Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations.
Kaiser Health News: At Party Retreat, GOP Still Searching For Health Law Consensus Julie Rovner reports: "Republicans from the House, Senate and White House gathered in Philadelphia this week searching, among other things, for some agreement on how exactly to “repeal and replace” the federal health law. By the end of the second day of the three-day retreat, however, it was clear they were not yet singing from the same hymnbook.House and Senate Republican leaders did seem to settle on a timing strategy for overhauling the Democrats’ health care law that could take them through the summer, even if they were light on specifics." (Rovner, 1/26)
California Healthline: How To Cope With Covered California Glitches Emily Bazar writes: "Frustrating. Irresponsible. Stressful. Crazy. Devastating. Asinine. The worst. Those are some of the words three Californians used to describe their recent experiences enrolling in — and paying for — health coverage from Covered California. The state insurance exchange is in the final days of its fourth annual open enrollment period, which ends Jan. 31, and it has been a burdensome one for many consumers." (Bazar, 1/27)
California Healthline: California Fines Kaiser Permanente $2.5 Million Over Missing Medicaid Data Chad Terhune reports: "California officials have fined health care giant Kaiser Permanente $2.5 million for failing to turn over required data on patient care to the state’s Medicaid program. The California Department of Health Care Services said this was the first fine imposed against one of its Medicaid managed care plans since at least 2000. The state relies on the data to help set rates, ensure adequate care is available and monitor how taxpayer dollars are being spent in the program, known as Medi-Cal in California." (Terhune, 1/26)
Kaiser Health News: Spreading The Word About HIV Prevention For African-American Women NPR's Jose Soto reports: "African-American women are more likely to be infected with HIV than other women, and many don’t know it. So public health officials and advocates are trying to get the word out about PrEP, pre-exposure prophylaxis. It’s a daily medication that helps prevent HIV infection. “This is all about empowering women, especially black women, by giving them sexual health options and also embarking on a path of research,” says Linda Blout, president of Black Women’s Health Imperative, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. The organization is helping to launch the capital’s first citywide program to promote use of PrEP among women." (Soto, 1/27)
The Washington Post: White House Stops Ads, Outreach For Last Days Of 2017 ACA Enrollment The directive stunned some staffers within the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a source close to the department who was briefed on the action. Staff members protested to Trump appointees at HHS that the sudden ban on outreach would suppress the enrollment of the most desirable customers — younger, healthier people who tend to buy coverage at the last minute — which in turn could raise insurance prices in the future, the source said. (Goldstein, 1/26)
Politico: Trump White House Abruptly Halts Obamacare Ads The decision sends the clearest signal yet that President Donald Trump is determined to fulfill his campaign pledge to repeal Obamacare. Hours after being sworn in, Trump issued his first executive order allowing federal officials to start unwinding parts of the law. "President Trump is signaling he's the new sheriff," said Rep. Chris Collins, (R-N.Y.), the president's top congressional ally. "He's been elected with a mandate. He's not going to tolerate his employees contradicting and undermining his mandate to get this country going in another direction." (Demko, 1/26)
Reuters: Trump Tells Republican Lawmakers: Enough Talk. Time To Deliver President Donald Trump pushed Republican lawmakers on Thursday for swift action on a sweeping agenda including his planned U.S.-Mexican border wall, tax cuts and repealing the Obamacare law, despite tensions over timetables and priorities. Congressional Republicans were in Philadelphia for a three-day retreat to hammer out a legislative agenda, with the party in control of the White House, Senate and House of Representatives for the first time in a decade. (1/26)
The Wall Street Journal: Donald Trump And Republicans Strain To Set Agenda Less than a week into the new administration, GOP lawmakers grappled with how to respond to a Republican president capable of signing their policy proposals into law but also of igniting public feuds and showing little deference to Capitol Hill’s traditions. “This is going to be an unconventional presidency,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) told reporters. “That’s something we’re just all going to have to get used to.” But Mr. Ryan also said, “We are on the same page,” referring to the agenda the president and Republican lawmakers are pursuing. (son and Rubin, 1/26)
Los Angeles Times: Republicans Divided Over Whether Millions Of Americans Should Lose Government-Subsidized Health Coverage As Republicans scramble for a strategy to repeal and replace the healthcare law, they are reckoning with a fundamental question the party has never settled: whether to foot the multi-trillion-dollar bill to ensure millions of Americans retain the coverage they obtained under Obamacare. GOP lawmakers for years ducked that issue as they unified behind cries to roll back the program, but were assured President Obama would block them. Now, the power to actually repeal and replace the law is exposing deep divisions in the party. (Levey, 1/26)
NPR: Hospitals Worry Repeal Of Obamacare Would Jeopardize Innovations In Care Much has been written about the 20 million people who gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and what could happen to these patients if the ACA is repealed without a replacement. But some people don't realize that hospitals nationwide could take a big financial hit on several fronts, too. (Gourlay, 1/27)
The Associated Press: Marylanders Enroll In Health Exchange At Faster Rates Enrollment in the Maryland Health Exchange thus far has been climbing at faster rates than in previous years, while President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress have taken their first steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act. As of Monday, more than 465,500 Marylanders had enrolled in the Maryland Health Connection since it opened on Nov. 1, surpassing the 457,862 who had enrolled by the same date last year. The enrollment period ends on Jan. 31. (Schwartz, 1/26)
The Wall Street Journal: Trump’s Move To Clamp Down On Communications Spurs Backlash Agencies across the federal government are scrambling to handle a chaotic transition of power between two diametrically different leaders. This has led to confusion over what government websites can display, what employees are allowed to do with publicly funded work and growing social-media activism aimed at rebutting President Donald Trump. ... At the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a team of Trump administration appointees who referred to themselves as the “beachhead” team, visited the agency Tuesday for briefings with small groups of CMS leadership, according to an HHS official familiar with the proceedings. CMS leadership instructed agency directors Tuesday to alert employees of the ban on communications, which includes policy statements and public appearances, social media, blogs and webinars and release of documents, the official said. (Harder and Carlton, 1/27)
The Wall Street Journal: Pressure Builds To Grant VA Exemptions From Hiring Freeze The pressure for exemptions to President Donald Trump’s federal hiring freeze grew Thursday, led by Republican congressional leaders. The chairmen of the Senate and House veterans committees sent a letter to the White House asking that the president further clarify which jobs at the Department of Veterans Affairs are exempt from the order that Mr. Trump signed just days earlier, which suspended hiring throughout the federal government. (Kesling, 1/26)
The New York Times: Trump On Their Side, Conservatives See Hope In Lengthy Abortion Fight Sensing a political opportunity they have not had in more than a decade, social conservatives are preparing for a lengthy fight over abortion rights that promises to widen the culture war fissures that Republicans have tried for years to bridge. Two fights now loom in Washington that are galvanizing the right as it solidifies control of two branches of government and moves to dominate the third: an effort in Congress to eliminate Planned Parenthood’s federal funding and President Trump’s forthcoming choice of a Supreme Court nominee. (s, 1/26)
Politico: Anti-Abortion Marchers To Celebrate A New Era Under Trump Tens of thousands of demonstrators are expected in Washington Friday for an anti-abortion march that’s shaping up as a triumphant affair under President Donald Trump — despite his ambitious projection of crowds as large as 600,000. The March for Life, as it’s known, has kicked off on the National Mall every year since 1974 to mark the Jan. 22 anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision establishing abortion rights. (Schor and Nussbaum, 1/27)
The Washington Post: Pence, A Longtime Hero For The Antiabortion Movement, Will Join The March For Life Vice President Pence will join Friday’s March for Life, a move from the White House considered historic by march organizers. President Ronald Reagan made a video for the march in 1988 and President George W. Bush called in to the march in 2008, but no president or vice president has spoken at the march before, according to a march spokeswoman. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s senior counselor, will also speak at the march. (Bailey, 1/26)
NPR: On Abortion, Goals Of Back-To-Back Marches Couldn't Be More Different Marchers — many of them women — are descending on Washington, D.C., to send a message about abortion to the Trump administration and the Republican-led Congress. ... The juxtaposition has opened up a larger debate about how women who consider themselves "pro-life" fit into the feminist movement. The issue became a point of tension surrounding the Women's March after a handful of anti-abortion activists said they were planning to attend. In a statement, organizers apologized for initially including the anti-abortion group as a partner, and stating that the march's "platform is pro-choice and that has been our stance from day one." (McCammon, 1/27)
USA Today: Sheryl Sandberg Speaks Out Against Trump Abortion Policy Facebook executive and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg broke her silence Thursday, weighing in on President Trump's reinstatement of a Reagan-era policy banning U.S. foreign aid to health providers overseas who offer abortion counseling or advocate for a woman's right to have an abortion. In a Facebook post, Sandberg said the policy could have "terrible consequences for women and families around the world," cutting them off from other health services. She shared an article from the New York Times and said she supports passage of Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act. (Guynn, 1/26)
Reuters: Arkansas Governor Signs Abortion Law Banning Common Procedure Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law on Thursday a bill banning the most common abortion procedure employed in the second trimester of a pregnancy, among the most restrictive abortion legislation in the United States. The law, which takes effect later this year, prohibits dilation and evacuation, a practice that pro-choice advocates say is the safest method of ending a pregnancy but which supporters of the legislation call "barbaric," requiring the "dismemberment" of the fetus. (1/27)
ProPublica/NPR: McKesson, Cardinal And Other Wholesalers Hit With DEA Penalties As the toll of the opioid epidemic grows, scores of doctors have lost their licenses and some have gone to prison. Pharmacies are being sued and shuttered. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are under investigation and face new rules from regulators. But penalties against companies that serve as middlemen between drug companies and pharmacies have been relatively scarce — until recently. (Ornstein, 1/27)
The Washington Post: Drug Company To Help Improve Virginia’s Prescription Drug Monitoring System A major drug company is teaming up with the state of Virginia to help curb “doctor shopping” for narcotics and overprescribing of opioids by physicians. Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of the long-acting painkiller OxyContin, said Thursday it will pay $3.1 million to upgrade the state's prescription drug monitoring program, a database that doctors and other prescribers can check before they offer a patient narcotics. The 11-year-old system is designed to curb “doctor shopping,” by showing prescribers if patients are obtaining narcotics from multiple health-care professionals. (Bernstein, 1/26)
NPR: Human-Pig Embryos May Someday Supply Organs For Transplant The ethical concerns focused on the possibility the human cells could create animals that had human brain cells or tissues, blurring the line between the species. There are also concerns the cells could form human eggs or sperm in farm animals such as cows, sheep or pigs, and then those animals could mate. (Stein, 1/26)
Los Angeles Times: By Age 6, Girls Are Less Likely Than Boys To Think That They Can Be Brilliant, Study Shows Why do so few women end up in physics, mathematics and other fields traditionally associated with “brilliance”? Part of the answer may lie in what happens to girls by the time they’re out of kindergarten. A new study finds that 6-year-old girls are less likely than boys to think members of their own gender can be brilliant — and they’re more likely than boys to shy away from activities requiring that exceptional intelligence. That’s a serious change from their attitudes at age 5, when they’re just as likely as boys to think their own gender can be brilliant, and just as willing to take on those activities for brilliant children. (Khan, 1/26)
NPR: Girls Are Less Likely To Think That Women Are Super Smart "The surprising thing is that already, by age 6, girls and boys are saying different things," says Sapna Cheryan, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Washington who wasn't involved with the research. "Before they've heard of physics or computer science they are getting these messages." Another experiment showed that even as older girls were less likely to associate their own gender with brilliance, they (correctly) assessed that at their age, girls were more likely to get good grades in school. (Hobson, 1/26)
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