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KHN First Edition: March 29, 2017


First Edition

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Justice Department Joins Lawsuit Alleging Massive Medicare Fraud By UnitedHealth
Fred Schulte reports: "The Justice Department has joined a California whistleblower’s lawsuit that accuses insurance giant UnitedHealth Group of fraud in its popular Medicare Advantage health plans. Justice officials filed legal papers to intervene in the suit, first brought by whistleblower James Swoben in 2009, on Friday in federal court in Los Angeles. On Monday, they sought a court order to combine Swoben’s case with that of another whistleblower." (Schulte, 3/29)

Kaiser Health News: March Madness Vasectomies Encourage Guys To Take One For The Team
KQED's April Dembosky reports: "Doctors say it all started eight years ago, when a urology clinic in Oregon ran an ad promoting the benefits of scheduling a vasectomy in March. “You go in for a little snip, snip and come out with doctor’s orders to sit back and watch nonstop basketball,” the voice-over promised. “If you miss out on this, you’ll end up recovering during a weekend marathon of ‘Desperate Housewives’!” (Dembosky, 3/28)

Kaiser Health News: Lead Poisoning’s Lifelong Toll Includes Lowering Social Mobility, Researchers Find
Shefali Luthra reports: "Findings published Tuesday in JAMA break new ground by suggesting the effects of childhood lead exposure continue to play out until adulthood, not only harming an individual’s lifelong cognitive development, but also potentially limiting socioeconomic advancement. Specifically, Duke University researchers tracked a generation of kids based on data collected through a nearly 30-year, New Zealand-based investigation known as the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study." (Luthra, 3/28)

Kaiser Health News: On The Air With KHN: What’s Next For The Affordable Care Act?
On Friday, House Republican leaders failed to secure enough support to pass their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Reporters with Kaiser Health News and California Healthline (produced by KHN) have appeared on numerous radio and television shows in recent days to assess what’s next for the health law. Listen to what they had to say below. (3/28)

The New York Times: Repeal Of Affordable Care Act Is Back On Agenda, Republicans Say
Under extreme pressure from conservative activists, House Republican leaders and the White House have restarted negotiations on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But efforts to revive the legislation in the House could take weeks, lawmakers conceded, as Congress moves forward with a full plate of other time-consuming issues. And the renewed push did not meet with much enthusiasm from Senate Republicans, who said they had other priorities at the moment. (Pear and s, 3/28)

The Associated Press: Ryan Says House To Revisit Health Care, Offers No Details
Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday he's going to give battered House Republicans another crack at a health care overhaul. But he offered no timeline, and leaders haven't resolved how to overcome the deep GOP divisions that crumpled their legislation last week in a humiliating retreat for themselves and President Donald Trump. (3/28)

USA Today: House Republicans Say They Are Still Negotiating Obamacare Repeal
After the failure of the bill and some weekend reflection, Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and his caucus are trying to do things differently. The group is working with leadership and moderate Republicans to try to bring back the bill in a different form. Meadows had a meeting with Ryan on Tuesday, which was unusual because the Freedom Caucus had largely gone around leadership during the negotiation process and dealt directly with the White House. (Collins, 3/28)

The Associated Press: Senate, White House Pass On House Push To Revive Health Bill
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made his views clear after a closed-door lunch with fellow Senate Republicans and Vice President Mike Pence. "It's pretty obvious we were not able, in the House, to pass a replacement. Our Democratic friends ought to be pretty happy about that because we have the existing law in place, and I think we're just going to have to see how that works out," McConnell said. "We believe it will not work out well, but we'll see." (3/28)

Politico: GOP On Reviving Obamacare Repeal: Lots Of Talk, No Action
[L]awmakers and aides acknowledge the odds are not in their favor. The conference is still deeply divided, and members are seething over the demise of their replacement bill — with most fingers pointing at members of the arch-conservative Freedom Caucus. During a meeting with several dozen whips Monday night, Republican allies of leadership vented about how they want to punish members of the conservative group who “don’t play with the team.” (Bade, Cheney and Bresnahan, 3/28)

Politico: Roskam Rejects Bid To Revive Failed GOP Obamacare Repeal Bill
Rep. Roskam (R-Ill.), a former member of House Republican leadership, is leading a charge to bury Speaker Paul Ryan’s Obamacare replacement once and for all and start over, multiple sources told POLITICO. The move by the senior House Republican who sits on the Ways and Means committee could complicate any GOP leadership attempt to resurrect the bill that Ryan pulled from the floor Friday. (Bade and Bresnahan, 3/28)

Politico: Trump Tells Senators: We Can Deal On Health Care ‘Very Quickly’
President Donald Trump still sees a deal on health care. In fact, he told senators he has “no doubt that that’s going to happen very quickly.” Speaking in brief remarks at a White House reception for senators and their spouses, Trump brushed off the recent collapse of a House-led bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. (Jackson, 3/28)

The Washington Post: Here’s When We’ll Know The Future Of Obamacare
President Trump and his fellow Republicans have failed, at least for now, in their bid to repeal Obamacare entirely, but they still have plenty of ways to cripple the law without pulling it off the books. By blocking funding for subsidies or refusing to enforce the individual mandate, the administration and congressional Republicans could undermine the law's insurance exchanges -- government-established marketplaces where individuals can buy health insurance from private companies, often with the help of federal subsidies. The exchanges and an expanded Medicaid program are the main programs in Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, aimed at expanding coverage to the uninsured. (Johnson, 3/28)

Politico: Trump Could Blow Up Obamacare With One Move
President Trump says that Obamacare is going to explode. But if that happens, it is likely because his administration supplies the spark that detonates the marketplaces. The White House could decide at any time to eliminate subsidies relied upon by insurers to lower costs for Obamacare’s poorest customers, as a result of a court win by House Republicans last spring. (Demko, 3/29)

The Associated Press: Hillary Clinton Calls Defeat Of GOP Health Care Bill 'A Victory For All Americans'
A spirited Hillary Clinton took on the Trump administration Tuesday in one of her first public speeches since she lost the presidential election, criticizing the country's Republican leaders on everything from health care to the shortage of women appointees in top administration positions. Cracking jokes about her November defeat and her months out of the limelight since, Clinton spoke to thousands of businesswomen in San Francisco, joking there was no place she'd rather be, "other than the White House." (Knickmeyer, 3/28)

The Washington Post: Kansas Moves To Expand Medicaid As GOP Legislatures Face Pressure After ‘Trumpcare’ Failure
State lawmakers in this deep-red state on Tuesday did what a year ago would have been unthinkable: They voted to expand Medicaid under the health-care law that Republicans here have railed against for years. ... The abrupt reversal in Kansas could be the front edge of a larger shift nationally, as state lawmakers absorb the repercussions of congressional Republicans’ failed attempt to repeal and replace elements of the Affordable Care Act. (DelReal and Somashekhar, 3/28)

Reuters: Kansas Passes Medicaid Expansion Bill Despite Governor's Objection
The Kansas Senate gave final approval on Tuesday to a bill expanding eligibility for Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) even though the measure faces a likely veto by Republican Governor Sam Brownback. The 25-14 Senate vote followed the House's 81-44 passage of the bill last month, with the vote totals falling short of veto-proof margins in both Republican-controlled chambers. (Pierog, 3/28)

The Wall Street Journal: Kansas GOP-Led Legislature Approves Medicaid Expansion
Legislators said it appears likely Mr. Brownback would veto the bill. “To expand Obamacare when the program is in a death spiral is not responsible policy,” Melika Willoughby, the communications director for Mr. Brownback, said in an emailed statement after the vote Tuesday. “Kansas must prioritize the care and service of vulnerable Kansans, addressing their health care needs in a sustainable way, not expanding a failing entitlement program to able-bodied adults.” (Levitz and Mahtani, 3/28)

The Associated Press: Felony Charges For 2 Who Secretly Filmed Planned Parenthood
California prosecutors on Tuesday charged two anti-abortion activists who made undercover videos of themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood with 15 felonies, saying they invaded the privacy of medical providers by filming without consent. The charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress come eight months after similar charges were dropped in Texas. (Dalton, 3/29)

The Washington Post: Two Activists Who Filmed Undercover Videos Of Planned Parenthood Charged With 15 Felonies
In announcing the charges against David Robert Daleiden and Sandra Merritt on Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the duo used manufactured identities and a fictitious bioresearch company to meet medical officials and covertly record the private discussions they initiated. “The right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s Constitution, and a right that is foundational in a free democratic society,” Becerra said. “We will not tolerate the criminal recording of confidential conversations.” (Schmidt, 3/29)

Los Angeles Times: Antiabortion Activists Face 15 Felony Charges Over Undercover Videos That Targeted Planned Parenthood
An affidavit filed in San Francisco Superior Court alleges that Daleiden and Merritt used phony California driver’s licenses and a fabricated medical research company, BioMax Procurement Services, to attend the National Abortion Federation’s 2014 conference in San Francisco. At the conference, the pair posed as BioMax representatives, offered fake names and surreptitiously recorded eight attendees and speakers, according to court papers. (Hamilton, 3/28)

Politico: California Charges Creators Of Planned Parenthood Undercover Videos
Daleiden’s sting videos, released two years ago through the Center for Medical Progress, accused Planned Parenthood clinics of profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has strongly denied the accusations, and numerous investigations into the organization since the videos were released haven’t found any wrongdoing. The videos strengthened efforts in Congress to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood — efforts that are still underway. (3/28)

The Associated Press: Iowa Republicans Back 'Fetal Heartbeat' Abortion Legislation
Republicans in the Iowa Legislature are backing newly filed legislation that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which would be the strictest ban in the country if enacted. A GOP-led House committee had been set to vote on the provision Tuesday night but lawmakers later adjourned without a decision. It's expected to be taken up again Wednesday. (3/28)

The New York Times: Severe Eczema Drug Is Approved By F.D.A.; Price Tag Is $37,000 A Year
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved a drug to treat people with a serious form of eczema, a potential breakthrough for people who have suffered for years without relief. But it will not come cheap. The drug, to be called Dupixent, will carry a list price of $37,000 a year, a hefty price tag for patients who are increasingly being asked to pay a larger share of the drugs they take. (Thomas, 3/28)

The Associated Press: FDA Approves 1st Drug For Moderate & Severe Eczema Cases
The drug is an antibody that patients inject just under the skin every two weeks. It binds to a specific protein to inhibit the immune system’s inflammatory response. That’s why in many study participants, Dupixent also improved the asthma and hayfever common in eczema patients. It’s now in late-stage patient testing as an allergy treatment. (Johnson, 3/28)

The New York Times: F.D.A. Approves First Drug To Treat Severe Multiple Sclerosis
The Food and Drug Administration approved on Tuesday the first drug to treat a severe form of multiple sclerosis, offering hope to patients who previously had no other options to combat a relentless disease that leads to paralysis and cognitive decline. The federal agency also cleared the drug to treat people with the more common, relapsing form of the disease. (Thomas, 3/28)

The Wall Street Journal: FDA Approves Drug For Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
“This is an historic day for the MS community with the approval of the first-ever treatment for people living with primary progressive MS. This is a real game-changer,” said Cyndi Zagieboylo, president and chief executive of the National MS Society. “The National MS Society hopes this is just the beginning of the development of the next generation of treatments for MS.” (Burton, 3/28)

The Wall Street Journal: FDA Nominee Plans Recusals From Decisions On Many Drug Firms
The Trump administration’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration plans to recuse himself for a year from FDA decisions on more than 20 companies, including some drug giants. Scott Gottlieb in recent years has held positions and received millions of dollars in income as adviser, executive, paid speaker or consultant to the companies, according to financial-disclosure documents he has filed with government ethics officials. (Burton, 3/29)

The Wall Street Journal: Senator McCaskill Begins Probe Of Prescription Opioid Marketing
An influential Democratic lawmaker has begun a probe into the marketing of opioid drugs, sending letters to Purdue Pharma LP, Johnson & Johnson and other big sellers of the pain medicines for materials detailing sales practices. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D.-Mo.), the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said she aims to clarify “the challenges industry practices pose to efforts to curb opioid addiction.” (Rockoff, 3/28)


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