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KHN First Edition: March 22, 2017


First Edition

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Trump’s Promise To Rein In Drug Prices Could Open Dam To Importation Laws
Rachel Bluth reports: "With prescription drug prices soaring and President Donald Trump vowing to take action, an old idea is gaining fresh traction: allowing Americans to buy medicines from foreign pharmacies at far lower prices. A new bill in Congress to allow the practice would modify previous safety standards and remove a barrier that proved insurmountable in past attempts to enable progress." (Bluth, 3/22)

Kaiser Health News: GAO To Launch Investigation Of FDA’s Orphan Drug Program
Sarah Jane Tribble reports: "Acting on a request from three influential U.S. senators, the government’s accountability arm confirmed that it will investigate potential abuses of the Orphan Drug Act. The Government Accountability Office still must determine the full scope of what it will look into and the methodology to be used. Determining the scope will take some months, said Chuck Young, GAO’s managing director for public affairs." (Tribble, 3/21)

Kaiser Health News: A Young Man With Parkinson’s Frets Over The Affordability Of GOP Health Plan
KCUR's Alex Smith reports: "Many millennials have their hands full as they launch into adulthood — jobs, homes and partners. But Ford Inbody, 33, already thinks about a time when he won’t be able to work. He has Parkinson’s disease. Every night after work, he and his wife, Cortney, walk their two dogs through their Overland Park, Kan., neighborhood. For now, going out for an evening’s stroll is easy. But many of their evening conversations revolve around a time they know is coming — when these walks will prove difficult." (Smith, 3/22)

The Associated Press: Trump To GOP: Pass Health Care Bill Or Seal Your Fate
"If we fail to get it done, fail to (meet) the promises made by all of us, including the president, then it could have a very detrimental effect to Republicans in '18 who are running for re-election," said Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas. "If it fails, then there will be a lot of people looking for work in 2018." Trump's message to Republicans: "If you don't pass the bill there could be political costs," said Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. (3/21)

The Washington Post: Trump To GOP Critics Of Health Care Bill: ‘I’m Gonna Come After You’
[Trump] singled out Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, which has led the right-wing opposition to the bill. “I’m gonna come after you, but I know I won’t have to, because I know you’ll vote ‘yes,’ ” Trump said, according to several lawmakers who attended the meeting. “Honestly, a loss is not acceptable, folks.” Trump’s remarks — which Meadows said he took as good-natured ribbing — reflected his mounting urgency to secure a major legislative victory in the early months of his presidency and fulfill a central campaign promise by repealing the signature domestic achievement of President Barack Obama. (DeBonis, Snell and Costa, 3/21)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Warns House GOP To Support Health-Care Bill Or Risk Losing Votes In 2018
Mr. Meadows, whose bloc claims it has enough votes to defeat the bill, said he wasn’t convinced by Mr. Trump—a sign GOP leaders have more work to do to secure the votes needed to pass the bill. “It won’t lower premiums, and until it does, I’m going to be a ‘no,’ even if it sends me home,” Mr. Meadows said of the legislation after the president addressed lawmakers. “As a person, I love him,” said Rep. Rod Blum (R., Iowa), after the president’s presentation. Hearing from Mr. Trump “was a lot of fun. But it didn’t change me at all.” (Armour, son and Hughes, 3/21)

Politico: Trump, GOP Leaders Lack Votes To Pass Obamacare Repeal
Hours after being singled out by Trump over his opposition to the Republican health care plan, Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said his group of conservatives still has the votes to block the bill. Freedom Caucus insiders say the group has 27 members who are firmly against it or leaning "no." (Bade, Bresnahan and Cheney, 3/21)

Los Angeles Times: After A Day Of Trying To Close The Deal, Trump Remains Short On Healthcare Votes
The morning strategy session at the Capitol was the first time in his two months as president that Trump met with almost the full House Republican Conference that was elected with him in November. The membership reflects the disparate coalition of Republicans who aligned to make him their standard-bearer last year. The question for the party now is whether that ideologically diverse group can govern. (Memoli and Mascaro, 3/21)

Los Angeles Times: This Is Where All Of California's House Republicans Stand On The GOP Healthcare Bill
Less than two days before they are scheduled to vote, a handful of California’s 14 Republican members of Congress say they are still weighing how to vote on the GOP plan to undo and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act. California’s 38 House Democrats have lined up pretty firmly against the bill, as have most of the chamber’s Democrats, so Republicans are on their own to pass the bill. House Republicans can afford to lose up to 20 members and still pass it with a simple majority. (Wire, 3/21)

USA Today: Rules Committee To Choreograph House Vote To Kill Obamacare
House Republicans are expected to clear the way Wednesday for a Thursday vote on the GOP’s Obamacare overhaul. “This is our chance and this is our moment,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Tuesday after President Trump made a personal pitch to GOP lawmakers to pass the bill. “I think our members are beginning to appreciate just what kind of a rendezvous with destiny we have right here.” (Groppe, 3/22)

Politico: Trump And The Art Of The Health Deal
President Donald Trump may be hands off when it comes to health policy, but the task of corralling Republicans is right up his alley. His work to close the deal on the GOP bill to repeal Obamacare harks back to his days as a developer who mixed hyperbole with weighty-sounding promises and/or threats to get what he wanted. (Bettelheim and Millman, 3/21)

Politico: Trump's Penchant For Vengeance Casts Shadow On Health Care Vote
For a president with a penchant for vengeance — who named “an eye for an eye” as his favorite biblical passage, who banned media outlets from campaign events when he didn’t approve of their coverage, who after the election ousted a GOP state chairman whom he viewed as disloyal, who just last week reminded a GOP governor who hadn’t endorsed him that “I never forget” — the roll-call vote on the Republican health care plan, expected Thursday, will be the first accounting of who’s with him and who’s against him on Capitol Hill. (Goldmacher, 3/21)

The Associated Press: Ryan's Legacy As Speaker On Line With Health Care Vote
The vote on the Republican health care bill is a defining moment for House Speaker Paul Ryan that could boost his aggressive agenda to overhaul the tax code and remake the federal government. Or send it off the rails. If he fails? "It will be very hard to manage this," the Wisconsin Republican told reporters ahead of Thursday's likely vote. (3/22)

The Wall Street Journal: Ryan’s Leadership Is Tested By GOP’s Civil War On Health Bill
The test for Mr. Ryan is whether he can make the leap from serving as the architect of conservative policy, a role he played for years as the party’s leading budget author, to the more difficult role of guiding legislation into law. The task is much tougher now than when Republicans passed bills with the knowledge that a Democratic president would veto them. “Everybody understands that we’re dealing with live ammo now,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), a roommate of Mr. Ryan when they served together in the House. (son, 3/21)

The Wall Street Journal: Republicans Work To Repair GOP Divide Over Health-Care Overhaul
The fate of the GOP health-care plan depends largely on whether divided Republicans can decide just how far they want to go in torpedoing the central underpinnings of Affordable Care Act. Conservative Republicans are pressing to swiftly gut most of the law while more moderate GOP members want the federal government to play more of a central role in helping people obtain coverage. (Armour, 3/21)

Politico: Don’t Count On ‘Third Prong’ Of GOP Health Overhaul
House Republicans chasing the final votes to repeal much of Obamacare are promising hard-liners they'll fix the rest of the health care system with another batch of conservative bills down the road. The hitch is those bills would almost certainly die in the Senate — as several of them have done before. (Demko, 3/21)

Politico: House Democrats' New Obamacare Strategy: Get Out Of The Way
House Democrats have a new plan to tank Paul Ryan’s Obamacare repeal: Get out of the way. Democratic leaders in the House know they’re powerless to stop the GOP’s health care bill. So instead, with a repeal vote looming Thursday, they’re executing a strategic retreat. (Caygle and Schor, 3/22)

Politico: House Obamacare Repeal DOA In The Senate
Forget the House GOP's troubles passing a health care bill. The party's bigger problem looms in the Senate. Mitch McConnell is being tasked with fixing what GOP senators and House members say is a flawed Obamacare repeal proposal — one with little to no chance of passing in that chamber in its current form — in a week’s time. (Everett and Haberkorn, 3/22)

NPR: Medicaid Work Requirement Wouldn't Shrink Spending Much
If you're poor and you want to keep your health insurance, you may have to go to work. That's the message from Republican lawmakers who Monday night released a series of changes to their plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.A key change, designed to help attract votes from conservative Republicans, would let state governors require people to work to qualify for health insurance under Medicaid. (Kodjak, 3/21)

The New York Times: Medicaid Fight Lands In New York, Crossing Party Lines
The governor likened it to an act of war. A Democratic congresswoman called it a brazen case of theft. And a Republican legislative leader suggested it could be a crisis on the level of 9/11. Even as Congress debated a massive and divisive overhaul of the nation’s health care system, a late amendment to the bill seemingly singling out New York’s state government for new financial responsibilities under Medicaid set off a separate political firestorm in the president’s home state, again pitting its Democratic governor against Mr. Trump and his Republican surrogates. (McKinley, 3/21)

The Washington Post Fact Checker: Trump’s Biggest Obamacare Bloopers
President Trump is like a broken record of Pinocchios, incessantly repeating false and misleading claims that have been debunked. As Congress debates the Republican replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act, Trump has been on a greatest-hits tour of his favorite, and questionable, claims about Obamacare. We compiled a round-up of his most notable claims from the past week. (Lee and Kessler, 3/22)

The Associated Press Fact Check: Trump's Claim Of Fleeing Doctors Rings False
Making the case for a Republican repeal and replacement of his predecessor's health care law, President Donald Trump reached for a dire-sounding argument that's unsupported by the data. "Many of our best and brightest are leaving the medical profession entirely because of Obamacare," Trump told his audience at a Monday night rally in Louisville, Kentucky. In fact, the number of doctors in the U.S. actively caring for patients grew from 799,501 in 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, to 860,939 in 2015, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. (3/22)

Los Angeles Times: The GOP Drive To Repeal Obamacare Threatens A Quiet Revolution In How U.S. Cities Care For Their Poor
Over the last four years, this city at the foot of the Rocky Mountains has quietly transformed how it cares for its poorest residents. As hundreds of thousands of Coloradans gained health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, known as or Obamacare, Denver built an extensive new system to keep patients healthy, hiring dozens of mental health specialists and nurses, expanding dental clinics and launching efforts to help patients manage debilitating illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease. (Levey, 3/22)

NPR: Arizona Welcomed Medicaid Expansion, Now Fears Losing Out Under GOP Plan
Connie Dotts is a big fan of her insurance. "I like that we can choose our own doctors," says the 60-year-old resident of Mesa, Ariz. "They also have extensive mental health coverage." Dotts isn't on some pricey plan, either. She's among the nearly 2 million people enrolled in Medicaid in Arizona and one of the more than 400,000 who have signed up since the Republican-led state expanded Medicaid in 2013. (Stone, 3/22)

The Washington Post: FDA OKs New Drug As Add-On Treatment For Parkinson’s
U.S. regulators have approved the first new drug in a decade for Parkinson’s disease, a chronic neurological disorder that causes tremors and movement difficulties. The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that it has approved Xadago for use when a patient’s regular medicines aren’t working well. The pill was tested in two six-month studies that included about 1,200 patients taking a standard treatment, levodopa. (Johnson, 3/21)

The Wall Street Journal: Two Cheers For Biogen’s Court Victory
Biogen scored another intellectual property win for its investors Tuesday, but growth concerns remain. The U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board upheld a key piece of intellectual property on Biogen’s multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera, following a hedge fund’s challenge to its validity. Biogen shares rose Tuesday morning, even as most biotech stocks sold off sharply. (Grant, 3/21)


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