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KHN First Edition: April 14, 2017


First Edition

Friday, April 14, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Repeal, Replace … Revise: Your Guide To How A Trump Proposal Might Change ACA Insurance
Julie Appleby reports: "Repeal and replace is on-again, off-again, but that doesn’t mean the rules affecting your insurance will remain unchanged. The Trump administration late Thursday issued a final rule aimed at stabilizing the health law’s insurance marketplace that could have rapid, dramatic effects on people who do not get insurance through work and buy it on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges." (Appleby, 4/13)

California Healthline: Grasping For The Middle Ground On Obamacare
Emily Bazar reports: "Joel Hay, a professor at the University of Southern California, describes his political views as “conservative, free market.” But in a counterintuitive twist, his proposal to fix the Affordable Care Act would expand the largest source of public health coverage in the country: Medicaid." (Bazar, 4/14)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Shifts Back To Health Care
After losing a fight to revamp the health-care system, President Donald Trump said last month he was prepared to put the setback behind him and move on to the next challenge, rewriting the tax code. Three weeks later, he said he is determined to resurrect the health-care bill even if it means delaying the tax overhaul, telling The Wall Street Journal in an interview: “I want to get health care done…I think I will get it done.” (Radnofsky, Nicholas and Rubin, 4/13)

The New York Times: Trump Threatens Health Subsidies To Force Democrats To Bargain
In the weeks since President Trump’s attempts to replace the Affordable Care Act collapsed, the administration has debated what to do: Try again? Shore up the insurance marketplaces? Or let the whole system collapse? Mr. Trump has failed to get enough support from his own party, but he hopes to get the Democrats’ help by forcing them to the negotiating table with hints about the chaos he could cause. (Pear, 4/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Democrats Say They Won’t Be Bullied Into A Repeal Of Obamacare
Congressional Democrats said Thursday they won’t be coerced into negotiating a repeal of the Affordable Care Act by President Donald Trump’s threats to withhold federal payments critical to maintaining the stability of the insurance market. But the president’s comments could have a more immediate effect on Capitol Hill, thrusting the payments to insurers into negotiations over a spending bill needed to keep the government running beyond April 28, when its current funding expires. (son and Hughes, 4/13)

Politico: Democrats Say Spending Bill Must Fund Obamacare Payments
"Given the threat, we'll be pushing for a robust cost-sharing reduction appropriation," a Senate Democratic aide said. The aide declined to say how much funding Democrats would insist upon. Others have estimated that full funding for one year would require between $7 billion and $8 billion. Funding for the program "must be included" as "permanent mandatory spending," a Pelosi aide said. (Haberkorn and Ferris, 4/13)

The Washington Post: Trump Is Playing A Risky Game Of Chicken With Health Insurers
“This is a very potent threat, because the administration has the authority unilaterally to do this, and this is really a kill switch. This makes the program unprofitable for the majority of health plans operating in it today,” said Dan Mendelson, chief executive of Avalere Health, a consulting firm. “The timing of this threat is really curious, in the sense that now is the time that the plans have to be deciding whether to bid on 2018. If you’re on the bubble and the president is making a threat like this . . . this just puts more uncertainty on the program." (Johnson, 4/13)

USA Today: Individual Insurance Plans At Risk In Some Areas With Trump Threats About Subsidies.
President Trump escalated fears this week by saying he may not authorize payment of the Affordable Care Act-required subsidies that up to 7 million people use to help pay their health care deductibles and co-payments. Trump said the move should prompt Democrats to negotiate on health care reform. But now, a bipartisan group including high-level former members of Congress and regulators is fighting back. (O'Donnell, Fletcher, Leys and Alltucker, 4/13)

Reuters: Liberal U.S. Lawyers, States Mull Legal Fight Over Obamacare
To stop President Donald Trump from undermining Obamacare, Democratic Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is considering an approach that has worked against the administration on immigration: using Trump's own words against him. (4/13)

Politico: Obamacare Repeal Bill Is The Zombie GOP Can’t Kill — Or Bring Back To Life
Republicans in Congress for the first time are lowering expectations for how much of Obamacare they can repeal and how quickly they can do it. As they meet constituents back home, GOP lawmakers seem trapped between the reality of their failed repeal effort and President Donald Trump’s renewed promises this week to finish off Obamacare before taking on tax reform. Vice President Mike Pence is also still trying to keep the repeal dream alive, working with conservatives on new tweaks to the stalled House bill. But even if the ultra-conservatives come on board, there’s no sign that the moderate Republicans needed to pass a bill are ready to sign on. (Haberkorn and Cheney, 4/14)

The Associated Press: House Chairman Skeptical Of Conservatives' Health Care Idea
A House committee chairman who's a leading author of the mired Republican health care bill said Thursday he's skeptical about proposals the Trump administration and conservative GOP lawmakers have discussed in hopes of breathing life into the legislation. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., directed his skepticism at suggestions that states be allowed to sidestep the ban in President Barack Obama's health care law against insurers charging seriously ill people higher premiums than healthy customers. (4/13)

The Washington Post: Republican House Leader Avoids Selling GOP Health-Care Plan At Home
“Why don’t you go back to Washington, [and] in the spirit of bipartisanship, grow a pair, sit down with [House Democratic leader] Nancy Pelosi and say, ‘Let’s fix Obamacare,’ ” said one middle-aged man at Columbia Gorge Community College, where about 500 people gathered. A few in the rowdy crowd at the next town hall seemed to know that Walden, as the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, played a pivotal role in crafting the GOP’s American Health Care Act, which would have rolled back Obamacare’s system of subsidies and phased out that law’s Medicaid expansion. (Winfield Cunningham, 4/13)

Reuters: Trump Administration Issues Final Rule On Stricter Obamacare Enrollment
The Trump administration on Thursday issued a final rule that will shorten the Obamacare enrollment period and give insurers more of what they say they need in the individual insurance market, likely making it harder for some consumers to purchase insurance, healthcare experts said. It could also raise out-of-pocket medical expenses, the experts said, because it gives insurers more flexibility in determining the value of their coverage. (Abutaleb, 4/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Administration Takes Steps To Stabilize Health-Insurance Market
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, published its final rule aimed at steadying the individual market, which has seen large premium increases and insurers retreating from unprofitable markets across the country. President Donald Trump’s administration is pitching the move as a temporary fix, while it continues to work with Congress to strike an elusive deal to dismantle large portions of the health law known as Obamacare. But after GOP leaders yanked their health plan off the House floor late last month, the administration’s moves to either bolster or undercut the existing health-care law have come under increased scrutiny. (Hackman, 4/13)

The Associated Press: Insurers Say Trump Must Do More To Stabilize ‘Obamacare’
“Obamacare” is proving more of a challenge than the Trump administration bargained for. With the “repeal and replace” effort at an impasse on Capitol Hill, the administration released on Thursday a set of fixes to stabilize the Affordable Care Act’s shaky insurance markets for next year. But the insurance industry quickly said the changes don’t go far enough. While calling the administration action a step in the right direction, the industry is looking for a guarantee that the government will also keep paying billions in “cost-sharing” subsidies that help consumers with high deductibles. President Donald Trump says he hasn’t made up his mind on that. (Alonso-Zaldivar and Murphy, 4/14)

The Wall Street Journal: After Linking Work To Food Stamps, Maine Seeks Same With Medicaid
Maine wants to do to Medicaid what it did to food stamps: link the health program for low-income people to work requirements in the hope of reducing enrollment, raising incomes and prioritizing resources for children, the elderly and disabled. The state is among several that plan to seek federal approval to apply work rules to able-bodied adults without dependents in its Medicaid program, which serves 270,000 people. To make the case, Maine officials say they will point to their record with food stamps. (Levitz, 4/14)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Signs Legislation Allowing States To Deny Funding To Planned Parenthood
Thursday’s bill signing was quickly condemned by Planned Parenthood and other abortion-rights groups. Dawn Laguens, the organization’s executive vice president, said it would make it harder for Americans to access health care. “We should build on the tremendous progress made in this country with expanded access to birth control, instead of enacting policies that take us backward,” Ms. Laguens said in a statement. “Too many women still face barriers to health care, especially young women, women of color, those who live in rural areas, and women with low incomes.” (Andrews, 4/13)

NPR: Trump Signs Law Giving States Option To Deny Funding For Planned Parenthood
Anti-abortion activists cheered the move as a way to return some measure of discretion to states, which will now have the latitude they once did in deciding how to mete out Title X funds. "This is promise kept," said the Susan B. Anthony List's Marjorie Dannenfelser, who attended the signing which was conducted without media present. "This puts an end to the outgoing gift that Obama gave the Trump administration which was to disallow states from being in charge of its own family planning funds." (Dwyer, 4/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Have You Or Your Loved Ones Been Hurt By This Ad? Congressman Wants To Know
Plaintiffs’ lawyers have long solicited clients through television advertisements that warn of a drug’s potentially harmful side effects. Now, a powerful congressman, backed by the leading doctors’ group and some drug companies, is pushing back, saying the ads are to blame for patients suffering harm or even dying after dropping treatment. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wants the ads to include a warning that patients should talk with their doctors before adjusting medication. (Randazzo and Rockoff, 4/14)

The New York Times: St. Jude Medical Played Down Defibrillator Failures For Years, F.D.A. Says
The medical device maker St. Jude Medical played down the failure of some batteries in its defibrillators, shipping them for years before recalling the devices last fall, according to a warning letter the Food and Drug Administration issued this week. The company, acquired by Abbott Laboratories in January, also failed to tell its own management and a medical advisory board that the battery problems had led to the death of a patient, the agency found. (Thomas, 4/13)

Los Angeles Times: Type 2 Diabetes, Once Considered A Disease For Adults, Is Increasingly Common In Tweens And Teens
For years, health experts have bemoaned the rise of childhood obesity in the United States. About 17% of kids and teens in the U.S. are now considered obese, a figure that has more than tripled since the 1970s, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A report in this week’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine lays out one of the consequences of all this excess weight: a corresponding increase in childhood cases of type 2 diabetes. (Kaplan, 4/14)

The Washington Post: Drug Overdose Deaths Top 1,400 In Virginia In 2016
Fatal drug overdoses increased 38 percent in Virginia between 2015 and 2016, an alarming jump that state health officials attribute to abuse of synthetic opioids, heroin and prescription fentanyl. A new report from the state medical examiner found an even bigger increase — 175 percent — in deaths from several varieties of fentanyl, a pain medication significantly more potent than morphine. (Sullivan, 4/13)

The New York Times: New York Falls Short In Resettling Mentally Ill Adults, Angering Judge
Four years ago, after more than a decade of litigation and negotiation, New York State officials agreed that the system of often dismal and dangerous adult homes was no place for the mentally ill. They agreed to move as many as 4,000 mentally ill residents out of their apartments and into supportive housing, a hard-fought recognition that people with disabilities should have the opportunity to live independently and participate in all aspects of community life. (Santora, 4/14)

The Associated Press: AG Agrees Tennessee Will Stop Enforcing 2 Abortion Limits
Tennessee's attorney general has agreed that the state will drop two abortion limits similar to Texas laws struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, according to federal court filings Thursday. One of the requirements mandated that abortion providers have hospital admitting privileges. The other forced abortion clinics to meet hospital-level surgical standards. (4/13)

The New York Times: Michigan Doctor Is Accused Of Genital Cutting Of 2 Girls
A Michigan doctor has been accused of performing genital cutting on two 7-year-old girls at a medical clinic, in a case that federal officials believe to be the first prosecution under a law banning the brutal practice. The doctor, Jumana Nagarwala, 44, was arrested on Wednesday on charges that she performed the genital cutting at an unnamed medical clinic in Livonia, Mich.; transported minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity; and lied to federal agents. (Fortin, 4/13)

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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