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KHN First Edition: September 19, 2017


First Edition

Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations.

Kaiser Health News: Bemoaning Budget Cuts, Navigators Say Feds Don’t Appreciate Scope Of The Job
The Trump administration says many of the organizations that help people enroll in health plans on the federal insurance marketplaces don’t provide enough bang for the buck, sometimes costing thousands of dollars to sign up each customer. So, it is cutting their funding, some by as much as 90 percent, the government told the groups last week. But the navigators, as they’re called, say the government doesn’t understand the time involved in the effort or the complexity of the enrollment challenge. Nor do federal officials appreciate the variety of tasks that navigators are asked to handle, they say. (Andrews, 9/19)

California Healthline: State Lawmakers Tackle Public Smoking And Lead Poisoning, But Punt On Single-Payer
California lawmakers approved several key health care proposals — and stalled on others — in their mad dash toward last Friday’s do-or-die legislative deadline. They adopted a bill that would require drugmakers to give 60 days’ notice on big price hikes, but pushed off a decision on single-payer health care. They banned smoking at state parks and beaches, but delayed a proposal that would have established staffing requirements for dialysis clinics. (Ibarra and Bartolone, 9/18)

The Associated Press: Senate GOP Musters Final Push To Erase Obama Health Care Law
Senate Republicans expressed growing hope Monday for a final push to scuttle President Barack Obama's health care law, an effort that still faces an uphill climb and just a two-week window to pass. Adding more risk, senators would be in the dark about the bill's impact on Americans, since the Congressional Budget Office says crucial estimates won't be ready in time for a vote. (9/18)

The Washington Post: The New GOP Health-Care Measure Goes Further Than The Failed One
The latest Obamacare overhaul bill gaining steam on Capitol Hill slashes health-care spending more deeply and would likely cover fewer people than a July bill that failed precisely because of such concerns. What’s different now is the sense of urgency senators are bringing to their effort to roll back the Affordable Care Act, with only a dozen days remaining before the legislative vehicle they’re using expires. (Winfield Cunningham, 9/18)

The Washington Post: New Push To Replace Obamacare Reflects High Stakes For Republicans
The latest proposal would give states control over billions in federal health-care spending, repeal the law’s key mandates and enact deep cuts to Medicaid, the federally funded insurance program for the poor, elderly and disabled. It would slash health-care spending more deeply and would probably cover fewer people than the July bill — which failed because of concerns over those details. The appearance of a new measure reflected just how damaging Republicans consider their inability to make good on a key campaign promise of the past seven years: to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. (Sullivan and Snell, 9/18)

Politico: Momentum Builds For Obamacare Repeal
Three “no” votes would kill the bill, but in an encouraging sign for repeal proponents, no one is stepping forward yet to deliver that final nail. Instead, wavering senators remain on the sidelines. Conservative Sen. Mike Lee of Utah is warming to the legislation, which would turn federal health care funding into block grants for states and eliminate Obamacare’s coverage mandate, while Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is undecided. (Everett and Haberkorn, 9/18)

The Wall Street Journal: Republicans Press Graham-Cassidy Repeal Effort
Mr. Graham said Thursday that Vice President Mike Pence had called him to say the administration is “100%” on board with the bill. A White House statement earlier last week said only that the president “sincerely hoped” Messrs. Graham and Cassidy had found a solution on health care. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) also appeared to support the proposal Friday. “I appreciate Senators Graham and Cassidy continuing to work on a plan to pass the Senate. I’ll take federalism over Obamacare any day,” he said in a tweet. (Armour and Hackman, 9/18)

The Hill: Graham: Trump Trying To Sell Governors On Latest ObamaCare Repeal Plan 
President Trump is calling governors to try to get their support for a last-ditch ObamaCare repeal effort taking place in the Senate, says Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). "He’s on the phone as I speak getting governors who are a little nervous about this, saying we’re not going to let you fail, we’re going to give you the flexibility over time and we’re going to empower you unlike anything you’ve ever seen," Graham told Breitbart News over the weekend. (Hellmann, 9/18)

Los Angeles Times: With A Deadline Approaching, Republicans' Last Push To Roll Back Obamacare Gains Strength
Prospects for the new repeal legislation — sponsored by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — remain uncertain, but the proposal won an important endorsement Monday from a key Republican governor, Arizona’s Doug Ducey. That raised the possibility that the state’s senior senator, John McCain, who cast the crucial vote in July to kill the last repeal push, could back the new bill. McCain has said he would be influenced by Ducey’s position, but has also called for a less partisan, less rushed approach to healthcare legislation. (Levey, 9/18)

Politico: McCain: I’m Not There Yet On Latest Obamacare Repeal Bill
Sen. John McCain said on Monday that he's not yet on board with his party's latest Obamacare repeal bill, airing some of the same objections that he cited when killing the last GOP push to axe the health law. "I am not supportive of the bill yet," McCain told reporters, adding that he and fellow Republicans would "talk more about it" as the clock ticks closer to the Sept. 30 deadline for the GOP to repeal Obamacare with a simple majority vote in the Senate. (Schor, 9/18)

The Hill: Paul 'Worried' New ObamaCare Repeal Bill Might Pass 
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he’s worried the latest attempt to repeal ObamaCare might pass, and the unintended consequences could be severe. “There's a big groundswell of people pushing for this,” Paul told Reporters on Monday. “Two weeks ago, I’d have said zero [chance it’ll pass], but now I’m worried.” Paul has called the bill from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) “Obamacare lite” and said he will not support it. (Weixel, 9/18)

The Hill: Collins Skeptical Of New ObamaCare Repeal Effort 
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is voicing concern about the latest GOP ObamaCare repeal effort, which could potentially be moving forward without a full Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis. "That's problematic. ... That's part of the problem with short circuiting the process," Collins, one of three Republicans who voted against the Senate’s last repeal push, told reporters Monday when asked about CBO's estimate that it wouldn't know the impact on insurance coverage of a bill from GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (La.) for weeks. (Carney, 9/18)

The Hill: Murkowski Still Studying New ObamaCare Repeal Bill  
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who could be the deciding vote on a new ObamaCare repeal bill, says she is still studying the measure and its effects on Alaska. "I need to figure out how all the numbers work with regards to Alaska," she told a small group of reporters Monday. (Sullivan, 9/18)

Politico: Dems Rush Back To Obamacare Battle
Democrats hustled Monday to beat back the GOP’s latest Obama-care repeal push, leaning on moderate Republicans and mobilizing advocacy groups off the Hill to sound the alarm. The flurry of pressure tactics from Democrats comes as a new repeal bill remains very much alive among Senate Republicans, who have until Sept. 30 to ax former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law with a simple majority vote. (Schor, 9/18)

The Hill: Senate Dems Hold Floor Talk-A-Thon Against Latest ObamaCare Repeal Bill 
Senate Democrats held a nearly four-hour talk-a-thon on Monday night to protest the latest GOP bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare ahead of a potential vote next week. A bill, spearheaded by GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), to repeal much of ObamaCare is gaining momentum as Republicans face an end-of-the-month deadline to try to nix the Affordable Care Act with a simple majority. (Carney, 9/18)

The Hill: Finance To Hold Hearing On ObamaCare Repeal Bill
The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing Monday on the latest effort to repeal ObamaCare as Republicans eye a potential vote next week. “A hearing will allow members on both sides of the aisle to delve deeper into its policy and gain a better understanding of what the authors hope to achieve,” Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said in a statement. (Carney, 9/18)

The Hill: Top Louisiana Health Official Rips Cassidy Over ObamaCare Repeal Bill 
Louisiana’s top health official sent a scathing letter to Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) blasting his new bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, saying “the harm to Louisiana from this legislation far outweighs any benefit.” “The legislation you’ve introduced this past week gravely threatens health care access and coverage for our state and its people,” Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health Rebekah Gee wrote. (Carter, 9/18)

The New York Times: Health Bill Tests A Signature Senate Bond: John McCain And Lindsey Graham
“I always do whatever Lindsey Graham tells me to do,” Senator John McCain, the unpredictable Arizona Republican, said last week, while entertaining questions from a scrum of reporters in a Capitol hallway. He was referring to his best Senate friend and frequent travel partner, Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who is so closely identified with Mr. McCain that when he arrived in the Senate after serving in the House, he was called “McCain’s mini-me.”But now the McCain-Graham bond is being tested. (Stolberg, 9/19)

The Washington Post: Would The House Pass Graham-Cassidy? It’s Not A Slam Dunk.
As Senate Republicans work feverishly to try to revive plans to replace parts of the Affordable Care Act ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline, it’s easy to forget: There’s another chamber in Congress, and it is not a potted plant. One might assume that the House, which already passed a GOP health-care bill in May, would simply rubber-stamp any Senate bill, high-five, and call it a day, but things are not quite so simple. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed the House 217-to-213, meaning two flipped decisions would have stopped the bill cold. (DeBonis, 9/18)

Politico: Freedom Caucus Chief: House Would Pass Obamacare Repeal Plan
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows predicted Monday that the House would pass a last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare if it clears the Senate, with conservatives getting on board. The North Carolina Republican said in an interview that while it’s too early for his group to take a position on the 11th-hour Obamacare replacement bill authored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), he is “very optimistic” about its prospects in the House. (Bade, 9/18)

The Wall Street Journal: Senate’s Three Health-Care Proposals: A Guide
Since the Republican effort to repeal and replace most of the Affordable Care Act faltered in July, three major efforts have emerged in the Senate as lawmakers seek a path forward. They include a final effort to repeal the ACA; an attempt to find a compromise that would shore up the insurance markets; and a push for a new government-run system. All of them face big political hurdles. Here are some key details of the three proposals. (Hackman, 9/19)

NPR: Private Insurer Steps Up To Advertise Open Enrollment For Obamacare
Open enrollment for Affordable Care Act insurance doesn't start for another six weeks. But the quirky insurance startup Oscar Health is launching an ad campaign Monday aimed at getting young people to enroll. The company is boosting its ad spending after the Trump administration announced it would slash its ACA advertising budget by 90 percent. (Kodjak, 9/18)

The Wall Street Journal: Equifax Work For Government Shows Company’s Broad Reach
Equifax Inc., the credit-reporting firm that suffered a massive breach of consumer data, also supplies identity verification services to the U.S. Social Security Administration and works with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to verify people’s eligibility for health-insurance subsidies. (Rapoport and Andriotis, 9/18)

Politico: White House Backs Pharma Partnership After Delaying Other Opioid Panel Proposals
The White House has delayed implementing two of the top recommendations of the presidential opioid commission chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, but the Trump administration sent several officials to Trenton on Monday to advance a third program — a public-private partnership with the pharmaceutical industry. Standing next to Christie, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said President Donald Trump has made the opioid epidemic a priority, which is why he established the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis in the first place. (Jennings, 9/18)

The Associated Press: Christie: Drugmakers To Work On Nonaddictive Pain Medication
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Monday that pharmaceutical companies agreed to work on nonaddictive pain medications and additional treatments to deal with opioid addiction. The Republican governor made the announcement in Trenton, shortly after he convened a meeting of the White House opioid commission that he chairs. That roundtable discussion was closed to the press. (9/18)

The Associated Press: City Asks Judge To Let Case Against OxyContin Maker Proceed
A Washington city that says the pain medication OxyContin has devastated the community asked a federal judge Monday to let it move forward with its lawsuit seeking to hold the pill's manufacturer accountable for damages. Everett, a working-class city of about 108,000 north of Seattle, sued Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma in January, alleging the company knowingly allowed pills to be funneled into the black market and into the city and did nothing to stop it. (9/18)

The Wall Street Journal: A Question For Anyone Getting An MRI
Most patients getting an MRI don’t know to ask a critical question: Will the MRI use gadolinium or not? Magnetic resonance imaging with a gadolinium-based contrast agent, called a GBCA, leaves metal deposits in the body’s organs and tissues including the brain, research shows. Scientists are exploring whether the deposits harm patients. (Reddy, 9/18)

The New York Times: Bill And Melinda Gates Grade The World’s Health
Bill and Melinda Gates handed the world a report card last week, assessing its progress on 18 global health indicators: infant mortality, AIDS, vaccine use, smoking rates and so on. Called “Goalkeepers,” the report was a huge statistical effort, three years in the making, aimed squarely at the world leaders gathering at the United Nations General Assembly this month. To draw extra attention to it, the Gateses will hold an awards dinner and a public release this week featuring former President Obama. (McNeil, 9/18)

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