In This Edition:

From Kaiser Health News:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

1. Hurricane's Health Toll: A Texas Doctor Taps Lessons From Katrina

After weathering the catastrophe in New Orleans 12 years ago, Dr. Ruth Berggren moved to Texas, where she again finds herself in the center of a hurricane crisis. In a Q&A, she draws parallels between the harrowing events and pinpoints risks in Harvey’s aftermath. (Shefali Luthra, 9/6)

3. How Below-The-Radar Mergers Fuel Health Care Monopolies

Most acquisitions by hospitals of physician practices are too small to trigger antitrust attention, study says. But a buying spree of “onesies and twosies” doctor practices has driven competition down and prices up. (Jay Hancock, 9/5)

8. Political Cartoon: 'Special Delivery?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Special Delivery?'" by Dan Piraro.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


If outreach efforts
Don’t bring in new customers,
Trump says pull the plug.

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

9. A Tone Shift On Capitol Hill As Lawmakers Try To Come Up With Bipartisan Health Solution

Republicans are now in the position to have to work with Democrats so make sure the marketplace doesn't collapse. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is holding four hearings to kick off those efforts. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump isn't ready to give up on repeal just yet.

The Associated Press: Senators Seek Bipartisan Deal To Shore Up Insurance Markets
Senators want to forge a modest bipartisan deal for shoring up the nation's individual insurance markets. But lingering raw feelings over the Senate's failed attempt to obliterate the Obama health care law won't make the task any easier. The Senate health committee is holding the first of four scheduled health care hearings Wednesday. Testimony was planned from five states' insurance commissioners. (Fram, 9/6)

The Washington Post: Senate Panel Begins Bipartisan Hearings To Try To Improve Affordable Care Act
Four hearings being held by the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee are part of a push by the panel’s top Republican and Democrat, who are racing to negotiate an agreement before the month ends. At the moment, however, the parties differ on specifics, and it remains uncertain whether any accord — even a narrow one — is possible. This circumscribed effort follows Senate Republicans’ dramatic failure in late July to overturn central parts of the ACA. The new effort may yield a practical bipartisan response acknowledging that the insurance exchanges — conduits to medical coverage for about 10 million Americans — will continue to exist. Or it could provide another piece of evidence that the ACA is so politically toxic that compromise on it eludes even the senators most open to collaboration on health policy. (Goldstein and Eilperin, 9/5)

NPR: After Health Care Reform Efforts Fail, Republicans Look For Small Bipartisan Victories
Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., says he's looking to do something "small, bipartisan and balanced." What's remarkable is that he made that statement in a joint press release last month with the committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.Up until recently, all major Republican efforts to alter Obamacare were launched with no Democratic support, and no attempts to get any. (Kodjak, 9/5)

Modern Healthcare: What To Watch For As Senate Healthcare Hearings Get Underway 
Committee members on both sides of the aisle have pledged to work on a bipartisan bill, with the goal of passing something by mid-September, before insurers are slated to deliver final rates. Rodney Whitlock, vice president of ML Strategies and a former Republican health policy aide on the Senate Finance Committee, said it's possible that the bill ends up being more than just a year or two of appropriations for cost-sharing reduction payments, and a few tweaks to the 1332 waiver process or parameters. (Lee, 9/5)

CQ Roll Call: Senate Poised To Debate Health Care Stabilization Package
Witnesses are expected to hit a few common themes. Insurance commissioners have been calling for certainty on whether the administration will keep paying cost-sharing payments, subsidies created in the 2010 law. Commissioners also could point to programs like reinsurance as a way to lower premiums. Alaska and Minnesota are two states that use reinsurance, which provides government funding to insurers to compensate for high-cost patients. For example, Alaska, whose insurance commissioner will testify Wednesday, received a health care law waiver to create its reinsurance program earlier this year. That will likely come up Wednesday. (McIntire, 9/5)

Bloomberg: Congress Returns To More Modest Plans For Changes To Obamacare 
The other big question is how any bill gets through Congress, given the crowded legislative agenda and issues like tax reform, hurricane relief, immigration and North Korea. One likely vehicle is a planned reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health coverage to millions of low-income children. (Edney, 9/5)

Politico: Trump Wants One Last Senate Push On Obamacare Repeal
President Donald Trump and some Senate Republicans are refusing to give up on Obamacare repeal, even after this summer’s spectacular failure and with less than a month before a key deadline. The president and White House staff have continued to work with Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana over the summer on their proposal to block grant federal health care funding to the states. And though the bill is being rewritten and Congress faces a brutal September agenda, Trump and his allies on health care are making a last-gasp effort. (Everett and Dawsey, 9/5)

The Hill: Dems To Try Adding ObamaCare Outreach Funds To Bipartisan Fix
Senate Democrats will push to restore ObamaCare outreach funding in a bipartisan health care bill this month after the Trump administration announced drastic cuts to the program. Democratic aides say the party will seek funding for ObamaCare sign-up efforts in a bipartisan market stabilization bill that the Senate Health Committee is negotiating, a move that comes after the administration announced a 90 percent cut to outreach efforts. (Sullivan, 9/5)

The Hill: MacArthur: Agreement Reached With House Freedom Caucus Chair On Health Plan 
Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) says he has reached an agreement with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, on the terms for a bill aimed at stabilizing ObamaCare markets. MacArthur, who is more centrist than Meadows and previously worked with him on a deal for ObamaCare repeal legislation, says he has reached agreement with Meadows on the outline of a proposal, though some details need to be worked out. (Sullivan, 9/5)

10. Industry Groups Urge Congress To Guarantee Insurer Subsidies For Two Years

"Persistent uncertainty" about whether the Trump administration will block the funds "is a significant driver of current market instability," write the organizations that include America's Health Insurance Plans, the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association.

The Associated Press: Health Care, Business Groups Want Congress To Pay Insurers
A coalition of powerful health industry and business groups asked Congress on Tuesday to finance federal subsidies to insurers for at least two years, a stance that defies President Donald Trump's threats to halt the payments. The money — which cost taxpayers $7 billion this year — reimburses insurance companies for trimming out-of-pocket costs for millions of lower-earning customers. Those cost reductions and the subsidies are required by President Barack Obama's health care law, but a federal judge has said Congress didn't legally authorize the money. (Fram, 9/5)