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KHN First Edition: March 8, 2017


First Edition

Wednesday, March 08, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Five Ways The GOP Health Bill Would Reverse Course From The ACA
Julie Rovner reports: "After literally years of promises, House Republicans finally have a bill they say will “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. Some conservative Republicans have derided the new proposal — the American Health Care Act — calling it “Obamacare light.”  It keeps intact some of the more popular features of the ACA, such as allowing adult children to stay on their parents’ health plans to age 26 and, at least in theory, ensuring that people with preexisting conditions will still have access to insurance." (Rovner, 3/8)

California Healthline: GOP Health Proposal Would Upend Consumers’ Cost Calculations In California
Chad Terhune reports: "For better or worse, Californians who aren’t insured through their employers could see major changes in their health insurance costs under a Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act. A House GOP proposal introduced Monday would provide substantially less financial help to many consumers in higher-cost areas of California, from San Francisco to Monterey. But people in lower-cost markets like Los Angeles could fare better. (Terhune, 3/7)

Kaiser Health News: Three Key Senators Ask GAO To Investigate Possible Abuses Of The Orphan Drug Act
Sarah Jane Tribble and Sydney Lupkin report: "Building on weeks of mounting pressure to address high prescription drug prices, three influential U.S. senators have asked the government’s accountability arm to investigate potential abuses of the Orphan Drug Act. In a March 3 letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) raised the possibility that regulatory or legislative changes might be needed “to preserve the intent of this vital law” that gives drugmakers lucrative incentives to develop drugs for rare diseases." (Tribble and Lupkin, 3/7)

Kaiser Health News: Dentists Work To Ease Patients’ Pain With Fewer Opioids
WHYY's Elana Gordon reports: "Firsts can be life-changing — think about your first kiss, your first time behind the wheel of a car. But what about the first time you got a prescription for a narcotic? James Hatzell, from Collingswood, N.J., is now a technology officer for a college addiction treatment program. He didn’t realize it at the time, but that spring day of his junior year of high school — seven years ago — was a pivotal moment in his life." (Gordon, 3/8)

The New York Times: Millions Risk Losing Health Insurance In Republican Plan, Analysts Say
Millions of people who get private health coverage through the Affordable Care Act would be at risk of losing it under the replacement legislation proposed by House Republicans, analysts said Tuesday, with Americans in their 50s and 60s especially likely to find coverage unaffordable. Starting in 2020, the plan would do away with the current system of providing premium subsidies based on people’s income and the cost of insurance where they live. Instead, it would provide tax credits of $2,000 to $4,000 per year based on their age. (Goodnough and Abelson, 3/7)

The Washington Post: Income Separates The Winners And Losers In Republicans’ Health-Care Plans
The architecture of the tax credits in the legislation, which House committees are to begin debating Wednesday morning, would offer less help to lower-income Americans than the subsidies provided by the current law. It would steer more money to young adults at the expense of older ones. And it would most benefit consumers living in states in which insurance prices already are relatively low. (Goldstein and Eilperin, 3/7)

The Washington Post: The Massive Tax Cuts For The Rich Inside The GOP Health-Care Plan
Republicans' new health-care bill is a mass transfer of income that cuts taxes for the wealthiest Americans while cutting federal benefits for the middle and working class. Just two provisions in the Republican plan would allow the richest households to pay an average of nearly $200,000 less under the GOP plan, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. (Ehrenfreund, 3/7)

The Washington Post: Republicans’ Obamacare Replacement Contains Huge Tax Cuts For Insurance Companies, But It Comes At A Cost.
The Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act provides huge tax cuts for health care companies, but the measure still leaves many companies facing difficult — and potentially risky — business decisions to make in years to come. The bill would repeal a slew of taxes that would have cost insurance, medical device makers and other health care companies tens of billions of dollars over a decade. The repeal of just one such provision — the health insurer tax — is a tax cut of $145 billion over a decade, according to an analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation. (Johnson, 3/7)

The Washington Post: What The GOP Health Plan Really Means For Taxes
When House Republicans unveiled on Monday a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, one thing was immediately clear: the new approach could create a major shift in taxes for low-and-middle income people while delivering a big tax break to the rich. Republicans have long criticized the ACA for creating a whole new system of tax credits based on individual income levels intended to help people buy health insurance on established health-care exchanges. The new plan replaces those credits with a fresh series of tax subsidies based on age and income that are intended to make it easier to buy insurance on the private market. (Snell, 3/8)

The Washington Post: GOP’s Obamacare Replacement Cracks Down On Lottery Winners Who Receive Medicaid
The lottery is a famously bad bet. People are more likely to be zapped by lightning while drowning, canonized a saint or hit by an asteroid than win a jackpot. Very few people walk away from the Powerball with massively engorged bank accounts. ... Yet, ten pages into the American Health Care Act, the bill that House Republicans unveiled Monday as the replacement for the Affordable Care Act took aim at lottery winners who receive Medicaid, devoting roughly a tenth of the 60-odd-page bill to lottery winners. (Guarino, 3/8)

The Wall Street Journal: Apple’s IPhone Makes (Another) Cameo In The Health-Care Debate
Some Republicans are arguing the rollback of Obamacare would put responsibility on Americans to make better choices as consumers, but one comment this morning didn’t get a great reception. House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) told CNN Tuesday that lower-income Americans may have to prioritize spending money on health-care rather than electronic gadgets such as iPhones. (son and Andrews, 3/7)

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Care Companies Find Some Gifts, Big Risks In Plan To Replace Obamacare
For health-care companies, the new House Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act carries significant risks, as it would likely mean a decline in insured patients and continued worries about an unstable market. Insurers, hospitals and medical-device manufacturers are still parsing the details of the draft legislation, which could change considerably as it moves through the House and Senate, and they are applauding moves like the elimination of some taxes. But the proposal’s pullbacks on Medicaid and federal insurance subsidies could significantly reduce the number of people with health coverage over time, analysts and industry officials said, a serious problem for health-care providers and insurers. (Wilde Mathews and Evans, 3/7)

USA Today: GOP Obamacare Repeal And Replacement Plan Riles Patients, Hospitals
The long-awaited House Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act will hurt low-income consumers who rely on federal subsidies or Medicaid for their coverage, as well as the hospitals who are required to treat them whether or not they are insured, health care experts say. It's harder to find the winners under the new bill, a joint effort by House Republicans including Speaker Paul Ryan. (O'Donnell, 3/7)

The New York Times: G.O.P. Health Bill Faces Revolt From Conservative Forces
After seven years of waiting longingly to annul President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, Republican leaders on Tuesday faced a sudden revolt from the right that threatened their proposal to remake the American health care system. The much-anticipated House plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act also drew skepticism from some of the party’s more moderate members, whose constituents have benefited from expanded coverage in recent years. (Steinhauer, 3/7)

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Health Plan Sparks Debate Over Obamacare Comparisons
House Republicans are facing swift criticism that their sweeping plan to repeal and overhaul large swaths of the Affordable Care Act is too similar to the law it would replace. “Obamacare 2.0,” tweeted Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan. “This is Obamacare-lite,” said Jason Pye, public policy and legislative affairs director at FreedomWorks, a conservative group associated with the tea party movement. (Armour, 3/8)

The Washington Post: House GOP Proposal To Replace Obamacare Sparks Broad Backlash
The most imminent and serious threat to the plan crafted by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) was the growing backlash from conservative lawmakers and powerful outside groups who argue that the draft is nothing more than “Obamacare Lite,” a disparaging reference to the former president’s signature 2010 domestic achievement. The lawmakers do not represent a majority of Republicans in either chamber of Congress, but there could be enough of them to scuttle any health-care bill they oppose — and several said Tuesday they intend to use that leverage to force major changes to the measures. (DeBonis, Costa and Weigel, 3/7)

The Associated Press: Conservative Backlash Threatens To Sink New GOP Health Bill
A powerful conservative backlash threatened to sink the new Republican health care bill Tuesday less than 24 hours after its launch, even as President Donald Trump and congressional leaders began trying to sell the legislation as the long-promised GOP cure for “Obamacare.” “We’re going to do something that’s great and I’m proud to support the replacement plan released by the House of Representatives,” Trump declared at the White House as he met with the House GOP vote-counting team Tuesday. “We’re going to take action. There’s going to be no slowing down. There’s going to be no waiting and no more excuses by anybody.” (Werner and Fram, 3/7)

The Wall Street Journal: GOP’s Health Plan Draws Skepticism On Capitol Hill
Opposition from conservative lawmakers and activist groups could derail the party’s highly prized bid to replace the Affordable Care Act. That could challenge Mr. Trump to decide whether to enter the fray explicitly and become the negotiator-in-chief he had styled himself as on the campaign trail, and if so, when to deploy himself in that capacity. White House officials said they were unfazed by the blowback, and that negotiations could resolve lingering objections from lawmakers they assume are ultimately unwilling to torpedo their chance to repeal the law. (Radnofsky, son and Huges, 3/7)

The Washington Post: The Three GOP Factions That Could Doom Republicans’ Obamacare Replacement Bill
As they roll out their Obamacare replacement plan, Republicans are quickly finding out what Democrats learned eight years ago: Even if you win control of Congress and the White House, there are still plenty of obstacles to passing laws that, in principle, your whole party agrees with. Several factions within the Republican Party don't like some key details about this new health-care plan. In fact, there's enough opposition that these Republicans could derail the bill as it stands. It's something President Trump appeared to acknowledge when he offered up in a tweet Tuesday morning the opportunity for “review and negotiation.” (Phillips, 3/7)

Politico: Ryan Disappoints His Friends With Obamacare Replacement Bill
House Speaker Paul Ryan has long been the darling of conservative policy wonks. But on one of the biggest days of his political career, when House Republicans released their much-anticipated Obamacare replacement, many of Ryan's closest friends in conservative intelligentsia expressed disappointment — if not outright dismay — with the legislation bearing the speaker's imprimatur. (Johnson, 3/8)

The Washington Post: Whip Count: Here’s Where Skeptical Republicans Stand On The GOP’s Obamacare Replacement 
To get their version of an Obamacare replacement through Congress and onto President Trump's desk, Republicans need only a simple majority in both chambers to approve it. But even that could be difficult. The magic number in the House of Representatives is 218, and in the Senate 50. Republicans conceivably have enough lawmakers to get to those majorities, but not by much. Assuming no Democrats support the bill, Republicans can lose only 21 votes in the House and just two in the Senate. (Phillips, 3/7)

Politico: Pelosi's Last Stand: Saving Obamacare
Nancy Pelosi stands alone. As Republicans prepare to dismantle Obamacare, the longtime House Democratic leader is facing her biggest fight in years, perhaps the biggest since she twisted dozens of Democratic arms to pass the bill in the first place seven years ago. (Caygle and Bresnahan, 3/8)

The Associated Press: Republican Governors Complain About GOP Health Care Plan
Republican governors complain that a GOP proposal to replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law would force millions of lower-income earners off insurance rolls or stick states with the cost of keeping them covered. Governors, especially those from political battleground states, were generally cool to the bill put forth in the Republican-controlled U.S. House. Some signaled that they would continue working on their own legislation to compete with the measure introduced Monday. (Beaumont and Noon, 3/7)

Politico: Trump Moves To Assure Conservatives On Obamacare Replacement Plan
President Donald Trump is moving to quiet conservative opposition to the House GOP Obamacare replacement, drawing on his newfound bully pulpit to pressure but also coax rebellious lawmakers. Trump on Tuesday night turned his massive Twitter following on one of the most vocal opponents of the repeal bill: conservative firebrand Sen. Rand Paul. The Kentucky Republican had blasted Speaker Paul Ryan’s Obamacare alternative as Obamacare-lite. But Trump tweeted, “I feel sure that my friend @RandPaul will come along with the new and great health care program because he knows Obamacare is a disaster!” (Bade and Cheney, 3/7)

Los Angeles Times: Trump Said He Fully Supports The New GOP Health Plan — And House Republicans Plan To Hold Him To It
President Trump said Tuesday that he was “proud” to support House Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, asserting that his party was committed to seeing the plan through. "Obamacare is collapsing," Trump said in remarks at the White House to Republican lawmakers responsible for building support for the plan in Congress. “It’s in bad shape, and we’re going to take action. There’s going to be no slowing down, there’s going to be no waiting and no more excuses by anybody.” (Memoli, 3/7)

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Overhaul Faces Resistance In Congress From Right And Left
Trump’s intervention looks uncertain. While the president embraced “our wonderful new healthcare bill” in an early morning tweet, he also suggested it’s just a starting point “for review and negotiation” — opening the floodgates to alternative ideas and proposals that could take weeks to sort out. Later, in a White House meeting with House Republicans, he offered a stronger endorsement, saying he was "proud to support" their plan and expected it to pass “very quickly.” (Mascaro, 3/7)

The Associated Press: Trump’s Promises Vs. The Republican Plan On Health Care 
President Donald Trump said he was “proud to support” House Republicans’ proposal for replacing the Affordable Care Act,” though he noted that he considered it the first phase of his planned health care overhaul and the beginning of a “negotiation.” It’s not clear exactly how the White House would like to change the bill. Trump has never put forward a detailed health care proposal. Still, he has made plenty of promises on how he will improve the health care system. (Thomas and Lucey, 3/7)

The Associated Press: How To Transform GOP Health Care Plan Into Law
After more than 60 votes and seven years of promises, Republicans offered their long-awaited plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Now, the real work begins. Republicans must navigate a complicated path to turn their 123-page proposal from legislation to law. A look at the process and the politics. (Lerer, 3/8)

The Washington Post: GOP Health Care Bill Compared With Obama-Era Law
At first glance, the new health care bill from House Republicans appears to have similarities to the Obama-era law, like tax credits, protections for people with health problems, and the ability of parents to keep young adults on their insurance. But in most cases those components would work very differently under the GOP framework than is currently the case with the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 3/8)

NPR: 7 Provisions To Watch In T

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