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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

2. Young Adults Can Face Challenges To Health Enrollment

Even as the administration focuses on getting more young adults into marketplace coverage, many enrollment specialists say that this group has some difficulty transitioning from family plans or Medicaid. (Michelle Andrews, 7/5)

4. Political Cartoon: 'What, Too High?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'What, Too High?'" by Signe Wilkinson .

Here's today's health policy haiku:


A vote is likely
And health experts will keep on
debating pros, cons.

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Summaries Of The News:

Campaign 2016

5. Democrats' Draft Platform Includes Nod To Public Option, New Abortion Goal

The Democrats, for the first time, want to attempt to repeal the Hyde amendment , a congressional mandate that cuts off federal funds for most kinds of abortion.

The Washington Post: Democrats Release Draft Of Platform, With Shifts To Left On Death Penalty, Abortion, Taxes
The Democratic National Committee released the latest draft of its 2016 platform late Friday afternoon, a week after Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) promised to fight "on the floor of the convention" if more progressive planks did not make it in. ... [On health care] there's more for Sanders here, in one half-sentence: "Americans should be able to access public coverage through Medicare or a public option." Sanders campaigned on a Medicare-for-all, single-payer health-care system, and this nods at that, without promising it in four years. ... For the first time, the 2016 Democratic platform says that the party will attempt to repeal the Hyde Amendment (which bars the use of federal funds for most kinds of abortion) and the Helms Amendment (which prevents foreign aid from being spent on abortion). (Weigel, 7/1)


6. Critics: Letting Generic Drugmaker Join PhRMA Akin To Allowing A Spy Into The Fold

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries' request to join the powerful trade association has caused alarm in the industry. Teva and some of PhRMA’s longtime members, like Eli Lilly, are on opposite sides of court cases involving patents and other important issues for the future of brand-name drug companies. In other news, a California initiative to curb high drug prices concerns patient advocacy groups, and states are lifting Medicaid restrictions on an expensive hepatitis C treatment.

The New York Times: Brand-Name Drug Makers Wary Of Letting Generic Rival Join Their Club
For decades, brand-name and generic drug companies have fought each other in Congress, at international trade negotiations and in court. So when the world’s largest generic drug company moved this year to join the powerful trade association for producers of brand-name medicines, pharmaceutical lobbyists were in a swivet. The trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, is plunging into battles over drug prices here and in many state capitols. And the request from the generic company, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, is raising eyebrows in PhRMA’s secretive councils. (Pear, 7/1)

Politico Pro: PhRMA Board Member Opposes Admitting Generic Company
The world’s largest generic drug manufacturer wants to join the branded drug lobby powerhouse PhRMA. That isn’t sitting well with all of PhRMA’s members. Teva's membership could “undermine the message of the organization,” and make it more difficult to reach unified positions, AbbVie Vice President Carlos Alban, a PhRMA board member, wrote in a May 23 letter obtained by POLITICO. Teva and PhRMA companies disagree on key areas of policy before the courts, FDA and lawmakers, the letter says. (Karlin-Smith, 7/1)

The New York Times: California Drug Price Plan Is Criticized By Patient Advocates
A state ballot initiative meant to lower prescription drug prices for California faces an expected opponent: the pharmaceutical industry, which has spent almost $70 million to defeat it. But concerns are also coming from a more curious source: some patient advocacy groups. Called the Drug Price Relief Act, or Proposition 61, the proposal would prohibit state programs, such as California’s Medicaid, from paying more for a drug than the lowest price paid by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, which typically receives big discounts. (Pollack, 7/4)

Kaiser Health News: Medicaid, Private Insurers Begin To Lift Curbs On Pricey Hepatitis C Drugs
After legal battles and lobbying efforts, tens of thousands of people with hepatitis C are gaining earlier access to expensive drugs that can cure this condition. States that limited access to the medications out of concern over sky-high prices have begun to lift those restrictions — many, under the threat of legal action. And commercial insurers such as Anthem Inc. and United HealthCare are doing the same. (Graham, 7/5)

Health Law Issues And Implementation

7. Tenn. Exchange Shoppers Should Brace For Sticker Shock; The Effectos Of Blue Cross' Withdrawl From Minn. Individual Market

Meanwhile, in other news related to the health law and the insurance market, despite efforts to enroll young adults in health plans, they still face challenges. In addition, graduate students' health insurance subsidies may be in jeopardy.

The Tennessean: Three Reasons For Rising Health Insurance Premiums
Tennessee marketplace consumers may experience some sticker shock when they try to sign up for health insurance plans during open enrollment this year. Carriers in the state have requested premium rate increases with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, and the hikes are high. (Tolbert, 7/1)

Kaiser Health News: Young Adults Can Face Challenges To Health Enrollment
The Obama administration is making a push to get young adults covered on the health insurance marketplaces, both for their own good and that of the marketplaces, which need healthy people to balance sicker ones in the risk pool. While experts applaud the beefed up outreach planned for the coming months, they point to several factors that may throw a wrench into enrollment plans for young people. (Andrews, 7/5)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Graduate Student Health Subsidies In Question
Graduate students have long relied on health insurance subsidies awarded as part of financial-aid packages as they try to earn a living and a degree. But the future of that benefit could be jeopardized by the Internal Revenue Service’s interpretation of a provision of the Affordable Care Act that casts the subsidies as an attempt to elude ACA’s employer mandate. Seventeen U.S. senators, including Virginia Sens. Mark R. Warner and Timothy M. Kaine, both Democrats, wrote a letter last month urging the Obama administration to clarify the IRS language and warning that it runs counter to ACA’s primary goal to expand insurance coverage. (Kapsidelis, 7/3)

8. Shake-Up In S.D. Legislative Races May Dim Governor's Efforts To Expand Medicaid

The success of several conservatives in the South Dakota Senate primary races over more moderate candidates could make it difficult for Gov. Dennis Daugaard's efforts to provide Medicaid coverage to more state residents. Meanwhile in Tennessee, the house speaker has unveiled a plan to broaden Medicaid, and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's plan to revamp that state's expansion efforts is hitting opposition.

The Associated Press: Foes Predict Tough Politics For Medicaid Expansion In 2017
Opponents of Medicaid expansion in South Dakota say Gov. Dennis Daugaard's chances of broadening eligibility for the program have likely diminished since he announced he won't call a special legislative session to consider it. It's "very possible" the Republican will propose in the 2017 session to open the program to roughly 50,000 more low-income residents, the governor said. But expansion foes predict the Legislature will be less receptive after the November elections because several conservative Republicans triumphed over moderates in primaries for Senate seats, and an expansion would require majority support in both legislative chambers, which almost certainly will remain in Republican hands. (7/4)