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From Kaiser Health News:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

2. Political Cartoon: 'Inside Job?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Inside Job?'" by Signe Wilkinson .

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Health and care for all
Should be our primary goal
Complex but vital.

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Summaries Of The News:

Capitol Hill Watch

3. With Holy Grail Of Repeal In Sight, Leadership Gears Up To Muscle Bills Through Despite Opposition

Although a large chunk of their own party is threatening to block their efforts, Republican lawmakers are starting this week to actually put their repeal promises into action.

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)

The Hill: Obstacles Ahead As GOP Begins ObamaCare Repeal
Republicans who have vowed for years to “repeal and replace” ObamaCare are now seeking to turn their campaign pledge into reality, with markups of legislation potentially beginning this week. With narrow majorities in the House and Senate, Republicans won’t be able to pass healthcare legislation unless they remain united. That could prove difficult, as there are several knotty issues raised by the repeal effort that threaten to push lawmakers into opposing camps. (Hellmann, 3/6)

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 Hill: Ryan Slams Paul For 'Publicity Stunt' Search For ObamaCare Bill 
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Friday blasted Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) hunt for House Republicans’ closely held draft bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare as a “publicity stunt.” “I like Rand, but I think he’s looking for a publicity stunt here,” Ryan told Fox News' Bret Baier. “The things he described are just not accurate.” Paul tweeted on Thursday that the ObamaCare legislation was being kept under “lock and key” in a “secure location.” He then went to the House side of the Capitol to try and enter the room where he said the bill was located — with a copier in tow to distribute the draft. (Hagen, 3/3)

The Hill: What We Know About The GOP's Healthcare Bill
While final legislation has yet to be unveiled, an outline and a leaked draft from last month give a general idea of where House Republicans are headed. Their bill would dismantle the central elements of ObamaCare, including its subsidies to help people afford coverage, its expansion of Medicaid, and its mandates and taxes. Democrats warn the bill would jeopardize coverage for the 20 million people who have gained it from ObamaCare, while Republicans argue the health law has failed and needs to be replaced with a less intrusive system. (Sullivan, 3/4)

The Hill: GOP Rep: Some People 'Just Don't Want Healthcare'
Some people “just don’t want health care,” according to Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), who cited the Bible while arguing against former President Obama's Medicaid expansion. “Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us,’” Marshall, a doctor and freshman lawmaker, told Stat News on Friday. ... Marshall argued that ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid had not helped. “Just, like, homeless people. … I think just morally, spiritually, socially, [some people] just don’t want health care,” he said. (Sullivan, 3/3)

4. E&C Chairman's Political Savvy To Be Tested As A Point Person On Repeal

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., the chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, will be navigating the tumultuous waters of repeal as his committee begins handling legislation to dismantle the health law.

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)

5. As Congress Wrestles With Medicaid's Future, Advocates In States Rally To Preserve Expansion

House Republicans' plan has not yet been unveiled but could include a compromise to allow the current federal funding for Medicaid expansion continue until 2020 but it's not clear conservatives will accept that formula.

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)

CNN: GOP Senator: Medicaid Expansion 'Better Be' Preserved
A Republican senator from West Virginia is insisting that Medicaid expansion be preserved in the GOP's Obamacare replacement proposal. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito's comments on CNN's "New Day" Friday morning highlight the persistent divisions among conservatives over how to address the health law. She defended her state's expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act -- an especially divisive component of the health law among Republicans. (Wright, 3/3)

Chicago Tribune: Stakes High In Illinois As Congress Rethinks Medicaid 
Until recently, much of the debate over health care's future has focused around skyrocketing prices for insurance bought through exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But other proposed changes to the health care law and Medicaid under discussion in Washington have the potential to affect far more people in Illinois than an overhaul of the exchanges. More than 3 million Illinois residents — about 1 of out of every 4 people in the state — have health insurance through Medicaid, which is funded by state and federal dollars. Any changes to the program could affect consumers and some hospitals and doctors, which use the money they get from Medicaid to bolster their services. This year, the federal government is sending Illinois an estimated $14.1 billion for its share of the program. (Schencker, 3/3)

Health News Florida: 'Save Our Care' Bus Tour Participants Speak Against Medicaid Block Grants 
The “Save Our Care” Bus Tour made a stop Friday in Tampa so doctors, patients and caregivers advocate against repealing the Affordable Care Act, and against the congressional Republican push for Medicaid block grants.  Opponents like [Michael] Phillips say Medicaid block grants -- which would let the federal government set each state's Medicaid spending amount in advance --  would limit access to care. (Miller, 3/3)

Health Law

6. Pence: Despite Best Efforts Of Activists, Americans Know 'Obamacare Must Go'

The vice president says that President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have a close partnership that will benefit Americans “for generations to come.”

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)

In other news —

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. &#

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