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KHN First Edition: March 23, 2017


First Edition

Thursday, March 23, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: GOP Health Plan Aims To Curb Medicaid, Expand State Options
For all its populist design, the House GOP’s latest proposal to overhaul federal Medicaid funding creates financial risks for states and could leave some enrollees worse off. Dramatic changes in Medicaid are a big part of the House bill to partially repeal the Affordable Care Act that’s steaming toward a floor vote scheduled for Thursday. Big revisions were made to the legislation this week to appeal to conservatives pushing to reduce federal Medicaid spending and shift more power to states. (Galewitz, 3/22)

Kaiser Health News: Medicaid Caps Pitched By GOP Could Shrink Seniors’ Benefits
But advocates for the elderly now worry that [Carmencita] Misa and other low-income seniors who receive long-term care in facilities or at home could see their benefits shrink or disappear under Republican-proposed legislation to cap federal Medicaid contributions to states. The proposal is part of a broader GOP plan to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. (O'Neill, 3/22)

Kaiser Health News: By Decade’s End, California Estimates It Would Lose $24 Billion Annually Under GOP Health Plan
California would lose $24.3 billion annually in federal funding by 2027 for low-income health coverage under the current Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, according to a state analysis released Wednesday. The bill, up for a vote in the House on Thursday, represents a “massive and significant fiscal shift” from the federal to state governments by setting caps on Medicaid spending, reducing the amount of money available for new enrollees and eliminating other funding for hospitals and Planned Parenthood, the analysis said. (Gorman, 3/23)

Kaiser Health News/RINPR: How Millennials Win And Lose Under The GOP Health Bill
[Luke Franco is] a member of the millennial generation. They represent more than a quarter of the nation’s population. These are people loosely defined as 18 to 34 years old, and they figure prominently in the health care debate. How they fare under the GOP health care bill going through Congress is complicated. (Gourlay, 3/22)

California Healthline: In Deep-Blue State, Millions In Reddish Heartland Are Counting On Medicaid
Under Republican efforts to repeal, replace or reform the health law, many people on Medicaid — the nation’s single-largest insurer, with 72 million beneficiaries — could see their coverage slashed. The biggest chunk of them — 13.5 million — live in California. The state predicted Wednesday it could lose $24 billion in federal funding annually by 2027 under the current GOP proposal. Among the hardest hit regions would be the Central Valley, the state’s agricultural heartland, stretching hundreds of miles from Redding to Bakersfield. (Ibarra and de Marco, 3/22)

Kaiser Health News/KUT: Texas Braces For Medicaid Cuts Under GOP Health Plan
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 all get help from Medicaid. And Texans on both sides of the political spectrum say the Lone Star State is not going to fare well. As the GOP bill, the American Health Care Act, works its way through Congress, Anne Dunkelberg, with the left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, said she’s a little stumped. (Lopez, 3/23)

Kaiser Health News/KJZZ: Repeal Of Health Law Could Force Tough Decisions For Arizona Republicans
Connie Dotts is a big fan of her insurance. “I like that we can choose our own doctors,” said 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 2014. (Stone, 3/23)

ProPublica/KHN: A Fact Check Finds Many Misleading Letters From Lawmakers On Health Care
When Louisiana resident Andrea Mongler wrote to her senator, Bill Cassidy, in support of the Affordable Care Act, she wasn’t surprised to get an email back detailing the law’s faults. Cassidy, a Republican who is also a physician, has been a vocal critic. “Obamacare” he wrote in January, “does not lower costs or improve quality, but rather it raises taxes and allows a presidentially handpicked ‘Health Landing PagesChoices Commissioner’ to determine what coverage and treatments are available to you.” (Ornstein, 3/22)

Kaiser Health News: On The Air With KHN
Kaiser Health News reporters have gone on television and radio shows in recent weeks to help explain the politics and policy at stake in the debate over a Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Catch up here on all the chatter. (3/22)

The Associated Press: GOP Health Bill On The Brink Hours From House Showdown Vote
The stakes could hardly be higher for a party that gained monopoly control of Washington largely on promises to get rid of former President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement and replace it with something better. Now Republicans are staring at the possibility of failure at the very moment of truth, an outcome that would be a crushing political defeat for Trump and Hill GOP leaders and would throw prospects for other legislative achievements into extreme uncertainty. (Werner and Alonso-Zaldivar, 3/23)

NPR: Fate Of Republican Health Care Bill Unclear Heading Into Final Hours
Republicans will be tested today on the strength of party unity in the Trump era and their party's ability to deliver on the promises they've made to the voters that sent them here. "This is our chance and this is our moment. It's a big moment," House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters earlier this week. "And I think our members are beginning to appreciate just what kind of a 'rendezvous with destiny' we have right here." (Davis, 3/23)

The Washington Post: GOP Health-Care Plan Hangs In Balance As Conservatives Demand Changes
The Republican health-care overhaul spearheaded by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) and backed by President Trump hung in the balance Wednesday, as the White House signaled at the 11th hour a willingness to rework the measure to mollify conservatives. After insisting for weeks that the changes sought by hard-right members would render the bill unable to pass the Senate, White House officials and GOP House leaders appeared to shift their thinking — and opponents agreed to keep working on a deal with the goal of holding a floor vote in the House by Thursday night. (DeBonis, Eilperin, Weigel, 3/23)

Politico: House Rules To Resume Work On Obamacare Repeal Thursday Morning
The House Rules Committee recessed late Wednesday after more than 13 hours of deliberations without finalizing a rule for debating House Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill, after key parts of the legislation remained in flux. The committee will reconvene Thursday, Chairman Pete Sessions said. The panel gave lawmakers the authority to consider any health care bill through Monday. (Pradhan, 3/23)

The New York Times: Leaders Struggle To Unite House Republicans Behind Health Bill
The House bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act faced an uncertain fate on Wednesday as conservative Republicans pushed to eliminate federal requirements that health insurance plans provide certain benefits to consumers. House Republican leaders met with members of their party late into the night on Wednesday as they struggled to muster support for the bill, scheduled for a vote on the House floor on Thursday. (Pear and Kaplan, 3/23)

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Lawmakers Struggle To Unite On Health Bill
The GOP plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, backed by President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, remained in jeopardy Wednesday after a day of intense negotiations among Republicans showed signs of rallying conservatives behind the bill while driving away more centrist lawmakers. Ahead of a planned vote by the House on Thursday, Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, as well as other senior administration officials, huddled with lawmakers through the day on proposed changes to the bill. (son, Hughes and Andrews, 3/22)

USA Today: 8 GOP House Members Whose Votes On Health Care Will Be Crucial
With Democrats united against the GOP's American Health Care Act, the key votes will come from Republicans — mainly from moderates who fear the legislation will harm senior citizens and low-income families and from hard-line conservatives who aren't convinced that it goes far enough in getting rid of government subsidies and regulations. ... Here's a look at eight GOP House members whose votes will be crucial in deciding the outcome. (Kelly and Collins, 3/23)

The Associated Press: Obama Health Law's 'Essential Benefits' May Be In Jeopardy
Scrambling to nail down votes for the health care overhaul legislation, Republicans are considering ways to ease federal requirements that insurers cover such basic services as prescription drugs, maternity care and substance abuse treatment. Lawmakers emerging from a meeting late Wednesday of the conservative Freedom Caucus said "essential health benefits" are in play as party leaders and the White House explore ways to advance the bill. But undermining the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) benefits is likely to trigger a backlash from patient groups and doctors. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 3/23)

Politico: Inside Trump’s Last-Ditch Bid To Avoid A Health Care Disaster
With one day to go until the biggest vote of his brief presidency, [President Donald] Trump is using all the trappings of his office to try to clinch the needed 215 votes. It’s unclear whether it will be enough to save the legislation. But late Wednesday, the White House floated a major change to the bill in a bid to win over roughly three dozen House conservatives. It was over the same issue [Rep. Steve] King had raised in the White House meeting earlier in the day. (Bade, Bresnahan and Cheney, 3/22)

The Washington Post: What The Freedom Caucus Wants In The GOP Health-Care Bill, And Why It’s Not Getting It
The Republican health-care bill stood in a legislative Catch-22 late Wednesday, held hostage to demands that the White House and Republican leaders wish that they could grant but insist that they cannot. The captors in this instance are the members of the House Freedom Caucus, the group of roughly three dozen conservative hard-liners who have tried to bend the GOP bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act toward the right and have now coalesced around one major demand — that the American Health Care Act, as the GOP bill is titled, must repeal more of the ACA’s insurance mandates to truly lower premiums. (DeBonis, 3/22)

Politico: White House Shift To Right On Health Care Angers Moderates
The Republican push to replace Obamacare – backed forcefully by President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan —is in jeopardy, as a last-ditch bid by the White House to win conservative support late Wednesday appeared to repel moderates. Moderate Republicans huddled with Speaker Paul Ryan and House leaders for nearly two hours Wednesday night but emerged without consensus. Immediately after exiting the meeting, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), leader of the House’s moderate Tuesday Group, panned the bill, known as the American Health Care Act. (Cheney, Bade and Bresnahan, 3/22)

NPR: GOP Health Care Plan Championed By President Trump Hurts Counties That Voted For Him
The Affordable Care Act replacement plan championed by President Trump would hurt low-income people in rural areas that voted heavily for the Republican last fall, according to an NPR analysis of data on proposed subsidy changes from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The new changes in tax credits and subsidies for older Americans are a big reason many Republicans are hesitant to get behind the American Health Care Act, which is set for a vote in the House on Thursday. (Taylor, Park, Fisher and Hurt, 3/22)

USA Today: The House Health Care Battle: What's At Stake?
The bill, as it stands, would replace swaths of the Affordable Care Act, a signature legacy achievement of President Barack Obama. It would eliminate requirements that individuals maintain health insurance at all times and that larger companies provide it to employees, while keeping provisions allowing children to stay on their parents' plans until age 26 and prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. But it would also reduce tax credits for individuals buying private insurance, as well as the amount of money provided to states for Medicaid. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted last week that it would also increase the number of uninsured Americans by as many as 24 million over the next 10 years. (Korte and Slack, 3/22)

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Repeal Threatens Health Programs Just As They're Starting To Work
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. Now, the model is in jeopardy, just as Denver and other cities nationwide are beginning to reap its benefits. (Levey, 3/22)

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Care Bill Would Bring Big Changes To Medicaid
Changes to Medicaid included in the House Republican health-care bill would usher in the biggest structural overhaul ever to a program that covers roughly one in five Americans, or more than 70 million people. The bill, if passed by both chambers, would transform an entitlement program, in which everyone who qualifies has a right to health coverage, into a system where that is no longer guaranteed. (Armour, 3/22)

The Associated Press: Republican Health Bill Would Widen America's Big Wealth Gap
House Republicans' health care bill provides massive tax cuts to the wealthy while increasing taxes for many lower income families, adding to America's big income gap between the rich and everyone else. Over the past quarter century, only one group of people has seen significant increases in income — those at the very top. Families in the middle or at the bottom of the economic ladder have seen little or no increase in wages. (Ohlemacher, 3/23)

The Associated Press: Retirement Dreams Fizzle For Some With 'Obamacare' Repeal
Workers dreaming of early retirement are getting the jitters as Washington debates replacing the Obama-era health care law with a system that could be a lot more expensive for many older Americans. The uncertainty over the cost of coverage in the individual market has caused some in their 50s and early 60s to put plans on hold. Others who already left jobs with health benefits before reaching Medicare age are second-guessing their move to self-employment. (Johnson, 3/22)

The Washington Post: There’s Yet Another Tax Benefit For The Wealthy Buried In The Republican Health Plan
The Republican health plan would allow Americans to put a larger slice of their paycheck into tax-exempt accounts for paying their health-care bills, but while the plan's authors are celebrating the change as a victory for consumer choice, health policy experts and Treasury Department data suggest the benefits will land mainly in the laps of the wealthy. Under the GOP plan, the cap on these “Health Savings Accounts” would nearly double, from the current family limit of $6,750 to a proposed $13,100. (Johnson, 3/22)

Politico: Is Trumpcare Already Here?
No matter what happens to the Republicans’ troubled health bill in Congress, Trumpcare is here to stay. The Trump administration has already begun to transform the health insurance market, wielding executive power to rewrite coverage rules, slash Obamacare’s marketing budget and signal an all-out assault on his predecessor’s health care law. And Republicans have high expectations the administration will take additional measures to unwind Obamacare, such as targeting its contraception coverage requirement at the center of two recent religious liberty cases at the Supreme Court. (Diamond, 3/23)


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