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KHN First Edition: June 29, 2015


First Edition

Monday, June 29, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations.

Kaiser Health News: Burwell Says There Is Still ‘Work To Do’ On Health Law
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey reports: "Could she believe what she heard? Sitting in her office Thursday morning, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell saw on her computer screen that the Supreme Court was about to announce its ruling on a challenge that could cripple the health law. 'You knew this was it,' she said." (Carey, 6/26)

Kaiser Health News: State, L.A. Near Deal To Boost Nursing Home Inspections
Kaiser Health News staff writer Anna Gorman reports: "The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health could receive nearly $15 million in additional state funds and about 70 more staff members under a proposed new contract with the state to expand and increase oversight of nursing homes. But a yearlong training and certification process for new staff members means that the longstanding backlog of nursing home investigations could get worse before it gets better." (Gorman, 6/29)

Kaiser Health News: Disability Advocates Fight Assisted Suicide Measures
Kaiser Health News staff writer Anna Gorman also reports: "As California legislators consider a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to get prescriptions to end their lives, disability rights advocates are speaking up in opposition. They worry that if it becomes law, depression and incorrect prognoses may lead people with serious disabilities to end their lives prematurely." (Gorman, 6/29)

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Law Foes Recalibrate Approach
Many opponents of the health law are putting away their legal wrecking balls and reaching for chisels. Thomas Miller, one of the strategists behind the Supreme Court case that aimed to strike down subsidies on the federal exchange, said he thought he would be celebrating now. But after Thursday’s decision upholding the subsidies, he is setting up meetings to discuss narrower attacks on the Affordable Care Act. (Armour, 6/26)

The Associated Press: High Court Ruling Offers Chance To Alter Health Law Debate
The country finally has an opportunity to change the subject on health care, after the Supreme Court again upheld President Barack Obama's law. There's no shortage of pressing issues, including prescription drug prices, high insurance deductibles and long-term care. But moving on will take time, partly because many Republicans want another chance to repeal the Affordable Care Act if they win the White House and both chambers of Congress next year. (6/29)

The Wall Street Journal: States Eye Health Exchange Options
The Supreme Court ruling upholding subsidies on the federal health-insurance exchange may prompt state-run exchanges to forge regional networks or use the federal marketplace. Many of the dozen states operating exchanges under the Affordable Care Act are encountering financial strains, and could join the three dozen states already using the federal marketplace, Some policy experts say it’s possible most of those states will eventually do just that, creating a largely national exchange program. (Armour, 6/26)

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Burwell Describes ‘Emotional’ Moment Awaiting Supreme Court Health Ruling
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said she had had a “very emotional” Thursday morning awaiting a decision in the case brought against her over the Obama administration’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act health law. Ms. Burwell — the Burwell of King v. Burwell — said she was one of the tens of thousands who had tuned in to the SCOTUSBlog website to see if a decision would come down on her case Thursday, and was, at the same time, reading a memo from staff — distractedly, she confessed. (Radnofsky, 6/26)

The New York Times: Fate Of Domestic Partner Benefits In Question After Marriage Ruling
Sandra Haggard, a 71-year-old professor, has been in a committed relationship with her partner, Lynne Lamstein, for more than two decades. They never had plans to marry — nor do they now — even though same-sex marriage has been declared a constitutional right. But ever since same-sex marriage became legalized two years ago in Maine, where the couple lives part of the year, Ms. Haggard said she has had a niggling worry that her employer, the University of Maine, might eliminate domestic partner health coverage for Ms. Lamstein, 66, a freelance writer. Ms. Lamstein uses Ms. Haggard’s plan because Medicare does not cover a medication that she needs. (Bernard, 6/28)

The Washington Post: Top Obamacare Official Says She Wept For Joy After Supreme Court Victory
Burwell also knew that the initial media reports could be wrong, recalling what happened the last time the court ruled on a challenge to the law. “Are we sure?” she asked her staff. She took a moment to lean over a staff member’s shoulder to read the decision on a laptop as staff members double-checked the opinion, according to an official in the room. The mood in the room was joyful but also relieved. Some staff members cried. (Sun, 6/27)

The Wall Street Journal: DOJ Girds For Strict Review Of Any Health-Insurer Mergers
The Justice Department is gearing up for an exacting look at any proposed mergers among the nation’s top health-insurance companies, amid questions inside and outside the department about whether industry consolidation could suppress competition. The five biggest health insurers have been circling one another for potential deals. Anthem Inc. has made public a $47.5 billion bid for Cigna Corp., which Cigna has so far rejected. Aetna Inc., meanwhile, has made a takeover proposal for Humana Inc. (Kendall and Wilde Mathews, 6/28)

The Wall Street Journal: Fear Of Losing Out Drives Deal Boom
In industries ranging from health care to technology to media, chief executives are rushing to make acquisitions, often either in anticipation of takeover moves by rivals or in response to them. The resulting corporate realignments affect executives, employees, customers and suppliers. (Mattioli and Cimilluca, 6/26)

USA Today/Federal Times: Where Federal Health Insurance Fails Autistic Children
When Matt Crockett's 2-year-old son, Mark, was diagnosed with autism, the Air Force Reserve technician assumed his government insurance would help cover the cost of the treatment. He discovered the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program encourages — but does not require — insurance carriers to cover the cost of the leading treatment for autism. In fact, only 23 states offer federal health insurance plans that cover Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, which leaves federal employees trapped in a patchwork of coverage that costs tens of thousands of dollars a year. (Medici, 6/28)

Los Angeles Times: Lack Of Clear Front-Runner In Huge 2016 Field Highlights Fractures Within GOP
What the party lacks is a clear leader in the 2016 field — or anyone, for that matter, who can plausibly claim a meaningful advantage — producing what is arguably the most wide-open Republican race in more than 50 years. ... No GOP candidates have gone as far as Clinton in taking on their own party. But several have nudged fellow Republicans in different ways: Bush, a former Florida governor, by urging the party to soften its tone on immigration; Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul by advocating a less assertive military policy; Ohio Gov. John Kasich by embracing the expansion of Medicare under the Affordable Care Act, which is loathed by many Republicans. (Barabak, 6/29)

The Associated Press: Kasich Plans To Announce GOP 2016 Presidential Bid July 21
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who's spent the year testing his scrappy political style and pragmatic policy positions around the country, plans to formally enter the 2016 presidential race July 21. ... He also is known for going off script and for pulling no punches about political positions he sees as practical though they might anger fellow Republicans. Kasich advocated income-tax cuts and expanded Medicaid under the federal health care law and has taken on oil-and-gas producers while supporting Common Core education standards. (6/29)

The Associated Press: As He Launches 2016 Bid, Christie Embraces Underdog Role
When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie enters the race for president this week, he’ll do so as an underdog. ,,, With a new slogan — “Telling it like it is” — Christie will also play up his brash persona, presenting himself as someone unafraid to take on unpopular issues such as overhauling Social Security and Medicare. (Colvin, 6/29)

The Wall Street Journal: How To Take Charge Of Your Medical Records
It’s your health. So it’s time you took control of all the information about it. That’s the message that a growing number of patient advocates are trying to spread to American health-care consumers. For most people, of course, it’s all too easy to simply leave their health records in the hands of doctors and hospitals. But that’s a big mistake, the advocates argue. First, it gives doctors too much power over information that is vital to patients, and it creates opportunities for errors. Perhaps more important, it keeps patients from using the information themselves for their own benefit. (Beck, 6/29)

The Washington Post: Watson’s Next Feat? Taking On Cancer
Four years after destroying human competitors on “Jeopardy!” to win a suspense-filled tournament watched by millions, the IBM computer brain is everywhere. It’s done stints as a call center operator and hotel concierge, and been spotted helping people pick songs. It’s even published its own cookbook, with 231 pages of what the company calls “recipes for innovation.” (Cha, 6/27)

NPR: Vaccine Against Meningitis B Gets A Boost From CDC
Parents, take note! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's vaccine committee has expanded its recommendation for immunization against meningitis B, a rare but potentially deadly strain of meningitis. The committee's revised guidance, issued late last week, broadens the group of young people that the CDC thinks should consider getting the shot, and increases the likelihood that health insurance policies will pay for the injection. (Neighmond, 6/29)

The Washington Post: Anti-Vaccine Doctor Behind ‘Dangerous’ Autism Therapy Found Dead, Family Cries Foul
Dr. James Jeffrey Bradstreet’s life was full of controversy. To thousands of supporters, he was a savior: a physician who claimed vaccines caused autism and promoted radical procedures to treat those afflicted, including his own son. To many others, however, he was a crackpot: a man who, despite his medical license, ignored science and championed dangerous, discredited and occasionally deadly treatments. (Miller, 6/29)

Los Angeles Times: 35 California Counties Grant Healthcare To Immigrants In U.S. Illegally
In the latest wave of such decisions, a group of 35 mostly rural counties in California agreed this week to grant healthcare to immigrants in the country illegally. For several years, just 11 of the state's 58 counties provided some form of low-cost medical care to these uninsured immigrants. But as of this month, 47 of the state's counties have promised to do so. (Karlamangla, 6/26)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2014 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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