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KHN First Edition: March 31, 2017


First Edition

Friday, March 31, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

California Healthline: In Pain? Many Doctors Say Opioids Are Not The Answer
Emily Bazar reports: "Those of you who have experienced pain, especially gnawing, chronic pain, know that it affects your happiness, outlook and ability to function. In the past couple of years, the treatment of chronic pain has undergone an earthshaking transformation as opioid addiction continues to claim — and ruin — lives." (Bazar, 3/31)

California Healthline: California Doctors Again Press For More Money To Treat Poor Patients
Barbara Feder Ostrov reports: "California’s doctors and dentists have renewed their push for more money to treat Medicaid patients now that the state has been spared the drastic cuts proposed under the failed GOP health care bill. But Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown — and some health advocates — say they have other priorities for improving the low-income health program, which serves some 14 million residents, or about a third of the state’s population." (Feder Ostrov, 3/30)

The Wall Street Journal: Paul Ryan Signals Support For Insurance Payments Under ACA
House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Trump administration should continue making payments to insurers under the Affordable Care Act to avoid destabilizing the market. The collapse of the House GOP health-care bill last week has thrown into doubt the future of the payments, which Republicans have been challenging in court as invalid. If the payments are cut off, insurers will lose billions of dollars in expected funding and will likely flee the ACA’s exchanges, markets where millions of people purchase insurance coverage who don't get it from another source. (son, 3/30)

The Associated Press: Is 'Obamacare' Repeal Dead -- Or A Legislative Zombie?
President Donald Trump's plan to kill Obamacare died last week. Or maybe it didn't. The repeal effort seems to have assumed zombie status — somewhere between dead and alive. This is never-say-die Washington, where big legislative proposals that are in the casket one day can show signs of a pulse and start climbing out the next. (3/31)

Politico: No Obamacare Ceasefire In Red States
The epic collapse of the Obamacare repeal bill created an odd opportunity for 19 states that have long shunned Medicaid expansion. Billions in Obamacare cash remain on the table. And for the first time, that cash comes with a Trump administration promise to give states unprecedented flexibility to remake the program with a conservative slant — for instance, by imposing work requirements or requiring more recipients to pay premiums. Yet with few exceptions, most of the holdout states are walking away from the money and what they regard as a broken entitlement program. (Pradhan, 3/31)

The New York Times: Kansas Governor Vetoes Medicaid Expansion, Setting Stage For Showdown
Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas vetoed a bill on Thursday that would have expanded Medicaid in his state, setting up a potential showdown next week with a Legislature that, while heavily Republican, has come to favor extending the largely free health coverage to as many as 180,000 additional poor adults. Although the bill was easily approved in both chambers of the Legislature, supporters would need to muster three additional votes in the House and two in the Senate to override the veto by Mr. Brownback, a conservative Republican. (Goodnough and Smith, 3/30)

The Wall Street Journal: Kansas Governor Vetoes Medicaid Expansion
The action by Mr. Brownback, who has been a staunch opponent of the law known as Obamacare, was expected. “It fails to serve the truly vulnerable before the able-bodied, lacks work requirements to help able-bodied Kansans escape poverty, and burdens the state budget with unrestrainable entitlement costs,” the governor said in a statement. (Levitz, 3/30)

The Associated Press: Arkansas Lawmakers Vote To Keep Hybrid Medicaid Expansion
Lawmakers voted Thursday to keep Arkansas' hybrid Medicaid expansion for another year as the state's governor prepares to seek new limits on the first-in-the-nation program. The House approved by a 77-13 vote the state's Medicaid budget, which includes the hybrid expansion. The proposal now heads to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's desk. More than 300,000 people are on the program, which uses Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents. (3/30)

Reuters: Anthem Likely To Pull Back From Obamacare Markets In 2018: Jefferies
Anthem Inc is likely to exit from a large portion of its Obamacare individual insurance markets next year, Jefferies analysts said, nearly a week after Republican leaders pulled legislation to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system. Anthem is one of the few health insurers that still sells plans under Obamacare. Humana Inc, Aetna Inc and UnitedHealth Group Inc pulled out after reporting hundreds of millions of dollars of losses. (Banerjee, 3/30)

The New York Times: Senate Lets States Defund Clinics That Perform Abortions
Senate Republicans, aided by Vice President Mike Pence and an ailing Georgia colleague who gingerly made his way to the Capitol with the aid of a wheelchair and a walker, voted Thursday to undo an Obama administration rule preventing states from blocking funding for family planning clinics that also provide abortions. (Steinhauer, 3/30)

The Associated Press: Congress Lets States Block Some Planned Parenthood Money
The bill erases a regulation imposed by former President Barack Obama shortly before he left office that lets states deny family planning funds to organizations only if they are incapable of providing those services. Some states have passed laws in recent years denying the money to groups that provide abortions. (3/30)

The Washington Post: Pence Breaks Tie To Allow States To Strip Family-Planning Dollars From Abortion Providers
The measure, a priority for groups that oppose abortion, would give a thumbs-up to Tennessee and other conservative states to resume policies blocking Planned Parenthood clinics from getting federal funding through the Title X family-planning program. Those dollars can’t be used for abortions, but conservatives feel abortion providers shouldn’t receive any taxpayer funds. While courts have not allowed states to withhold Medicaid money from Planned Parenthood, they’ve generally allowed states to redirect family-planning dollars to other health providers. (Cunningham, 3/30)

Politico: Pence Breaks Tie In Senate Vote Targeting Planned Parenthood Funding
“We’re talking about federal family planning funds and I don’t think that those funds should be subjected to state restrictions,” [Sen. Susan] Collins told POLITICO. “It’s important to recognize that there is already a bar against using federal funds for abortion and that bar stays in effect. That’s a prohibition that I personally support, but I’m a strong supporter of family planning funds.” A spokesperson for [Sen. Lisa] Murkowski said the vote is "consistent with the senator's long-held belief that men and women should have access to the family planning and reproductive health services they need, including cancer tests and health screenings." (Kim and Ehley, 3/30)

The Wall Street Journal: Bill Aimed At Planned Parenthood Funding Passes With Pence Tiebreaker Vote
Republicans argue rescinding the rule doesn’t decrease funding for women’s health and that community health centers that don’t provide abortions can be an alternative if Planned Parenthood loses funds. Stripping Planned Parenthood of federal funds has long been a prime goal of social conservatives, though federal law prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or grave risk to the health of the mother. (Andrews, 3/30)

The New York Times: Trump’s Threats Against Freedom Caucus Cause Few Shivers Of Fear
When Representative Mark Sanford of South Carolina, fresh off helping torpedo his party’s bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, showed up at the Berkeley County Republican meeting on Saturday, he was met with applause and praise in one of the most conservative corners of his district. So less than a week later, after President Trump on Thursday warned the Freedom Caucus that he would “fight them” when they face re-election next year, Mr. Sanford was hardly cowering in fear. Instead, he and other members of the Freedom Caucus returned fire. (Martin and Steinhauer, 3/30)

The Washington Post: Trump Threatens Hard-Liners As Part Of Escalating Republican Civil War
In a series of tweets that began in the morning, the president warned that the powerful group of hard-line conservatives who helped block the party’s health-care bill last week would “hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast.” The president vowed to “fight them” as well as Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections, a warning that his allies said was intended in the short term to make members of the Freedom Caucus think twice about crossing him again. But Trump’s pledge was met with defiance by many in the bloc, including some members who accused him of succumbing to the establishment in Washington that he had campaigned against. (Wagner, DeBonis and Costa, 3/30)

The Associated Press: WH Dispatches Aide After Pro-Trump Groups MIA On Health Care
The White House is so troubled by the failure of outside groups to promote the health care plan backed by President Donald Trump that a senior aide is being dispatched to rectify the situation. Katie Walsh, a longtime top lieutenant to chief of staff Reince Priebus, is leaving the administration to join the nonprofit group America First Policies. (3/30)

Politico: White House Shuffles West Wing Staff After Health Bill Collapse
The departure of deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh, a key ally of Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus, caps a rough stretch for Trump, who has seen his young administration dogged by allegations of Russia ties, his travel ban executive order blocked twice in court, and the health care bill he supported go down in flames. (Goldmacher, Nussbaum, Palmeri and Isenstadt, 3/30)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump’s Drug Policy Takes Shape, With Split Personality
As the Trump administration begins to shape its policy on drugs, tension is growing between a treatment-focused approach, embodied in a new commission on opioids headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and the aggressive prosecution of drug crimes promised by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. President Donald Trump signaled support for a less-punitive strategy toward opioids by assigning the task force to Mr. Christie, who has made drug rehabilitation a centerpiece of his governorship. ... That sympathetic tone contrasted with Mr. Trump’s vow last month to a police group to be “ruthless’’ in stopping the drug trade and Mr. Sessions’ pledge to “hammer” drug dealers. (Reinhard, 3/31)

The New York Times: E.P.A. Chief, Rejecting Agency’s Science, Chooses Not To Ban Insecticide
Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, moved late on Wednesday to reject the scientific conclusion of the agency’s own chemical safety experts who under the Obama administration recommended that one of the nation’s most widely used insecticides be permanently banned at farms nationwide because of the harm it potentially causes children and farm workers. (Lipton, 3/29)

The Washington Post: EPA Chief, Rejecting Agency’s Own Analysis, Declines To Ban Pesticide Despite Health Concerns
The chemical compound chlorpyrifos, also known as Lorsban, has been used by farmers for more than a half-century to kill pests on crops including broccoli, strawberries and citrus. The EPA banned its spraying indoors to combat household bugs more than a decade ago. But only in recent years did the agency seek to ban its use in agriculture, after mounting scientific evidence that prenatal exposure can pose risks to fetal brain and nervous system development. (Dennis, 3/29)

Los Angeles Times: Drastic Cuts To NIH Budget Could Translate To Less Innovation And Fewer Patents, Study Argue
From research on stem cells and DNA sequencing to experiments with fruit flies and surveys of human behavior, projects funded by the National Institutes of Health aim to make Americans healthier. A new analysis finds that NIH-funded research also fuels the kinds of innovations that drive the U.S. economy. Between 1990 and 2012, close to 1 in 10 projects made possible by an NIH grant resulted in a patent, usually for a university or a hospital. (Healy, 3/30)

The Washington Post: Tim Kaine’s Claim About Whether Judge Neil Gorsuch Views Contraception As A ‘Wrongdoing Of Others’
The nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, is expected to reach the Senate floor soon. But with growing opposition from Senate Democrats, Gorsuch may fall short of votes needed for a smooth passage through the Senate. In a public statement and a separate, six-page essay explaining his opposition to Gorsuch, Sen. Tim Kaine argued the judge’s use of the phrase “wrongdoing of others” referred to the use of contraceptives. (Lee, 3/31)

The Washington Post: Quest For New Antibiotics Gets First Major Funding From Global Partnership
A major global partnership aimed at fighting superbugs announced Thursday that it is investing up to $48 million in research projects, including potentially the first new classes of antibiotics in decades, to target the deadliest drug-resistant bacteria. The investments announced by CARB-X include $24 million in immediate funding for 11 companies. The firms can receive up to $24 million in additional payments over three years if they meet specific milestones. (Sun, 3/30)

The Wall Street Journal: Glaxo’s New CEO Is A Steady Hand In Pharmaceuticals’ Rolling Seas
GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s outgoing chief executive bet big that bulking up on toothpaste, shampoo, over-the-counter painkillers and other health-related consumer goods would help anchor its risk-laden pharmaceuticals business. Now it falls to Emma Walmsley, former head of the company’s consumer health division, to prove him right, or chart a fresh course. She replaces CEO Andrew Witty on Saturday. (Roland, 3/31)

The Washington Post: Disabled, Or Just Desperate? Rural Americans Turn To Disability As Jobs Dry Up
The lobby at the pain-management clinic had become crowded with patients, so relatives had gone outside to their trucks to wait, and here, too, sat Desmond Spencer, smoking a 9 a.m. cigarette and watching the door. He tried stretching out his right leg, knowing these waits can take hours, and winced. He couldn’t sit easily for long, not anymore, and so he took a sip of soda and again thought about what he should do. (McCoy, 3/30)

USA Today: Baby Boxes Are All The Buzz, But Are They Bunk?
If all goes to plan, more than 300,000 infants in the United States will sleep in cardboard boxes before year’s end. That’s according to a Los Angeles-based business called Baby Box Co., which is working with health organizations nationwide to give away thousands of boxes for parents to use as baby beds. It’s part of an educational model aimed at reducing sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, in the United States. But that idea doesn’t rest well with prominent doctors, researchers and organizations focused on SIDS, who characterize the boxes as untested and unregulated for infants. (Hafner, 3/30)

NPR: Lonely People Report More Severe Cold Symptoms, Study Finds
A study published Thursday in Health Psychology found that among people who fell ill after being exposed to a cold virus, those who were lonely were more likely to report severe runny nose, sneezing, sore throat and other symptoms. Tha

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