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KHN First Edition: March 30, 2017


First Edition

Thursday, March 30, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Senators Demand Answers About Possible Probe Of HHS Secretary Price
Emily Kopp and Rachel Bluth report: "Nine senators are pushing U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reveal what he knows about a reported investigation into Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s stock trades that a top federal prosecutor might have begun before being fired by the Trump administration this month. In a letter Wednesday, seven senators — six Democrats plus Vermont independent Bernie Sanders — called on Sessions to assure them that any investigation of Price — or others connected to the Trump administration — would be “allowed to continue unimpeded.” (Kopp and Bluth, 3/29)

The Wall Street Journal: Republicans Fuel Uncertainty Over Health Law’s Fate
Republicans, struggling to figure out their next steps after their health-care bill’s collapse, delivered mixed signals on Wednesday about how they will contend with the 2010 law, with a Trump administration official promising to uphold the law and others saying they will continue working on its repeal. (Armour, son and Radnofsky, 3/29)

The Washington Post: Trump Administration Still Plans To Undo Parts Of The ACA, Tom Price Testifies
In his carefully calibrated testimony before House appropriators, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price made one thing clear Wednesday: The administration is still intent on dismantling parts of the Affordable Care Act even if Republicans lack the votes to rewrite it. Time and time again, Price invoked the pledge he has made repeatedly to lawmakers since President Trump selected him for his post. “What we’re committed to is making sure the American people have access to affordable coverage,” he told Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn.), the top Democrat on the Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, education, and related agencies. (Eilperin and DeBonis, 3/29)

The Associated Press: Trump's Top Health Official Gets Bipartisan Grilling
President Donald Trump's top health official got strong pushback Wednesday from lawmakers of both parties about deep cuts the White House is pressing in medical research, public health and social service programs. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price also dodged repeated attempts by Democrats to flush out the administration's next move on the Obama-era health insurance law. President Donald Trump's push to repeal the health care law failed last week because of disagreement among Republicans. (3/29)

NPR: 6 Changes The Trump Administration Can Still Make To Obamacare Without Congress
After seven years of trying, Republicans failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last week. That doesn't mean the health care drama is over, though. House Speaker Paul Ryan this week told donors that the party is "going to keep getting at this thing," according to The Washington Post. But whatever Ryan and his colleagues manage to do, plenty could still change in the Affordable Care Act. Last week's failed bill, after all, was only one part of the GOP's plan. (Kurtzleben, 3/29)

USA Today: Democrats Fear Obamacare Attacks, Not Outreach, From White House
If at first he didn't succeed in Congress, President Trump may nevertheless be poised to undercut the Affordable Care Act. After a stinging defeat on health care in Congress last week, Trump said Tuesday night that cutting a deal with Democrats will be "such an easy one." Yet House and Senate Democrats say there's been no outreach while the White House clarifies it remains committed to repealing Obamacare. Meantime Trump could use a pending lawsuit and agency directives to help short-circuit the current health care law. (Przybyla, 3/29)

The Associated Press: Poll: Americans Dislike GOP's, Trump's Plan On Health Care
Note to President Donald Trump and House Republicans: People really don't like your approach to overhauling America's health care. If you're hoping to revive the effort, you may want to try something different. Sixty-two percent of Americans turned thumbs down on Trump's handling of health care during the initial weeks of his presidency, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released Wednesday. It was his worst rating among seven issues the poll tested, including the economy, foreign policy and immigration. (3/30)

The Associated Press: Key Findings Of The AP-NORC Poll On Health Care
Of six changes the GOP bill would have made to health care, five drew more opposition than support. Those included allowing insurers to charge older customers higher premiums than is now allowed (80 percent opposed), surcharges for people whose insurance coverage lapses (70 percent opposed), reducing funding for Medicaid (64 percent opposed) and denying federal funding to Planned Parenthood (56 percent opposed). In addition, more oppose than favor replacing income-based subsidies with age-based subsidies for people buying insurance, 48 percent to 16 percent. (3/30)

The Associated Press: Republican Foes Of Health Care Bill Win Praise In Districts
One of the House Republican rebels, Kentucky Rep. Tom Massie, wasn't just "no" on the GOP health care bill to replace Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. Massie was "hell no." That won over Mary Broecker, president of the Oldham County Republican Women's Club and a strong proponent of a full-blown repeal of the 2010 law. "When he came out against this bill, I thought, 'I trust him so this must be the right way,'" the 76-year-old retired teacher said of Massie this week as she sat at a coffee shop near her LaGrange home. (3/30)

The Washington Post: Liberals See Fresh Opportunity In Health Care After GOP Meltdown
Liberals are pushing in from the left with their own health-care solutions, looking to gain new ground after last week’s Republican meltdown over an Obamacare replacement. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a political action committee that aims to represent the “Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party,” began circulating a petition Wednesday calling for every person to have access to a Medicare-type plan — an idea supported by the party’s left wing but viewed with some skepticism by moderates. (Cunningham and Weigel, 3/29)

USA Today/Des Moines Register: U.S. Tab Could Hit $225M For Medicaid Firms’ Iowa Losses
Iowa’s decision to help Medicaid managed-care companies shoulder deep financial losses would only cost the state government about $10 million, but it could cost the federal government up to $225 million, state officials say. Much of the federal money would come via the Affordable Care Act, which Gov. Terry Branstad opposed but which his administration has repeatedly tapped to pay for health care for poor Iowans. (Leys, 3/29)

The Associated Press: Trump, Christie Pledge To Combat Nation's Opioid Addiction
President Donald Trump is vowing to step up efforts to combat the nation's opioid addiction crisis, and he's tapped New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to lead the fight. Trump convened an emotional roundtable Wednesday with Christie, members of his Cabinet, law enforcement chiefs, recovering addicts and advocates. It was the first public event tied to the launch of a new addiction commission that Christie, a longtime Trump friend and formal rival, will chair. (3/29)

Politico: After Pledging To Solve Opioid Crisis, Trump’s Strategy Underwhelms
As a candidate, Donald Trump promised rural towns and states hit hard by opioid addiction that he'd solve the epidemic ravaging their communities. "We will give people struggling with addiction access to the help they need," Trump vowed in October. Trump won many of those communities — often overwhelmingly. But as president, he's proposing deep cuts to research and treatment in favor of funding a border wall to stop drug traffic, while hinting at bringing back policies like criminalization of drug misuse — and announcing Wednesday yet another big presidential commission to study the problem. (Diamond and Karlin-Smith, 3/29)

The New York Times: 34 Charged In Ring That Sold Potent New Drug, Prosecutors Say
Calling the recent surge in opioid-related overdoses one of “the biggest public health and law-enforcement crises of our time,” prosecutors in Brooklyn announced the indictment on Wednesday of 34 people charged with running a sprawling drug ring that sold a potent new designer narcotic never before seen in New York City — furanyl fentanyl. (Feuer, 3/29)

NPR: Missouri Cuts Public Funding To Organizations That Provide Abortion
A new Missouri law cuts off a line of funding to all organizations that provide abortions in the state, including hospitals. For years, Missouri has helped low-income women pay for family planning under a Medicaid program called Extended Women's Health Services, which is funded by both the state and the federal governments. (Bouscaren, 3/29)

The Associated Press: Arkansas Governor Signs 'Sex-Selection' Abortion Ban Bill
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday signed into law a measure that would impose fines and prison time on doctors who perform abortions that are based solely on whether the mother wants to have a boy or girl. Under the new law sponsored by Republican Rep. Charlie Collins, a physician performing the abortion would ask the patient if she knows the sex of the child. If she does, the doctor must let her know that it's illegal to have an abortion based solely on gender. (3/29)

The Washington Post: Climate Change Can Take A Toll On Mental Health, New Report Says
Climate change is not only harmful to our physical health — it can be debilitating for our mental health as well, according to a report published Wednesday. Severe weather events and natural disasters linked to climate change have the most dramatic impact on mental health, according to the report by the American Psychological Association and EcoAmerica: Natural disasters cause intense negative emotions in people who are exposed to them, primarily fear and grief. Anxiety, depression and unhealthy behavior are also common responses. (Naqvi, 3/29)

The Washington Post: Facing Lawsuit From Residents And Activists, Government Officials Just Agreed To Replace 18,000 Lead-Tainted Pipes In Flint
Michigan and the city of Flint have agreed to spend the next several years replacing roughly 18,000 aging underground pipes as part of a far-reaching legal settlement over the city’s ongoing crisis involving lead-tainted water. A settlement approved by a federal judge Tuesday will require the state to fund Flint’s efforts to replace the lead and galvanized water service lines by 2020. (Dennis, 3/28)

Los Angeles Times: First Southern California Child Born With Defect Caused By Zika Virus
A baby born recently in San Diego County is the first in the region to suffer birth defects after the infant’s mother contracted the Zika virus while traveling abroad. Public health officials said the case, announced Tuesday by the county government, is a reminder that the risk of Zika infection continues in warmer climates even though mosquitoes are dormant in San Diego. (Sisson, 3/29)

The Associated Press: Tennessee Blocking Cities’ Push To Ease Marijuana Punishment
As some states and cities around the nation look to ease criminal punishment for marijuana possession, Tennessee’s conservative Republican legislature is blocking that trend in Nashville and Memphis. As a result, police in those cities could soon lose their option of giving minor citations for carrying small amounts of marijuana. (Mattise, 3/29)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2017 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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