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KHN First Edition: March 17, 2017


First Edition

Friday, March 17, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Do You Speak ‘Repeal And Replace’?
President Donald Trump and many congressional Republicans campaigned on repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with their own plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system. As the GOP develops its offering, its representatives are tossing around wonky health policy terms to describe their core strategies. Want to know what it all means? (3/17)

Kaiser Health News: $89,000 Orphan Drug Gets A New Owner — And Likely A New Price
Sarah Jane Tribble reports: "Marathon Pharmaceuticals’ controversial $89,000-a-year drug that has drawn outrage from patients and intense questioning from Congress is getting a new owner. After striking a deal Wednesday evening, PTC Therapeutics announced plans early Thursday to buy the Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug Emflaza from Marathon for $140 million in cash and stock. The drug’s new price was not announced." (Tribble, 3/16)

Kaiser Health News: A Health Reporter Walks Into Reagan National Airport … 
Phil Galewitz writes: "Flying out of Reagan National Airport on Wednesday, I was expecting a short reprieve from the issue that has consumed my work in health journalism for eight years — the Affordable Care Act and, lately, Republican efforts to replace it. The voyage turned into anything but, with some unexpected close encounters." (Galewitz, 3/16)

The Wall Street Journal: House Republican Health Plan Advances In Congress
House Republican leaders on Thursday moved one step closer to passing legislation replacing much of the Affordable Care Act, as the House Budget Committee approved the bill despite opposition from the panel’s most conservative members. The 19-17 committee vote moved the bill closer to debate in the full House, which could begin as early as next week. But the “no’’ votes from three conservative Republicans signaled that the bill still faces challenges in the chamber. (Hackman, son and Armour, 3/16)

USA Today: Budget Committee OKs Obamacare Repeal Over Objections From Conservatives
Reps. Dave Brat, R-Va., Mark Sanford, R-S.C., and Gary Palmer, R-Ala., joined Democrats and voted against moving the legislation forward. The three lawmakers are all members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of roughly 40 hardline conservatives who have criticized the bill in its current form, mostly on the grounds that it does not go far enough in repealing Obamacare and does not do so quickly enough. (Collins, 3/16)

The New York Times: Trump And G.O.P. Work To Win Repeal Of Obama’s Health Act
President Trump and House Republican leaders worked Thursday to win conservative support for legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, offering concessions to speed cutbacks in Medicaid and dismantle more of President Barack Obama’s signature health law. But in a bid to ensure passage of the Republican health care bill in the House, White House and Republican leaders risked losing support in more moderate quarters of their party — not only in the narrowly divided Senate, but in an increasingly nervous House. (Pear and Martin, 3/16)

The New York Times: Trump And Ryan: Health Bill May Test Marriage Of Convenience
President Trump, once the master pitchman for namesake vodka, steaks and now-moldering casinos, seems disinclined to attach his surname to the health care bill some allies have derided as “Ryancare.” He assured Americans on Thursday of the “improvements being made” to legislation that Speaker Paul D. Ryan initially suggested would scarcely change, amid grumblings that the White House is fuming over the plan’s star-crossed rollout. (Flegenheimer and Haberman, 3/17)

The Associated Press: Health Bill Short Of Votes, GOP Leaders Look To Trump
Short of votes for their health care bill, Republican congressional leaders turned to President Donald Trump on Thursday to wrangle support for the divisive legislation they hope to push through Congress before Easter. But Trump sounded more like he was at the start of a negotiation than ready to close the deal. And combined with opposition from Republicans of all stripes, the president’s flexible stance suggested final passage of the bill could be delayed, potentially exposing the legislation to the same kind of extended public backlash that undermined former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act from the start. (Werner and Fram, 3/16)

The Associated Press: Wheels Spinning As GOP Looks For Traction On Health Bill
Pulling in different directions, Republicans are striving to get traction for a health care overhaul in danger of being dragged down by intra-party differences. Some GOP governors weighed in Thursday evening in a letter to congressional leaders saying the House bill gives them almost no new flexibility and lacks sufficient resources to protect the vulnerable. (3/17)

The Associated Press: GOP Senator Complicates Trump, Ryan Efforts On Health Care
One of the loudest critics of GOP health legislation is not a Democrat or even a conservative rebel, but a Republican loyalist and staunch defender of President Donald Trump. Freshman Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas is not known for clashing with leadership or plotting with conservative trouble-makers in the House, as Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas are wont to do. Instead the 39-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran, the nation's youngest senator, has carved out a hawkish and bold profile on foreign policy that many see as a platform for a future presidential run. (3/17)

Politico: Collins: I Can’t Vote For GOP Health Bill In Current Form
Sen. Susan Collins on Thursday said she couldn’t back the House GOP’s Obamacare repeal-and-replace legislation, an expected — if crucial — defection for Republicans trying to corral enough votes to enact a repeal bill. “This is not a bill I could support in its current form,” Collins told the Portland Press Herald, saying the American Health Care Act’s coverage cuts go too far. (Diamond, 3/16)

NPR: Low-Income, Elderly, And Disabled Likely To Be Hit Hard By GOP Medicaid Cuts
Many in Texas are keeping a close eye on the Republican bid to replace the Affordable Care Act. One of the big changes is how it would affect low-income people, seniors, and people with disabilities who get help from Medicaid. And people on both sides of the political spectrum say the Lone Star State is not going to fare well. (Lopez, 3/17)

The Wall Street Journal: Insurers See Health-Care Premiums Increasing Significantly In 2018
Republicans seeking to overhaul the Affordable Care Act face growing signs that there could be big increases in premiums for individual plans next year, which poses a challenge as the lawmakers try to rally support for the replacement legislation. According to a nonpartisan report released by the Congressional Budget Office on Monday, the House Republicans’ bill, known as the American Health Care Act, could raise premiums by 15% to 20% for individual plans in 2018, compared with rates without the bill. (Wilde Mathews, 3/16)

The New York Times: Scientists Bristle At Trump Budget’s Cuts To Research
Before he became president, Donald J. Trump called climate change a hoax, questioned the safety of vaccines and mocked renewable energy as a plaything of “tree-huggers.” So perhaps it is no surprise that Mr. Trump’s first budget took direct aim at basic scientific and medical research. Still, the extent of the cuts in the proposed budget unveiled early Thursday shocked scientists, researchers and program administrators. (Fountain and Schwartz, 3/16)

The Associated Press: Trump Budget Would Force Tough Choices In Disease Research
What goes on the chopping block: Research into cancer or Alzheimer’s? A Zika vaccine or a treatment for superbugs? Health groups say President Donald Trump’s proposal to slash funds for the nation’s engine of biomedical research would be devastating for patients with all kinds of diseases — and for jobs. (Neergaard, 3/16)

NPR: Trump Administration Proposes Big Cuts In Medical Research
Funding from the National Institutes of Health flows to more than 2,600 institutions around the country and creates more than 313,000 full- and part-time jobs, according to a 2016 study. So it's not obvious how slashing billions from the NIH budget, as the Trump administration proposes, will bring more jobs to America. (Harris and Stein, 3/16)

The Washington Post: Science And Medicine Leaders Say Trump Budget Would Be Dire For U.S.
“This is not a budget that’s designed to make America first,” Rush Holt, chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, told The Washington Post. His organization issued a statement warning that the cuts, if implemented, would “cripple the science and technology enterprise.” In the interview with The Post, Holt said the Trump budget blueprint is only the first step in the budgetary process and that, historically, science and medicine have enjoyed bipartisan support from appropriators on the Hill. But this was a rough morning for some people, he said. (Achenbach, 3/16)

The Washington Post: Trump Said He Wanted More Miracle Drugs. His Budget Could Make Funding Them Dramatically Harder.
At his inauguration, President Trump said the country was on the cusp of a revolutionary moment, ready "to free the Earth from the miseries of disease.” Last month, he doubled down on that vision in his address to Congress, speaking of the “marvels” Americans could achieve under his presidency. Item one was miraculous new medicines: “Cures to the illnesses that have always plagued us are not too much to hope,” he said. On Thursday, Trump announced a budget proposal that could turn the flow of innovation that underlies new medicines to a trickle. (Johnson, 3/16)

Los Angeles Times: 20% Cut To NIH Budget Would Leave Americans More Vulnerable To Cancer And Other Diseases, Experts Warn
“This is just a terrible proposal,” said Jon Retzlaff, chief policy officer of the American Assn. for Cancer Research. “To see a proposal that would gut NIH by 20% — that would put us back to the year 2000 in terms of funding. We’re astonished and dumbfounded. ”Noting that cancer research has “had so much momentum,” Retzlaff said that cuts of the magnitude proposed “will absolutely slow research” that could lead to new ways to prevent and treat the nation’s No. 2 killer, which claimed the lives of an estimated 595,690 Americans in 2016. (Healy, 3/16)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Budget Likely To See Major Rewrite In Congress
Republicans were quick to lodge objections on Thursday to President Donald Trump’s budget plans, many of which trim away smaller programs that help the sort of local communities he vowed to rejuvenate during the campaign. The response suggests Mr. Trump’s first blueprint for federal spending, like many before his, is likely to undergo a major rewrite by Congress. (Mann, Chinni and Hughes, 3/16)

NPR: U.S. Could Drive Down Drug Prices By Exercising Patent Rights
Rising drug prices are one of the biggest challenges in health care in the United States. More people are using prescription drugs on a regular basis, and the costs of specialty drugs are rising faster than inflation. President Donald Trump has promised over and over again to drive down drug prices. ... But Trump already has a weapon he could deploy to cut the prices of at least some expensive medications. (Kodjak, 3/16)

Politico: The General Who Went To War On Suicide
On the evening of July 19, 2010, Major General Dana Pittard, the new commander of Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, got a call from the base’s 24-hour duty officer. A SWAT team had been sent to the house of a young sergeant named Robert Nichols. Nichols was inside with a gun, threatening to kill himself. Pittard arrived at the soldier’s home just in time to see the soldier step out of the house, put the gun to his chest and fire. Neighbors and police crowded the street, but Pittard was the only officer from the Army base at the scene. He went home, where his boxes were still packed from his move 10 days before, feeling disturbed and helpless. (Hattem, 3/17)

The Washington Post: Drugs Are Killing So Many People In Ohio That Cold-Storage Trailers Are Being Used As Morgues
By about 3 p.m. Friday, a county morgue in east Ohio was already full — and more bodies were expected. Rick Walters, an investigator for the Stark County coroner's office, had just left for two death scenes: a suicide and an overdose. From the road, he called the director of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency to ask for help. He needed more space, he explained — specifically, a cold-storage trailer to act as an overflow morgue. (Phillips, 3/16)

The Associated Press: Meningitis Outbreak: Murder Or Public Health Tragedy?
Was it murder or a tragic public health outbreak?Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the trial of a former executive charged in a 2012 U.S. meningitis outbreak offered jurors opposing theories Thursday about a public health crisis that killed 64 people and injured about 700 others in 20 states. (Lavoie, 3/16)

The New York Times: What Young People Need To Know About Colon Cancer
Sarah DeBord was 24 when she first noticed blood in her stool. She saw a gastroenterologist who did a procedure called a flexible sigmoidoscopy to examine her lower colon and rectum, then gave her a diagnosis of hemorrhoids. “I don’t see any hemorrhoids, but that’s probably what it is,” Ms. DeBord recalled the doctor saying. (Rabin, 3/16)

The Associated Press: Michigan Governor Will Drop Lead Limit Below Fe

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