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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

5. Political Cartoon: 'It All Makes Sense Now'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'It All Makes Sense Now'" by John Hambrock.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


With convergence trend,
Physicists might help doctors
Find all kinds of cures.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law Issues And Implementation

6. Congressional Republicans Battle Health Law Spending On Two Fronts -- The Hill And In Court

After an initial court victory, the Republicans are advancing their arguments that the administration spent money to help defray health care costs for low-income residents without proper appropriations from Congress.

The Wall Street Journal: Affordable Care Act Battle Returns To Court And Capitol Hill
The battle between congressional Republicans and the White House over the Affordable Care Act is again escalating—in court and on Capitol Hill. The administration on Wednesday appealed a federal trial judge’s ruling that the government is improperly reimbursing insurers under a program to cover discounts for low-income consumers. And House Republicans on Thursday began two days of hearings to hammer away at the issue. They released a report that said the administration distributed the funds even though it was aware it needed Congress’s approval. (Armour, 7/7)

Bloomberg: Next Generation Of ACA Challenges Meeting Mixed Reception
Ever since the Supreme Court slapped away a direct challenge to the Affordable Care Act, opponents of the law have turned to collateral attacks on it’s implementation by the HHS as a possible way to paralyze and eventually kill the law. Two of these attacks recently reached the federal appeals court in Washington D.C. (Loughran, 7/7)

Morning Consult: Did The White House Overstep Appropriations Law To Pay Insurers?
House Republicans on Thursday released an investigative report and held the first of two hearings questioning the legality of Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction program. That program is also the subject of a House lawsuit against the administration. ... The cost-sharing reduction program was included in the Affordable Care Act as one of two ways to relieve the cost burden for low-income enrollees on the individual market. The other method is premium tax credits for those falling between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. (Owens, 7/7)

The Hill: GOP Report Calls ObamaCare Payments Unconstitutional
An investigation by House Republicans argues that the Obama administration is illegally making certain payments under ObamaCare and that officials initially recognized they did not have authority to do so before reversing course. House Republicans argue that the administration is unconstitutionally making ObamaCare’s “cost sharing reduction” payments to insurers — which help lower out-of-pocket healthcare costs for low-income ObamaCare enrollees — without a congressional appropriation. (Sullivan, 7/7)

In other health law news --

The Associated Press: Study: Trump Health Care Plan Would Make 18M Uninsured
Donald Trump's health care plan would make 18 million people uninsured, but also lower premiums significantly for policies purchased directly by consumers, according to an independent study released Thursday. The new policies would be stingier than what's sold now. Trump's plan would have little effect on people covered by employers and those on Medicare. But millions of low-income adults covered by the Medicaid expansion under President Barack Obama's health care law would lose newly gained benefits. Separately, taxpayers might save money because the government no longer would have to subsidize insurance for millions of citizens. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 7/7)

Stateline: Under Affordable Care Act, Growing Use Of ‘Community Health Workers’
Thanks in part to federal grants awarded under the Affordable Care Act, the number of community health workers is growing. In 2015, there were 48,000 of them working in the U.S., up from 38,000 three years earlier, a 27 percent increase, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. But many insurers still don’t cover their services, limiting their potential impact. (Ollove, 7/8)

The CT Mirror: Access Health CT Faces Growing Challenges As Insurers Drop Out
In the wake of a state order halting new enrollment in Connecticut's co-op health insurer, HealthyCT, the state's health insurance exchange faces growing challenges as it prepares to lose two of its four carriers. The exchange, Access Health CT, has been widely heralded as one of the strongest state health insurance exchanges in the country, but loss of the two insurers will limit the options available to customers in search of health insurance. Officials at the exchange remain optimistic, although they concede the next two years will be volatile. (Constable, 7/8)

Capitol Hill Watch

7. 'We Are At The 11th Hour And 59th Minute': Dems, Obama Make Final Push For Zika Funding

The president called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to personally ask for a bipartisan compromise on Zika funding, but the Republican has said he would stick with the current legislation, which was agreed by House and Senate negotiators and has already passed the House. Lawmakers prepare to leave for a seven-week recess on July 15.

Reuters: U.S. Democrats Pressure Republicans For Bipartisan Zika Funding
The White House and congressional Democrats pressured Republicans on Thursday for bipartisan Zika-funding legislation, saying the public health battle against the mosquito-borne virus is being undercut by efforts to ram through a bill with less funding. But there was no sign that Republicans would abandon their $1.1 billion measure, raising the chance that Congress will leave the growing health crisis unattended until September. (Morgan, 7/7)

Morning Consult: Obama Involved In White House Urging Of Zika Funding
Obama has personally spoken with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and top Senate democrats about Zika funding in the past few days, according to a White House advisor. The White House again called on Congress to pass a bipartisan deal that would provide funding for the Zika virus before adjourning next week in a call with reporters Thursday, saying more consequences will be evident if legislators leave town for the rest of summer without providing new funding. (McIntire, 7/7)

The Hill: Obama Gets Involved In Last-Ditch Push For Zika Funding
President Obama this week has personally lobbied leaders in Congress over funding for the fight against the Zika virus. Obama has spoken with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as well as top Senate Democrats over the “past few days,” White House homeland security adviser Amy Pope told reporters Thursday. (Ferris, 7/7)

The Hill: Dem Senator To McConnell: Bring Back Senate Zika Deal
Sen. Bill Nelson is asking Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring up a Senate-passed bill to combat the Zika virus ahead of Congress's seven-week recess. The Florida Democrat sent a letter to McConnell Thursday noting that a $1.1 billion deal passed the Senate in May with bipartisan support. (Carney, 7/7)

In other news, a survey shows that women are willing to accept advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to avoid pregnancy during the Zika outbreak —

Politico Pro: Most Americans OK With Advice Against Pregnancies During Zika Outbreak
The majority of Americans would accept federal advice to women to avoid pregnancy during a Zika outbreak, according to a survey released Thursday. So far, officials have stopped short of such advice but warned about the risks Zika poses to pregnant women and their babies. The survey by PSB Research found the stark advice was acceptable to about 62 percent of Americans, of whom 21 percent said it would “absolutely” be appropriate for the government to issue it. About 9 percent said such advice was completely inappropriate. (Ehley, 7/7)