who rose to prominence as CEO of hospital chain Columbia/HCA, and former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who held a top HHS post in the administration of George W. Bush and who was a sworn enemy of Obamacare while he was governor. All three have expressed support for Trump now that he's the presumptive nominee. (Demko, 5/9)


5. Watchdog Report Sharply Criticizes Fed's Efforts To Recoup Medicare Advantage Overcharges

The Government Accountability Office said that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has spent about $117 million on Medicare Advantage overbilling audits, but so far has recouped just $14 million. Meanwhile, some Democrats are speaking up for the Medicare Part B change in the face of intense criticism. Also, fee-for-service payments are published and health systems offset Medicare losses.

NPR/Center for Public Integrity: GAO Audit: Feds Failed To Rein In Medicare Advantage Overbilling
Private Medicare Advantage plans treating the elderly have overbilled the government by billions of dollars, but rarely been forced to repay the money or face other consequences for their actions, according to a congressional audit released Monday. In a sharply critical report, the Government Accountability Office called for "fundamental improvements" to curb overbilling by the health plans, which are paid more than $160 billion annually. The privately run health plans, an alternative to traditional fee-for-service Medicare, have proven popular with seniors and have enrolled more than 17 million people. The plans, which were the subject of a Center for Public Integrity investigation, also enjoy strong support in Congress. (Schulte, 5/9)

The Hill: House Dems Defend White House Medicare Drug Pricing Plan
A group of 20 House Democrats is defending a controversial initiative from the Obama administration to change the way Medicare Part B pays for drugs in a bid to combat rising costs. Meanwhile, other Democrats in Congress, including every one on the Senate Finance Committee, have signed letters expressing serious concerns about the proposal. (Sullivan, 5/9)

Modern Healthcare: Commercial Insurance Margins Offset Rising Medicare Losses
Hospitals in aggregate are expected to post a negative 9% margin on their Medicare business this year, according to a little-publicized report in March from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, a group that advises Congress on Medicare rates. In 2014, hospitals posted a negative 5.8% margin on their Medicare business. But for most, they have succeeded in making that up by posting higher margins on their nongovernment reimbursed patients. ... Indeed, as Medicare reimbursement tightened and penalties for readmissions and poor quality kicked into high gear, this cost-shifting grew worse. (Barkholz, 5/7)

Health Law Issues And Implementation

6. Former Ky. Governor Urges Successor To Avoid 'Back Room Deals' In Medicaid Makeover

In an increasingly acrimonious debate, former Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, presses Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, to make clear to the public his plans to change the Medicaid expansion that Beshear implemented. Elsewhere, outlets report on Medicaid expansion news from Kansas and Utah.

Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: Beshear Urges No 'Back Room' Medicaid Deals
Demanding an end to "back room deals," former Gov. Steve Beshear is calling on Gov. Matt Bevin to include the public in his plans to reshape the state's expanded Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. Beshear, in a joint letter to Bevin and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, also asks the federal government, which funds the majority of Kentucky's Medicaid costs, to disclose any changes sought through a "waiver" the federal agency must approve. (Yetter, 5/9)

The Associated Press: 2 Kentucky Governors, Past And Present, In Acrid Public Feud
While peaceful transitions of power are a longstanding U.S. tradition, the handoff in Kentucky from Democrat Steve Beshear to Republican Matt Bevin has been ugly. The two men have argued loudly over health care, voting rights, pensions and even the appointment of Beshear's wife to a state commission. Things were so tense recently that Bevin and Beshear both claimed the FBI was investigating the other. ... Ten days after Bevin was elected, Beshear held a news conference criticizing Bevin's plans to dismantle Kentucky's health insurance exchange and replace its expanded Medicaid program, both cornerstones of Beshear's legacy. (Beam, 5/10)

Wichita (Kan.) Eagle: Health Care Activists Slam Kansas Lawmakers For Failing To Expand Medicaid
A diverse group of activists gathered at the Capitol on Monday to chide Kansas lawmakers for failing to hold a hearing on Medicaid expansion before adjourning its 2016 session last week. ... “Can you imagine us turning down military funds, highway funds, some other federal funds to the tune of $1.1 billion?” asked physician Eric Voth, vice president for primary care at Stormont Vail Health in Topeka. Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, who observed the event, said that unless the make-up of the Legislature significantly changes with the upcoming election, it’s unlikely efforts to expand Medicaid will gain more traction next legislative session. (Lowry, 5/9)

Topeka Capital-Journal: Medicaid Expansion Proponents

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