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KHN First Edition: June 22, 2016


First Edition

Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: House Republicans Unveil Long-Awaited Plan To Replace Health Law
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Rovner reports: "Six years after promising a plan to “repeal and replace” the federal health law, House Republicans are finally ready to deliver. The 37-page white paper, called “A Better Way,” includes virtually every idea on health care proposed by Republicans going back at least two decades. It would bring back “high risk pools” for people with very high medical expenses, end open-ended funding for the Medicaid program and encourage small businesses to band together to get better bargaining power in “Association Health Plans.” What the plan does not include, however, is any idea of how much it would cost, or how it would be financed." (Rovner, 6/22)

Kaiser Health News: HHS Targets Young Adults In 2017 Obamacare Enrollment Plan
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: "Amid early signs that insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act might rise significantly next year, administration officials Tuesday previewed their plans to increase enrollment in the marketplaces, particularly among young adults who have been slow to sign up. Open enrollment starts Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 31. For the first time, the administration said it would send letters about marketplace coverage to uninsured people and to families who paid the individual mandate penalty for not having coverage or claimed an exemption from the health law requirement that they have coverage." (Galewitz, 6/21)

Kaiser Health News: Politics Makes Abortion Training In Texas Difficult
Houston Public Media's Carrie Feibel, in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports: Every year, more than 100 new obstetrician-gynecologists graduate from a Texas residency program and enter the medical workforce. Theoretically, all have had the opportunity during their four years of residency to learn about what's called "induced abortion" — named that to distinguish it from a miscarriage. But the closure of abortion clinics in Texas — more than 20 since 2013 — has made that training increasingly difficult. Texas has 18 residency programs in the field of obstetrics and gynecology, but only one allowed me to observe how abortion is taught." (Feibel, 6/22)

Kaiser Health News: Can Doctors Learn To Perform Abortions Without Doing One?
Houston Public Media's Carrie Feibel, in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports: "Abortion is one of the more common procedures performed in the U.S., more common even than appendectomy. But as clinics in Texas close, finding a place in the state where medical residents training to be OB-GYNs can learn to do abortions is getting harder. "There are places in Texas where there are OB-GYN residents who can't get anywhere to be trained," said a senior doctor at one Texas clinic who is also a medical school professor. The physician asked not to be named to avoid backlash from anti-abortion groups and politicians." (Feibel, 6/22)

California Healthline: Boeing Contracts Directly With California Health System For Employee Benefits
California Healthline staff writer Chad Terhune reports: "In another sign of growing frustration with rising health costs, aerospace giant Boeing Co. has agreed to contract directly for employee benefits with a major health system in Southern California, bypassing the conventional insurance model. The move, announced Tuesday, marks the expansion of Boeing’s direct-contracting approach, which it has already implemented in recent years in Seattle, St. Louis and Charleston, S.C." (Terhune, 6/21)

The New York Times: House Republicans Unveil Long-Awaited Replacement For Health Law
After six years of vague talk about a conservative alternative to the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans on Tuesday finally laid out the replacement for a repealed health law — a package of proposals that they said would slow the growth of health spending and relax federal rules for health insurance. Opponents began the “repeal and replace” mantra almost as soon as the Affordable Care Act was signed in 2010, and while they have voted dozens of times to repeal the health law, the replacement has been elusive. (Pear, 6/22)

The Associated Press: House Republicans Offering Proposals For Health Care Changes
The plan, revealed Wednesday, relies on individual tax credits to allow people to buy coverage from private insurers, and includes other largely familiar GOP ideas such as medical liability reform and expanding access to health savings accounts. It proposes putting $25 billion behind high-risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions and for others, and transforming the federal-state Medicaid program for the poor by turning it into state block grants or individual per-capita allotments to hold down spending. (6/22)

The Wall Street Journal: House Republicans To Unveil Health-Insurance Proposal
The plan leaves myriad details to be filled in, which Republicans say would occur next year, when the party hopes to install presumed nominee Donald Trump in the White House. But by rolling out a broad plan now, they aim to give voters a chance to weigh an alternative health-care system—and give the party an agenda on which to run—before the November elections. “Our proposal is like a health-care ‘backpack’ that provides every American access to financial support for an insurance plan chosen by the individual and can be taken with them job-to-job, home to start a small business or raise a family, and even into retirement years,” the House GOP wrote in summarizing the thrust of the plan. (Hughes and Radnofsky, 6/22)

Los Angeles Times: Still No Obamacare Alternative From House Republicans, Five Years On
Like many previous Republican healthcare proposals -- including those put forward by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump -- Ryan’s latest blueprint is missing key details and legislative language that would allow independent analysts such as the Congressional Budget Office to assess its cost and impact. Rather than showcasing the party’s seriousness about policy, Ryan’s plan may reinforce widespread skepticism about the GOP’s interest in tackling complex healthcare policy. (Levey, 6/22)

Politico: GOP Framework For Obamacare Replacement Is Short On Details
Ryan has framed the new paper as a starting point — a broad outline that the committees with jurisdiction would have to hammer out next year, if there is a GOP president who would sign off on a congressional repeal of Obamacare. There is some overlap with the vague plan laid out by presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump on his campaign website. The 37-page plan pledges to reduce consumers’ average health care premiums by double digits and bend the health care cost curve. But it does not lay out detailed answers about what it means to people who get coverage now. (Haberkorn, 6/22)

The Associated Press: Feds Will Use Tax Penalty Data To Find Uninsured Millennials
With time running out for the Obama administration to prove the success of the Affordable Care Act, officials are aggressively targeting a group that could help turn things around: young people. Federal health officials announced Tuesday they will comb tax records to find 18-34 year-olds who paid the penalty stipulated under President Barack Obama's health act for not buying health insurance and reach out to them directly with emails to urge them to avoid even higher penalties scheduled for this year. They also plan to heavily advertise the enrollment campaign, including a promotion with trendy ride-sharing service Lyft to offer discounted rides to enrollment events. (6/21)

USA Today: Feds Target Young Adults For Health Insurance Coverage Outreach
Federal health officials said Tuesday that they plan to step up their efforts to get uninsured young adults to sign up for health coverage on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, which many avoid doing due to cost and because they think they don't need insurance. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services plans to target consumers aged 18 to 34 in ways officials hope will better reach younger people and resonate with them. CMS handles enrollment for the 38 states where residents use the federal exchange because their states don't run their own consumer health exchanges. (O'Donnell, 6/21)

The Washington Post: U.S. Will Spend $2.6 Trillion Less On Health Care Than Expected Before Obamacare, Study Projects
A new study predicts that the federal forecast of national health care spending under President Obama's signature health law was a big overestimate — by $2.6 trillion over a five-year period. Expanding health insurance coverage to millions of Americans was bound to increase overall spending. After the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, the actuaries for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projected that, as the economy recovered, the historically low growth in health spending would return to higher levels, reaching $4.6 trillion by 2019. But in the intervening years, the annual expenditure increases have been more modest than expected, and the new estimate from the Urban Institute suggests national health spending is on to track reach $4 trillion by 2019. (Johnson, 6/21)

USA Today: Study: Americans Spend Billions On Non-Conventional Health Approaches
Americans spend $30.2 billion out-of-pocket on complementary health approaches annually, a substantial percentage of the $328.8 billion spent in total out-of-pocket health care expenditures, a new study says. The study, released by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), used data collected by the 2012 National Health Interview Survey that were then weighted to produce estimates representative of the entire U.S. population. (Shedrofsky, 6/22)

The Washington Post: Google Aims To Stop Terrifying You With Its Responses When You Search Medical Symptoms
Even if you're not a hypochondriac by nature, jumping on Google to do some research when you have a mysterious headache or cough has been enough to make you one. For years both patients and doctors have complained about how hard it is to distinguish between real advice and the random ramblings of a complete quack. Google has finally come up with a solution. On Monday, the company unveiled symptom search, a new feature that offers you legitimate information curated by Harvard Medical School and Mayo Clinic experts. This includes basic information about common health problems related to your symptoms and whether you can treat the issue at home by yourself or whether you should be calling for help. (Cha, 6/21)

The New York Times: C.D.C. And States Ponder Plans To Keep Ahead Of Zika
Daniel Markowski, a bug scientist in a cowboy hat, has a phone that will not stop ringing. Now that summer has arrived, and with it the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus, the services of the Arkansas-based mosquito control contractor he works for, Vector Disease Control International, are in great demand. ...“I’ve had people from literally all over the country calling,” he said. “‘What should we do?’” The federal government is trying to provide some answers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week released a 58-page blueprint for what to do if a homegrown case of Zika surfaces. (Tavernise, 6/21)

The Associated Press: Federal Agency Upholds California Abortion Coverage Mandate
President Barack Obama's administration said Tuesday that California did not violate a religious freedom law when it ordered health insurance companies to pay for elective abortions. The decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services upholds California's 2014 order requiring seven insurance companies to rescind and re-issue policies covering workers at organizations whose leadership objects to abortion on moral grounds, such as Catholic universities. (6/22)

Los Angeles Times: Obama's Health Advisors Reject 'Right Of Conscience' Challenge To California's Required Abortion Coverage
The Obama administration on Tuesday rejected a “right of conscience” complaint from anti-abortion groups in California who objected to the state’s requirement that health insurance plans include coverage for elective abortions. The civil rights office at the Department of Health and Human Services said it had completed an investigation and dismissed several complaints after concluding California’s policy did not violate a decade-old rule adopted by Congress, known as the Weldon Amendment. (Savage, 6/21)

The Washington Post: Trump Vows To Lift Ban On Politicking, Appoint Antiabortion Judges
Donald Trump won a standing ovation from hundreds of Christian conservatives who came to New York City on Tuesday with a somewhat skeptical but willing attitude toward a man who has divided their group with comments on women, immigrants and Islam. In his comments, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee said he would end the decades-old ban on tax-exempt groups’ — including churches — politicking, called religious liberty “the No. 1 question,” and promised to appoint antiabortion Supreme Court justices. (Boorstein and Zauzmer, 6/21)

The Wall Street Journal: Teva And Allergan Sell Generic Drugs To Impax In Latest Divestiture
Impax Laboratories Inc. said Tuesday that it would buy a portfolio of generic drugs from Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Allergan PLC for $586 million as Teva works to complete its planned purchase of Allergan’s generics unit. The deal includes 15 currently sold generics, several drugs in the pipeline and the rights to generic Concerta, which treats attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and was part of a partnership between Impax and Teva. (Hufford, 6/21)

The Washington Post: Federal Panel Approves First Test Of CRISPR Editing In Humans
A National Institutes of Health advisory panel on Tuesday approved the first human use of the gene-editing technology CRISPR, for a study designed to target three types of cancer and funded by tech billionaire Sean Parker's new cancer institute. The experiment, proposed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, would use CRISPR-Cas9 technology to modify patients' own T cells to make them more effective in attacking melanoma, multiple myeloma and sarcoma. (McGinley, 6/21)

The Associated Press: New For-Profit Medical Schools Springing Up Across US
For-profit medical schools are starting to pop up around the country, promising to create new family doctors for underserved rural regions. Rural states like Idaho need more general practitioners, with the baby boom generation aging and expanded insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act making health care more accessible. But critics of the new schools question whether companies can properly train the nation's next crop of doctors. (6/22)

The Associated Press: Justice Department: Nevada Discriminates Against HIV Inmates
Nevada’s prisons are discriminating against inmates with HIV under illegal segregation policies that deny them access to work programs where other prisoners earn credits to reduce the length of their sentences, the U.S. Justice Department has concluded. Justice Department lawyers warned Nevada’s attorney general this week they may sue the state under the Americans with Disabilities Act if it doesn’t change the policies based largely on unfounded fears about the transmission of HIV. (Sonner, 6/21)

The Associated Press: 5 Indicted In $38 Million New York Health Care Fraud Scheme
Five people have been indicted in a $38 million health care fraud and money laundering scheme in New York City. An indictment filed Monday in Brooklyn charges the defendants of bilking Medicare and Medicaid by referring customers to medical clinics and taking illegal kickbacks in return. The alleged scheme had been operating in Brooklyn for nearly a decade. (6/21)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2016 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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