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KHN First Edition: January 12, 2017


First Edition

Thursday, January 12, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Health Law Sleepers: Six Surprising Health Items That Could Disappear With ACA Repeal
Julie Appleby and Mary Agnes Carey report: "The Affordable Care Act of course affected premiums and insurance purchasing. It guaranteed people with pre-existing conditions could buy health coverage and allowed children to stay on parents’ plans until age 26. But the roughly 2,000-page bill also included a host of other provisions that affect the health-related choices of nearly every American. Some of these measures are evident every day. Some enjoy broad support, even though people often don’t always realize they spring from the statute." (Appleby and Carey, 1/12)

California Healthline: Roughly 10,000 Covered California Enrollees Lose Premium Subsidies, At Least For Now
Emily Bazar writes: "Nearly 10,000 Covered California policy holders have lost their federal tax credits — at least temporarily — due to a bookkeeping error by the state health insurance exchange. But Covered California is still trying to contact these individuals and families to fix the problem, and the agency promises to reinstate their tax credits retroactively if they give it permission to verify their income, said Covered California spokeswoman Lizelda Lopez." (Bazar, 1/12)

Kaiser Health News: Mobile Team Offers Comfort Care To Homeless At Life’s End
JoNel Aleccia reports: "Since January 2014, the pilot project run by Seattle/King County Health Care for Homeless Network and UW Medicine’s Harboview Medical Center has served more than 100 seriously ill men and women in the Seattle area, tracking them down at shelters and drop-in clinics, in tents under bridges and parked cars. This KHN story also ran in USA Today. It can be republished for free (details). “It’s really necessary that people be taken care of where they are,” said Dr. Daniel Lam, director of inpatient and outpatient palliative care services." (Aleccia, 1/12)

The New York Times: Senate Takes Major Step Toward Repealing Health Care Law
Senate Republicans took their first major step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, approving a budget blueprint that would allow them to gut the health care law without the threat of a Democratic filibuster. The vote was 51 to 48. During the roll call, Democrats staged a highly unusual protest on the Senate floor to express their dismay and anger at the prospect that millions of Americans could lose health insurance coverage. (Kaplan and Pear, 1/12)

The Associated Press: Republican-Led Senate Takes First Step To Repeal 'Obamacare'
The House is slated to vote on the measure on Friday, though some Republicans there have misgivings about setting the repeal effort in motion without a better idea of the replacement plan. Trump oozed confidence at a news conference on Tuesday, promising his incoming administration would soon reveal a plan to both repeal so-called Obamacare and replace it with legislation to "get health care taken care of in this country." (1/12)

The Wall Street Journal: Senate Takes First Step Toward Repeal Of Affordable Care Act
“The Senate just took an important step toward repealing and replacing Obamacare by passing the resolution that provides the legislative tools necessary to actually repeal this failed law while we move ahead with smarter health-care policies,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Kentucky) said in a statement after the resolution passed. (son and Andrews, 1/12)

USA Today: Senate Approves First Step To Repealing Obamacare
Democrats said repealing the law will strip millions of Americans of insurance, leave people with pre-existing medical conditions unable to find coverage, and increase the nation's budget deficit by $353 billion over the next 10 years as the tax and fee provisions that pay for Obamacare are gutted. "Ripping apart our health care system — with no plan to replace it — will create chaos," said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the senior Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. "If Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act, it’s women, kids, seniors, patients with serious illnesses, and people with disabilities who will bear the burden." (Kelly, 1/11)

The Washington Post: Obamacare Is One Step Closer To Repeal After Senate Advances Budget Resolution
Senate Democrats made a late-night show of resistance against gutting the Affordable Care Act by forcing Republicans to take politically charged votes against protecting Medicare, Medicaid and other health-care programs. The measure narrowly passed without the support of any Democrats. The hours-long act of protest culminated in the early hours of Thursday when Democrats made a dramatic display of rising to speak out against the repeal measure as they cast their votes. The Democrats continued to record their opposition over their objections of Senate Republicans. (Snell and DeBonis, 1/12)

Politico: Senate OKs Budget, Moves Toward Demise Of Obamacare - POLITICO
Democrats sought to drive a wedge between Senate Republicans and President-elect Donald Trump by pushing multiple amendments to curb the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. ... Democrats also forced Republicans to balk at supporting popular provisions in the health law. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) offered an amendment to prevent discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions; Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) tried to block “legislation that makes women sick again” by stripping women’s health care services provided under Obamacare. Both proposals went down to defeat, 49-49. (Weyl, 1/12)

Politico: Trump’s Obamacare Impatience Challenges GOP
Donald Trump on Wednesday called for a quick and nearly simultaneous repeal and replacement of Obamacare — a task that's technically almost impossible. Republicans can repeal much of the law on a party line vote under fast-track budget rules. But replacement require at least a handful of Senate Democrats to help dismantle President Barack Obama's historic achievement that's covering 20 million Americans. And the Republicans have to agree among themselves on a specific detailed bill, an agreement that has so far been elusive. (Haberkorn and Demko, 1/11)

The Washington Post: Kicking Off Obamacare Fight, GOP Group Funds Million-Dollar Ad Blitz
The push to repeal and replace President Obama’s health-care law is coming to televisions nationwide starting Thursday night because of a push by a nonprofit group with close ties to House Republican leaders. The American Action Network, a 501(c)(4) group affiliated with the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC and run by key GOP establishment figures, is spending more than $1 million on ads promoting House leaders’ plans on health care. (DeBonis, 1/11)

Reuters: U.S. Business Lobby Wants Smooth Obamacare Repeal, Warns On Trade
The largest U.S. business lobby group on Wednesday said it could be a mistake to quickly repeal Obamacare without developing a replacement healthcare insurance plan and urged the incoming Trump administration not to erect trade barriers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce faces challenges with the next U.S. president and his team, including overcoming deep divisions on key issues like trade while trying to work together on common goals like repealing President Barack Obama's signature 2010 healthcare law. (Gibson, 1/11)

The Associated Press: NY Bill Would Keep Birth Control Free If 'Obamacare' Revoked
New Yorkers could get free birth control even if President-elect Donald Trump repeals "Obamacare," under legislation proposed by the state attorney general. The bill proposed Wednesday by Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman would guarantee co-pay free coverage, access to a year's worth of contraception at one time, and free vasectomies. (1/11)

Los Angeles Times: Musicians Rally To Defend The Affordable Care Act
The life of a musician can be economically precarious, and the club-gig circuit rarely comes with health insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, many artists have been able to find and afford coverage for the first time. Now that the law is threatened by the incoming Trump administration, some musicians are speaking out about what that coverage has meant to their lives and livelihoods. (Brown, 1/11)

Reuters: Trump Says Pharma 'Getting Away With Murder,' Stocks Slide
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday said pharmaceutical companies are "getting away with murder" in what they charge the government for medicines, and promised that would change, sending drugs stocks sharply lower. The benchmark S&P 500 index slipped into negative territory after his remarks at a news conference spooked investors. The iShares Nasdaq Biotech ETF dropped 4 percent at its session low and ended down 3 percent, its largest daily percentage drop in three months. (Humer, Campos, Krauskopf, Beasley, Banerjee an Grover, 1/11)

The Washington Post: Trump On Drug Prices: Pharma Companies Are ‘Getting Away With Murder’
“Pharma has a lot of lobbies, a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power. And there’s very little bidding on drugs,” Trump said during the event at Trump Tower in New York. “We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don’t bid properly.” Federal law forbids the government from negotiating with drug companies to bring down the price of drugs for seniors using Medicare. While Trump did not announce a specific plan to address the issue, he has in the past called for ending the policy -- a proposal that Democratic lawmakers have repeatedly put forward. (Johnson, 1/11)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Attacks Drugmakers On Pricing
In response to Mr. Trump’s remarks, the drug industry’s main trade group said that the U.S. already has a competitive marketplace for purchasing drugs, where private health insurers negotiate lower prices. “We look forward to working with the new administration and Congress to advance proactive, practical solutions to improve the marketplace and make it more responsive to the needs of patients,” the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said. (Walker, 1/11)

Politico: Trump Says Drug Industry 'Getting Away With Murder'
Polls over the past two years have shown that high drug prices are among Americans' top health care concerns, regardless of party. Large price increases for old drugs dominated the headlines last year, and congressional investigations into the EpiPen and former pharma executive Martin Shkreli became campaign fodder. Both Trump and Hillary Clinton attacked drug makers, though Clinton laid out a much more detailed plan to fight drug prices. (Karlin-Smith, 1/11)

The Wall Street Journal: Biotech Stocks Feel The Wrath Of Trump
Health-care investors got an ugly preview Wednesday of what the next four years might look like. President-elect Donald Trump said during a news conference that the pharmaceuticals industry is “getting away with murder,” and vowed the U.S. government, as the largest buyer of drugs in the world, would ”start bidding” on drug costs. (Grant, 1/11)

USA Today: CVS Targets EpiPen With Cheaper, Generic Version
CVS Health said Thursday that it would sell a generic version of an EpiPen competitor for a lower list price in a bid to tap into a groundswell of public resentment over skyrocketing drug costs, including fresh attacks by President-elect Donald Trump. (Bomey, 1/12)

The New York Times: Head Of Veterans Health System Is Trump’s Pick To Lead Veterans Affairs
In a move that left many veterans groups breathing a sigh of relief, President-elect Donald J. Trump on Wednesday selected the current head of the nation’s sprawling veterans health care system, Dr. David J. Shulkin, an appointee of President Obama’s, to become secretary of veterans affairs. If confirmed, he will be the first secretary to lead the department who is not a veteran. (Philipps, 1/11)

The Associated Press: Trump Picks Veterans Affairs Insider To Lead Troubled Agency
David Shulkin's nomination signals a more modest approach to change at the VA after Trump repeatedly pledged an overhaul. During the presidential campaign, Trump described the VA as "the most corrupt agency" and "probably the most incompetently run agency. "If confirmed, Shulkin would have the rare distinction of being an ex-Obama administration official serving in the Trump administration. (1/11)

The Wall Street Journal: David Shulkin Chosen For Secretary Of Veterans Affairs
Since 2015, Dr. Shulkin has been undersecretary for health at the VA, in charge of the department’s health-care system, an appointment by President Barack Obama that required Senate confirmation. Advocates and those familiar with the department said such continuity is important for a department that has been roiled by scandal that began in 2014, when employee malfeasance and long wait times led to poor treatment and contributed to the deaths of some veterans. (Kesling, 1/11)

USA Today: Trump Picks David Shulkin For Secretary Of Veterans Affairs
During his tenure, Shulkin told USA TODAY recently that he had cut the number of veterans waiting for urgent care from 57,000 to 600. At the same time, he spearheaded an effort to provide same-day care at all 167 VA medical centers across the country by the end of last year. It’s unclear whether he reached that goal. (Slack, 1/11)

The Washington Post: David Shulkin Tapped As Trump’s VA Secretary
The decision ends a protracted search for a head of the second-largest federal agency and would make Shulkin the first VA secretary who had not served in the military. Trump said he and his transition team had interviewed “at least 100 people” in their search for an executive to carry out multiple promises he has made to improve the care of veterans. In the end, they looked inside. (Rein, 1/11)

Los Angeles Times: California Is Friendly Territory, But A National Defunding Push Worries Planned Parenthood
At a recent breakfast gathering, Sue Dunlap, the president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, detailed the potential effects of a GOP-led effort to strip the group’s affiliates across the country of federal funding. It was a gloomy scenario for Planned Parenthood supporters, but attendees, according to Dunlap, were able to find some solace: The national outlook may be bleak, but surely in the Democratic bastion of California, the organization would be fine. Dunlap corrected them: Not only was Planned Parenthood in California not immune, it may have more to lose than its nationwide counterparts. (Mason, 1/12)

The Wall Street Journal: Shire To Pay $350 Million To Settle Dermagraft Kickback Allegations
Shire PLC will pay $350 million to settle allegations a regenerative drugmaker it bought in 2011 used kickbacks to promote its core skin substitute product. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office on Wednesday said an agreement was reached with New York, 37 other states and the District of Columbia to settle allegations that Shire and Advanced BioHealing illegally promoted Dermagraft, a bioengineered human skin substitute made from cells derived from newborn foreskin tissue for treating diabetic foot ulcers. (Steele, 1/11)

The Washington Post: Cardinal Health Fined $44 Million For Opioid Reporting Violations
One of the nation’s largest drug distributors has agreed to pay $44 million in fines to resolve allegations that it failed to alert the Drug Enforcement Administration to suspicious orders of powerful narcotics by pharmacies in Florida, Maryland and New York. The agreement on monetary penalties comes more than four years after the DEA reached an administrative settlement with the mammoth drug wholesaler Cardinal Health over alleged misconduct at its Lakeland, Fla., drug distribution warehouse. (Bernstein and Higham, 1/11)

The Washington Post: She Shot Up Her Father With Heroin. Now He’s Dead And She’s In Prison.
Police said 27-year-old Lindsay Newkirk told them she had done it before — shot a small amount of heroin into her own arm, then shot some into her father's. That's precisely what she said she did on a Friday in February at a motel in Columbus, Ohio. She said she passed out and, when she woke up, her father was unresponsive, according to the Columbus Dispatch.Her father, 55-year-old Leonard Newkirk, was dead. (Bever, 1/11)

The Washington Post: Supreme Court Wrestles With Defining Rights For Students With Disabilities, Including Autism
The Supreme Court Wednesday seemed ready to increase the educational benefits the country’s public schools owe to millions of children with disabilities, as the justices considered one of the most significant special-education cases to reach the high court in decades. At issue is whether schools must provide disabled children “some” educational benefit — which several lower courts have interpreted to mean just more than trivial progress — or whether students legally deserve something more. (Brown and Barnes, 1/11)

The Associated Press: Mental Health Workers Urge Governor To Spare Inmate’s Life
Dozens of mental health workers and child advocates are urging Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to spare the life of a convicted killer scheduled to be executed next week. More than 50 people sent a letter to McAuliffe this week asking him to support Ricky Gray’s request to have his sentence commuted to life in prison. Gray’s execution is scheduled for Jan. 18. Gray’s attorneys say he was raped repeatedly by his brother as a child and began using drugs to deal with the effects of that abuse. Gray claims he doesn’t remember much about slaying a family because he was high. (1/11)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2017 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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