In This Edition:

From Kaiser Health News:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

1. Mike Pence's Health Policy Record Is A Mixed Bag

As governor of Indiana, Mike Pence expanded Medicaid with conservative tweaks, responded to an HIV outbreak with a limited needle-exchange program and signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. (Jake Harper, WFYI, 7/21)

2. Tracking Cancer In Real Time

California is the first state to begin building an up-to-date database to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. (Anna Gorman, 7/21)

6. Political Cartoon: 'Drink Up'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Drink Up'" by Signe Wilkinson .

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Strange drug paradox:
Find more effective ones or
Use more placebos!

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:

Campaign 2016

7. Push To Lift Medicare Ban On Obesity Drugs Grabs Attention At Republican Convention

Drugmakers use the spotlight of the political conventions to urge lawmakers to pass pending legislation that would allow Medicare to cover the medications. And after vice presidential nominee Mike Pence's Republican convention speech, WFYI dives into the Indiana governor's record on important health issues.

Stat: At The Republican Convention, Drug Maker Lobbies For More Coverage Of Obesity Drugs
The main hall at the Republican National Convention has been ringing all week with talk about terrorism, immigration, and national security. But in a side venue on Wednesday, a small crowd gathered to talk about a more intimate topic: Obesity. Pharma giant Novo Nordisk co-sponsored the “Rethink Obesity” panel here, and plans to co-host a similar event during the Democratic convention next week in Philadelphia. The goal: To push lawmakers to enact a bill, pending in Congress, that would lift a longstanding ban on Medicare paying for obesity medication. (Keshavan, 7/21)

WFYI/Kaiser Health News: Mike Pence’s Health Policy Record Is A Mixed Bag
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is in the spotlight this week as the man Donald Trump has picked to be his running mate. Pence’s decisions about health and health care in Indiana have drawn attention from within and outside the state. His record could be important in November, because Trump doesn’t have a legislative record at all. Here’s a quick look at the governor’s history in terms of health policy in Indiana. (Harper, 7/21)

Health Law Issues And Implementation

8. Study Finds Only A Third Of Insurers Made Money On Marketplace Plans In 2014

Overall profits for insurers were down because of higher payouts, the Commonwealth Fund reports. Also in the news, a look at how hospitals might trim insurance costs and many Minnesota residents may be missing health insurance subsidies.

The Hill: Most Insurers Lost Money In First Year Of ObamaCare: Study
Only about one-third of health insurers came out ahead in their first year in the ObamaCare marketplace, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund released Wednesday. While insurers made nearly twice as much money from healthcare premiums in 2014, overall profits “diminished noticeably” because of higher payouts, according to the expansive new analysis on companies participating in the exchanges. (Ferris, 7/20)

CNBC: Only A Third Of These Obamacare Insurers Made Money On Their Plans In 2014
The report by the Commonwealth Fund also reveals that insurers who did the best selling Obamacare plans had average profits of only around 8.5 percent, while those who fared the worst financially had steep losses that averaged nearly 22 percent. The study further found that the medical costs faced by those insurers were only about 2 percent higher than what they had expected when they priced their plans, which went on sale in October 2013. (Mangan, 7/20)

Bloomberg: How Hospitals Relieve The Pain Of New ACA Health-Care Costs
When it comes to lowering health plan costs in the face of changes brought on by the ACA, hospitals have advantages that other employers don't. ... One way for hospitals to lower the costs of the benefits they offer is to make changes that incentivize employees to seek care in their own health systems. This can be done through lower copays or deductibles, [ Bresler, practice leader of Willis Towers Watson's health system consulting in Chicago] said. Hospitals also can form a “narrow or high-performance network,” which is a health plan offering a smaller choice of doctors and hospitals in exchange for lower fees, he said. (Knebel, 7/20)

Star Tribune: Report: 107,500 Minnesotans Who Qualify Aren't Tapping Insurance Subsidies
A new report suggests that about 107,500 Minnesotans last year weren’t tapping federal tax credits to discount health insurance premiums, even though they qualified. In some cases, people eligible for subsidies might have simply skipped the tax credits, because the dollar value was small. But there also could be information gaps where people either didn’t realize they were eligible, or didn’t know where to go for subsidies, according to findings presented Wednesday during a MNsure board of directors meeting in St. Paul. (Snowbeck, 7/20)

9. Idaho Lawmakers Weigh How To Help Residents Caught In The 'Medicaid Gap'

Idaho has not expanded its Medicaid program under the federal health law and that leaves some low-income residents without access to Medicaid or subsidies to buy private insurance. Also, Kentucky residents complain about the governor's plan to change the Medicaid program and CNBC takes a detailed look at the impact of Medicaid expansion across the country.

Idaho Statesman: Idaho Lawmakers Convene For Initial Review Of Health Options For Poor
Lawmakers exploring health care alternatives for poor Idahoans convened Tuesday at a hearing where off-topic detours underscored lingering ideological differences that have blocked consensus on a resolution. ... The issue is how to improve health care for 78,000 Idahoans who, despite their low incomes, earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for subsidized health coverage available via the exchange that Idaho created under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. (Dentzer, 7/20)

Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: Bevin's Medicaid Plan Protested Before Hearing
As someone who works long shifts at a restaurant while putting in at least 20 hours each week trying to launch an outdoor adventure business, Tyler Offerman said he opposes Gov. Matt Bevin's proposed changes to Medicaid. ... A dozen people -- including a Roman Catholic priest, a nun, a physician, a farmer and others telling their stories about health coverage -- gathered in Frankfort on Wednesday to protest Bevin's proposed changes to the federal-state health plan. (Yetter, 7/20)

CNBC: Obamacare's Medicaid Expansion Leading To Health Insurance Boom In Some States
States such as California, New Jersey, Kentucky and Arkansas, which have expanded their Medicaid programs, have seen sharp decreases in their uninsured rates. States that didn't expand Medicaid, such as Texas, Florida and Virginia, did not experience as much of a drop in the number of people without health insurance. ... Advocates of expansion say that a decision to not expand can negatively affect the finances of a state's hospitals, the tax burden born by its residents and the premiums residents pay for private insurance plan coverage. Expansion states have seen a marked reduction in unpaid bills at their hospitals, which in turn reduces the need for hospitals to pass along some of their costs to taxpayers and people with health coverage. (Mangan, 7/20)


10. Even If Justice Dept. Blocks Insurer Mega-Mergers, Consolidation Trend Likely To Continue

The New York Times reports on how the changing environment of the health care sector supports the merging and combining of hospitals and doctor groups. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Aetna is prepared to go to court to proceed with its proposed takeover of

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