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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Political Cartoon: 'Cost Analysis'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Cost Analysis'" by Steve Kelley and Jeff Parker, from 'Dustin'.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Anti-vaxxers hope
President Trump will reject
Science: Children lose.

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Summaries Of The News:

Capitol Hill Watch

5. After Easily Passing Through House, Cures Bill Now Faces More Vocal Detractors In Senate

The house votes to approve the wide-sweeping legislation, 392-26. The Senate is expected to take action next week.

The New York Times: House Overwhelmingly Approves Sweeping Health Measure
The House overwhelmingly passed a far-reaching measure on Wednesday to increase funding for research into cancer and other diseases, address weaknesses in the nation’s mental health systems and help combat the prescription drug addictions that have bedeviled nearly every state. The bill, known as the 21st Century Cures Act, also makes regulatory changes for drugs and medical devices, which critics argue lower standards to potentially perilous levels. (Steinhauer and Tavernise, 11/30)

Stat: 21st Century Cures Act, Major Biomedical Bill, Passed By House
After three years of debate, countless hearings, and pleas from patient advocates, lawmakers on Tuesday approved legislation to speed new medicines to market and to authorize an additional $4.8 billion in spending for medical research. The House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act by a 392 to 26 vote, showing a bipartisan spirit that has been rare in recent years. The Cures Act now heads to the Senate, for a vote early next week. (Kaplan, 11/30)

The Associated Press: House OKs Bill Bolstering Medical Research, Drug Approvals
The compromise, which envisions spending $6.3 billion over the next decade, was condemned by consumer groups and some Democrats as a present to drugmakers that promised only paltry spending increases for underfunded federal programs. But their objections were overwhelmed by an alliance among Republicans, many Democrats and the White House for a 996-page measure that bore wins for both parties. (Fram, 11/30)

The Wall Street Journal: House Passes Health Bill To Speed Drug Approvals, Boost Biomedical Research
The measure also wraps in separate legislation that contains an extensive program to promote treatment of mental illness and would provide $1 billion to prevent and treat the national scourge of opioid addiction. These provisions helped to rally lawmakers from both sides of the aisle around the bill, which passed 392-26. The bill, with a price tag totaling $6.3 billion, also includes $4.8 billion for the National Institutes of Health over 10 years and $500 million for the new programs within the FDA. (Burton, 11/30)

The Washington Post: Bill Expediting New Medical Treatments Passes House
Patient groups and drug and medical device companies have been pushing for the legislation for more than a year. Riding a rare wave of bipartisan support in the House, the legislation is expected to be taken up by the Senate early next week. Supporters say the bill will foster innovation and save the lives of Americans with diseases for which there is currently no hope. “We are on the cusp of ­something special — a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform how we treat disease,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) on Wednesday during a House debate on the bill. He co-authored the legislation with Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.). “With this vote, we are taking a giant leap on the path to cures.” (Johnson, 11/30)

Los Angeles Times: House Approves Sprawling Bill That Would Expand Medical Research
The legislation has also generated concerns among many consumer advocates, who have warned that provisions that would speed federal regulatory review of new drugs and medical devices could expose patients to new risks. “While many harmful provisions have been improved or removed … there are still many provisions in the renegotiated bill that remain problematic for public health,” Public Citizen noted in a statement. Several leading liberal lawmakers have also blasted the legislation for including what Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) this week called “corporate giveaways that will make drug companies even richer.” (Levey, 11/30)

The Hill: House Passes Medical Cures Bill 
Democrats agree reforms are needed in mental health, though they note that the bill lacks funding. They say the bigger policy response to mass shootings should be gun control. (Sullivan, 11/30)

The CT Mirror: House Approves Mental Health And Addiction Bill Championed By Murphy, Courtney
Connecticut Democratic lawmakers split with Rep. Rosa DeLauro and other progressives in their party Wednesday over a bill that includes Sen. Chris Murphy’s mental health bill and authorizes spending $1 billion to treat and prevent opioid addiction. The House approved the measure on a overwhelming 392-26 vote. Reps. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District; John Larson, D-1st District; Jim Himes, D-4th District; and Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, voted for it. (Radelat, 11/30)

ProPublica: Would Washington’s FDA Fix Cure The Patients Or The Drug Industry? 
This week, Congress is taking back up a sweeping bill introduced last year that would expand medical research funding while also loosening the regulations for approving new drugs and medical devices. While the legislation has undergone revisions, it still includes many of the deregulatory provisions that have drawn criticism from some consumer safety advocates. Back in October 2015, we detailed the bill's origins and the massive lobbying push by the drug and device industry supporting it. This might seem to be a rough political patch for the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. (MacGillis, 11/30)

Boston Globe: Activists Urge Senator Warren To Support Health Care Bill 
Advocates for addiction treatment in Massachusetts on Wednesday launched a campaign to persuade Senator Elizabeth Warren to reverse her opposition to a bill known as the 21st Century Cures Act, saying the state needs money for addiction treatment that the legislation could provide. Warren, who worked on the bill for two years and wrote parts of it, turned against it Monday, saying it had been rewritten to benefit pharmaceutical companies at the expense of consumers. (Freyer, 12/1)

In other news from Capitol Hill —

Modern Healthcare: House Bill Calls For Tweaks To Panel That Influences Payment For Preventive Screenings 
Members of a House committee on Wednesday said they want the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to invite more input to ensure its guidance, which can influence how much an insurer pays for preventive services, is independent and unbiased. During a hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health, GOP lawmakers took turns expressing concern that patient access was being affected by the panel's efforts to control costs. (Johnson, 11/30)

The Fiscal Times: From Drug Research To A Cancer Moonshot, Lame Duck Congress Preps A Massive Health Care Bill
With Republicans just weeks away from possibly repealing the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature domestic policy program, it may seem like an odd time to look for bipartisan unity on legislation related to health care. Nevertheless, Congress appears to be ready to pass a major bill funding medical research and overhauling the approval process for new drugs and medical devices. The 21st Century Cures Act, which spans 25 separate sections touching on subjects as diverse as drug research and foster care, runs to nearly 1,000 pages. As with any piece of legislation so large, the bill is packed with elements that draw both praise and angry criticism. (Garver, 11/30)

6. Congressional Democrats Eye Medicare As 'Winning Wedge Issue'

Meanwhile, McClatchy reports on how Kansas lawmakers agree that Medicare should be changed but they are hesitant about "privatization."

The New York Times: Democrats See Medicare As Winning Wedge Issue
Republicans are talking about messing with Medicare again, and Democrats couldn’t be more enthusiastic. After an election that has thrown them back on their heels, they are grasping at the politics of Medicare as a path to potential revival in 2018. “We say to our Republicans that want to privatize Medicare, go try it, make our day,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the incoming Democratic leader, mustering his best Clint Eastwood/Ronald Reagan impersonation. (Huse, 11/30)


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