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4. Political Cartoon: 'A Cut Above?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'A Cut Above?'" by Signe Wilkinson .

Here's today's health policy haiku:


They’re patients … heading
For the Hill. But have they been

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law

5. The Health Law's Unlikely Defenders: Republicans

As Republican efforts to dismantle and replace the Affordable Care Act continue, some in the party are speaking out for provisions in the legislation, such as coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Meanwhile, a left-leaning group will launch attack ads just in time for congressional recess, media outlets look at the ramifications of the GOP health plan and what's next for the resistance movement that helped bring about the collapse of the Republicans' bill.

The Hill: Reversal: Some Republicans Now Defending Parts Of ObamaCare
The House’s debate over repealing ObamaCare has had an unintended effect: Republicans are now defending key elements of President Obama’s health law. Many House Republicans are now defending ObamaCare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, in the face of an effort by the conservative House Freedom Caucus to repeal them. (Sullivan, 4/9)

The Associated Press: Move Over 'Obamacare,' Trump Plan Is Now The Focus
Something new is happening in a health care debate dominated for seven years by the twists and turns of Barack Obama's signature law. The focus has shifted to ideas from President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers in Congress, and most people don't like what they see. With Republicans in command, their health care proposals as currently formulated have generated far more concern than enthusiasm. (Alonso-Zaldivar and Swanson, 4/10)

Politico: TV Ads Slam Republicans Over Would-Be Obamacare Repeal
Moderate House Republicans who flirted with supporting the GOP's now-stalled Obamacare replacement will face attack ads in their districts this week for doing so. Save My Care, a coalition of left-leaning health care advocacy groups fighting to preserve Obamacare, is launching a seven-figure TV ad buy in seven competitive House districts across the country. (Cheney, 4/10)

Bloomberg: GOP Health Plan Relies On Cutting Payments To Doctors, Hospitals
A Republican health-care plan to lower insurance premiums would need to cut payments to hospitals and doctors to the same level as federally-set Medicare rates and would require billions of dollars in extra government spending to meet its goals, according to an independent analysis of the policy. (Tracer, 4/7)

McClatchy: GOP Proposal Could Shrink Coverage For People With Pre-Existing Conditions 
A White House push to let states waive mandatory coverage and rate requirements under the Affordable Care Act could jeopardize health insurance gains for millions of adults with pre-existing medical conditions who went largely without coverage before the health law passed. This week, the White House tried to get Republicans in the House of Representatives to amend their Obamacare replacement bill with language that lets states opt out of two popular ACA provisions, including one that requires individual health plans to cover 10 so-called essential health benefits. (Pugh, 4/7)

Houston Chronicle: Health Experts, Advocates Still Tense About Health Reform
After the collapse of the planned repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, local experts and advocates are both relieved that the law is intact and worried a shakeup is still on the horizon. “I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this,” said Angela Mattie, professor and chair of health care management and organizational leadership for Quinnipiac University. (Cuda, 4/7)

The New York Times: The Trump Resistance Found Early Success. Can It Also Find Momentum?
Political reporters were calling, crediting them with helping to bring down Republican legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Rachel Maddow made them the stars of a segment on her show, chronicling how they had grown into a “legitimate political movement” that pushed their congressman, the chairman of the influential Appropriations Committee, to come out against the bill hours before his party’s leadership decided to pull it without a vote. (Zernike, 4/9)

6. Analysis Undercuts Popular Warning That ACA Marketplace Is In Death Spiral

After years in which many insurers lost money “we are seeing the first signs in 2016 that this market could be manageable for most health insurers,” Standard & Poor’s analysts said.

The New York Times: No ‘Death Spiral’: Insurers May Soon Profit From Obamacare Plans, Analysis Finds
In contrast to the dire pronouncements from President Trump and other Republicans, the demise of the individual insurance market seems greatly exaggerated, according to a new financial analysis released Friday. The analysis, by Standard & Poor’s, looked at the performance of many Blue Cross plans in nearly three dozen states since President Barack Obama’s health care law took effect three years ago. (Abelson, 4/7)

The Fiscal Times: One Major Obamacare Insurance Company Is Close To Break Even This Year 
Despite high premiums and diminished consumer choices that might deter consumers from enrolling in Obamacare, a new financial analysis concludes that the individual health insurance market has shaken off its early losses and will likely break even this year. The analysis by S&P Global Ratings of the performance of scores of Blue Cross plans in nearly three dozen states also predicts that insurance companies providing millions of Americans with subsidized coverage under Obamacare will begin showing modest profits in 2018. (Pianin, 4/9)

Meanwhile, in Colorado —

Denver Post: Worries Of An Anthem Exit Add To Western Slope’s Health Care Woes
When patients walk into Dr. Michael Pramenko’s office in Grand Junction these days, they often walk in worried. Already, residents of Colorado’s Western Slope pay more for health insurance than just about anybody else in the country while also having a smaller selection of insurers to choose from. The Republicans’ health care bill in Congress — which may yet be revived — could up their costs even more. (Ingold, 4/10)

7. Job Growth In Health Care Sector Stumbles Amid Health Law Uncertainty

In the first three months of this year, health care added an average of 20,000 jobs per month, compared with an average monthly gain of 32,000 in 2016. In other news, hospitals and health systems fear loss of reimbursements, and the Iowa Hospital Association says insurers should be doing more to protect gains made under Obamacare.

Administration News