In This Edition:
From Kaiser Health News:
Advocates emphasize peer support and community reintegration for people with behavioral health problems. (Taylor Sisk, 5/24)
Prison helped Richie Tannerhill overcome substance abuse, but that was just the beginning of rebuilding his life. (Taylor Sisk, 5/24)
Residents of California, New York and Ohio approve of Medicaid expansion in those states, the survey by a Houston-based think tank found. (Carrie Feibel, Houston Public Media, 5/24)
Dr. Abraham Nussbaum, author of a new book examining the drive toward quality metrics such as checklists, says he fears medicine could become just another job and not a “calling.” (Michelle Andrews, 5/24)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Out Of The Question'" by Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune.
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Summaries Of The News:
The proposal from Reps. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, and Bill Cassiday, R-La., would repeal the individual and employer mandates. Also in the news are programs to help migrant farm workers in North Carolina sign up for coverage and proposals to increase premiums in Georgia.
The Hill: GOP Duo Unveils Healthcare Bill Maintaining Parts Of ObamaCare
Two Republican lawmakers are breaking with their party’s long-stated goal of repealing ObamaCare by putting forward a healthcare plan that leaves parts of the system in place. While the new bill from Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) is a departure from the core Republican idea of full repeal, it could provide a roadmap for changes that could be enacted under a GOP president. (Sullivan, 5/23)
The Dallas Morning News: Texan Pete Sessions, Realizing GOP Can’t Repeal Obamacare, Offers Alternative
After years of failed GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare, a top Texas Republican lawmaker is taking a new tack on health care: proposing an alternative. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., are behind a bill that they say would offer Americans a choice. Taking a page from the Donald Trump political playbook, they’ve given it a name oozing with confidence — “The World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan Act of 2016.” (Leslie, 5/23)
Morning Consult: GOP Health Bill Would Allow States to Back Away From Obamacare
While the bill does not repeal the 2010 health care law, it would repeal both the individual and employer mandates and limits the “non-essential” products that plans would have to cover. ... Sessions and Cassidy’s bill comes as a House GOP task force is drafting an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans met to discuss earlier this month. (McIntire, 5/23)
North Carolina Health News: Migrant Farmworkers Get Help Signing Up for Health Care
The 50 or so farmworkers who signed up for help [enrolling in a health plan] missed this year’s ACA open enrollment period. But they’re offered a second chance. A special open-enrollment period allows consumers who experience certain life events – a change in marital or immigration status, for example – to apply after the main enrollment period has ended. Entering the country on an H-2A work visa is considered a qualifying life event, making migrant workers eligible for the special-enrollment period. (Porter-Rockwell, 5/24)
Georgia Health News: Some Rates In Georgia Insurance Exchange Could Soar In 2017
Many Georgians may see their monthly premiums rise by double-digit percentages on the state health insurance exchange in 2017, an analysis of health insurers’ proposed rate requests shows. If approved by regulators, these rates will vary significantly depending on the plan, the region of the state and the insurer. (Miller, 5/23)
Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman says expansion advocates don't have the votes in the Republican Senate, which is set to adjourn next week. At the same time, the Oklahoma Medicaid Board is waiting to see what spending level the legislature sets so the board can determine if it needs to go forward with a 25 percent reimbursement cut.
The Associated Press: Medicaid Expansion Plan Likely Dead In Oklahoma
A bill to expand Medicaid eligibility in Oklahoma so that the state could tap into an infusion of federal funding available under the Affordable Care Act appears to be dead, the state's Senate leader said on Monday. With just one week remaining before lawmakers are set to adjourn, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said there isn't enough support in the Republican-controlled Senate to approve the plan. A proposed $1.50-per-pack tax increase on cigarettes to help pay for the state's share was defeated in the Oklahoma House last week, and Bingman said that proposal is also likely dead for the year. (5/23)
The Oklahoman: Oklahoma Medicaid Board Tables Vote On 25 Percent Provider Rate Cut
The state Medicaid agency board Monday postponed its vote on a 25 percent provider rate cut, planning to vote once the agency knows more about its appropriation from the Legislature. Nico Gomez, Oklahoma Health Care Authority chief executive officer, said he proposed the rate cut in March amid concerns that the agency would see a major cut in state money for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. However, because the Legislature hadn't proposed a budget as of Monday afternoon, Gomez advised the board to wait to make such a significant decision. (Cosgrove, 5/23)
Also in the news are polls looking at the public's interest in Medicaid expansion —
Twin Falls (Idaho) Times-News: Idahoans Unhappy With Medicaid Inaction But Support New Gun Law, Poll Says
Most Idahoans are unhappy with the Legislature's inaction on Medicaid expansion but supported doing away with the requirement for a pistol permit within city limits, according to the latest polling released by Idaho Politics Weekly. This year's legislative session ended without any action from lawmakers on addressing health coverage for the estimated 78,000 uninsured Idahoans in the "Medicaid gap," and the polling, done by the Salt Lake City firm Dan Jones and Associates, found 64 percent of respondents disagree with this action, while 30 percent agree and 7 percent didn't know. (Brown, 5/23)
Kaiser Health News: Majority Of Texans And Floridians Want Medicaid Expansion, Survey Shows
Americans who live in the two biggest states that haven’t expanded Medicaid have more complaints about health care costs and quality, according to a new survey released by the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute in Houston. They’d also like their states to expand Medicaid. The survey, conducted by marketing research firm Nielsen, assessed attitudes about the health care system, and possible solutions, in five populous states: Texas, California, Florida, New York and Ohio. (Feibel, 5/24)
HHS plans to use the $230 million Nonrecurring Expenses Fund to pay for Medicare payment improvements, but if the House bill passes, that money would go toward fighting the virus. Meanwhile, senators have sent a letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee wanting to know how athletes participating in the games are going to be protected, and World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan blasts countries for dropping the ball on mosquito control.
Morning Consult: House Zika Bill Would Raid HHS Fund for New Medicare Payment System
The House bill providing money to fight the Zika virus would strip the Department of Health and Human Services of funding it plans to use for implementation of the bipartisan Medicare payment overhaul that was enacted last year. In a letter to the House Appropriations Committee obtained by Morning Consult, the Department of Health and Human Services wrote that it plans to use $108 million of its “Nonrecurring Expenses Fund” to invest in “the development of information technology and other systems needed to effectively implement several provisions” of the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act, or MACRA. (Owens, 5/23)
The Hill: GOP Mired In Zika Dispute
The House and Senate have both passed funding to combat the Zika virus, but there appears to be little chance Republicans will reach a deal before the Memorial Day recess. The bills passed by the House and Senate last week are vastly different in terms of size, timeline and offsets. One is broadly bipartisan; the other is facing a veto threat from the White House. (Ferris, 5/24)
USA Today: Senators Want To Know How Athletes Will Be Protected From Zika
Led by Barbara Boxer and Patty Murray, a coalition of 11 Senators sent a letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee on Monday requesting information on how the committee will protect athletes from the Zika virus at the Rio Olympics in August. Signed by 10 Democrats and one independent senator, the letter to USOC chairman Larry Probst asks “what steps the USOC is taking to assist and protect our athletes against the spread of the Zika virus.” (Axon, 5/23)