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From Kaiser Health News:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

Summaries Of The News:

Health Law

4. Administration To Allow Moral, Religious Exemptions To Birth Control Mandate

More than 55 million women have access to birth control without copayments because of the contraceptive coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

The New York Times: Trump Administration Set To Roll Back Birth Control Mandate
The Trump administration is poised to roll back the federal requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, vastly expanding exemptions for those that cite moral or religious objections. The new rules, which could be issued as soon as Friday, fulfill a campaign promise by President Trump and are sure to touch off a round of lawsuits on the issue. (Pear, 10/5)

The Washington Post: Trump Administration To Narrow Affordable Care Act’s Contraception Mandate
The action, according to a Republican briefed Thursday on the regulation, will allow a much broader group of employers and insurers to exempt themselves from covering contraceptives such as birth control pills on religious or moral grounds. It represents the latest twist in a seesawing legal and ideological fight that has surrounded this aspect of the 2010 health-care law nearly from the start. (Wan and Eilperin, 10/6)

5. Trump Continues To Chip Away At ACA Despite Congress' Failure To Repeal Law

In a rare move, President Donald Trump weighed in on a decision concerning Iowa's attempts to stabilize its marketplace, telling CMS to deny its request. Supporters of the Affordable Care Act see the president’s opposition even to changes sought by conservative states as part of a broader campaign to undermine the law. Meanwhile, a left-leaning study finds that at least 20 states blame the administration for the uncertainty in the marketplaces.

The Washington Post: As ACA Enrollment Nears, Administration Keeps Cutting Federal Support Of The Law
For months, officials in Republican-controlled Iowa had sought federal permission to revitalize their ailing health-insurance marketplace. Then President Trump read about the request in a newspaper story and called the federal director weighing the application. Trump’s message in late August was clear, according to individuals who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations: Tell Iowa no. (Eilperin, 10/5)

The Hill: Trump Told HHS To Deny Request To Fix Iowa ObamaCare Market: Report
President Trump told the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Seema Varma to deny a request from the Republican-controlled state of Iowa to fix their health-care marketplace, according to The Washington Post. According to the Post, Iowa officials sought for months to get federal permission to fix health insurance markets in their state, but they were shut down by Trump administration officials. (Manchester, 10/5)

Politico Pro: Democrats Accuse Trump Of ‘Sabotage’ On Obamacare Sign-Ups
Obamacare's first open enrollment season under the Trump administration is expected to be a flop — and even the law's most ardent supporters are worried there's little they can do to change that. With less than a month before sign-up begins, the federal government has gutted outreach and marketing, slashed funding to outside enrollment groups and left state officials in the dark on key details. (Demko and Cancryn, 10/5)

The Hill: Many States Blame Trump, GOP For ObamaCare Premium Increases 
Twenty states attribute ObamaCare premium increases next year to uncertainty caused by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress, according to a new report released Thursday. The report from pro-ObamaCare group Protect Our Care analyzed the 28 states where final, state-approved rates are public and found that 20 specifically cited uncertainty at the federal level for at least part of the reason for increases. (Hellmann, 10/5)

Des Moines Register: Iowa's Stopgap Health Insurance Plan Not Dead Yet, Leaders Say
Iowa officials said Thursday evening they still hadn’t heard whether the Trump administration will approve or deny a “stopgap” plan to stabilize the state’s health insurance market, despite a national report that the president told his administrators to reject it. The Washington Post reported that President Trump told a top human-services administrator in August to reject Iowa’s plan. The proposal was made by Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen, who is a fellow Republican. It would redirect Affordable Care Act money in a way that Ommen says would encourage more young, healthy Iowans to buy individual insurance policies and would ease risks to insurance carriers. (Leys, 10/5)

And in other health law news —

The Philadelphia Inquirer/ It's Getting Harder To Sign Up For ACA Health Insurance. Here Are 9 Things To Do About It.
More than 426,000 people in Pennsylvania and 295,000 in New Jersey signed up for health-care coverage this year through Affordable Care Act marketplaces. Gov. Wolf recently bragged that the uninsured rate in Pennsylvania is lower than it’s ever been, thanks to the law better known as Obamacare. New Jersey is touting similar results. And in Washington, the latest effort to “repeal and replace” the ACA was defeated without even a vote. (Quann, 10/4)

Nashville Tennessean: Vanderbilt University Medical Center Absent From 2018 Obamacare Plans
Vanderbilt University Medical Center is not covered under any individual Obamacare insurance plan in the greater Nashville area for 2018, insurance representatives said Thursday. The academic medical center is not in-network with either Cigna or Oscar Health, the two insurers selling plans on the federally run-exchange in Davidson, Cheatham, Montgomery, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Trousdale, Williamson, and Wilson counties. It's also not available in the companies' off-exchange plans. (Fletcher, 10/5)

Capitol Hill Watch

6. House Passes Budget Including Deep, But Non-Binding, Cuts To Medicaid

The purpose of the budget is to set the stage for Republicans' tax overhaul plan.

The Associated Press: House Passes GOP Budget In Key Step For Upcoming Tax Debate
The House on Thursday passed a $4.1 trillion budget plan that promises deep cuts to social programs while paving the way for Republicans to rewrite the tax code later this year. The 2018 House GOP budget reprises a controversial plan to turn Medicare into a voucher-like program for future retirees as well as the party’s efforts to repeal the “Obamacare” health law. Republicans controlling Congress have no plans to actually implement those cuts while they pursue their tax overhaul. (Taylor, 10/5)

In other news from Capitol Hill —

The Hill: Graham Brings 20-Week Abortion Ban To Senate With 45 Co-Sponsors 
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced a 20-week abortion ban in the Senate on Thursday with the support of 45 GOP senators, two days after a similar bill passed the House.  The "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," which faces long odds in the upper chamber, would make it illegal for any person to perform or attempt an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy with the possibility of five years in prison, fines or both. (Hellmann, 10/5)

Stat: Senator Aims To Block Maneuvers Like Allergan's Patent Deal With Mohawks
Angered by a controversial Allergan pat

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