In This Edition:
From Kaiser Health News:
Here’s a breakdown of what women should know, and what is still unclear, regarding how Zika is transmitted, who is at risk and how to take precautions against it. (Shefali Luthra, 6/13)
The average patient stay costs $4,000 more at Sutter and Dignity hospitals than at other California medical centers, study shows. (Chad Terhune, 6/13)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Silver Lining?'" by Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
Science seeks new cures ...
How many could be saved by
Banning assault guns?
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:
Experts say they are overly conservative and unnecessary with the testing technology available now.
Stat: Orlando Shootings Spark Calls To End Limits On Gay Men Donating Blood
The massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday sparked calls from leading AIDS researchers and gay-rights advocates for the federal government to rewrite guidelines that bar men who have had sex with men in the past year from donating blood. (Piller, 6/12)
The Associated Press: Gay Men Limited As Blood Donors For Orlando Club Victims
Hundreds lined up to give blood Sunday in Orlando to help the victims of the massacre at a gay nightclub, but major restrictions remain for gay men wanting to give blood themselves. The response overwhelmed OneBlood donation centers, where officials asked donors to make appointments and continue donating over the next several days. Over 50 people were injured and 50 were killed when a gunman opened fire early Sunday inside the downtown Orlando club Pulse. While many Facebook and Twitter posts from individuals and at least one gay advocacy group in Florida said no one would be turned away and all blood would be screened, OneBlood denied any change in policy. (6/12)
The move suggests that lawmakers are willing to make adjustments to the current law, despite plans to release replacement plan details. In other news, the insured who aren't getting subsidies struggle under the threat of skyrocketing premiums, health care economists gather for a conference where the Affordable Care Act will take center stage and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, in talking about his tenure, describes the reviews of his ACA performance as "quite rough."
The Hill: GOP Surprises With Push For Smaller ObamaCare Changes
House Republicans are considering small-bore changes to ObamaCare even as they prepare to release an outline for replacing the entire law. The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Friday held a hearing on five bills that would make relatively small changes to the health law, such as changing the documentation required to enroll in coverage or changing how insurers can use someone's age in setting premiums. The moves indicate that Republicans have not ruled out making adjustments to the existing law despite preperations to tout their long-awaited replacement plan for all of ObamaCare, coming from Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) task force later this month. (Sullivan, 6/10)
The Associated Press: Rising Premiums Rattle Consumers Paying Their Own Way
Millions of people who pay the full cost of their health insurance will face the sting of rising premiums next year, with no financial help from government subsidies. Renewal notices bearing the bad news will go out this fall, just as the presidential election is in the homestretch. "I don't know if I could swallow another 30 or 40 percent without severely cutting into other things I'm trying to do, like retirement savings or reducing debt," said Bob Byrnes, of Blaine, Minnesota, a Twin Cities suburb. His monthly premium of $524 is already about 50 percent more than he was paying in 2015, and he has a higher deductible. (6/13)
Los Angeles Times: California Voters Are Becoming More Concerned About Healthcare Costs Than About Whether They Have Insurance
Six years after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, the health reform law has gained acceptance from a majority of California voters, but the cost of getting healthcare remains a major concern, eclipsing worries about having insurance, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll. The widespread worry about costs indicates a potential shift in the debate over healthcare, at least in this heavily Democratic state. (Lauter, 6/10)
Marketplace: Health Economists Diagnose The Affordable Care Act
About 1,000 health care economists from around the country descend on Philadelphia this week for the biennial conference of the American Society of Health Economists. (Gorenstein, 6/10)
The New York Times: America’s Appellate Lawyer Recaps 5 Years Of Legal ‘High Drama’
“I really felt like the roof had caved in on me,” Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said the other day, recalling the low point of his five years as the Obama administration’s top appellate lawyer. Mr. Verrilli, 58, is preparing to step down from the job this month after a tenure that included 37 Supreme Court arguments and a string of major victories on behalf of a Democratic president facing a court dominated by conservative justices. But the scathing reviews of his most important Supreme Court argument, in the 2012 case challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law, still sting. (Liptak, 6/11)
Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that would require the state to seek a waiver from the federal government to allow immigrants in the country illegally to buy insurance from Covered California exchanges. They would not be eligible for subsidies.
Reuters: California Governor Signs Bill Letting Undocumented Immigrants Buy Insurance
California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law allowing unauthorized immigrants to buy health insurance on a state exchange created under the U.S. Affordable Care Act, making the state the first in the country to offer that kind of coverage. The law lets the state request a waiver from the federal government that will be needed to allow unauthorized immigrants to purchase unsubsidized insurance through Covered California, the state's healthcare exchange. (O'Brien, 6/11)
Los Angeles Times: Gov. Brown Signs Bill That Could Help Immigrants Get Access To Health Insurance
The new law is the latest immigrant-friendly policy recently passed in California. Over the last few years, immigrants here illegally have gained the ability to apply for professional licenses, such as for practicing law or medicine, and also for drivers licenses. Opponents of these policies say they encourage illegal immigration and take away resources from those here legally. But immigrant advocates have praised California’s efforts, especially those around expanding healthcare. (Karlamangla, 6/10)
California Healthline/Kaiser Health News: Gov. Brown Signs Bill Seeking OK For Exchange To Sell To Immigrants Without Documents
Under the terms of California’s request to the federal government, immigrants without legal standing would not qualify for government assistance to help pay for the coverage — unlike the vast majority of Covered California enrollees. Many experts and advocates concede that this makes the measure a largely symbolic gesture, since few would be able to afford policies on their own. They are allowed to buy coverage in the private market, but many decline to do so for financial reasons, insurance industry experts say. (Ibarra, 6/10)
The Sacramento Bee: Gov. Jerry Brown Agrees To Seek Health Insurance For Undocumented Immigrants
“Today we ask the federal government to remove barriers to health insurance access that discriminates against some of our residents on the basis of their documentation status,” Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, said in a statement. “The current policy disallowing immigrants from purchasing care with their own money is both discriminatory and outdated.” (White, 6/10)
Renee Unterman, who heads the Georgia Senate's health committee, said last week, "Times have changed, and we've seen the effect of the health crisis we're in." Also, federal plans for a survey of Indiana's Medicaid expansion is raising some concerns in the state.
The Associated Press: Medicaid Expansion Remains Divisive For Georgia Republicans
Two years ago, state Sen. Renee Unterman helped lead an effort to shut down Medicaid expansion in Georgia. But now the prominent Republican wants her colleagues to reconsider years of opposition to any form of Medicaid expansion. ... Unterman's shift is the latest crack in Republican opposition to a key component of President Barack Obama's signature health care law. Unterman and others argue that increasing Medicaid eligibility is the only way to quickly affect Georgia's health care system, which has seen a rash of rural hospitals shutting down or cutting services in recent years. (Foody, 6/11)
Modern Healthcare: Ind. Sees Bias In Surveys To Assess Its Medicaid Plan
Indiana officials say the CMS is planning to use a biased survey to evaluate the state's conservative approach to Medicaid expansion. In April, the federal Office of Management and Budget approved an emergency request by the CMS to let it examine whether Indiana's conservative-friendly, alternative Medicaid expansion model known as Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0, or HIP 2.0, has hurt beneficiaries' access to care. ... Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, has argued there is no need for the CMS to perform its own evaluation of his plan because the state already hired the Lewin Group, an independent consultancy, to do so. (Dickinson, 6/11)