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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Political Cartoon: 'Multipurpose'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Multipurpose'" by J.C. Duffy.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Docs on probation
Don’t have to tell patients. Why?
The state Senate spoke.

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Summaries Of The News:

Campaign 2016

5. Doing Too Much, Too Fast: The Lessons Clinton Learned From Hillarycare's Failure

In 1993, Hillary Clinton pushed a grand sweeping plan to ensure all Americans had health insurance. She took her ideas to Capitol Hill, and what happened next was instrumental in shaping the presidential candidate's approach to governing and politics.

Reuters: From 'Hillarycare' Debacle in 1990s, Clinton Emerged More Cautious
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich remembers the day 23 years ago when Hillary Clinton, notebook in hand, came to see him and other senior Republicans to talk about "Hillarycare." It was early 1993. Clinton, on behalf of her husband, then-President Bill Clinton, was leading a healthcare reform drive that vaulted her onto the national stage. Hillarycare would famously collapse after a fierce debate. In interviews with Reuters, some participants looked back on it as a crucible for the Democratic presidential front-runner that helped shape her approach to politics and governing. (Drawbaugh and Milliken, 6/6)

Meanwhile, an adviser says Clinton supports the administration's Medicare reimbursement changes, and a look at the nurses union ardently supporting Bernie Sanders in California —

Morning Consult: Clinton Supports Medicare Drug Pricing Proposal, Advisor Says
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton supports in principle the Obama administration’s Medicare proposal to change the way drugs administered in hospital and physicians’ offices are reimbursed, according to an outside advisor to the Clinton campaign. Clinton supports the overall structure and purpose of the proposal, but like several Democrats in Congress, she believes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should consider making changes, said Chris Jennings, a health expert, in an interview with Morning Consult. (Owens, 6/7)

Capitol Hill Watch

6. Senate's Health Spending Bill Reportedly Will Bump Up NIH Funding By $2 Billion

A senate subcommittee is expected to get a markup bill today that will include the new NIH funding, as well as increases in spending on initiatives for Alzheimer's disease, opioid abuse, precision medicine and antibiotic resistance. In other Capitol Hill news, the House is getting ready to act on a hospital bill and Speaker Paul Ryan is slated this week to release his action plan, which will include health measures.

Morning Consult: NIH To Get $2 Billion More In Senate 2017 Spending Bill
The National Institutes of Health would receive a pay bump of about $2 billion in the Senate bill funding the Department of Health and Human Services and the Labor Department for 2017, giving it a $34 billion budget, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill is scheduled to receive a markup and vote in subcommittee on Tuesday and in the full Appropriations Committee on Thursday. The NIH received a funding bump of $2 billion in the omnibus funding bill that passed in December last year, raising its budget from $30 billion to $32 billion. (Owens, 6/6)

The Hill: Overnight Healthcare: NIH Headed For $2 Billion Funding Boost
The biggest news out of the Senate's health spending bill so far is the $2 billion in new funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). ... Other notable funding increases: $1.39 billion for Alzheimer's research, about $400 million more. $261 million for opioid abuse, about $126 million more. $300 million for President Obama's precision medicine initiative, about $100 million more. $626 million for antibiotic resistance programs, up about $53 million. (Ferris 6/6)

Morning Consult: GOP Appropriators To Allow Obamacare Funding On HHS Spending Bill
The Senate spending bill to fund the Department of Health and Human Services and the Labor Department in 2017 will maintain Affordable Care Act funding, according to a senior GOP aide. “We will fund all of the things we need to fund to try to keep it bipartisan,” the aide told Morning Consult, adding that this means some Republicans, specifically Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), will accuse appropriators of funding Obamacare. The Senate’s Appropriations subcommittee on labor and health will vote on the proposal Tuesday. The full committee is slated to advance the bill on Thursday. (Owens, 6/6)

The Hill: Alzheimer's Research To Get $400 Million Boost In Senate Bill
The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to propose a $400 million increase in funding for Alzheimer’s research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s has drawn growing bipartisan concern over the sharply growing costs of caring for people with the disease. (Sullivan 6/6)

The Associated Press: Ryan Focuses On Policy Amid GOP Discord
Overhauling the nation's welfare and nutrition programs has long been a priority for [Republican House Speaker Paul] Ryan, who also plans to release a national security plan on Thursday. Policy plans on regulations, the constitution, health care and taxes will roll out in the coming weeks. (Jalonick, 6/7)


7. John Oliver Forgives $15M In Medical Debt

The "Last Week Tonight" host's latest stunt-with-a-message — to buy nearly $15 million in medical debt for just $60,000 — highlights the struggle many cope with after getting sick and amassing huge bills. And although the Affordable Care Act means more people have insurance to help pay for those sky-high costs, people are still leaving the hospital with crippling debt.

The New York Times: For His Latest Trick, John Oliver Forgives $15 Million In Medical Debt
For his latest trick, Mr. Oliver, the host of the HBO show, formed a company called Central Asset Recovery Professionals — or CARP, named after the bottom-feeding fish — and purchased $14.9 million worth of medical debt for just under $60,000. Mr. Oliver said it had cost $50 to create his company, after which he received the portfolio offering the names, current addresses and Social Security numbers of about 9,000 people. Mr. Oliver then gave the debt away, bragging that his giveaway was bigger than Ms. Winfrey’s — her car giveaway was estimated at $7 million — and completed the show by pressing a giant red button that triggered a rain shower of dollar bills. (Rogers, 6/6)

USA Today: John Oliver Buys And Forgives $15 Million Of Debt
"It is pretty clear by now (that) debt buying is a grimy business, and badly needs more oversight, because as it stands any idiot can get into it," Oliver said. "And I can prove that to you, because I'm an idiot, and we started a debt-buying company. And it was disturbingly easy." How easy? Well back in April they spent just $50 to start the company. "We called it Central Asset Recovery Professionals, or CARP, after the bottom-feeding fish." With an official company and a website at his disposal, Oliver was offered nearly $15 million of medical debt from Texas for less than half a cent on the dollar, or less than $60,000. (Lawler, 6/6)

STAT: Inside The Medical Debt Charity That John Oliver Just Made Famous
When comedian John Oliver forgave nearly $15 million in medical debt in theatrical style on Sunday night, he drew laughs by proclaiming himself more generous than Oprah, who once gave away $8 million worth of cars. But Oliver, host of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” on HBO, also pointed to a very real and serious problem: Getting sick often means amassing large health care bills that insurance companies won’t pay and patients can’t afford. (Samuel, 6/6)

The Washington Post: Few People Realize This Big Risk When They Go To The Hospital
More than three decades ago, emergency rooms could kick you out if doctors didn’t think you could pay. You might be suffering from a stroke, a gunshot wound or a broken spine, but if your insurance wasn’t good enough, many hospitals could slam the door in your face. This hot-potatoing of patients caused gruesome and unnecessary deaths before the practice was outlawed in 1986. Today, if you go to the hospital with an emergency, doctors pretty much have to treat you. If you have insurance, great. But even if you can’t pay, they’ll patch you up all the same. You’ll just leave the hospital with potentially crippling medical debt. Because of the health-insurance expansions under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, millions fewer Americans are likely to face that debt. (Guo, 6/6)