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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

5. Political Cartoon: 'That's A Thing?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'That's A Thing?'" by John Deering from "Strange Brew".

Here's today's health policy haiku:

FEDERAL SPENDING, INDIVIDUAL PREMIUMS … YOU GOTTA BE SPECIFIC

When you say health costs?
What do you mean? Your answer
changes THE answer.

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

6. Voters In Trump Country Are Staggeringly Unhealthy, But They Don't Expect An Easy Fix

The communities in which support for Donald Trump runs deep also share another defining characteristic: poor health. But no one there thinks either candidate will do anything to change that. In other news, The Associated Press offers a look at the candidates' proposals to curb opioid abuse, an economist deems Trump's health policy "garbage salad," and experts say selling insurance across state lines is better in theory than in practice.

Stat: In Trump’s America, Towns In Poor Health Don’t Think He Will Save Them
This is an unhealthy place. Its residents die younger than all but a few other counties in this important swing state. The suicide rate is well above the national average. Brown County saw a 50 percent increase in drug overdose deaths over two years. In one barn at this year’s fair, people stop to learn how to administer Narcan, the opioid overdose medication. On a wet September afternoon, the booth still had visitors. About 130 miles west of here, not far from Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s office, nearly 200 people in a town of 4,000 have been diagnosed with HIV, acquired while they injected heroin and liquefied prescription painkillers. (Scott, 10/11)

The Associated Press: On Opioid Epidemic, Clinton Offers More Specifics Than Trump
Hillary Clinton calls the scourge of heroin and opioid addiction a "quiet epidemic." Donald Trump marvels that overdoses are a problem in picturesque American communities. "How does heroin work with these beautiful lakes and trees?" he said recently in New Hampshire. "It doesn't." Both presidential candidates agree drug addiction is a major problem in America, but only Clinton has offered a detailed plan to tackle it as part of her campaign. (Ronayne, 10/10)

Morning Consult: Gruber: Trump’s Health Policy Is ‘Garbage Salad’
After Donald Trump brought up MIT economist Jonathan Gruber in Sunday night’s debate, Gruber struck back, calling Trump’s health policy plans “garbage salad.” Gruber helped write the Affordable Care Act, which Trump railed against during the debate. “My only comment is that last night showed the difference between a candidate with a strong and coherent health care agenda (Clinton) and one with a garbage salad of right wing talking points (Trump),” Gruber wrote in an email to the Boston Business Journal. (Owens, 10/10)

The Hill: Jonathan Gruber Hits Back At Trump Over ObamaCare Criticism
Jonathan Gruber is firing back at Donald Trump after the Republican presidential nominee called him out for comments about ObamaCare. “My only comment is that last night showed the difference between a candidate with a strong and coherent health care agenda (Clinton) and one with a garbage salad of right wing talking points (Trump),” Gruber, a professor at MIT, wrote in a statement, as first reported by Boston Business Journal. (Sullivan, 10/10)

Modern Healthcare: Experts Say Selling Insurance Across State Lines Not A Solution 
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump once again touted the idea of allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines at the second general election debate Sunday, despite multiple analyses that show such a policy could substantially damage the individual market and roll back protections that consumers have come to rely on. Trump has not provided details for how selling insurance across state lines would be regulated. (Muchmore, 10/10)

Kaiser Health News: Trump’s Debate Claim On Health Care Costs: It Depends What You Mean By ‘Cost’
Health care finally came up as an issue in the second presidential debate in St. Louis Sunday night. But the discussion may have confused more than clarified the issue for many voters. During the brief exchange about the potential fate of the Affordable Care Act, Republican Donald Trump said this: “Obamacare is a disaster. You know it. We all know it. It’s going up at numbers that nobody’s ever seen worldwide. Nobody’s ever seen numbers like this for health care. (Rovner, 10/10)

Health Law Issues And Implementation

7. Preventive Care Task Force Should Be Decoupled From Insurance, Experts Say

Under the Affordable Care Act, any preventive service that receives one of the USPSTF's top two ratings must be covered by insurance, but three doctors have spoken out against the rule, saying it breeds the possibility of manipulation within the system.

NPR: EpiPen Triggers Change In Thinking About Obamacare Requirement
Three doctors who have led a task force that evaluates preventive medical services say the group's recommendations shouldn't be tied by law to insurance coverage. The former chairmen of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force say the link between medical recommendations and insurance coverage leads to financial incentives that can corrupt the process and distort people's health care decisions. (Kodjak, 10/10)

Bloomberg: Mylan Puts Its Troubles In The Past, At A Price Of $465 Million
The worst appears to be over for Mylan NV and its EpiPen controversy. It took a $465 million settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and a grilling from Congress for its chief executive officer to get there. The drugmaker’s shares rallied Monday following Friday’s settlement with the Justice Department, resolving claims by Medicaid that Mylan overcharged the government health program for the allergy shot. That helped erase some of the stock’s 26 percent slide since August, when lawmakers began asking why Mylan had raised the EpiPen’s price sixfold since 2007, and whether it ripped off the government along the way. Meanwhile, the cost of the shots hasn’t changed. (Armstrong, 10/10)

In other news on costs and the health law —

St. Louis Public Radio: After The Debate, How Are Health Insurance Costs Rising In Missouri And Illinois?
The 12.7 million people who enrolled in coverage on Healthcare.gov last year make up a small portion of the population, but their insurance costs seem to be the most in flux. “That simply may be that health insurers don’t know how to price policies yet," said Sidney Watson, a health law specialist at St. Louis University. "They don’t really understand the risk pool; they are learning trial by error.” Her research shows that the premium changes vary widely from city to city. In Missouri, last year pre-subsidy premiums for the benchmark plans rose by more than 20 percent in some areas, but declined in Hannibal, Mo. (Bouscaren, 10/10)

California Healthline: What Would A Public Insurance Option Look Like In California?
The “public option,” which stoked fierce debate in the run-up to the Affordable Care Act, is making a comeback — at least among Democratic politicians. The proposal to create a government-funded health plan, one that might look like Medicare or Medicaid but would be open to everyone, is being reconsidered at both the federal and state levels. (Bartolone, 10/11)

Marketplace

8. Hospital, Doctor Groups Say New Rules Needed To Protect Consumers From Surprise Bills

The American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association, responding to a proposed federal rule, said the government is not yet providing enough protection for patients against charges they receive when they get care from providers who are not in their insurers' network. Also, in the news, UnitedHealthcare is trying to keep confidential some information it gave the government about rivals' proposed mergers.

Modern Healthcare: Providers Say CMS Needs To Push Plans Harder To Prevent 'Surprise Bills' 
Providers say the CMS isn't doing enough to protect consumers from receiving surprise bills and ensuring low-income exchange enrollees have access to care. Surprise medical bills come when consumers get care at an in-network facility by an out-of-network specialist. Many times this happens because their insurer hasn't properly informed its customers. In a proposed rule that outlines coverages policies for plans in 2018, the CMS suggested that plans should count enrollee cost sharing for care provided by an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility toward the enrollee's annual deductible . The agency proposed the policy for plans both and off the exchange. CMS received 664 comments on the proposed rule by its Oct. 6 deadline. (Dickson, 10/10)