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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

2. Podcast: 'What The Health?' Welcome Back, Congress. Now Get To Work.

In this episode of “What the Health?” Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Joanne Kenen of Politico, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times and Mary Agnes Carey of Kaiser Health News discuss the return of Congress and bipartisan efforts to shore up the individual health insurance market for 2018, as well as renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program. (9/8)

4. Political Cartoon: 'Thrill Ride?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Thrill Ride?'" by Nick Anderson.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Vaccine’s price tag — high.
But MenB can be deadly.
Which matters the most?

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

5. Democrats Worry Compromising For Short-Term Wins Will Lead To Long-Term Evisceration Of Law

Democratic lawmakers want the insurer subsidies to be paid. But to get that, they have to give up on something important to them -- state waivers. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking for them to reach a deal.

The Hill: Dem, GOP Demands Could Sink Bipartisan ObamaCare Fix 
Democrats fear that GOP demands for concessions on a bill meant to stabilize insurance markets could lead to the end of key protections for consumers under ObamaCare. Republicans say that in exchange for funding for insurers that would help prevent an ObamaCare premium spike, Democrats should agree to expanding waivers that could allow states to opt out of certain requirements under ObamaCare. (Sullivan, 9/8)

The Hill: Week Ahead: Senate Panel Looks To Quickly Strike Deal On ObamaCare Fix 
Democrats want the bill to include multiple years of funding for key insurer payments, known as cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies, while Republicans only want one year. Insurers have threatened to leave the market or hike premiums if they don't get more certainty on these payments. But a bigger sticking point is the changes Republicans want to make to ObamaCare's 1332 waivers. (Hellmann, 9/11)

The Hill: Kasich: ObamaCare Insurers 'Have To Make A Profit Like Anyone Else' 
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) on Friday voiced support for more state flexibility under ObamaCare, while also advocating for the Trump administration to fund subsidy payments to insurers. Kasich pushed back on the notion among some conservatives that the payments, known as cost-sharing reductions, are a bailout of insurers. (Weixel, 9/8)

Kaiser Health News: Podcast: ‘What The Health?’ Welcome Back, Congress. Now Get To Work.
The Senate this week launched hearings on both the fate of the individual insurance market and the future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is set to expire at the end of September. Still in the mix on Capitol Hill is one possible last-ditch effort to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. But with Congress quickly wrapping up much of its “must-do” legislation, it’s not clear how or when these issues will be tackled, says a panel of experienced health care journalists in this week’s episode of “What the Health?” (9/8)

6. Freedom Caucus Leader Offers Tepid Support For Graham And Cassidy's Obamacare Replacement

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who leads the conservative caucus of lawmakers, said the bill being promoted by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) is the "most promising" option for replacing the federal health law. But the effort faces uphill odds.

The Hill: Freedom Caucus Chair Calls New ObamaCare Repeal Bill 'Promising' 
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said Friday that a new ObamaCare replacement bill in the Senate is the "most promising" option for repealing the law. Meadows spoke favorably of the bill from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), which would replace ObamaCare with block grants to states instead of the law's current spending on subsidies and Medicaid expansion. (Sullivan, 9/8)

Politico Pro: Graham-Cassidy Plan Would Include $1.2T In Block Grants, Overhaul Medicaid
A long-shot Obamacare repeal bill from a pair of Republican senators would set aside $1.2 trillion in state block grants by 2026 and create two formulas to determine funding, according to details shared with GOP governors and obtained by POLITICO. Forthcoming legislation from Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) would replace Obamacare funding for Medicaid expansion and private insurance subsidies with block grants. (Pradhan, 9/8)

7. Trump Looking Ready To Put Repeal And Replace Efforts Behind Him To Focus On Tax Reform

President Donald Trump tweets: “Republicans, sorry, but I’ve been hearing about Repeal & Replace for 7 years, didn’t happen!” Meanwhile, a closer look at the deteriorating relationship between the president and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Bloomberg: Trump's ‘Republicans, Sorry’ Tweet Casts Doubt On GOP's Obamacare Repeal Plan 
Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy are still pushing their plan to repeal Obamacare. It appears the president has moved on to tax cuts. “Republicans, sorry, but I’ve been hearing about Repeal & Replace for 7 years, didn’t happen!,” President Donald Trump said in the first of a series of tweets on Friday. Graham and Cassidy, Republican senators from South Carolina and Louisiana, respectively, said on Thursday they’re planning to introduce a new version of their proposal to replace Obamacare. They’re aiming for a vote this month, and have said that the president backs their plan. Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander, meanwhile, is pushing for a more limited bipartisan plan to stabilize the health law’s markets. (Tracer, 9/8)

The Associated Press: For Trump And Ryan, A Tortured Relationship Grows More So
It started out cold as ice, and then turned warm and friendly. Now the tortured relationship between President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan has gone cool again, with the Republican president making clear he has no qualms about bucking the GOP leader to cut deals with his Democratic foes. The two men dined at the White House Thursday night and discussed legislative challenges ahead for the fall, a get-together that was scheduled over Congress’ August recess, long before the head-spinning events of this week. In a moment that stunned Washington, Trump cut a debt and disaster aid deal Wednesday with Congress’ Democratic leaders as Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell watched on helplessly, after lobbying unsuccessfully for much different terms. (9/8)

The Hill: Trump Regrets Putting ObamaCare Repeal On Top Of Agenda, Blames Ryan: Report
President Trump reportedly regrets putting repealing and replacing ObamaCare at the top of his legislative agenda and blames Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for assuring him that a health-care overhaul was sure to pass in the GOP-controlled Congress. Trump has privately fumed that Republican congressional leaders, including Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), misled him on health care, among other issues, The Associated Press reported Friday. (Greenwood, 9/8)

And the president's former adviser talks about health care —

Politico: Bannon: Hill Republicans Said Obamacare Would Be Replaced By Easter
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said Republicans in Congress assured President Donald Trump that repealing and replacing Obamacare would be a quick process. In an interview on Sunday's edition of "60 Minutes" on CBS, Bannon said congressional Republicans pledged to Trump they would be able to eliminate the Affordable Care Act by Easter — a timetable the Trump administration agreed to so it could move on to other matters. (Cohen, 9/10)

8. The Long Months Of Uncertainty Are Wearing On Insurers

And insurance providers aren't banking on a lifeline being tossed from Congress anytime soon.

Modern Healthcare: Left In The Lurch: Ongoing Uncertainty Is Taking A Toll On Health Insurers 
For nearly a year, health insurers have operated under a cloud of political and regulatory uncertainty that has taken a toll on finances, and for some, their day-to-day operations. Even though Congress shifted its focus from bulldozing the Affordable Care Act to stabilizing the troubled individual market in the short term, big questions remain, particularly around future funding for cost-sharing reduction subsidies that insurers say are crucial to steadying that business line. (Lee and Livingston, 9/9)

The Hill: Groups Fear Trump Funding Cuts Will Lower ObamaCare Enrollment 
Groups that for years have helped people sign up for ObamaCare say the White House's cuts to their funding will almost certainly lower enrollment in the insurance exchanges this year. Some of the groups, known as navigators, say they’re worried they’ll have to permanently cut back on staff, as well as education and outreach about the health-care law ahead of an open enrollment period beginning Nov. 1. (Roubein, 9/8)

Capitol Hill Watch