In This Edition:
From Kaiser Health News:
But reaching Spanish speakers might take some extra effort. (Jocelyn Wiener, 5/12)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Lead Balloon'" by Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
Insurance rates up
Is the market adjusting,
Or are we all doomed?
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Summaries Of The News:
The announcement comes after UnitedHealth said it was withdrawing from most of the exchanges.
The Wall Street Journal: Aetna Not Withdrawing From Any Health-Law Insurance-Exchange States
Aetna Inc. expects to continue selling Affordable Care Act exchange plans in 15 states, and the insurer said it may expand into new areas. The announcement adds to the mixed picture that the industry has been providing about companies’ willingness to stick it out on the exchanges, which have generated red ink for many insurers. Insurers’ moves on the exchanges are being closely watched after UnitedHealth Group Inc. said last month that it would withdraw from all but a handful of the 34 states where it is offering the marketplace plans, amid continued losses. ... But other big insurers have struck a guardedly optimistic tone. (Wilde Mathews and Armour, 5/11)
Reuters: Aetna Plans To Remain In Obamacare Markets, May Expand
Health Insurer Aetna Inc on Wednesday said it plans to continue its Obamacare health insurance business next year in the 15 states where it now participates, and may expand to a few additional states. "We have submitted rates in all 15 states where we are participating and have no plans at this point to withdraw from any of them," said company spokesman Walt Cherniak. But he noted that a final determination would hinge on binding agreements being signed with the states in September. (Pierson, 5/11)
And a look at possible insurance premium increases in Maine —
The Associated Press: Maine Insurers Seek Double-Digit Hikes Under Health Care Law
Insurers are seeking double-digit premium increases in the coming year for tens of thousands of Mainers who receive insurance through President Barack Obama's health care law. Proposals filed with the Maine Bureau of Insurance would raise individual plan premiums between 14 percent and 23 percent under the health care law's marketplace. All told, more than 84,000 Mainers are signed up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. (Sharp, 5/11)
The Obamacare replacement plan is part of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s promise to put together a conservative agenda ahead of the Republican convention this summer.
Morning Consult: House GOP To Huddle Over Health Care As Hearing Hints At Changes
House GOP leaders announced Wednesday at a weekly closed-door conference meeting that they will present members with an update on the Republican Obamacare replacement plan on Thursday afternoon, according to a senior GOP aide. ... While the plan is not yet finalized, a hearing in Energy and Commerce Committee’s health subcommittee on Wednesday offered hints of what the replacement plan might contain. Committee members are mulling various ways to handle pre-existing conditions, quality of coverage, affordability and insurance regulation. (Owens, 5/11)
The Hill: GOP Lawmakers To Get Briefing From Leaders Of ObamaCare Replacement Effort
The meeting, which will be attended by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), marks the first time the task force will lay out a draft of its plan after months of conversations with members, according to a House GOP aide. The plan is expected to include numerous standard Republican health policy ideas — including a controversial proposal to cap the employer tax exclusion for health insurance, according to two Republican lobbyists. ... Details of the plan have been mostly kept quiet, but Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, told The Hill that other elements include allowing insurers to sell across state lines and “beefing up” health savings accounts. (Sullivan and Ferris, 5/11)
Also see a related KHN video: Sounds Like A Good Idea? Selling Insurance Across State Lines (Rovner and Ying, 5/10)
Although Washington's eyes are focused on an upcoming meeting between the speaker and the presumptive GOP nominee, Paul Ryan wanted to bring attention to the House's work this week at trying to pass 18 initiatives aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic. The White House, however, criticized the measures, saying they lack "substance."
The Boston Globe: Paul Ryan, Mass. Lawmakers Focus On Opioids In Shadow Of Trump
While the attention on Capitol Hill this week has focused on Donald Trump’s visit, a quieter — and potentially more substantive — conversation is underway in Congress to address the opioid addiction crisis sweeping the country. House Speaker Paul Ryan, after a morning meeting with Trump, is planning Thursday to continue pushing for passage of 18 initiatives to help stem the epidemic. (Jan, 5/12)
The Hill: White House Rips House GOP's Opioid Package
The White House on Wednesday blasted a lack of new funding in Republican legislation in the House to address the national opioid addiction crisis. White House press secretary Josh Earnest did not say whether President Obama would refuse to sign the bills. But he dismissed the measures, saying they lack “substance.” He noted that Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office has complained that the series of 18 bills has not received widespread attention because of the raucous Republican presidential primary. (Fabian, 5/11)
Reuters: House Passes Bill To Aid Children Born Into Opioid Dependency
The House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously passed legislation to improve safety planning for children who are born dependent on opioid drugs. A similar bill is pending in the Senate. It is one of more than a dozen new measures that are aimed at addressing a U.S. epidemic of addiction to pain pills and cheap heroin. (5/11)
The Huffington Post: The House Just Passed Opioid Legislation, But There’s Still A Fight Ahead
In the modern era of Congress, it’s a rare day when lawmakers vote on legislation actually intended to go to the president’s desk. It’s an even rarer occasion when that legislation is meant to help individuals battling opioid addiction — as is the case with the bills the House passed on Wednesday and the raft of legislation it’s expected to pass in the next few days. (Fuller, Grim and Cherkis, 5/11)
In other news from Capitol Hill —
The Wall Street Journal: Experts Decry Tying Medical Research Funds To FDA Standards Changes
Moves in Congress to link billions of dollars in new medical research funding to revised standards for drug and medical-device approvals are troubling some public-health experts, who say the combination makes it too easy for lawmakers to support lower patient-safety standards. These safety advocates say legislation to beef up research funding for the National Institutes of Health should be separated from product-approval changes at the Food and Drug Administration. (Burton, 5/12)
CQ Healthbeat: Senate Could Take Up Mental Health Bill Sooner Than Expected
Senate leaders are seeking lawmakers' input on whether to schedule a mental health bill for floor action between Memorial Day and the July Fourth recess, and several senators already are lobbying for consideration of their amendments. (Siddons, 5/11)
The presumptive Republican nominee for president recently pledged to appoint pro-life judges and brought a prominent opponent of abortion on to his staff.
Politico: Anti-Abortion Groups Moving — Reluctantly — Toward Trump
Anti-abortion groups that steadfastly opposed Donald Trump are coming around — though not with great enthusiasm. The thawing of relations comes as the Trump camp has made moves that anti-abortion leaders view as potentially promising that he will champion their causes if he becomes president. On Tuesday evening, the presumptive GOP nominee pledged to appoint “pro-life” judges, his clearest and most prominent effort to date to tap into one of the highest priorities of anti-abortion voters. (Haberkorn, 5/11)
The Hill: Trump Promises To Appoint Anti-Abortion Supreme Court Justices
Donald Trump on Tuesday said he will appoint Supreme Court justices who oppose abortion but stopped short of saying they would overturn Roe v. Wade. Pressed by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on whether his chosen justices would overturn Roe v. Wade, Trump said,
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