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KHN First Edition: April 28, 2017


First Edition

Friday, April 28, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: ‘Center Of Excellence’ Designation Doesn’t Rule Out Complications Of Bariatric Surgery
Michelle Andrews reports: "Getting bariatric surgery at a “center of excellence” doesn’t mean that patients can be assured that they will avoid serious complications from the weight-loss procedure at the facility, according to a recent study. Even though facilities that have been accredited as centers of excellence must all meet minimum standards, including performing at least 125 bariatric surgeries annually, the risk of serious problems varied widely among centers, the study found." (Andrews, 4/28)

Kaiser Health News: Try This At Home: Program Brings Drug Addiction Treatment To Patients
New Hampshire Public Radio's Jack Rodolico reports: "Hannah Berkowitz is 20 years old. When she was a senior in high school, her life flew off the rails. She was abusing drugs. She was suicidal. She moved into a therapeutic boarding school to get sober, but she could stay sober only while she was on campus during the week. “I’d come home and try to stay sober really hard — really, really hard,” said Berkowitz, who had trouble staying away from old friends and bad habits." (Rodolico, 4/28)

Kaiser Health News: 2 Health Care Issues Collide On Capitol Hill And The Result Is ConfusionNews
Julie Rovner, KHN’s chief Washington correspondent, was interviewed on Here & Now by WBUR’s Robin Young Thursday. They discussed changes approved by Republican conservatives for the House bill to replace the Affordable Care Act — which would give states the option to loosen provisions in the health law requiring insurers to offer coverage to people with preexisting conditions and guaranteeing that policies cover essential health benefits — and the debate between the parties over whether the government will continue to fund subsidies that help pay for many out-of-pocket expenses for low-income people who purchase coverage on the health law’s marketplaces. (4/27)

California Healthline: How To Ease The Financial Pain Of High-Deductible Health Plans
Emily Bazar reports: "No matter what happens to Obamacare, one health care trend is fairly certain to continue: A growing number of you will have high-deductible health plans, whether you’re insured through your employer or buy on the private market. A high-deductible health plan is just what it sounds like: In exchange for a lower premium, you pay more of your own money for medical care until your insurance coverage kicks in. The IRS defines a high-deductible plan as one with a deductible of at least $1,300 a year for an individual or $2,600 for a family." (Bazar, 4/28)

California Healthline: California Proposes Stringent Cap On Toxic Chemical In Drinking Water
Stephanie O'Neill reports: "California regulators are proposing a strict limit on a toxic man-made chemical that has contaminated water supplies throughout the state, particularly in its vast agricultural heartland. California would be the second state, after Hawaii, to establish a threshold for the former pesticide ingredient and industrial solvent known as TCP (1,2,3-trichloropropane) in drinking water. The chemical compound, identified in California as a human carcinogen, is no longer in wide use but has leached over the years into many wells and reservoirs in California and other states." (O'Neill, 4/27)

The New York Times: Health Law Repeal Will Miss Trump’s 100-Day Target Date
An 11th-hour White House push to give President Trump a major legislative victory in his first 100 days in office broke down late Thursday as House Republican leaders failed to round up enough votes for their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. ... [S]eesawing commitments and the reservations from numerous lawmakers throughout Thursday laid bare the difficulty that Republican leaders faced in trying to push through a repeal bill. (Kaplan and Pear, 4/27)

The Associated Press: Trump Won't Get House OK Of Health Bill Before His 100th Day
The House won't vote on a reworked health care overhaul until at least next week, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters late Thursday. Party leaders made that decision after spending all day pressuring moderate GOP lawmakers to back that bill, but fell short of the votes they'd need to prevail. "As soon as we have the votes, we'll vote on it," McCarthy said after leaving a nearly two-hour meeting of the House GOP leadership. (4/28)

Politico: House Delays Obamacare Vote, Denying Trump 100-Day Win
White House officials, after striking a deal with conservatives, had publicly raised expectations that the vote would occur this week. And they privately pushed Ryan (R-Wis.) to hand Trump something he could tout as a major legislative victory before Saturday, his 100th day in office. (Cheney, Bade and Bresnahan, 4/27)

The Washington Post: House Republicans Fall Short In Scramble For Vote On New Health-Care Proposal
Outside of the Freedom Caucus, Republicans who had opposed the American Health Care Act grappled with the revised text. Most were still opposed or undecided on Thursday. “We’re taking a trillion bucks out and saying, ‘Good luck, states,’” said Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), whose district covers Reno and most of rural Nevada. “That may provide money to do tax reform, but what you leave in my state is that when the legislature meets, it’s got about a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar shortfall.” (Eilperin and Weigel, 4/27)

The Washington Post: House Will Not Vote On Affordable Care Act Rewrite, Smoothing Way For Government To Stay Open
As many as 15 or so House Republicans have publicly said they will not support the latest GOP proposal, which was crafted among the White House, the hard-line House Freedom Caucus and a leading moderate lawmaker. That leaves House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and the White House an incredibly narrow path for passage. The speaker can lose only 22 Republicans on a health-care vote because Democrats have fiercely opposed any attempt to repeal the ACA. (Snell and Kane, 4/27)

Politico: Pre-Existing Conditions Drive Moderates' Concern Over Repeal Bill
Moderate Republicans are largely withholding their support for the Obamacare repeal bill, arguing it would hurt people with pre-existing conditions. House Republican leaders hoped that the House Freedom Caucus’s endorsement of the latest Obamacare repeal bill would light a fire under enough moderates to get their whip count to the 216 votes needed to pass the measure. Instead, the holdouts are digging in, saying that the latest changes only moved the bill to the right and could put more Americans at risk of losing their health insurance. (Haberkorn, 4/27)

Politico: 4 Key Questions Surrounding Obamacare Repeal
House Republicans are mounting yet another effort to tear down Obamacare and remake the health care system — but the path to delivering on one of the GOP's longest-standing priorities remains complicated and fraught with uncertainty. (Cancryn, 4/27)

Los Angeles Times: GOP Shuts Out Doctors, Experts, Democrats — Pretty Much Everybody — As They Work On Obamacare Repeal
The White House and its House GOP allies ... continue to refuse to reach out to Democrats. Even Senate Republicans have been largely sidelined, though their support will be crucial to putting a measure on Trump’s desk. And senior House Republicans and White House officials have almost completely shut out doctors, hospitals, patient advocates and others who work in the healthcare system, industry officials say, despite pleas from many healthcare leaders to seek an alternative path that doesn’t threaten protections for tens of millions of Americans. (Levey, 4/27)

NPR: Health Insurers Try To Plan Ahead As Congress Deliberates On Health Law
As Republicans in Congress debate changes to the Affordable Care Act, insurance executives across the country are trying to make plans for next year. Companies that sell policies on the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, face fast-approaching deadlines to inform states about what plans they want to sell, and what they intend to charge. "Insurance companies need to file rates in 2 1/2 months," says Tom Policelli, CEO of Minuteman Health, which sells Obamacare policies in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. (Kodjak, 4/27)

The Wall Street Journal: ‘Skinny’ Plans Can’t Trim The Real Fat Under New GOP Health Bill: Experts
In the latest version of their plan to repeal large portions of the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are proposing letting states opt out of the requirement that insurance plans cover a specific set of benefits. Republicans hope consumers could save money by buying “skinny” plans, excluding items they may not need such as maternity care. But many experts and studies indicate such changes might not drive down premiums very much, since insurance plans would still cover big, necessary items like hospital stays and doctor’s visits. (Hackman, 4/28)

The Wall Street Journal: Puerto Rico Emerges As Sticking Point In Government Funding Showdown
President Donald Trump’s criticism of a “bailout” for Puerto Rico is disrupting a bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill to send the struggling U.S. territory more federal Medicaid dollars, according to people familiar with the matter. The president has criticized efforts to funnel additional Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico, saying in a Wednesday evening Twitter post that congressional Democrats “are trying to bail out insurance companies from disastrous #Obamacare, and Puerto Rico with your tax dollars.” (Scurria, 4/27)

USA Today: VA Whistle-Blowers Leery Of Donald Trump Order Creating Accountability Office To Protect Them
As President Trump signed an executive order Thursday seeking to provide more protections to whistle-blowers at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the very people he's trying to protect are leery. In locations spanning from Arizona to Delaware, and Florida to Wisconsin, current and former employees who endured retaliation from superiors after they reported abuses have watched as those managers retained their positions — and were even promoted in some cases. (Slack, 4/27)

The Washington Post: Trump Signs Order Creating Accountability Office At VA
Trump, who made improving veterans’ care a prominent issue in his presidential campaign, said the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection will make clear “that we will never, ever tolerate substandard care for our great veterans.” VA Secretary David Shulkin said the office will help identify “barriers” that make it difficult for the department to fire or reassign bad managers or employees. (Superville and Yen, 4/27)

The Washington Post: Trump Nominee To Head FDA Clears Key Panel, Moves To Full Senate For Vote
The Senate health committee voted 14-9 Thursday to approve physician Scott Gottlieb to be the next commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, sending the nomination to the full Senate. All 12 Republicans on the committee voted in favor of Gottlieb, a former venture capitalist who served as an FDA deputy commissioner during the George W. Bush administration. Two Democrats, Michael F. Bennet of Colorado and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, also voted yes. (McGinley and Bernstein, 4/27)

The Washington Post: The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act Of 2017 Was Introduced By Democrats In Congress
Democratic lawmakers this week introduced a bill that would ban the practice of “conversion therapy,” treatments that historically have targeted the LGBT community and claim to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act of 2017 was introduced Tuesday by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), along with Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). About 70 other members of Congress, all Democrats, have said they support the bill, which would allow the Federal Trade Commission to classify conversion therapy and its practitioners as fraudulent. (Wang, 4/27)

Los Angeles Times: Under Fire From Hospitals, Legislator Drops Measure Requiring Reports Of Superbug Deaths
After complaints from California hospitals and physicians, a state legislator has stripped his bill of a measure that would have required doctors to record deadly infections on death certificates. The California Hospital Assn. and the California Medical Assn. wrote letters saying they opposed the plan by state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo). The measure would have required physicians to include drug-resistant bacterial infections on the death certificate if in their opinion it helped cause a person’s death. (sen, 4/27)

The New York Times: Baby-Making By Lottery At A Manhattan Clinic
John Zhang, a well-known specialist in reproductive medicine who runs the New Hope Fertility Center out of a vast and science-fiction-looking office on Columbus Circle, believes he has played a singular role in the fiscal health of New York City. Patients come to him from around the world, from the Middle East, from Kenya, from Nigeria, Spain and China. Perhaps especially from China. (Bellafante, 4/27)

The Washington Post: Wait For Calorie Count On Burgers, Pizza May Get Longer
Consumers hoping to consistently find out how many calories are in that burger and fries may have to wait — again. New government rules to help people find out how many calories are in their restaurant meals are set to go into effect next week after years of delays. But they could be pushed back again if grocery stores, convenience stores and pizza delivery chains get their way. (Jalonick, 4/28)

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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