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KHN First Edition: November 10, 2016


First Edition

Thursday, November 10, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Obamacare ‘Replacement’ Might Look Familiar
Jay Hancock and Shefali Luthra report: "The Affordable Care Act transformed the medical system, expanding coverage to millions, injecting billions in tax revenue, changing insurance rules and launching ambitious experiments in quality and efficiency. Less of that might disappear under President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to “repeal and replace Obamacare” than many believe, say policy analysts. Republicans promising change might not quickly admit it, but in some respects Obamacare’s replacement may look something like the original. (Hancock and Luthra, 11/9)

Kaiser Health News: Repealing The Affordable Care Act Could Be More Complicated Than It Looks
Julie Rovner reports: "After six controversial years, the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, may be on the way out, thanks to the GOP sweep of the presidency and both houses of Congress Tuesday. “There’s no question Obamacare is dead,” said insurance industry consultant Robert Laszewski. “The only question is whether it will be cremated or buried.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confirmed Wednesday that repealing the law is something that’s “pretty high on our agenda.” (Rovner, 11/9)

Kaiser Health News: Millions Could Lose Medicaid Coverage Under Trump Plan
Phil Galewitz reports: "Millions of low-income Americans on Medicaid could lose their health coverage if President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress follow through on GOP proposals to cut spending in the state-federal insurance program. The biggest risk for Medicaid beneficiaries comes from pledges by Trump and other Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which provided federal funding to states to expand Medicaid eligibility starting in 2014." (Galewitz, 11/9)

California Healthline: California Faces Major Reversal If Trump, Congress Scrap Health Law
Chad Terhune reports: "California has a lot to lose if President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress fulfill their campaign pledge to repeal Obamacare. The Golden State fully embraced the Affordable Care Act by expanding Medicaid coverage for the poor and creating its own health insurance exchange for about 1.4 million enrollees. Supporters held California up as proof the health law could work as intended." (Terhune, 11/9)

California Healthline: California’s Torn Reaction To Obamacare’s Potential Demise
Anna Gorman and Ana B. Ibarra report: "Some Californians were shocked and deeply worried. Some were confused and cautious. Others were glad to hear California’s health insurance exchange might be dismantled. Here is a smattering of reactions from around the state to the election of Donald Trump, who has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act when he becomes president." (Gorman and Ibarra, 11/9)

Kaiser Health News: After Colorado, ‘Right To Die’ Movement Eyes New Battlegrounds
Fortified by a victory in Colorado Tuesday, a controversial campaign to let terminally ill patients access life-ending medication is moving on to other battlegrounds across the country. By an overwhelming vote Tuesday, Coloradans approved a ballot initiative allowing physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to mentally fit, terminally ill adults who want to end their lives. Colorado is the sixth state to allow the practice, following Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and California. Washington, D.C., is poised to approve similar legislation as soon as this month. (Bailey, 11/9)

Kaiser Health News: Ballot Initiatives: Voters Reject Calif. Drug Pricing Measure; Colo. Single-Payer System
It’s been a tumultuous presidential campaign, with the outcome billed as a “change” election and health care high on the to-do list. On the state level, voters’ decisions on a slew of state ballot initiatives add this focus with action on a range of hot-button health care issues — from efforts to control drug costs and expand access to care to a variety of public health measures. (Luthra, 11/9)

Kaiser Health News: California Lends Its Weight To Wider Marijuana Acceptance
Anna Gorman reports: "Twenty years ago, California became the first state in the nation to approve the use of marijuana for medical purposes. On Tuesday, Californians voted to legalize it for recreational use — a move expected to reduce drug arrests, raise up to $1 billion in new tax dollars for the state and regulate a growing industry that has largely gone unchecked." (Gorman, 11/9)

The New York Times: Obama Calls For Unity, But Signature Acts Remain In Jeopardy
The White House acknowledged that Mr. Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, was in genuine jeopardy. Mr. Trump has vowed to repeal it as one of his first acts in office, and a Republican-controlled Congress will prod him to do so. Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Obama would lobby Mr. Trump to keep it in place — an effort that suggests Mr. Obama believes that Mr. Trump can be persuaded on certain issues. (Landler and Davis, 11/9)

The New York Times: Change Ahead: Shifts On Immigration, Climate, Health And Taxes
Mr. Trump has promised to repeal Mr. Obama’s singular domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act, and Republicans in Congress have shown the way. Republicans will not have the 60 votes in the Senate needed to pass most major legislation, but through a parliamentary procedure called budget “reconciliation,” they have already done a dry run to gut the existing law without facing a Democratic filibuster. ... Uprooting them would be a complex political and logistical challenge. Insurers now accept the idea that they cannot deny insurance, or charge higher prices, to people who have been ill. (Weisman, 11/9)

The New York Times: Republicans In Congress Plan Swift Action On Agenda With Donald Trump
Congressional Republicans, stunned by their own good, if complicated, fortune, said on Wednesday that they would move quickly next year on an agenda that merges with President-elect Donald J. Trump’s, repealing the Affordable Care Act, cutting taxes, confirming conservative judges, shrinking government programs and rolling back regulations. (Steinhauer, 11/9)

The Washington Post: Obamacare’s Future In Critical Condition After Trump’s Victory
According to lawmakers and health-policy analysts, the GOP majorities in both chambers are likely to employ Congress’s reconciliation process to reverse critical aspects of the statute that involve federal spending, such as the subsidies helping millions of working- and middle-class Americans afford health plans. But analysts said a political path is less clear to dismantling other parts of the law, such as its insurance marketplaces, or to instituting a set of conservative health-care approaches. (Goldstein, 11/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump’s Pledge To Repeal Health Law Carries Risks
After six years, the health overhaul is largely implemented. The fourth open-enrollment period is currently under way and due to conclude Jan. 31. Many conservative health policy experts haven’t hid their disdain for Mr. Trump’s campaign, leaving open the question of who would provide the technical support for a dismantling effort. In particular, Mr. Trump’s repeal could face opposition from Republicans in states that expanded Medicaid, the federal-state health coverage for low-income people, and industry groups that heavily profit from the law. (Armour and Radnofsky, 11/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump And GOP Lawmakers Turn To Health-Law Overhaul
Without 60 votes in the Senate to get around procedural hurdles, Republicans couldn’t repeal the whole law in one shot but could take out pillars of it using a budget maneuver that requires only a simple majority. One target would be subsidies that blunt the cost of premiums for people who get coverage on the health law’s exchanges, said Timothy Jost, a professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law. Without a transition plan, 85% of exchange consumers who get subsidies would face the full cost of their premiums, prompting a major drop-off in participation. The employer mandate that requires many companies with 50 or more full-time workers to provide health insurance also would likely go. (Armour and Radnofsky, 11/9)

NPR: What Lies Ahead For Obamacare In Donald Trump's Administration
During his campaign, Trump proposed a series of measures that he said will allow people to buy affordable health insurance policies outside of the Obamacare exchanges. Those measures include promoting tax-free health savings accounts that might help individuals save money to pay for health care costs and allowing people to deduct the cost of their premiums on their personal income tax returns. Trump has said he also wants to allow insurers to sell policies across state lines to boost competition. Trump could alter the Obamacare exchanges to promote high-deductible health plans and health savings accounts to get a result similar to what he's looking for. (Kodjak, 11/9)

Politico: Obamacare Defenders Vow 'Total War'
Shell-shocked Democrats on Capitol Hill are preparing to make a fight for Obamacare their top priority in the opening days of the Trump administration, with leading advocacy groups ready to wage “total war” to defend President Barack Obama’s universal health care program and his domestic policy legacy. "We've got the battle of our lifetime ahead of us,” Ron Pollack, executive director of advocacy group Families USA, said the day after Donald Trump was elected on a pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which now the law that covers 22 million people. “We're going to have a huge number of organizations from all across the country that will participate in this effort." (Haberkorn and Demko, 11/10)

The Washington Post: Winners And Losers In The Health-Care Industry Under President Trump
With much about President-elect Donald Trump's health-care agenda still unclear, the health-care industry's initial response to his election has been scattered. Hospital stocks were down. Health insurers' stock prices were mixed. Pharmaceutical and biotech stocks, on the other hand, got a big bump. Trump's clearest policy position in health care has been his commitment to repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with another policy. But the responses to his election varied in large part because the details of exactly what would replace the Affordable Care Act and how that transition would occur have been vague. (Johnson, 11/9)

The Washington Post: Drug Companies Just Scored A Big Election Victory
California voters rejected a closely watched ballot initiative aimed at capping how much most state-funded health insurance programs pay for prescription drugs, a possible bellwether of the lack of political appetite for more widespread policies to tackle high drug prices. State agencies would have been barred from paying more than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does for prescription drugs. VA gets at least a 24 percent discount off the average manufacturer's price of a drug and is insulated against price hikes larger than inflation. (Johnson, 11/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Pharma Stocks Benefit From U.S. Election Result, But Relief May Be Fleeting
Shares of drugmakers rallied Wednesday on expectations that Mr. Trump’s election and Republican control of Congress would lessen the chances of government restrictions on drug prices—a prospect that seemed on the rise in response to a public backlash against escalating prescription costs over the past few years. Mr. Trump did speak out against high drug prices at times during his campaign—including supporting allowing the Medicare agency to directly negotiate lower drug prices with manufacturers—but he didn’t propose as many specific measures against prices as Mrs. Clinton did. (Loftus and Roland, 11/9)

Reuters: Pharma, Biotech Shares Soar As Trump Win Calms Pricing Talk
Pharmaceutical and biotechnology shares soared on Wednesday as Republican Donald Trump's U.S. presidential election calmed investor fears of tough action on drug pricing that has pressured the sector for more than a year. Hospital shares tumbled as a Republican sweep of Congress raised prospects for a rollback of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which expanded the number of patients in government health plans. (11/9)

The Washington Post: What Will President Trump Mean For Science?
Donald Trump will be the nation’s next president, the shocking conclusion to a long and divisive campaign in which science was barely mentioned. Now, many people in the research community are contemplating what a Trump administration will mean for their work — and they don't like the outlook. “Trump will be the first anti-science president we have ever had,” Michael Lubell, director of public affairs for the American Physical Society, told Nature on Wednesday. “The consequences are going to be very, very severe.” (Kaplan, 11/9)

The Washington Post: As More States Legalize Marijuana, NFLPA To Study Potential As A Pain-Management Tool
In the aftermath of a new set of states legalizing marijuana use in the national elections, the NFL Players Association said Wednesday it is forming a committee to actively study the possibility of allowing players to use marijuana as a pain-management tool. The union is forming an NFL players pain management committee that will study players’ use of marijuana as a pain-management mechanism, among other things, though the union has not yet determined if an adjustment to the sport’s ban on marijuana use is warranted. (Maske, 11/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Mylan Posts Loss, Hurt By Lower EpiPen Volumes, Charge Related To Settlement
Mylan NV swung to a quarterly loss as it booked a charge related to a settlement with U.S. authorities on pricing of its EpiPen. Revenue growth was below expectations as volumes of the lifesaving auto-injector fell. The quarter’s results gave the first indication of the impact of the EpiPen pricing controversy, which triggered a congressional hearing and the $465 million settlement to resolve allegations that Medicaid overpaid Mylan. (Steele and Rockoff, 11/9)

The Associated Press: Mylan Is Target Of 2 Probes, Has 3Q Loss Due To EpiPen Fine
The maker of EpiPen emergency allergy injectors, under a microscope for repeatedly jacking up the price of the life-saving device, revealed Wednesday that it's a target of two price-related probes by federal agencies and has had its premises searched. The news, disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, came after Mylan Inc. reported that it swung to a third-quarter loss, mainly due to a big settlement for overcharging the federal government for the product. (11/9)

Kaiser Health News: How To Spend Your Final Months At Home, Sweet Home
Judith Graham writes: "There’s no mystery about what older adults want when they become seriously ill near the end of their lives. They want to be cared for at home. For as long as possible. It’s easy to understand why. Home represents familiarity, safety and identity — the place where we belong." (Graham, 11/9)

The New York Times: Vitamin D Deficiency Is Widely Overestimated, Doctors Warn
Doctors are warning about vitamin D again, and it's not the "we need more" news you might expect. Instead, they say there's too much needless testing and too many people taking too many pills for a problem that few people truly have. The nutrient is crucial for strong bones and may play a role in other health conditions, though that is far less certain. (11/9)

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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