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KHN First Edition: May 10, 2017

KHN

First Edition

Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Reactions To The GOP Health Bill: Voices From The States
As the American Health Care Act moves toward the Senate, many people around the country are reacting to it. Among them, people with preexisting conditions who worry about losing their coverage.One of the biggest concerns about the House bill is its treatment of preexisting conditions. Several lawmakers were worried it would leave sicker people in the lurch, so an additional $8 billion was negotiated to help that population. (5/10)

Politico: 4 Deal-Breakers That Could Blow Up A Senate Obamacare Repeal Bill
The Senate’s fresh attempt to dismantle Obamacare is already running into its first roadblock — the growing list of demands from GOP lawmakers eager to leave their own mark on the legislation. Just days into the chamber’s health care debate, centrists and self-styled mavericks are testing the party’s razor-thin margin for victory and setting the stage for a series of high-profile negotiations. Those stare downs are likely to shape big parts of the legislation, since GOP leaders can only absorb two defections if Democrats and the chamber’s two independents stand unified in opposition. (Cancryn, 5/9)

The Washington Post: Senate Republicans Face Their Own Divisions In Push For Health-Care Overhaul
Sen. Ted Cruz, a defiant loner whose feuds with Republican Party leaders have made him a conservative favorite, suddenly felt an itch to collaborate. It was late March, just after the dramatic collapse of House Republicans’ initial attempt to pass a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health-care system. Cruz (R-Tex.) sent notice to party colleagues that he wanted to convene a working group to keep alive the GOP’s pledge to undo the law known as Obamacare. (Costa and Sullivan, 5/9)

Politico: GOP Pins Health Care Hopes On An Unlikely Figure: Ted Cruz
After four years of taunting and torturing fellow Republicans, Ted Cruz is shedding his just-say-no persona in the Senate for a new identity: Team player. And this is no idle tryout. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — a man Cruz once derided as a liar and an ally of Democrats — is counting on the Texan to help navigate an Obamacare repeal bill through the Senate with virtually no margin for error. As a trusted voice of the conservative wing of the GOP and conduit to the House Freedom Caucus, Cruz is fast emerging as a pivotal player in the Republican bid to do away with the landmark Democratic health care law. (Everett, 5/9)

The Washington Post: Who Will Decide What The Senate’s Health Bill Looks Like? Follow The Medicaid-State Senators.
The Senate has broken into a series of “working groups” to begin writing its own version of legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act. There’s the leadership-driven group, a group of moderates and there was talk about a more conservative group before it was mostly absorbed into the leadership group. But the most powerful bloc in the Senate, based on the size and clout of its members, are the Republicans who come from states that took advantage of the 2010 health law’s federal expansion of Medicaid to provide insurance to millions of lower-income Americans. (Kane, 5/9)

The New York Times: Women Hold G.O.P. Senate Seats, But Little Influence
The Senate passed a significant milestone this year: 21 of its members are now women, the highest number in American history. But as the recent wrangling over the American health care system in Congress shows, there isn’t always power in numbers. After the House passed a health care bill that gave states the option to drop pregnancy and maternity care from required insurance coverage, Republican leaders in the Senate seemed poised to answer criticism from women. Instead they courted more, naming a 13-member, all-Republican working group on health care legislation, without a single woman on it — forcing Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader who approved the panel, on the defensive on Tuesday. (Steinhauer, 5/9)

Reuters: Senators On Defensive Over All-Male Healthcare Panel
After a meeting of the Senate healthcare group, lawmakers were bombarded with questions as to why no women were named to the 13-man panel. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to explain. "The working group that counts is all 52 of us," McConnell told reporters, referring to all 52 Republican senators in the 100-member chamber. "Nobody is being excluded based upon gender ... Everybody's at the table. Everybody." Democrats pounced. Republican men are negotiating "a secret healthcare plan, which I really hope is not happening in the men's locker room," said Senator Patty Murray, a member of the Democratic leadership from Washington state. (5/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Pressed On All-Male Health Bill Group, McConnell Says All GOP Senators Have Input
The Senate working group met on Tuesday and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R., W. Va.) attended to participate in a discussion on Medicaid, but she is not joining the group on a permanent basis, a spokeswoman said. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said “[I] sure hope so” when asked if a woman would be added to the health-care working group. “I just want to make sure we have some women on,” she added. Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) spoke for about 15 minutes in the Senate GOP lunch on Tuesday on the health-care proposals and said she planned to continue to participate in the debate.“I’m going to keep speaking up regardless,” Ms. Collins said. “We know how to make our voices heard.” (son, 5/9)

Politico: Senate GOP On Defensive Over All-Male Health Care Group
Republicans can afford to lose only two of their own members on any Obamacare repeal bill, which they plan to pass using powerful budget reconciliation procedures that can circumvent Democratic filibusters. “It’s just foolish to think that we’re excluding somebody,” Cornyn said. (Schor and Everett, 5/9)

Los Angeles Times: GOP Senators Can Cut Obamacare Taxes Or Preserve Coverage For Millions — But Probably Not Both
As they take up the campaign to replace the Affordable Care Act, Senate Republicans face a critical choice between cutting taxes or preserving health coverage for millions of Americans, two competing demands that may yet derail the GOP push to roll back the 2010 healthcare law. House Republicans, who passed their own Obamacare repeal measure last week, skirted the dilemma by cutting both taxes and coverage. (Levey, 5/9)

The Associated Press: AP Explains: How Byrd Rule Shapes GOP Push On Health Care
The success of Republican efforts to repeal and replace Democrat Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act could depend on an obscure Senate rule that few people have heard of and even fewer understand. It's called the Byrd rule, named for the late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd and designed decades ago to preserve Senate filibuster rights. What it means for health care is that many Republican ideas may be ruled ineligible. (5/10)

The New York Times: Critics At Town Halls Confront Republicans Over Health Care
United States representatives often hold town halls with constituents in their home districts during a congressional recess. But this week, with the House on a break, few of the 217 Republicans who approved legislation to repeal and replace critical parts of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, chose to defend their votes at public meetings. Those who did were, in several cases, greeted by shouts and criticism. (Fortin and Victor, 5/9)

NPR: NPR Fact-Checks Republican Defense Of GOP Health Bill
Town hall meetings got loud for some Republican members of Congress this week, as they defended the passage of the American Health Care Act by the House of Representatives. Constituents have been asking a lot of questions, and we've been fact-checking the answers given by some leading GOP lawmakers. (Kodjak, 5/9)

The Washington Post Fact Checker: Kamala D. Harris’s Claim That 129 Million People With Preexisting Conditions ‘Could Be Denied Coverage’
As part of a tweet storm condemning the House Republican bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) used a talking point that a number of Democrats have used when attacking the changes that proposed legislation would make concerning the handling of preexisting medical conditions in the individual market. We have examined those changes in depth in a report and exposed the false talking point that rape or sexual assault would be considered a preexisting condition. So how does this figure of 129 million fare? (Kessler, 5/10)

The Washington Post: At Raucous Town Hall, Rep. Dave Brat Struggles To Speak Above The Jeers
“Everybody asks for town halls so we can have civil discourse,” a frustrated Brat told more than 700 people at a suburban Richmond church. “That’s what I’m trying to do. If we go this route, it’s going to be very hard to have rational civil discourse. I’m trying.” Trouble began even before Pastor Stan Grant of Clover Hill Assembly of God finished his invocation. As he prayed to God that the discussion would go forth “in a way that will honor you,” a handful of Brat’s critics stood holding small signs aloft. “Nope,” “Shame” and “Stop using the Bible as a weapon,” they read. (Vozzella, 5/10)

Politico: Rep. King: Obamacare Repeal Not ‘Something To Celebrate’
House Republicans should not have celebrated the chamber’s passage of its health care bill last week, one of their own said Tuesday. Rep. King (R-N.Y.) said the narrow vote to pass legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare was too serious an issue to commemorate the way President Donald Trump, administration aides and House Republicans did Thursday — with a public celebration at the White House. (McCaskill, 5/9)

Politico: Frelinghuysen Hammered Over Obamacare Repeal Vote During Teletown Hall
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen may have escaped a rowdy crowd by holding a town hall via telephone, but that didn’t stop constituents from repeatedly hammering the New Jersey Republican Tuesday evening over his recent support of the House Obamacare repeal bill. Frelinghuysen, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was repeatedly forced during the one-hour event to justify why he voted in favor of the American Health Care Act last week after having opposed an earlier version of the bill. (Jennings, 5/9)

Los Angeles Times: Demonstrators Protest Rep. Rohrabacher’s Support Of American Health Care Act
bout 30 demonstrators, some holding signs that read “Putin’s favorite congressman,” “Dump Dana 2018” and “Just say no to Trumpcare,” gathered outside Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s office in downtown Huntington Beach on Tuesday afternoon to protest the Republican congressman’s support for President Trump’s policies. The gathering was organized by Indivisible OC 48, a left-leaning group of constituents in Rohrabacher’s 48th Congressional District who have planned protests outside his office at 101 Main St. since Trump’s inauguration. They started at the office and marched down the street to the pier. (Fry, 5/9)

Los Angeles Times: Sen. Kamala Harris On Idaho Congressman's Healthcare Claim: 'What The ... Is That?'
California Sen. Kamala Harris had some heated words this week for an Idaho congressman's assertion at a town hall that “nobody dies because they don’t have access to healthcare." "Like this guy, this congressman, you might as well say, ‘People don't starve because they don't have food.' What the ... is that? What are you saying? How can you say that?" Harris said during an interview with Pod Save America, a podcast run by former Obama administration staffers. It was recorded live in front of an audience of more than 2,000 people in San Francisco, according to her staff. (Wire, 5/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Medicaid Expansion Transformed A Community—Now The Bill Is Coming Due
The Republican Party’s revamp of the U.S. health-care system is heading toward a showdown over Medicaid. This region, a patch of red in a largely blue state, saw more changes than most from the 2010 Affordable Care Act’s expansion of the health-insurance program for low-income people. Its uninsured rate fell sharply. Its sole hospital nearly tripled its Medicaid revenue, helping finance an expansion. ACA funds fueled health-care hiring and provided work for contractors. (Evans and Fuller, 5/9)

The Washington Post: Early Proposed Rates For ACA Health Plans Hint At A Jump In Premiums For 2018
Early clues suggest that health insurance prices in Affordable Care Act marketplaces could jump again for the coming year, defying predictions that premium rates would begin to level off. Amid the uncertainties hovering over those marketplaces as the Trump administration and a Republican Congress try to dismantle major parts of the law, many states have postponed for another few months their spring deadlines for insurers to report how much they want to charge for ACA health plans in 2018. (Goldstein, 5/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Insurer Steps In To Sell Plans On Health-Law Exchange In Tennessee
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee will offer Affordable Care Act marketplace plans in the Knoxville region of Tennessee next year, filling a potential gap left when Humana Inc. announced it would pull out of all of the exchanges where it does business. The 16-county region had been at risk of having no insurer offering exchange plans in 2018, and the situation had gained attention as part of the political fight over the future of the ACA. (Wilde Mathews and Radnofsky, 5/9)

The New York Times: Senate Confirms Scott Gottlieb To Head F.D.A.
The Senate voted 57 to 42 on Tuesday to confirm Dr. Scott Gottlieb as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, where he will be responsible for regulating drug companies to which he has had close ties in recent years. Dr. Gottlieb, 44, has promised to divest himself from several health care companies and recuse himself for one year from decisions involving those businesses, but that was not enough for many Democratic senators, including Patty Murray of Washington. (Thomas, 5/9)

The Washington Post: Scott Gottlieb Confirmed To Lead Food And Drug Administration
Gottlieb, a physician and venture capitalist with long ties to the pharmaceutical industry, served as a deputy FDA commissioner and a high-ranking official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the George W. Bush administration. He assumes the agency's helm as it faces mounting pressure from President Trump and other Republicans to further accelerate its drug-approval process and to take a more aggressive role in combating the nation's opioid epidemic. (McGinley, 5/9)

Politico: Gottlieb Confirmed As FDA Chief
Gottlieb is a far more traditional candidate than others Trump initially considered for the job, including associates of activist financier Thiel, who pledged to blow up the entire approval process by no longer mandating drugs demonstrate effectiveness before they can be sold. However, Gottlieb is still expected to push the boundaries of FDA reviews and using new authority under the 21st Century Cures Act to speed up evaluations. (Karlin-Smith and Griffiths, 5/9)

The Washington Post: New Safety Risks Detected In One-Third Of FDA-Approved Drugs
Almost a third of drugs cleared by the Food and Drug Administration pose safety risks that are identified only after their approval, according to a study published Tuesday. The researchers said the study, which appeared in JAMA, shows the need for ongoing monitoring of new treatments years after they hit the market. “We seem to have decided as a society that we want drugs reviewed faster,” said lead author Joseph Ross, an associate professor of medicine and public health at Yale University. That makes it critically important “that we have a strong system in place to continually evaluate drugs and to communicate new safety concerns quickly and effectively,” he said. (McGinley, 5/9)

The Wall Street Journal: Deadline Looms For GOP’s Effort To Undo Obama Rules
The window for Republicans to use an obscure law to rescind regulations enacted in the last six months of former President Barack Obama’s administration is closing, although at least one lawmaker is hoping a loophole may allow for an extension. ... The Congressional Review Act gives Congress about 60 days to vote by a simple majority to overturn agency rules passed late in Mr. Obama’s administration. That is a lower-than-usual threshold to pass legislation in the Senate, where 60 votes are often needed. (Andrews, 5/9)

The Wall Street Journal: 13 And Counting: Obama Regulations Rolled Back Under Congressional Review Act
Republicans intent on rolling back Obama-era regulations have made liberal use of a once-obscure tool: the Congressional Review Act. The act has been used to undo 13 regulations since President Donald Trump took office, and another one is on the president’s desk but hasn’t been signed. Removing the regulations has affected a range of issues from the environment to the workplace to health and education. (Beilfuss, 5/9)

The Associated Press: GOP Lawmakers Upset By Gag Rule Memo To Health Employees
An internal memo instructing Health and Human Services employees to consult with senior department personnel before talking to Congress has outraged two congressional Republicans,
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