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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

5. Political Cartoon: 'Cover Your Bases?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Cover Your Bases?'" by Signe Wilkinson .

Here's today's health policy haiku:

PROVIDING CARE … WITH LITTLE ACCESS TO IT

Home health workers fill
A key role, though the system
Often leaves them out.

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Summaries Of The News:

Capitol Hill Watch

6. Senate Rolls Back Obama-Era Ban On States Blocking Funding For Clinics That Provide Abortions

Vice President Mike Pence had to break a tie in the chamber.

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. (Jalonick and Fram, 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,” 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 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)

Boston Globe: Senate Republicans Scramble To Muster Votes Targeting Planned Parenthood
The Republicans needed 51 votes to clear the procedural hurdle. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell held the vote open for an hour Thursday morning, as he waited for Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, flying in Thursday from his home state of Georgia, to land and rush over from the airport. Recovering from two back surgeries, the most recent performed on March 15, Isakson had gotten clearance from his doctor to return to Washington Thursday “for one day only,” said a spokeswoman. He used a walker to navigate the Senate floor. Elsewhere, he was seen being pushed in a wheelchair by an aide. (McGrane, 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)

Bloomberg: Planned Parenthood Grants Threatened After Pence Tie-Breaker
Senate Republicans “didn’t listen to women across the country who made it clear that restricting women’s access to the full range of reproductive care is unacceptable,” said Washington Democrat Patty Murray. Republicans “are already gearing up to attach riders to budget bills in order to cut off critical services at Planned Parenthood to millions of patients,” she said on the Senate floor. (Rowley, 3/30)

CQ HealthBeat: Reversal Of Family Planning Rule Narrowly Clears Senate
The Obama administration's rule was finalized in December in response to 13 states that denied Planned Parenthood federal funding for family planning and maternal health, which is provided under Title X of the 1944 Public Health Service Act. The program has provided about $286 million annually in recent years to certain health providers and Planned Parenthood receives about $25 million of that money. (Siddons, 3/30)

Health Law

7. In Surprising Twist, Ryan Says 'Insurer Bailout' Payments Should Continue

The payments -- which reimburse insurers for subsidies that lower the cost of deductibles, copayments and coinsurance for those covered by the health law -- have been a long-time target of congressional Republicans.

The Wall Street Journal: Paul Ryan Signals Support For Insurance Payments Under ACA
“While the lawsuit is being litigated then the administration funds these benefits. That’s how they’ve been doing it and I don’t see any change in that,” Mr. Ryan of Wisconsin told reporters Thursday. Mr. Ryan is the highest-ranking Republican to address the issue and his comments suggest Republicans aren't preparing to take immediate steps to undermine the ACA, the 2010 law also known as Obamacare for the president who signed it. (son, 3/30)