In This Edition:
From Kaiser Health News:
The advocacy group behind an expensive media blitz opposing Canadian drug imports has deep ties to the drug industry’s largest trade group. (Emily Kopp and Rachel Bluth, 4/19)
The $10 billion plug-in that lets frustrated veterans receive care from private-sector providers is still causing frustration. (Eric Whitney, Montana Public Radio, 4/19)
The powerful chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee wants the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to explain $125 million in overcharges by insurers. (Fred Schulte, 4/18)
The nonprofit Leapfrog Group shows nearly half of California hospitals got a grade of C, D or F in patient safety measures — an increase from two years ago. (Chad Terhune, 4/19)
Sales of sugary drinks dropped in the city by nearly 10 percent a year after tax took effect in 2015, while bottled water sales rose, researchers report. (Ana B. Ibarra, 4/19)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Moth to Flame?'" by RJ Matson.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
PHARMA’S ROLE IN A CAMPAIGN AGAINST DRUG IMPORTS
They are just partners …
But why? To protect public
Health or drug profit?
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.
Summaries Of The News:
The "insurer bailouts" have been a Republican target for years, but their future has become even more uncertain after President Donald Trump said he may use them as a bargaining chip to get Democrats to the table to negotiate over health care.
The New York Times: Health Insurers Make Case For Subsidies, But Get Little Assurance From Administration
Health insurers pressed Trump administration officials on Tuesday to continue billions of dollars in subsidies for low-income people buying plans under the federal health care law, but left with nothing that would dissipate the fog of uncertainty hanging over the industry. (Abelson, 4/18)
The Wall Street Journal: Trump Officials Offer Scant Assurance To Health Insurers On Key ACA Payment
The executives had hoped that Tuesday’s meeting at the Department of Health and Human Services would provide a clearer signal on whether they will continue getting “cost-sharing” payments, which help insurers bring down costs for about six million low-income customers enrolled through ACA insurance exchanges. President Donald Trump has unnerved insurance companies recently by sending mixed signals on the payments, just as the companies are making decisions on whether or not to take part on the ACA exchanges in 2018. (Hackman, Radnofsky and Wilde Mathews, 4/18)
CQ Roll Call: Insurers Meet With CMS To Press For Exchange Subsidy
"We welcomed the chance to share perspectives on the value of coverage delivered to more than 70 million Americans through Medicare Advantage and Medicaid health plans, but reiterated our most pressing concern: the instability in the individual market created by the uncertainty of funding for the cost sharing reduction (CSR) program," said Kristine Grow, an AHIP spokeswoman, in a statement. (Young, 4/18)
The Washington Post: Health Insurers Asked The Trump Administration For Reassurance On Obamacare. They Didn’t Get It.
A CMS official confirmed that Verma “did not comment” on the payments, called cost-sharing reductions, at the meeting and told those gathered that it was a decision to be made by Congress. (Johnson, 4/18)
Meanwhile, the subsidies may play a role in the brewing spending fight —
The Hill: Health Subsidy Demand Jams Up Shutdown Fight
Democrats’ demand that ObamaCare subsidies be wrapped into a must-pass spending package is complicating GOP efforts to prevent a government shutdown at the end of next week. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has signaled no plans to include the subsidies in a bill to keep the government open, but President Trump’s recent threat to withhold the subsidies to insurers has led several top Republicans to intervene. (Lillis and Marcos, 4/19)
President Donald Trump called on supporters at an event in Wisconsin to urge their representatives to support the GOP's efforts. Meanwhile, over in Iowa, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley fields single-payer questions during a town hall, and a pro-Trump group targets a Colorado lawmaker with TV ads in his district.
Politico: Trump Issues Bold New Promises On Health Care, Tax, Infrastructure
President Donald Trump on Tuesday promised big wins in the next stretch of his administration, glossing past the reality that the political newcomer will celebrate his first 100 days without a major legislative victory. In a speech that could be seen as a messaging test for that milestone, Trump hailed the opening days of his administration as a wild success and pledged to quickly deliver on health care, tax reform and infrastructure. (McCaskill, 4/18)
Des Moines Register: Town Meeting Crowd Challenges Grassley On Single-Payer Health Care
Health care dominated U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s town meeting on Tuesday, as southeast Iowa constituents pressed him on insurance affordability and challenged him to embrace a single-payer solution. Congress is currently considering several proposals with the potential to lower insurance premiums, Grassley said, while a single-payer system in which government supplants private insurers is a nonstarter. One woman described to Grassley how the insurance plan her family bought on the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange rose from $1,400 to $2,200 per month – and will go away altogether in 2018. (Noble, 4/18)
Denver Post: Donald Trump Group Pressures Scott Tipton With New Obamacare Ad
Allies of President Donald Trump this week are targeting Congressman Scott Tipton of Colorado with a new TV ad that uses an unusual tactic — reverse psychology — to get him to support a second effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The 30-second spot, paid for by the Trump-aligned group America First Policies, urges viewers to call Tipton and thank him for “his courage and for standing with President Trump to repeal Obamacare now.” The oddity comes from the fact that Tipton, R-Cortez, was the only House Republican from Colorado to publicly declare that he would have voted against the GOP health-care plan that collapsed last month — telling The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction afterward that he was opposed to the legislation. (Mattews, 4/18)
In other health law news —
The Fiscal Times: No Health Insurance? Didn’t Check The Box On Your 1040 Tax Form? So What?
Since the Affordable Care Act was formally launched in 2014, taxpayers have had to check a box on line 61 of their 1040 federal tax returns declaring whether they or members of their family have qualified health insurance -- and provide documentation to prove it. This was required as part of Obamacare’s “individual mandate” to make nearly everyone without insurance eventually sign up. (Pianin, 4/18)
Politico Pro: Price Faces Crucial Test On Obamacare Insurance Market
HHS Secretary Tom Price is facing a stark test of whether to keep Obamacare insurance markets afloat until Republicans come up with a potential alternative — a dilemma triggered by health plans fleeing 16 counties around Knoxville, Tenn. (Haberkorn and Pradhan, 4/18)