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3. Political Cartoon: 'Hands Off?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Hands Off?'" by Dan Piraro.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Will he, or won’t he?
Trump leaves everyone guessing
On key subsidies.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law

4. Friction In Republican Party Over Health Care Sparks Into Flames At Town Halls

Lawmakers on recess take heat from their constituents for the Republicans' botched attempts to pass a health care bill.

The Wall Street Journal: Congress Feels Squeeze From Sputtering Health Law Overhaul
After nearly two hours of fielding mostly health-care questions from hundreds of rowdy constituents at a full auditorium here this week, Republican Rep. Mike Coffman threw up his arms in frustration. “Those of you on the extreme left will never be satisfied,” he told the group of about 500 people assembled at a town hall here at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. The crowd erupted in boos. (Andrews and son, 4/14)

The Washington Post: Two Republican Lawmakers Face Anger, From Their Own Voters, On Health Care
Inside a government building here, far-right Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) scolded his party’s leaders for rolling out an “ill-advised” health-care bill and blamed House Speaker Paul D. Ryan for the ensuing debacle. The next evening on a college campus nestled in the Rocky Mountains, moderate Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) held the House Freedom Caucus — to which Yoho belongs — culpable for the legislation’s defeat. (Sullivan and Snell, 4/15)

The Associated Press: Even In Hometown, Constituents Rip Into Republican Lawmaker
Republican congressman Greg Walden found a hostile audience when he hosted a town hall in his Oregon home town last week. Roughly 800 people turned out to confront the 10-term congressman on issues like health care, immigration, the environment and Syria. Walden is a magnet for questions about health care because he is a lead author of the stalled House Republican health care bill. (Fram, 4/17)

The Washington Post Fact Checker: Do Members Of Congress Pay For 100 Percent Of Their Health Insurance?
The Fact Checker has been receiving lots of fact-check suggestions from readers who attended district town halls, in response to our new initiative to fact-check what members of Congress tell constituents during the April recess. Not surprisingly, some of the most heated exchanges at many of the town halls involved health care and the failed GOP replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. (Lee, 4/17)

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump's rejuvenated health care push is throwing a wrench in congressional plans —

The Wall Street Journal: Trump’s Renewed Focus On Health Bill Vexes GOP Tax Overhaul Strategy
President Donald Trump’s revived enthusiasm for tackling health-care legislation before tax policy has highlighted the complicated interplay between Republicans’ health-care overhaul and their planned tax bill. Mr. Trump signaled last week that one of the reasons he has reprioritized health care is that he was relying on savings from the health bill to bolster the tax plan. (Rubin, 4/16)

5. Many Alaskans Find Health Law Is Like Trying To Fit A Square Peg Into A Round Hole

Due to its sheer size, sparse population and harsh environment, Alaska faces unique circumstances that aren't really accommodated by the health law. In other news on the Affordable Care Act, new data details the rise in people covered, a CEO of a major hospital system in Chicago talks about the changes he has seen, NPR looks at pre-existing conditions and more stories.

The Associated Press: In Alaska, Anxiety Grows As Debate Over Health Care Rages
Going without health insurance is a risk. Going without it in Alaska can be a gamble of a much higher order, for this is a place unlike anywhere else in the U.S., a land of pitiless cold, vast expanses and dangerous, back-breaking work such as pulling fishing nets from the water or hauling animal carcasses out of the woods. And yet many people on the Last Frontier do not carry insurance. For them, the Affordable Care Act just isn't working. (Bohrer and D'Oro, 4/15)

WBUR: Maps Show A Dramatic Rise In Health Insurance Coverage Under ACA 
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau present the most detailed picture yet of the dramatic rise in the number of people covered by health insurance since the Affordable Care Act went into effect. County-level data going back to 2010, when the law was signed, show a patchwork of people living without health insurance that ticked down slowly for the first three years under the ACA. But once the online insurance exchanges opened at the end of 2013 and Medicaid expanded, the population living without coverage dropped noticeably. (Hurt, Elosua and Hersher, 4/14)

The Associated Press: Insider Q&A: Public Health System CEO Sweats Out ACA Debate
Cook County Health & Hospitals System, which handles more than 1 million patient visits in the Chicago area every year, has seen a significant financial boost from the Affordable Care Act. The federal law — whose future is up in the air — expanded the Medicaid program for the poor, giving most of the system's patients coverage for the first time in its 180-year history. (Murphy, 4/16)

NPR: 'Pre-Existing Conditions' Reveal A Health Care Conundrum
For most of his life, Carl Goulden had near perfect health. He and his wife, Wanda, say that changed 10 years ago. Carl remembers feeling, "a lot of pain in the back, tired, fatigue, yellow eyes — a lot of jaundice." Wanda, chimes in: "Yellow eyes, gray-like skin." His liver wasn't working, she explains. "It wasn't filtering." Carl was diagnosed with hepatitis B. Now 65 and on Medicare, he had a flower shop in Littlestown, Pa., back then, so had been buying health insurance for his family on the market for small businesses and the self-employed. (Gordon, 4/15)

Kaiser Health News: Tax Day Is Zero Hour For Health Insurance, Too
Your federal income taxes are due April 18 and, likely for several million people, so is a fine for failing to get health insurance. Despite a lengthy debate, Congress has not yet acted on a bill to repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act. That means the law and almost all of its regulations remain in force, for now. (Rovner, 4/17)

Detroit Free Press: 5.4% Of Tax Returns Fined For No Health Insurance
What do Bliss Township, Carp Lake Township, Detroit, Dodgeville and Wawatam Township have in common?  ZIP codes in these communities had the highest percentage of tax returns that paid the individual-mandate penalty for not having health insurance during the 2014 tax year.  A total of 209,320, or 4.5%, of individual tax returns filed in Michigan during the 2015 calendar year included a payment for not having health care coverage. Nationwide, 5.4% of returns paid the fine. Texas had the highest rate of returns with the fine — 8.9%, or more than 1 million returns, according to the latest Internal Revenue Service data. (Tanner, 4/14)

6. What Trump's Market Stabilization Rule Means For Consumers

The Associated Press looks at how people buying off the exchanges will be affected by the administration's steps to stabilize the marketplace. Meanwhile, the insurance industry is worried the moves will reduce enrollment and therefore sales.

The Associated Press: How Trump Insurance Changes Could Affect Coverage Next Year
A much tighter sign-up deadline and coverage delays will be waiting for some health insurance customers now that President Donald Trump's administration has finished a plan designed to stabilize shaky insurance markets. Shoppers will have a shorter time period to choose a 2018 plan and a harder time enrolling outside that window if they lose a job or have some other special circumstance that affects their coverage. (Murphy, 4/14)

Modern Healthcare: Market Stabilization Rule Could Collapse The ACA Exchanges 
Insurers are reeling from regulatory changes to the individual insurance market that they say will lower revenue and does nothing to address their biggest financial concerns. A final rule released Thursday was supposed to help stabilize the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act in lieu of any resolution to repeal and replace the healthcare reform law. But the insurance industry immediately reacted with fear, saying the moves would reduce enrollment and therefore sales. The result could leave hospitals on the hook for more uncompensated care. (Dickson, 4/14)

Politico Pro: Feds Relax Oversight Of Provider Networks
The Trump administration's first major Obamacare regulation was largely intended to tighten insurance enrollment standards, but it also defers more authority to states to review insurers' provider networks. HHS is dropping its oversight in states that have the authority to review network adequacy. In states lacking that authority, HHS will rely on accreditation from insurers that their provider networks are sufficient. (Pradhan, 4/14)

7. GOP Plan Targets 'Frivolous' Malpractice Suits As Way To Reduce Health Spending

Democrats, however, say limiting patients' ability to litigate removes rights from those harmed by horrific medical mistakes.

The New York Times: G.O.P. Bill Would Make Medical Malpractice Suits Harder To Win
Low-income people and older Americans would find it more difficult to win lawsuits for injuries caused by medical malpractice or defective drugs or medical devices under a bill drafted by House Republicans as part of their plan to replace the Affordable

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