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KHN First Edition: March 6, 2017


First Edition

Monday, March 06, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: With ‘Trumpcare’ On Horizon, Voters Go Wobbly On Repeal
Jay Hancock reports: "As candidate Donald Trump hammered the Affordable Care Act last year as “a fraud,” “a total disaster” and “very bad health insurance,” more Americans than not seemed to agree with him. Now that President Trump and fellow Republicans show signs of keeping their promise to dump the law, many appear to be having second thoughts. (Hancock, 3/3)

The Associated Press: Republican Health Care Push Coming; Success A Question Mark
Republicans seem set to start muscling legislation through Congress reshaping the country’s health care system after seven years of saber rattling. Don’t confuse that with GOP unity or assume that success is guaranteed. Unresolved disputes over taxes and Medicaid rage and conservatives complaining that Republican proposals don’t go far enough could undermine the effort, or at least make GOP leaders’ lives difficult. (Fram, 3/4)

Los Angeles Times: Facing Big Political Hurdles, House Republicans Ready An Ambitious Legislative Push To Repeal Obamacare
House Republicans, despite stiff political headwinds, are readying an ambitious push this week to begin moving legislation to replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act, a crucial test of their ability to fulfill one of their party’s main campaign promises. The plan marks the first time GOP lawmakers will do this since Obamacare was enacted seven years ago and will provide an early indication of whether President Trump can rally his party’s members of Congress, many of whom are anxious about how to repeal and replace the healthcare law. (Levey and Mascaro, 3/5)

Reuters: U.S. Republicans Expected To Unveil Healthcare Bill This Week
Republican U.S. lawmakers expect to unveil this week the text of long-awaited legislation to repeal and replace the Obamacare healthcare law, one of President Donald Trump's top legislative priorities, a senior Republican congressional aide said on Sunday. Since taking office in January, Trump has pressed his fellow Republicans who control Congress to act quickly to dismantle former Democratic President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act and pass a plan to replace it, but lawmakers in the party have differed on the specifics. (Cornwell, 3/6)

The Wall Street Journal: Conservative Groups Jeopardize GOP Plan To Repeal Affordable Care Act
Conservative groups are raising alarms over central provisions of the House GOP’s emerging plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, pushing lawmakers to buck House Speaker Paul Ryan and oppose the Republican blueprint. The groups—including Heritage Action, the Club for Growth and Freedom Partners, an organization funded by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch—are troubled by the notion of refundable tax credits to help consumers pay for health insurance, a central tenet of Mr. Ryan’s plan that President Donald Trump appeared to endorse in his address to Congress last week. (Hackman, 3/5)

The Associated Press: Graham Says He Doesn’t Know What GOP Health Care Plan Is Yet
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham told a rowdy town hall in South Carolina that health care is going to change in the United States. Just don’t ask him for details. “Can I let you in on a little secret? I don’t know what the GOP plan is,” the Republican Graham told the roughly 1,000 people who packed a theatre at Clemson University on Saturday. (Collins, 3/4)

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Lawmaker Tries To Steer Through Tricky Terrain On ACA
As Republicans dive into their politically risky push to undo the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Greg Walden is emerging as a key figure in the party’s attempt to rally around a new health-insurance system. Mr. Walden, a gregarious Oregon congressman first elected to Congress in 1998, became chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee in January after a successful run as coordinator of the Republican House campaigns. His political savvy will now be tested as he stewards legislation that could result in millions of Americans losing health coverage, while also facing pressure from conservatives not to water down any bill by retaining a significant government role in insurance. (Hackman, 3/6)

The Associated Press: Pence Dismisses Town Hall Criticism During Wisconsin Stop
Vice President Mike Pence joined House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday in his Wisconsin hometown, promising during an invite-only speech that a replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act would come within days while dismissing recent protests at Republican town halls by people opposed to repealing it. “Despite the best efforts of some activists at some town halls around the country, the American people know Obamacare has failed and Obamacare must go,” Pence told about 350 employees of Blain Supply at the company headquarters in Janesville. (Bauer, 3/3)

The New York Times: ‘Really Sick And Really Scared’ Voters Temper Action On Health Law
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, has voted more than 50 times in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act. She plans to do it again this spring. But talking with voters in her impoverished state, which has a high rate of drug addiction, obesity and poor health, has given Ms. Capito a new sense of caution. “I met a woman the other day with a terrible illness,” she said. “She is really sick and really scared.” (Steinhauer, 3/5)

The New York Times: Repeal Of Health Law Faces A New Hurdle: Older Americans
Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act have encountered a new obstacle: adamant opposition from many older Americans whose health insurance premiums would increase. AARP and its allies are bombarding congressional offices with objections as two House committees plan to vote on the Republicans’ bill this week. If the law is repealed, the groups say, people in their 50s and 60s could see premiums rise by $2,000 to $3,000 a year or more: increases of 20 percent to 25 percent or higher. (Pear, 3/5)

The New York Times: In Red-State Utah, A Surge Toward Obamacare
From the moment the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, most elected officials in this sturdily Republican state have been eager to squash it. But something surprising is happening here. Despite deep uncertainty about the law’s future, Utah recorded one of the biggest increases of any state in residents who signed up for coverage under the act this year. Now, the state is seeing a surprising burst of activism against repealing the law — including from Republicans. (Goodnough, 3/3)

The New York Times: Patience Gone, Koch-Backed Groups Will Pressure G.O.P. On Health Repeal
Saying their patience is at an end, conservative activist groups backed by the billionaire Koch brothers and other powerful interests on the right are mobilizing to pressure Republicans to fulfill their promise to swiftly repeal the Affordable Care Act. Their message is blunt and unforgiving, with the goal of reawakening some of the most extensive conservative grass-roots networks in the country. It is a reminder that even as Republicans control both the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade, the party’s activist wing remains restless and will not go along passively for the sake of party unity. (s, 3/5)

The Wall Street Journal: House Committee Aims To Reshape Medicaid Program
A House committee is proposing a new way to reshape the Medicaid program, an effort to resolve one of the most divisive issues in the debate among Republicans over how to replace the Affordable Care Act. Under its plan, which the committee expects to unveil in legislation next week, states that grew their Medicaid programs under the health law could maintain their expanded programs until 2020 before federal funding would decrease. (son, Hackman and Armour, 3/3)

The Associated Press: Ouch: Taking The Sting Out Of Medical Expenses
Medical expenses are a burden whenever they hit, but a recent study found they’re most common around this time of year. The study found that one in six families makes a major medical payment in any given year, and they tended to occur in the first few months of the year. The study found the median payment was $1,143 and most households take more than a year to recover from the hit. (Sell, 3/5)

Reuters: Massachusetts Governor Vows To Shield Planned Parenthood Funding
Gov. Charlie Baker has promised that Massachusetts will plug any holes in the budget of the state chapter of Planned Parenthood if Congress moves to block the use of Medicaid funding for treatment at the women’s health care organization. The move by Mr. Baker, a Republican governor of a Democratic-leaning state, is intended, in part, to signal the gap between his positions and those of the Republican-controlled Congress, many of whose members oppose Planned Parenthood because the organization provides abortions. (3/3)

The Washington Post: Exposure To Pollution Kills Millions Of Children, WHO Reports Find
Exposure to polluted environments is associated with more than one in four deaths among children younger than 5, according to two World Health Organization reports published Monday. Worldwide, 1.7 million children's deaths are attributable to environmental hazards, such as exposure to contaminated water, indoor and outdoor pollution, and other unsanitary conditions, the reports found.Weaker immune systems make children's health more vulnerable to harmful effects of polluted environments, the report says. (Naqvi, 3/5)

The Washington Post: American Cocaine Use Is Way Up. Colombia’s Coca Boom Might Be Why.
While much of the recent attention on drug abuse in the United States has focused on the heroin and opioid epidemic, cocaine has also been making a comeback. It appears to be a case of supply driving demand. After years of falling output, the size of Colombia’s illegal coca crop has exploded since 2013, and the boom is starting to appear on U.S. streets. (Miroff, 3/4)

The Washington Post: People With Autism, Intellectual Disabilities Fight Bias In Transplants
Paul Corby needs a new heart. On that there is no dispute. The same rare disease that killed his father at 27 is destroying his left ventricle. While there is no cure or surgery that might repair the damage, a heart transplant could extend his life considerably. But Corby, who lives in Pottsville, Pa., is autistic, suffers from several psychological conditions and takes 19 medications. When he applied to the transplant program at the University of Pennsylvania in 2011, he was rejected because of his “psychiatric issues, autism, the complexity of the process . . . and the unknown and unpredictable effect of steroids on behavior,” according to the denial letter sent to his mother. (Bernstein, 3/4)

NPR: Don't Panic If You Get Bit By A Tick. Here Are 5 Tips To Minimize Lyme
This spring and summer may be a doozy for Lyme disease, at least in parts of the Northeast. "We're anticipating 2017 to be a particularly risky year for Lyme," says Rick Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York. Ostfeld has been studying the debilitating tick-borne disease for more than 20 years, and has developed an early warning system based on mice. (Doucleff, 3/6)

The Washington Post: If You Want To Lose Weight, Dropping That Meat May Help
For those hoping to shed some wintertime weight gain, research suggests that going vegetarian — or even vegan — can help. When scientists looked at the body mass index of more than 37,000 Britons of all ages in 2003, they found that while the average male meat-eater had BMI of about 24.4, just shy of being overweight, the average vegan had BMI of 22.4. Among women, the patterns were similar. A 2009 study of Seventh-day Adventist church members across North America showed an even more striking difference in BMI: more than five points between those on an omnivorous diet (28.8) and those eating only plant-based foods (23.6). (Zaraska, 3/4)

The Associated Press: Medicare Fraud Trial Set For Doctor Tied To Menendez Probe
Many of the Medicare fraud charges against prominent Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen are complicated, but one is simple — federal prosecutors say he claimed reimbursement for treating both eyes of patients who have one prosthetic. Melgen is scheduled to go on trial Monday in West Palm Beach, facing 76 counts charging him with stealing up to $190 million from Medicare between 2004 and 2013. (Spencer, 3/5)

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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