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From Kaiser Health News:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

1. Death Talk Is Cool At This Festival

How to make thinking about death less somber? Hold a festival! Indianapolis did. Through art, film and book talks, residents explored everything from bucket lists to advance directives and cremation. (Jake Harper, WFYI, 6/2)

2. Political Cartoon: 'Open Carry'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Open Carry'" by Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Afraid of Zika
we are. Congress, when will you
provide the funding?

If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.

Summaries Of The News:

Health Law Issues And Implementation

3. Insurers Request 2017 Obamacare Rate Hikes

Meanwhile, House Republicans and the Obama administration are at odds over subpoenas.

The Associated Press: Insurance Rates Going Up: New Concerns For Obamacare
Fresh problems for "Obamacare": The largest health insurer in Texas wants to raise its rates on individual policies by an average of nearly 60 percent, a new sign that President Barack Obama's overhaul hasn't solved the problem of price spikes. Texas isn't alone. Citing financial losses under the health care law, many insurers around the country are requesting bigger premium increases for 2017. That's to account for lower-than-hoped enrollment, sicker-than-expected customers and problems with the government's financial backstop for insurance markets. (6/2)

The Hill: Showdown Over ObamaCare Subpoenas Quickly Escalating
House Republicans and the Obama administration are clashing over subpoenas for ObamaCare documents. Republicans are upping the pressure on the administration, saying officials are withholding documents that Congress has every right to see. The administration argues that it is justified in withholding some documents, as predecessors have done, because of the executive branch's interest in protecting the confidentiality of internal deliberations. (Ferris, 6/1)

And in California —

Modern Healthcare: Will Covered California Sell Plans To Undocumented Immigrants?
California is moving to become the first state to allow unauthorized immigrants to purchase insurance through the state exchange. The state assembly voted Tuesday to open up Covered California to immigrants living in U.S. illegally who want to purchase a health plan with their own funds.SB 10, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara from southeast Los Angeles County, would authorize the state to apply for a federal waiver to make the change. (Kutscher, 6/1)

4. La. Hospitals, Fearing Budget Cuts, Welcome Medicaid Expansion

Thousands of people are expected to sign up for Medicaid under the expansion, which is part of the federal health law. Hospitals, especially those that serve low-income residents, are hoping that will help cut their costs for providing uncompensated care.

Modern Healthcare: Facing Budget Ax, Louisiana Hospitals Welcome Looming Medicaid Expansion
One of the nation's poorest, least-insured and unhealthiest states is launching a major effort Wednesday to expand Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income residents. Hospitals and other healthcare providers there say it can't happen soon enough. Surprisingly, the state's Republican-controlled Legislature is largely going along, in part because the big infusion of federal Medicaid money will ease the state's dire budget problems. But the expansion still doesn't solve the problem of a big budget shortfall that's threatening the survival of some of the state's nine formerly public safety net hospitals, an issue that may take lawmakers into a special legislative session this month. (Meyer, 6/1)

Morning Consult: Aspiring Senate Democrats Embrace Louisiana’s Medicaid Expansion
Democrats in red states will often try to place distance between themselves and the health care law signed by the president in 2010, but in Louisiana, two candidates for Senate are doing the opposite. Foster Campbell, a wealthy businessman, and Caroline Fayard both issued statements praising their state on Wednesday – the first day its government began issuing cards for its new Medicaid expansion program, Healthy Louisiana. (Yokley, 6/1)

WAFB (Baton Rouge, La.): More Louisianans Covered Thanks To New Medicaid Income Requirements
Enrollment specialists across the state spent Wednesday enrolling people into the new, expanded Medicaid program in Louisiana. Open enrollment started Wednesday and thousands of people in the state wasted no time signing up. "Tons will be eligible because it's so many people that, you know fell into that range of no coverage," said Stephanie Harold, an enrollment specialist at Care South in Baton Rouge. Previously, a household of three had to have an income of less than $3,500 a year. Now, that income limit has jumped significantly to around $27,000 a year. (Reynold, 6/1)

New Orleans Times-Picayune: John Bel Edwards Talks Medicaid Expansion In Visit To University Medical Center
Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the executive order to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program on Tulane Medical School resident Sarah Candler's birthday, Jan. 12. On Wednesday, Candler got to tell Edwards what it was like to inform her patients that they could sign up for the health care coverage. "Many of them are newly eligible today, so that means patients I've wanted to prescribe certain medications to, I've wanted to get screening tests for and haven't been able to do so because they didn't have enough health insurance," Candler said. "Today that changes." (Litten, 6/1)

And in Utah —

Salt Lake Tribune: Utah’s Medicaid Expansion Plan Moving Forward With Little Comment From Public
The plan targets childless adults who are chronically homeless, involved in the justice system, or in need of substance-abuse or mental-health treatment. It also expands coverage to low-income parents with dependent children previously not covered by Medicaid. Officials originally estimated that about 16,000 people would be covered through the expansion, but that estimate has been tapered. ... The health department began accepting public comment last month on the proposal, which it must soon finalize and submit to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for approval. Only 13 people ... testified at the three public hearings, held in Salt Lake City and Logan. The department had received 23 written comments on the draft as of Wednesday. There is about a week until the public comment period closes. (Stuckey, 6/1)

Administration News

5. FDA Unveils New Sodium Guidelines: 'The Deck Has Been Stacked Against' Consumers

“The majority of sodium intake comes from processed and prepared foods, not the saltshaker," the agency says in new voluntary guidelines, which set targets for a gradual reduction in sodium across a range of food categories for both manufactured and restaurant products.

The New York Times: F.D.A. Proposes Guidelines For Salt Added To Food
The Food and Drug Administration proposed voluntary guidelines for the food industry to reduce salt on Wednesday, a move long sought by consumer and public health advocates who said the standards could eventually help save thousands of American lives. Though the guidelines are not mandatory, consumer advocates said they are meaningful because they will serve as a benchmark by which companies can be measured. More than 70 percent of sodium consumed is already in food before it reaches the table, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and health advocates say the guidelines could help reduce that. (Tavernise, 6/1)

The Washington Post: FDA Proposes Guidelines To Prod Food Industry To Cut Salt In Products
“Many Americans want to reduce sodium in their diets, but that’s hard to do when much of it is in everyday products we buy in stores and restaurants,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement. “Today’s announcement is about putting power back in the hands of consumers, so that they can better control how much salt is in the food they eat and improve their health.” The agency said that many food companies -- including General Mills, Mars and Nestle -- already have cut back on salt but that the overall level in the food supply remains too high. After a lengthy analysis, the FDA created 150 categories of foods and set targets for sodium reductions. (McGinley, 6/1)

Morning Consult: FDA Advises Americans To Decrease Sodium Intake
The guidelines, which are voluntary, urge the food industry to decrease salt levels in food to help people decrease their sodium intake to a healthier level over a short-term (two year) and long-term (10 year) period. The FDA suggests sodium intake be at about 2,300 milligrams per day, whereas the average daily sodium intake in the U.S. is 3,400 milligrams per day. (McIntire, 6/1)

Capitol Hill Watch

6. Senators Push HHS To Allow Doctors To Treat More Patients With Addiction Treatment Medication

The group of lawmakers urges the Department of Health and Human Services to raise the number of patients a doctor can treat for opioid addiction with buprenorphine from 200 to 500. Meanwhile, New Hampshire Public Radio profiles a former addict who is now helping others struggling with substance abuse.

Huffington Post: Senators Urge Feds To Expand Access To Opioid Addiction Medication
A group of 22 senators, including Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, think the Department of Health and Human Services could do more to increase access to a medication viewed by the medical establishment as the best chance for opioid addicts to make a lasting recovery. Under current federal regulations, doctors can treat only 30 patients at a time in the first year they’re certified to prescribe buprenorphine (commonly sold in the U.S. as Suboxone), a medication that

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