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KHN First Edition: January 26, 2017


First Edition

Thursday, January 26, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

California Healthline: ‘Not Turning Back’: California Governor Vows To Protect State’s Health Care
Pauline Bartolone reports: "In an unusually impassioned speech, Gov. Jerry Brown vowed Tuesday to protect California’s health care gains under Obamacare against Republican attempts in Washington, D.C., to roll them back. “More than any other state, California has embraced the Affordable Care Act,” Brown told state legislators and appointees in his annual State of the State address at California’s Capitol. “I intend to join with other Governors and Senators, and with you, to do everything we can to protect the health care of our people.” (Bartolone, 1/25)

Kaiser Health News: Aid-In-Dying Laws Don’t Guarantee That Patients Can Choose To Die
JoNel Aleccia reports: "In the seven months since California’s aid-in-dying law took effect, Dr. Lonny Shavelson has helped nearly two dozen terminally ill people end their lives with lethal drugs —  but only, he says, because too few others would. Shavelson, director of a Berkeley, Calif. consulting clinic, said he has heard from more than 200 patients, including dozens who were stunned to learn that local health care providers refused to participate in the state’s End of Life Options Act." (Aleccia, 1/26)

Kaiser Health News: Fight Is On To Protect Health Care In California, Says Foundation Head
Anna Gorman reports: "As Republicans seek to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, advocacy organizations around the nation are strategizing on how best to respond. Do they defend the law at all costs? Do they take part in the repeal conversation so they can help design an alternative? Already, numerous groups are mobilizing patients and health care advocates to raise awareness of the impact of a repeal. (Gorman, 1/26)

The Associated Press: Congressional Republicans Sketch Ambitious Agenda
Congressional Republicans laid plans Wednesday to act on a health care repeal bill by the end of March and rewrite the tax code by August as they sketched out an ambitious agenda for their first 200 days under President Donald Trump. Meeting in Philadelphia for their annual policy retreat, they also discussed action to raise the nation's borrowing limit, write an infrastructure package sought by Trump and push funding for defense and border priorities. (1/25)

The Washington Post: Republicans Set Aggressive Agenda On Health Care, Regulations And Tax Reform
In an afternoon session at an annual GOP policy retreat, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) unveiled plans that put repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act as the first order of business, with the target date for action within the next three months. Lawmakers also plan to move quickly on a broad rewrite of the tax code that is expected to include deep cuts in tax rates. The agenda sets a vigorous pace in an attempt to make good on key campaign promises made by President Trump. (Snell and DeBonis, 1/25)

Politico: Hill Republicans Feel Big-Footed On Obamacare
President Donald Trump's recent assertion he will deliver his own health care plan to Congress has antagonized many Republican lawmakers gathered at a retreat in Philadelphia, which could make it harder to reach agreement on a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Lawmakers have been blindsided by the president’s statements about the elements of an Obamacare replacement plan. Some are also unnerved by the prospect that the executive branch, rather than Congress, will write the legislation and potentially tread on the constitutional notion of separation of powers. (Haberkorn, 1/25)

Politico: Trump’s Flashy Executive Actions Could Run Aground
President Donald Trump’s team made little effort to consult with federal agency lawyers or lawmakers as they churned out executive actions this week, stoking fears the White House is creating the appearance of real momentum with flawed orders that might be unworkable, unenforceable or even illegal. ... Just a small circle of officials at the Department of Health and Human Services knew about the executive action starting to unwind Obamacare, and they got a heads-up only the night before it was released. Key members of Congress weren’t consulted either, according to several members. And at a conference in Philadelphia, GOP legislators say they had no idea whether some of the executive orders would contrast with existing laws — because they hadn't reviewed them. (Arnsdorf, Dawsey and Kim, 1/25)

Reuters: Health Insurers Quietly Shape Obamacare Replacement With Fewer Risks
U.S. health insurers are making their case to Republican lawmakers over how Americans sign up for individual insurance and pushing for other changes to shape the replacement of former President Barack Obama's national healthcare law. The health insurers, including Independence Blue Cross and Molina Healthcare Inc, are also recommending ways to put more control over insurance in the hands of states as the federal oversight of Obamacare is dismantled. They emphasize that it is crucial to keep government subsidies for low income people. (Humer, 1/25)

The Washington Post: GOP Health Proposals Could Cost D.C. Billions, Report Finds
Proposals by Congressional Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act could cost the District government billions of dollars over the next decade, according to a report released Wednesday by D.C. Auditor Kathleen Patterson. The report paints a bleak picture for District officials as they prepare to weather GOP efforts to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law as well as revamp Medicaid, the federal government’s health-insurance program for the poor. (Jamison, 1/25)

Los Angeles Times: Here's What Primary Care Doctors Really Think About Obamacare
A post-election survey of primary care physicians reveals that majorities of the doctors that first treat most Americans do not support some of the GOP’s most widely circulated plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Conducted in December and January and published online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the new survey shows that nearly three-quarters of general practitioners favored making changes to the Obama administration’s signature healthcare reform measure. (Healy, 1/25)

The Associated Press: Trump Intends To Announce His Supreme Court Pick On Feb. 2
President Donald Trump said Wednesday he intends to announce his nominee for the Supreme Court on Feb. 2, and three federal appeals court judges are said to be the front-runners to fill the lifetime seat held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon. The leading contenders, who have met with Trump, are William Pryor, Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman, according to a person familiar with the process who was not authorized to speak publicly about internal decisions and discussed the search on condition of anonymity. (1/25)

The Wall Street Journal: Opponents Say Trump’s ‘Mexico City’ Abortion Policy Could Have Broader Reach
Opponents of the so-called Mexico City policy that prevents foreign aid organizations from receiving U.S. funds if they provide or offer information about abortions say the directive President Donald Trump issued this week could affect 15 times more funding than the policy did under previous Republican presidents. Previous versions of the rule applied to family planning programs funded by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which comprise roughly $600 million in spending. (Schwartz, 1/25)

The New York Times: Clinics For World’s Vulnerable Brace For Trump’s Anti-Abortion Cuts
The clinic, tucked discreetly inside the student health center on the University of Dakar campus, prescribes birth control pills, hands out condoms and answers questions about sex that young women are nervous about asking in this conservative Muslim country. The clinic performs no abortions, nor does it discuss the procedure or give advice on where to get one. Senegal, by and large, outlaws abortion. But for other health services like getting contraceptives, said Anne Lancelot, the Sahel director at the organization that runs the clinic, “there is a very high demand.” (Searcey, Onishi and Sengupta, 1/26)

The New York Times: Q. And A.: How Trump’s Revival Of An Abortion Ban Will Affect Women In Kenya
This week President Trump revived a ban on providing foreign aid to health providers abroad that offer abortion counseling as part of their family planning services. Caitlin Parks, a family planning fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, provides reproductive health services to women at clinics and a teaching hospital in western Kenya. Her clinics receive American funding, and she says that the ban, called by critics the global gag rule, could have a major impact on poor women and communities like the ones she serves. (Ingber, 1/26)

The Wall Street Journal: Judge Blocks Rule That Would Limit Premium Assistance For Dialysis Patients
U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant, in Sherman, Texas, issued an order delaying the rule indefinitely while he hears a suit opposing it filed by major dialysis providers and a patient group. The plaintiffs, which included  DaVita Inc. and Fresenius Medical Care North America, a subsidiary of a German company, argued that the Department of Health and Human Services had improperly rushed out the rule and that it could hurt patients. (Wilde Mathews, 1/25)

USA Today: Congress To Challenge Gun Ban For Some Mentally Impaired
As part of an effort to roll back Obama-era regulations, Congress is expected to take up legislation as early as next week that would prevent the government from declaring some Social Security recipients unfit to own guns after they’ve been deemed mentally incapable of managing their financial affairs. (Gaudiano, 1/25)

The Washington Post: Americans Were Making A Lot Of Progress Cutting Back On Sugary Drinks. Now That’s Stopped.
For years, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines urged Americans to drink less sugary beverages. And for years, many Americans listened. But after a decade of falling consumption, rates have stalled at well above the recommended limit, according to statistics released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency found that adults and children are both consuming roughly the same number of calories from soda, sports drinks and other sugary beverages now as they did in 2009-2010, the last time the CDC published comparable data. (Dewey, 1/26)

The New York Times: W.H.O. Warns Of Worrisome Bird Flu In China
After a spate of deaths from bird flu among patients in China, the World Health Organization has warned all countries to watch for outbreaks in poultry flocks and to promptly report any human cases. Several strains of avian flu are spreading in Europe and Asia this winter, but the most worrisome at present is an H7N9 strain that has circulated in China every winter since 2013. (McNeil, 1/25)

NPR: Marijuana Sobriety Driving Tests Under Consideration In Massachusetts Highest Court
For decades the same test has been used to convict drunk drivers. Police ask a driver to stand on one leg, walk a straight line and recite the alphabet. If the driver fails, the officer will testify in court to help make a case for driving under the influence. But defense lawyers argue, science has yet to prove that flunking the standard field sobriety test actually means that a person is high, the way it's been proven to measure drunkenness. (Smith, 1/25)

USA Today: Skeptical Of CTE Link, NHL Won't Fund Concussion Research
The NFL has been criticized both for the amount of money it has donated for head trauma research and trying to manipulate how it is spent. But at least it has donated.The NHL has not given money to any of the four centers leading research into neurodegenerative diseases, specifically the question of why so many football and hockey players develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), USA TODAY Sports has found. (Armour, 1/25)

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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