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KHN First Edition: September 21, 2017


First Edition

Thursday, September 21, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Last-Ditch Effort By Republicans To Replace ACA: What You Need To Know
Republican efforts in Congress to “repeal and replace” the federal Affordable Care Act are back from the dead. Again. While the chances for this last-ditch measure appear iffy, many GOP senators are rallying around a proposal by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), along with Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). They are racing the clock to round up the needed 50 votes — and there are 52 Senate Republicans. (Rovner, 9/19)

Kaiser Health News: Caregivers Draw Support By Mapping Their Relationships
Every time Jacque Pearson tried to devise a plan to move her 81-year-old dad, who has Alzheimer’s, from his home in Boise, Idaho, to hers in Denver, she felt stuck. Then, two weeks ago, she had a breakthrough. It happened at an AARP-sponsored session in which Pearson created a “CareMap” — a hand-drawn picture showing all the people she cares for as well as the people surrounding those individuals and her own sources of support. (Graham, 9/21)

Kaiser Health News: Open Your Mouth And Say Goo-Goo: Dentists Treating Ever-Younger Patients
Allen Barron scrunches up his tiny face and wails as his mother gently tips him backward onto the lap of Jean Calvo, a pediatric dental resident at the University of California-San Francisco. Allen’s crying may be distressing, but his wide-open mouth allows Calvo to begin the exam. She counts his baby teeth and checks for dental decay. “Nothing I am going to do will hurt him,” Calvo tells Allen’s mother, Maritza Barron, who is holding her son’s hands. (Udesky, 9/21)

The Associated Press: Study: Most States Would Take A Hit From GOP Health Bill
Most states would take a stiff budgetary hit if the latest Senate GOP health care bill becomes law, according to an analysis released Wednesday. That would likely result in more uninsured Americans. The study by the consulting firm Avalere Health found that the Graham-Cassidy bill would lead to an overall $215 billion cut to states in federal funding for health insurance, through 2026. Reductions would grow over time. (9/20)

The Washington Post: Under Latest Health-Care Bill, Red States Would Benefit Disproportionately
The latest Republican proposal for curtailing the Affordable Care Act was assembled with such haste that it may get a vote before a full cost estimate is finished. But it is not a new idea. At its core, the bill introduced by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) would implement a decades-old conservative concept, capping the amount that taxpayers spend on Medicaid and giving states full control over the program. As he’s sold the legislation to conservative governors and activists, Graham has described it as a possible triumph for federalism, and a way to end the progressive dream of universal health care managed from Washington. (Weigel, 9/20)

The Washington Post: Cassidy-Graham Bill Would Cut Funding To 34 States, New Report Shows
More than half of the overall cuts in the legislation — named for its primary sponsors, Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) — would come from Medicaid, the analysis shows. States with relatively low medical costs, skimpy Medicaid benefits and no program expansion would win out. Texas would gain more than any state, about $35 billion from 2020 through 2026. On the other hand, states with higher-priced medicine and generous benefits for their low-income residents, such as California and New York, would lose billions of dollars. (Goldstein, Weigel and Eilperin, 9/20)

Los Angeles Times: Republicans' New Repeal Bill Would Probably Leave Millions More Uninsured, New Analyses Suggest 
“The vast majority of states lose money, and some lose truly jaw-dropping amounts,” said Jocelyn Guyer, managing director of Manatt Health, a consulting firm that has analyzed the Graham-Cassidy proposal. “That suggests coverage losses that are likely somewhere between significant and vast,” she said. (Levey, 9/20)

The Hill: 34 States Would See Funding Cut From New ObamaCare Repeal Bill: Study
Cassidy, Graham and the other co-sponsors of the bill said the legislation is about fairness. It aims to redistribute money from high-spending Medicaid expansion states — like California — to states that rejected the expansion — like Texas. But it isn't just blue states that stand to lose under the Graham-Cassidy proposal. (Weixel, 9/20)

The New York Times: How The Latest Obamacare Repeal Plan Would Work
The latest Republican proposal to undo the Affordable Care Act would grant states much greater flexibility and all but guarantee much greater uncertainty for tens of millions of people. The legislation, proposed by two Senate Republicans, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, would not only reduce the amount of federal funding for coverage over the next decade, but also give states wide latitude to determine whom to cover and how. The result is a law that would be as disruptive as many of the Republicans’ previous proposals, but whose precise impact is the hardest to predict. (Abelson and Sanger-Katz, 9/20)

NPR: Republicans Try One Last Effort To Repeal Obamacare
Graham-Cassidy essentially deconstructs all of the major programs created by the Affordable Care Act, gathers up the money and hands it over to states to run their own health care programs. It gets rid of both the subsidies that help people buy individual health insurance policies and the reimbursements to insurance companies for offering price breaks on copayments and deductibles to the lowest-income customers. It rolls back the Obamacare Medicaid expansion that was adopted by 31 states and Washington, D.C., and it eliminates the Basic Health Program that was created under the ACA and implemented in New York and Minnesota. (Kodjak, 9/19)

Stat: Abortion Coverage Would Be Restricted Under New GOP Health Care Plan
The GOP health care overhaul barreling toward a possible Senate vote this month would restrict abortion coverage for some people as early as next year. Most of the major changes included in the package, from Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, wouldn’t take effect until 2020. That’s when the legislation would end the subsidies currently available to consumers who don’t get their health insurance through their job or a government program. It’s also when the legislation would overhaul — and cut — government contributions to state Medicaid programs. (Mershon, 9/20)

The Hill: GOP Takes Heavy Fire Over Pre-Existing Conditions
The new ObamaCare repeal measure from Senate Republicans would give states a way to repeal protections for people with pre-existing conditions, a controversial move that opponents of the bill are denouncing. The provision attracted widespread attention on Wednesday after late-night host Jimmy Kimmel blasted Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a lead author of the legislation. Kimmel said the senator is violating the “Jimmy Kimmel test,” which Cassidy coined as a way of saying that no one should be denied care because they can’t afford it. “This guy Bill Cassidy just lied right to my face,” Kimmel said. (Sullivan, 9/20)

The Hill: Blue Cross Warns GOP Repeal Bill 'Undermines' Pre-Existing Condition Rules
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association warned against a new GOP ObamaCare bill on Wednesday, saying it would "undermine" protections for pre-existing conditions. "The bill contains provisions that would allow states to waive key consumer protections, as well as undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing medical conditions," the association said in a statement. (Sullivan, 9/20)

The Hill: Trump: New ObamaCare Repeal Does Cover Pre-Existing Conditions
President Trump argued Wednesday that the latest Republican effort to repeal much of ObamaCare does include coverage of pre-existing conditions. “I would not sign Graham-Cassidy if it did not include coverage of pre-existing conditions. It does! A great Bill. Repeal & Replace,” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to the legislation being pushed by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). (Shelbourne, 9/20)

The Washington Post: McConnell Intends To Bring Repeal Bill To Senate Floor Next Week, Spokesman Says
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to bring a bill to undo the Affordable Care Act to the Senate floor next week, a McConnell spokesman said Wednesday. His statement marked McConnell’s most concrete commitment yet to moving ahead with the bill from Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). It signaled that a vote would be expected next week. (Sullivan, 9/20)

The Wall Street Journal: McConnell Plans Vote On GOP Health Bill Next Week
A spokesman for Mr. McConnell (R., Ky.) said it was “the leader’s intention to consider Graham-Cassidy on the floor next week,” referring to the bill sponsored by GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. The spokesman’s statement didn’t commit the Senate to a vote, which would need to happen before the end of next week for Republicans to pass the measure by a simple majority. (son and Radnofsky, 9/20)

Politico: Senate Girds For Final Obamacare Repeal Vote
McConnell has told colleagues he will only bring up the bill if it will succeed. The statement does leave some wiggle room to not proceed with a vote. It's still anyone's guess whether the bill's backers can get to 50 votes. One Republican senator suggested that McConnell may ultimately decide to bring the bill up for another failed vote, in part to show GOP donors and President Donald Trump that the Senate GOP tried again. (Everett and Kim, 9/20)

Politico: The Unlikely Group Who Brought Obamacare Repeal Back To Life
Senate Republicans’ last-ditch attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare rests on the unlikely collaboration of a veteran senator who can’t stand health policy, a wonky freshman who has never passed major legislation and a former senator who lost his seat a decade ago. Together, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum crafted the latest GOP repeal bill in hopes of delivering on the party’s seven-year-old campaign promise to repeal Obamacare. (Haberkorn and Bade, 9/21)

The Associated Press: Republicans See Political Necessity In Health Care Effort
It's divisive and difficult, but the Republican drive to erase the Obama health care overhaul has gotten a huge boost from one of Washington's perennial incentives: Political necessity. In the two months since Senate Republicans lost their initial attempt to scuttle President Barack Obama's statute, there's fresh evidence GOP voters are adamant that the party achieve its long-promised goal of dismantling that law. This includes conservative firebrand Roy Moore forcing a GOP primary runoff against Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., who's backed by President Donald Trump, and lots of money, plus credible primary challenges facing Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Nevada's Dean Heller. (9/21)

The New York Times: ‘Chuck And Nancy,’ Washington’s New Power Couple, Set Sights On Health Care
When Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, introduced Chuck Schumer to members of her caucus this month, she warmed up the room with a well-worn joke about her Senate counterpart: “You know they say the most dangerous place in Washington is between Chuck and a camera.” Mr. Schumer’s love of the spotlight aside, it has been behind the scenes where “Chuck and Nancy,” as President Trump calls them, have forged what may be the most surprisingly potent partnership in Mr. Trump’s Washington. (Stolberg, 9/20)

The Washington Post: Ready To Deal This Time? Alaska’s Murkowski Is In The Health-Care Spotlight. Again.
Lisa Murkowski walked briskly down a cavernous hallway on the first floor of the Capitol, awash in a small sea of reporters. Suddenly she paused, seemingly overcome by the pressure of the moment. “You guys — hold,” the Republican senator from Alaska said curtly. “Give me breathing room, please. It gets a little intense. I know you guys don’t feel it, but it’s like, whoa.” Another effort to replace the Affordable Care Act is underway, and in Washington that means one thing: Murkowski is at the center of it all — under the glare of the national spotlight and squarely on the minds of White House officials and Senate Republican leaders who are strenuously seeking her support. (Sullivan, 9/20)

The Hill: The Two Senators Who Will Likely Decide Fate Of ObamaCare Repeal
All eyes are on Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) as Republicans try to approve a new ObamaCare repeal bill in the next 11 days. The two were among the three Republicans who sank the last GOP effort to repeal ObamaCare, and President Trump and his allies probably can’t afford to lose either if they are to win a vote next week. (Hellman, 9/20)

Politico: Christie Says He Opposes Graham-Cassidy Bill
Gov. Chris Christie said on Wednesday that he opposes the latest Senate plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, deeming it “too injurious” to New Jersey. “I oppose Graham-Cassidy because it is too injurious to the people of New Jersey,” Christie told reporters standing outside an addiction treatment center in Somerset County. “I’m certainly not going to support a bill that takes nearly $4 billion from people in the state.” (Jennings, 9/20)

The Hill: Blumenthal: ObamaCare Repeal Bill One Of The ‘Most Cruel’ Acts In History
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Democrats will use “all the tools and tactics” they can to stop the new Republican effort to repeal ObamaCare, legislation he called “the most cruel and outrageous.” “We are preparing and planning to use every tool and tactic available to us because we are on the precipice of one of the most cruel and outrageous legislative acts in recent history,” Blumenthal told CNN’s “The Situation Room.” (Shelbourne, 9/20)

The Hill: New Mexico Gov: GOP Healthcare Bill 'Still Needs Some Work'
New Mexico’s Republican governor is not yet persuaded to support the latest GOP effort to repeal ObamaCare. “While it’s encouraging that Congress is working on a healthcare solution, the governor is concerned this bill could hurt New Mexico and still needs some work,” a spokesman for Gov. Susana Martinez told The Albuquerque Journal. (Shelbourne, 9/20)

The New York Times: Insurers Come Out Swinging Against New Republican Health Care Bill
The health insurance industry, after cautiously watching Republican health care efforts for months, came out forcefully on Wednesday against the Senate’s latest bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, suggesting that its state-by-state block grants could create health care chaos in the short term and a Balkanized, uncertain insurance market. In the face of the industry opposition, Senate Republican leaders nevertheless said they would push for a showdown vote next week on the legislation, drafted by Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. (Pear, 9/20)

The Hill: Insurer Trade Group Blasts Latest ObamaCare Repeal Bill
In a letter to Senate leadership, America's Health Insurance Plans said a repeal bill sponsored by GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (La.) would have "real consequences on consumers and patients." The bill would further destabilize the individual market; cut Medicaid; pull back on protections for pre-existing conditions; not end taxes on health insurance premiums and benefits; and potentially allow government-controlled, single-payer health care to grow, wrote Marilyn Tavenner, the group's President and CEO. (Hellmann, 9/20)

The Hill: Insurers Are Scrambling To Keep Up With ObamaCare Drama
Insurance companies blindsided by the Senate GOP’s decision to pull the plug on bipartisan talks and move forward again with ObamaCare repeal are scrambling to figure out how to move forward. The death of the bipartisan push leaves them with no clear way to shore up fragile marketplaces ahead of the 2018 enrollment season, which begins Nov. 1. (Roubein, 9/21)

The Wall Street Journal: With Timing Tight For GOP’s Health-Law Repeal Effort, Opponents Rush To Mobilize
Opponents of a Republican plan to dismantle most of the Affordable Care Act are scrambling to ramp up a resistance campaign before a possible Senate vote next week on a bill many never expected would gain traction. With such a narrow window, consumer and other groups are seeking to pressure specific GOP senators they see as most likely to waver. They also assert that Republicans are trying to ram through a bill outside the normal process while reneging on a promise to preserve the ACA’s consumer protections, claims the bill’s sponsors reject. (Armour, 9/21)

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