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KHN First Edition: March 16, 2017

KHN

First Edition

Thursday, March 16, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

Kaiser Health News: Obamacare Pushed Nonprofit Hospitals To Do Good Beyond Their Walls. Now What?
Shefali Luthra reports: "Requiring this “community health needs assessment” was part of a broader package of rules included in the health law to ensure that nonprofit hospitals justify the tax exemption they receive. Another directive was that these facilities establish public, written policies about financial assistance available for medically necessary and emergency care and that they comply with limits on what patients who qualify for the aid can be charged." (Luthra, 3/16)

Kaiser Health News: Experimental Stem Cell Treatment Leaves Three Women Blind
Carmen Heredia Rodriguez reports: "An experimental treatment — which blinded three women after stem cells from abdominal fat were injected into their eyes — was advertised on a government-run clinical trial website but lacked proper safeguards, researchers reported Wednesday. The report in the New England Journal of Medicine notes that the procedures were part of a national rise in the number of clinics harnessing stem cells from fat to treat a variety of diseases — even though many have not been proven to work. (Heredia Rodriguez, 3/15)

Kaiser Health News: Where You Live May Determine How You Die. Oregon Leads The Way.
JoNel Aleccia reports: "Americans who want to ensure they have a say in how they die should examine the lessons of Oregon, a new analysis suggests. Seriously ill people in that state are more likely to have their end-of-life wishes honored — including fewer intensive-care hospitalizations and more home hospice enrollments — than those living in neighboring Washington state or the rest of the country." (Aleccia, 3/15)

The Associated Press: GOP Leaders Acknowledge Health Bill Changes, May Delay Vote
Their health care overhaul imperiled from all sides, the White House and top House Republicans acknowledged Wednesday they would make changes to the legislation in hopes of nailing down votes and pushing the party's showpiece legislation through the chamber soon. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., declined to commit to bringing the measure to the House floor next week, a fresh indication of uncertainty. (3/15)

The Washington Post: Ryan: Health Care Plan Must Change To Pass The House 
Speaking after a private meeting of GOP lawmakers, Ryan said that leaders would “incorporate feedback” from the rank-and-file in response to the CBO findings. He did not repeat his previous comments calling support for the bill a “binary choice” for Republican lawmakers. “Now that we have our score we can make some necessary improvements and refinements to the bill,” he said, referring to the CBO’s estimate of the effect on the number of those covered by health insurance and what the GOP proposal would cost. (DeBonis, 3/15)

The Wall Street Journal: Republicans Explore Changes To Health-Care Plan
In conversations with House leaders and administration officials, lawmakers focused on proposed changes to Medicaid, with conservative House Republicans pressing for work requirements and an earlier phaseout of the expansion started under the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Some Senate Republicans also sought to boost the value of tax credits to give more aid to low-income and older people who buy insurance. Others wanted to strike a provision that calls for insurers to charge higher premiums to consumers who let their coverage lapse, a measure intended to encourage people to buy insurance. (Armour, son and Radnofsky, 3/16)

Politico: Ryan, Pence Race To Salvage Obamacare Repeal Amid GOP Dissent
Meanwhile, members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus declared that they believed they had enough commitments from their own allies to kill any attempt by Republican leaders to ram through the current bill without significant changes. They said that they intend to present to leadership an amendment on Friday that they say could unite conservatives and moderates. “It’s up for us, moderates and conservatives, to come together,” said Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows coming out of a Wednesday evening meeting. (Bade, Cheney and Haberkorn, 3/16)

Wall Street Journal: Q&A: What Are The ‘Three Prongs’ In GOP’s Obamacare Repeal-And-Replace Effort?
Republican leaders have been talking about a three-part approach to reworking the U.S. health-care system in recent days. What does that mean and why are they doing it? On Tuesday afternoon alone, White House press secretary Sean Spicer repeatedly described “three prongs” and Vice President Mike Pence talked about a “multi-step process” within minutes of each other. (Radnofsky, 3/15)

Los Angeles Times: Here's Why The GOP Is Struggling To Come Up With A New Healthcare Plan: That Wasn't The Goal
The tribulations now facing Republicans are not hard to understand: The party never set out to revamp the nation’s healthcare system. That was always a Democratic pursuit. Republicans simply wanted to repeal Obamacare, which they saw as a costly government intrusion. Only after they took the White House and it became apparent that millions of Americans would lose their health coverage under a straightforward repeal did Republicans begin to take seriously the “replace” part of their campaign promise. (Mascaro, 3/15)

Politico: House Conservative Face Robocalls Urging Support For Obamacare Replacement
American Action Network, the nonprofit aligned with House GOP leadership, is launching a pressure campaign aimed at conservative House members lawmakers who have been reluctant to support the leadership-backed plan to replace Obamacare. (Cheney, 3/16)

Politico: Price Dodges On Medicaid Rollback, Immunization
Confronted by Medicaid recipients during a televised town hall event on CNN, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price offered few details Wednesday when asked to explain the reasoning behind the GOP's plan to roll back the health care program. The town hall got off to a confrontational start when several attendees, who identified themselves as Medicaid recipients through the Affordable Care Act's expansion, questioned the logic behind the push by House Republicans to revamp and reduce Medicaid. (Lima, 3/16)

The New York Times: Trump Urges Supporters To Unite Behind G.O.P. Health Plan
President Trump made a plea on Wednesday for his supporters to unite behind the Republican plan to overhaul Americans’ health care as the only way to squelch Democratic attempts to scuttle the plan. At the same time, facing resistance to the bill from within his own party, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said it would be refined and improved. “We want Americans to be able to purchase the health insurance plans they want, not the plans forced on them by our government,” Mr. Trump told about 10,000 supporters at the Municipal Auditorium in downtown Nashville. (Davis, 3/15)

Reuters: Trump Barnstorms To Push Healthcare Plan; Signs Of Conservative Support
Trump used campaign-like language in his Wednesday night speech, pledging "to repeal and replace horrible, disastrous Obamacare." Speaking to reporters aboard presidential plane Air Force One after the rally, Trump expressed optimism about his plan's chances in Congress. "We're going to come up with something. We always do," he said. (3/15)

The Associated Press: High Stakes For Trump On GOP Health Care Bill
As a new president who has vowed to keep his campaign promises, Donald Trump knows he'll be judged on whether he can repeal the so-called Obamacare law and replace it with something new. Dealing with skepticism from conservatives and moderates alike, the White House is considering changes to the bill that might reassure conservatives, all in an effort to muscle through the GOP-backed health care plan in the House next week. (3/16)

The New York Times: Putting The Republicans’ Health Plan On The Obamacare Scale
President Trump and Republicans in Congress have pummeled the Affordable Care Act, complaining of high deductibles, soaring premiums and a shrinking menu of options for consumers. But does the Republican alternative solve these problems, or does it exacerbate them? A report this week from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office provides some answers. (Pear, 3/15)

The New York Times: One Certainty Of G.O.P. Health Plan: Tax Cuts For The Wealthy
The House Republicans’ plan to replace the Affordable Care Act is messy and confusing. No one is sure exactly how Americans will be affected and how much more health insurance will cost them. But there are two certainties. Their health care plan provides a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. And it will make it easier for Republicans to pass more tax cuts this year. It could also be viewed by some people as a break from some of the populist campaign promises President Trump made to lift up the country’s “forgotten men and women.” (Rappeport, 3/15)

The Associated Press: GOP Health Plan: Tax Cuts For Rich; Hits Older People Hard
The House Republican health care plan backed by President Donald Trump provides billions of dollars in tax cuts for wealthy families and insurance companies, but it hits older Americans hard with higher insurance premiums and smaller tax credits. In all, the bill provides $883 billion in tax relief by repealing almost all of the taxes enacted under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, according to estimates by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the official tax scorekeeper for Congress. (3/16)

The Washington Post Fact Checker: The Claim That The Medical-Device Tax Led To The Loss Of 20,000 U.S. Jobs
The GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act would repeal most new taxes in the current health-care law, or Obamacare. Among those taxes is the 2.3 percent medical-device tax, which has faced criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. Lawmakers have attributed all sorts of negative impacts to this law, and we’ve fact-checked some of those claims in the past. A two-year moratorium of the tax, which took effect in 2013, started in December 2015. (Lee, 3/16)

The Washington Post: The Long (And Surprisingly Happy) Life Of Nancy Pelosi’s ‘Pass The Bill’ Gaffe
On Tuesday afternoon, Sean Spicer made up a quote from Nancy Pelosi, and nobody complained. In 2010, famously, then-House Speaker Pelosi (D-Calif.) told the National Association of Counties that the Affordable Care Act would become appreciated when it finally became law. “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy,” she said. Spicer remembered it differently. “Anyone in the country and anyone in the world, could read it,” he said of the GOP's American Health Care Act. “That's a vastly different approach than after it's being done, told, after we pass it you can read it, which is what Speaker Pelosi said.” Nobody corrected him, but why would they? (Weigel, 3/15)

The Washington Post: More Re-Enrolled For ACA Health Plans For 2017, Though Total Sign-Ups Fell
More than 12 million Americans chose health plans for this year through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces, according to new federal data that show an increase in the number of returning customers and a significant drop in new participants. The numbers released Wednesday morning, a final report on the most recent enrollment season for ACA coverage, echo preliminary findings last month that the number of people signing up for health plans declined for the first time since the marketplaces opened three years ago. (Goldstein, 3/15)

The Wall Street Journal: Health Plan Enrollment On ACA Exchanges Drops Off In 2017
The enrollment total declined slightly from 2016, when 12.7 million people purchased health plans during that year’s open-enrollment period. About 31% of enrollees were buying plans on the exchanges for the first time. The decline, analysts said, was partially due to rising premiums and waning insurer participation in the program, which may have deterred many of the young consumers whom former President Barack Obama was attempting to woo in his final days in office. (Hackman, 3/15)

The Washington Post: Trump’s Budget Calls For Seismic Disruption In Medical And Science Research
President Trump’s budget calls for a seismic disruption in government-funded medical and scientific research. The cuts are deep and broad. They also go beyond what many political observers expected. Trump had made clear that he would target the Environmental Protection Agency, but the budget blueprint calls for a startling downsizing of agencies that historically have received steady bipartisan support. The National Institutes of Health, for example, would be cut by nearly $6 billion, about a fifth of the NIH budget. (Achenbach, 3/16)

The Washington Post: NIH Would See Huge Budget Cut Under President’s Proposal
The agency passes out more than 80 percent of its money to more than 300,000 researchers at universities across the country and abroad. It also has hundreds of researchers conducting studies in labs at its sprawling campus in Bethesda, Md. Its world-renowned clinical center treats patients from around the world seeking last-chance cures and volunteers testing cutting-edge therapies. (Bernstein, 3/16)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Budget Seeks Big Cuts To Environment, Arts, Foreign Aid
The budget’s main focus is the $54 billion defense boost over budget caps set under current law. It also revisits many themes Mr. Trump set out during the presidential race, including setting aside funding for a southern border wall—and lawyers to obtain land along the border needed for the wall—school choice, the nation’s nuclear arsenal, veterans’ health and treatment of opioid addiction. (Sparshott and Mann, 3/16)

NPR: Trump Travel Ban Throws A Wrench In Medical Residency Programs
Dr. Amin Rabiei knew he wanted to work in medicine from an early age. When he was growing up in Iran, he watched his dad experience seizures and his mom struggle to help. Rabiei went on to medical school in Iran, then practiced at a rural clinic there, all the while working toward an important career point that culminates Friday: Getting matched to a medical residency training program in the United States. (Gordon, 3/16)

Los Angeles Times: Claiming Momentum Is On Their Side, California Lawmakers Try Again To Require More Transparency On Drug Prices
California Democrats, labor unions, health insurers and consumer advocacy groups — along with newly joined backer Tom Steyer, the billionaire activist — are restarting their effort to shed more light on prescription drug prices after a similar measure sputtered last year. State Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) unveiled his new bill at a Capitol news conference Wednesday. (Mason, 3/15)


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