Kaiser Health News Original Stories

Medicare

3. Medicare At 50: Some Promises Fulfilled But Program Still Faces Challenges

News outlets mark the half-century anniversary of the federal program that provides health insurance for older Americans.

Los Angeles Times: How Medicare Fulfilled A President's Half-Century-Old Promise
Half a century after President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation creating Medicare and Medicaid with a pledge that seniors no longer would “be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine,” the promise has been largely fulfilled. The two entitlements – one for the elderly and one for low-income Americans - have kept generations of seniors in their homes and extended life-saving insurance protections to poor children and families. The share of uninsured seniors, which was 48% in 1962, is now less than 2%. (Levey, 7/29)

McClatchy: Medicare And Medicaid Face Growing Pains At Age 50
Fifty years ago on Thursday, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation establishing the Medicare program to provide health coverage for seniors and the Medicaid program to cover the poor. But it was former President Harry S. Truman who, in Johnson’s words, “planted the seeds of compassion” that laid the groundwork for both federal programs. (Pugh, 7/29)

Health Law Issues And Implementation

4. Health Law's Co-Ops Tinged In Red Ink, Govt. Audit Finds

The Associated Press reports that a new government audit finds these health insurance co-ops in many cases have failed to reach sign-up goals. And in Arizona, another hurdle for Medicaid expansion.

The Associated Press: APNewsBreak: Gov't Finds Health Law Co-Ops Awash In Red Ink
Democrats fed up with the health insurance industry used President Barack Obama's overhaul to create nonprofit co-ops that would compete against entrenched corporations. Taxpayers put up $2.4 billion in loans to get the co-ops going. But a government audit out Thursday finds that co-ops are awash in red ink and many have fallen short of sign-up goals. (7/30)

The Associated Press: Lawyers Prepare To Argue Over Arizona Medicaid Plan
Lawyers will argue over the constitutionality of Arizona's hospital "bed tax" Thursday in a case that could determine whether 350,000 residents remain covered under the state's Medicaid expansion. The case hinges on whether the assessment is a tax that should have been passed by a 2/3 vote in the state Legislature or a fee that can be passed by a majority vote. (Christie, 7/29)

Capitol Hill Watch

5. GOP Senators Tout Measure To Defund Planned Parenthood, Expect Vote Before August Recess

Republican women lawmakers are taking point position in this legislative effort. But news outlets also note the tricky politics in play -- for Democrats, and for presidential candidates including Hillary Clinton -- as well as the high stakes that could threaten to shut down the government.

The Wall Street Journal: Senate Republicans Tout Bill To Cut Federal Funds To Planned Parenthood
Antiabortion Republican senators touted a bill Wednesday that would cut government funds to Planned Parenthood, intensifying the furor over a hidden-camera video depicting technicians at a Planned Parenthood facility gathering fetal tissue for use in research. The bill, which the Senate is expected to vote on before members disperse for the August recess, would bar federal funds for Planned Parenthood, which reported federal and state grants and reimbursements of around $528.4 million last year for providing services such as contraception, breast exams and testing for sexually transmitted diseases. (Stanley-Becker and Radnofsky, 7/29)

CBS News: Can Congress Defund Planned Parenthood?
Senate Republicans unveiled a bill Wednesday that aims to block any federal dollars from reaching Planned Parenthood. The legislation is a response to a series of undercover videos produced by anti-abortion activists who claim the organization is selling fetal tissue to researchers. (Planned Parenthood says the costs are only related to handling of the tissue donations, and it has done nothing wrong.) (Kaplan, 7/30)

The Washington Post: Meet The Three GOP Women Leading The Charge To Defund Planned Parenthood
Either way, there's a renewed push in Congress to take away some or all of the $500 million in federal funds that goes to Planned Parenthood -- none of which, we should note, is legally allowed to pay for abortions. GOP leaders are smartly letting women in Congress lead the way. Male lawmakers dominate both the party's congressional contingent and the two bills introduced this week to defund the organizaton, but anti-abortion-rights advocates are hoping these three Republican women become the movement's faces. (Phillips, 7/30)

The Hill: Sen. Susan Collins Likely To Vote No On Defunding Planned Parenthood
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Wednesday said she is likely to oppose a bill backed by Senate Republican leaders that would defund Planned Parenthood. “The problem is, in my state and many others, Planned Parenthood is the primary provider of women's health services in certain parts of my state, and as I understand the amendment, and again I'm still reviewing it, it immediately defunds Planned Parenthood,” Collins said. “So I don't know how you would ensure that all of the patients of Planned Parenthood could be absorbed by alternative care providers.” (Sullivan, 7/29)

Politico: How Planned Parenthood Could Shut Down The Government
Calling next week’s Senate roll call to defund Planned Parenthood a “legislative show vote,” GOP firebrand Ted Cruz said Republicans should do everything they can to eliminate federal money for the group — even if it means a government shutdown fight this fall. He’s not alone. On Wednesday afternoon, 18 House Republicans told leadership that they “cannot and will not support any funding resolution … that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood.” Meanwhile, GOP social conservatives like Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Jeff Sessions of Alabama said they’d consider supporting an effort to attach a spending rider that would eliminate Planned Parenthood’s $528 million in annual government funding to must-pass spending legislation this fall. (Everett, 7/29)

St. Louis Public Radio: Sen. Blunt Joins Effort To Defund Planned Parenthood
Senate Republicans plan to vote on legislation next week stripping nearly $540 million from Planned Parenthood following the release of undercover videos that appear to show organization officials talking casually about selling fetal tissue and organs. Those videos, released by an anti-abortion group, have outraged abortion opponents and ignited a swift response on Capitol Hill. U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., is one of at least 20 sponsors of the defunding legislation; and Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, led a group of House members in calling for congressional hearings into Planned Parenthood’s activities. (Howard, 7/29)

The Washington Post: For Democrats, There’s No Right Answer On Planned Parenthood
The surprise of today's Republican press conference on Planned Parenthood came when one of the freshman class's stars praised Hillary Clinton. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa.) described how undercover videos had found the family planning group's executives coldly discussing the sale of fetal body parts, and said that even Democrats were recoiling. "The American people, Republicans and Democrats alike, are horrified by the utter lack of compassion showed by Planned Parenthood for these women and their babies," said Ernst. "In fact, now, Hillary Clinton is calling these Planned Parenthood images disturbing, and I agree.” (Weigel, 7/29)

NPR: Planned Parenthood Controversy Proves Complicated For Democrats
The latest in a series of undercover sting videos features a woman who says she worked for a company that harvested organs from fetuses aborted at Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood leaders say the videos are heavily edited and that they're not making money from facilitating fetal tissue donation for medical research. But the controversy over the videos is becoming a campaign issue — for both Democrats and Republicans. (McCammon, 7/29)

Politico: Clinton’s Planned Parenthood Ties Run Deep
Hillary Clinton is friends with Planned Parenthood’s president and took a rare pause from her duties as secretary of state to keynote a Planned Parenthood gala, while her family foundation has worked with the group to promote birth control. So when Planned Parenthood found itself in the middle of a major scandal last week when anti-abortion activists released graphic undercover videos of executives discussing the alleged sale of aborted fetal tissue, Clinton’s support for the group was not so much a choice as a foregone conclusion — Planned Parenthood’s problem was Clinton’s problem, too. (Karni and Palmer, 7/30)

News outlets also explore the science, ethics and politics of fetal tissue research -

The Associated Press: Planned Parenthood Seeks Fed Study Of Fetal Tissue Research
Under fire for its role in providing fetal tissue for research, Planned Parenthood asked the government's top health scientists Wednesday to convene a panel of independent experts to study the issues surrounding the little-known branch of medicine. Planned Parenthood's request to the National Institutes of Health came as Senate Republicans pressed their fight to bar the organization from receiving federal aid. Likely opposition from at least one GOP senator highlighted the long odds the GOP will face in a Senate showdown vote expected early next week. (Fram, 7/29)

The Sacramento Bee: Undercover Video Turns Lens On Fetal Tissue Research
The recent attacks on Planned Parenthood have highlighted the “ic” factor of procuring and delivering fetal materials, causing many to question the morality of the practice. But in the medical community, few would argue against their curative potential. A growing body of studies over the last two decades,
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