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In This Edition:

From Kaiser Health News:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

2. Political Cartoon: 'Case In Point?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Case In Point?'" by Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


It passed the sniff test …
So the human nose does know!
Who would have guessed that?

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:

Health Law

3. Senate Task Force Considers Ways To Unravel Obamacare Coverage Rules

Key to this discussion is how to handle regulations that require plans to cover a set of essential health benefits as well as preexisting condition protections.

The Hill: Senate GOP Examining Ways To Repeal ObamaCare Insurance Rules 
Senate Republicans are looking into repealing ObamaCare regulations on what services an insurance plan must cover, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Thursday. Leaving a meeting of the Senate's healthcare working group, Cornyn was asked if senators are looking at their ability to repeal ObamaCare's essential health benefits. "I'd say yes, we're looking at it," Cornyn replied. (Sullivan, 5/11)

CQ Roll Call: Senate Task Force Discusses Plan To Ease Health Benefit Rules
Senate Republicans in the early stages of revamping a House bill to repeal the 2010 health law met Thursday, reporting progress but no path to consensus in the near future. ... Republicans who are trudging ahead on the daunting task of completing their seven-year quest to repeal the 2010 health law caution that any major legislative activity could take weeks, possibly months. Significant action will have to wait until at least the week of May 22, when the Congressional Budget Office is expected to release its analysis of the bill that narrowly cleared the House last week. (Mershon and Williams, 5/11)

The Associated Press: Senate Conservatives: Ease Obama Health Care Law Protections
Conservative senators are pushing to diminish insurance coverage requirements imposed by President Barack Obama's health care law as Senate Republicans try fashioning legislation overhauling the nation's health care system. Their ideas include erasing Obama consumer protections, such as barring higher premiums for people with pre-existing medical conditions, but allowing states to opt into them. (5/11)

4. In Repeal-And-Replace Package, Senate Gives New Look To Pegging Tax Credits To Income

The approach - which Politico says would make the insurance subsidies "look a lot like Obamacare" - is billed as a breakthrough in the upper chamber but would likely face difficulties among House conservatives.

Politico: Tax Credits May Provide Rallying Point For Senate Obamacare Repeal
Senate Republicans are working on a potential breakthrough that could help push through an Obamacare repeal bill – by making insurance subsidies look a lot like Obamacare. There’s growing support for the idea of pegging the tax credits in the House repeal bill to income and making aid more generous for poorer people. But those moves — while they may win consensus among Senate moderates — are unlikely to sit well with House conservatives. (Haberkorn, 5/11)

Also in the news —

The Wall Street Journal: What May Happen To Your Medical Tax Deduction
Millions of taxpayers who deduct medical expenses each year are right to be concerned. Congress is attempting to make massive changes to both America’s health-care system and tax code. With those changes in mind, worried readers of Tax Report have written to ask what the impact will be on the one issue that is common to both: the medical-expense tax deduction. (Saunders, 5/12)

5. Is Rape Considered A Preexisting Condition? The Answer To This - And Other Questions Related To The GOP Health Plan - Aren't Always Simple

Republicans are fielding inquiries on the ramifications of the American Health Care Act.

NPR: House Republicans Defend Health Bill Against Accusations It Hurts Rape Victims
At a town hall meeting in Willingboro, N.J., on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur was confronted by angry constituents who demanded to know how the Republican health care bill that he helped write would affect rape victims. A young man named Joseph said he understood that the bill would allow insurance companies to deem rape a pre-existing condition and deny coverage to people who have been raped. (Kodjak, 5/11)

In other news on repeal-and-replace efforts —

Modern Healthcare: GOP Senators Likely To Pass ACA Repeal Bill Because Failure Is Not An Option
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell faces a seemingly herculean task in getting at least 50 Republican senators with sharply diverse views to reach consensus on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. After that, he and his lieutenants will have to forge an agreement on the legislation with the generally more conservative House Republicans, who passed their widely panned replacement bill earlier this month. Senate Republicans intend to move the bill through the budget reconciliation process with no Democratic support. No committee hearings are planned. With 52 GOP senators, McConnell can't afford more than two defectors. Vice President Mike Pence could be called on to break a tie vote. (Meyer, 5/12)

The Hill: Portman, Toomey Tasked With Medicaid Talks
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has asked Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to discuss a way forward on the issue of Medicaid, according to Senate GOP aides. Portman and Toomey are tasked with discussing how quickly to wind down ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion and how quickly a cap on Medicaid payments should grow. (Sullivan, 5/11)

The Hill: McConnell Promises Women Can Take Part In Healthcare Meetings 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has provided assurance to GOP colleagues that women will be invited to attend future meetings of a special working group tasked with negotiating healthcare reform. The assurances made in private, backed up by a public statement earlier in the week, have quelled concern in the GOP conference that the rollout of the working group would be derailed by controversy over gender politics. (Bolton, 5/12)

Nashville Tennessean: Tennessee Native: Fix Obamacare, Don't Rip It Apart
An East Tennessee native who was one of the key architects of the Affordable Care Act urged Congress on Thursday to repair what’s wrong with the landmark health care law – and even rebrand it if necessary – but implored lawmakers not to decimate the protections it has provided to millions of Americans. “Don’t strip away the essential health care that people have gotten now,” said Nancy-Ann DeParle, who was a top health care adviser to former President Barack Obama. “That would be a terrible mistake.” (Collins, 5/11)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: 17 Pennsylvania Mayors Say Don't Defund Planned Parenthood
A bipartisan group of 106 mayors from 28 states, including Mayor Kenney and 16 others from Pennsylvania, have signed a letter to congressional leaders opposing efforts to “defund” Planned Parenthood, according to the family planning organization...The House of Representatives last week narrowly voted for a GOP health plan that would dramatically changing health funding and other parts of the Affordable Care Act. The GOP's American Health Care Act, which is expected to face a tough battle in the Senate, would block federal Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood for a year. (McCullough, 5/11)

The New York Times: Midwestern Manners A Memory At One Iowa Republican’s Town Halls
It is still uncertain whether Republicans in Congress will succeed in undoing the Affordable Care Act, but the debate over repealing it may have already done in Midwestern Nice. It was Tuesday evening, and inside a community college gymnasium, the jeers were hailing down on Representative Rod Blum, a Republican from northeastern Iowa, as he defended his vote for a bill that would reshape health care and repeal much of President Barack Obama’s biggest domestic accomplishment. (Healy, 5/11)

KQED: ‘I’m Andrew Janz And I’m Here To Repeal And Replace Devin Nunes’
Protesters gathered in front of Congressman Devin Nunes’ office in Clovis on Thursday, upset about his vote to support the GOP health care plan and critical of his handling of the investigation into Russian election interference. And, to hear from the first challenger to Nunes in the 2018 midterm election, a 33-year-old Fresno County deputy district attorney making his first run for office. (Rancano, 5/11)