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In This Edition:

From Kaiser Health News:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

3. Political Cartoon: 'Outside The (Litter) Box?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Outside The (Litter) Box?'" by Dave Coverly, Speed Bump.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

DOES INDUSTRY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ORPHAN DRUG PROTECTIONS? FDA COMMISSIONER SIGNALS CHANGE AHEAD

Abusing orphan
Status? Watch out. FDA
Plans to close loopholes.

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

4. Hearings Done, Senate Health Panel Now Seeks Common Ground On Stabilizing Marketplaces

The committee's chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), says he hopes to have a bipartisan bill by early next week that would give insurers more confidence about the market environment.

The Hill: Senate Health Panel Aims For Deal On Stabilizing Markets Early Next Week 
The Senate's health panel intends to craft a bipartisan bill to stabilize the insurance markets by early next week, enabling the full Senate to pass it by the end of the month, according to Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). Alexander laid out the goal Thursday during the Health Committee’s fourth hearing on stabilizing the markets ahead of a Sept. 27 deadline for insurers to sign contracts to sell plans on HealthCare.gov, with open enrollment beginning Nov. 1. Last week, Alexander said he’d hoped for a deal by the end of this week. (Roubein, 9/14)

CQ: Senate Seeks Consensus As Health Insurance Hearings Conclude
Differences remain between requests from Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and ranking member Patty Murray, D-Wash., but the two expressed confidence Thursday that they would reach a deal. ... While Alexander said he has not received assurances from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that a bill the committee leaders produce would get a floor vote, the Kentucky Republican and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., are monitoring their progress. “They know that we may get a result, and if we do, they’ll have to deal with it in the last week of September for it to have effect in 2018,” Alexander said. (Clason, 9/14)

Morning Consult: Some Democrats Willing To Replace Obamacare’s Individual Mandate
As a Senate panel tries to agree on a bipartisan fix to stabilize the Affordable Care Act, some Democrats appear willing to part with the law’s controversial individual mandate — as long as there is an adequate replacement. ... At least two Democratic senators — Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Tim Kaine of Virginia — have expressed interest in automatically enrolling uninsured Americans in a low-cost insurance plan, a proposal that was included in one Republican plan to repeal Obamacare earlier this year. And 10 moderate House Democrats raised auto-enrollment as a potential tool to increase coverage and stabilize the Obamacare exchanges in a health care proposal released in July. (Reid, 9/14)

Modern Healthcare: Split Over State Flexibility, Senators Hope To Craft Insurance Stability Bill By Next Week 
At the last of four hearings held by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, expert witnesses representing insurers, providers, consumers and state insurance commissioners stressed the urgent need for Congress to fund payments to insurers for the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing reductions to low-income consumers. ... In addition, they pressed for a federal reinsurance program to help carriers with the cost of sicker enrollees. And they urged strong enforcement of the law's requirement that everyone buy insurance, or an alternative mechanism to prod consumers to maintain continuous coverage. (Meyer, 9/14)

Nashville Tennessean: Nashville Surgeon: State Health Woes Tied To Challenge Of Buying Insurance
Nashville surgeon Manny Sethi told a Senate panel Thursday that Tennesseans’ struggles to get healthy are tied directly to the challenges facing the individual health insurance market. Critically ill patients who have undergone multiple surgeries and clinic visits have suddenly seen their health insurance canceled or have been forced to find a new doctor to comply with rules imposed by their insurance company – in some cases, the only insurer in their county, Sethi said. (Collins, 9/14)

Morning Consult: Centrist Democrats Turn to Pragmatism, Seek Bipartisan ACA Fixes
While some progressives campaigned this week for “Medicare for all,” a group of moderate House Democrats aligned themselves with a more modest push to stabilize the Affordable Care Act, arguing that it could spur broader health care reforms in the future. Thirty-five of the 61 members of the New Democrat Coalition sent a letter Friday urging the leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to agree on a bipartisan bill to keep premiums from rising further for Obamacare enrollees next year. (Reid, 9/15)

5. Sen. Cornyn Sussing Out Support For Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill

The legislation, which is the Republicans' last-ditch effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, has long odds in the Senate.

The Hill: Key Senator Whipping Last-Ditch ObamaCare Repeal Bill
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is measuring support for a new bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare as lawmakers head toward an end-of-the-month deadline. The vote-counting process, known as "whipping," will give GOP leadership a tentative count of which senators support the legislation spearheaded by GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (La.). (Carney, 9/14)

Meanwhile, in the House, progress has slowed over funding for CHIP —

CQ: House Stalled On Kids' Health Bill As Senate Prepares To Act
The Senate Finance Committee is expected to unveil the legislative text for its children's health insurance bill this week but progress in the House on the issue still seems stalled before the chamber leaves for recess. “We still have some things to work through, which we'll do at the staff level and member level next week when we're out, and then I hope when we return we'll have an opportunity then to mark up,” said Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the Children's Health Insurance Program. (Raman, 9/14)

6. ACA Navigators Find Out Just How Deep Those Outreach Budget Cuts Go

Funding will be reduced by as much as 92 percent to the organizations designed to help people enroll in coverage through the Affordable Care Act. And many of the places that will be hit the hardest are in deep red territory.

The Washington Post: HHS Slashes Funding To Groups Helping ACA Consumers Enroll By Up To 92 Percent
Health and Human Services officials have informed grass-roots groups that assist with enrollment under the Affordable Care Act that their funding will be reduced by as much as 92 percent, a move that could upend outreach efforts across the country. The groups, which fund organizations known as “navigators,” had been braced for the cuts since the Trump administration announced two weeks ago that it would shrink overall program funding by 41 percent and slash the department’s ACA advertising budget from $100 million to $10 million. At the time of the announcement, HHS officials said the outreach wasted taxpayers’ money. (Eilperin and Goldstein, 9/14)

The Hill: ObamaCare Enrollment Groups Learn Extent Of Trump Cuts 
Their grant funds ran out at the beginning of the month, and they will not be paid retroactively for the first two weeks of September, according to one source. In preparation, some groups had laid off staff and cut salaries. Now, navigators will be analyzing their new budgets ahead of an ObamaCare enrollment season beginning Nov. 1. The Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging received “a severe cut of 62 percent,” Catherine Edwards, the executive director, wrote in an email. (Roubein, 9/14)

The Hill: Trump Cuts To ObamaCare Outreach To Hit Red States Most 
The Trump administration’s decision to slash outreach funding for ObamaCare will, perhaps unintentionally, hit red states the hardest. The move last month to cut 90 percent of funds to spur signups for healthcare.gov is likely to lead to fewer young and healthy people in the insurance pool — and thus higher costs in states with majority Trump voters, according to experts. (Weixel, 9/15)

Iowa Public Radio: Feds Cut Funding For Iowa's ACA Sign-Up Groups
Late Wednesday night, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced various grant reductions for ACA navigators. Some cuts are as high as 90 percent. Genesis Health in the Quad Cities is facing a 90 percent cut to is ACA navigator grant. (Sostaric, 9/14)