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KHN First Edition: October 24, 2017


First Edition

Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Enrollment News To Bank On: Obamacare Is Still Here So It’s Time For Coverage Checkup
The open enrollment period begins in one week for 2018 marketplace coverage, but many consumers are confused about what to expect. No wonder! The Trump administration has slashed advertising and outreach about open enrollment, so concrete consumer information is sparse. But there’s more than enough political rhetoric to make up for it, with regular partisan pronouncements that the marketplaces have collapsed and Obamacare is dead. (Andrews, 10/24)

The Wall Street Journal: Republicans Face Tough Decision On Bipartisan Health Bill
Republicans returning to Washington will decide in coming days whether to embrace or set aside a bipartisan health bill that has gained traction in Congress, a decision potentially made harder by President Donald Trump’s statements praising the effort but opposing the bill itself. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said on Sunday the bipartisan bill’s support includes all 48 Senate Democrats as well as the 12 publicly committed Republicans, enough to overcome any filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said he would bring the bill to a vote if it is clear Mr. Trump will sign it. But that remains far from certain, given Mr. Trump’s recent comments on the plan from Sens. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D., Wash.). (Armour and Lazo, 10/23)

Politico: Senate Seeking Clarity From Trump On Obamacare Deal
Republicans on Capitol Hill can’t seem to tell if the White House wants an Obamacare stabilization bill, leaving their path forward murky. Conflicting statements from President Donald Trump and a list of White House-requested changes circulated over the weekend have given GOP leaders no clarity on whether they should force a controversial vote on the proposed bipartisan Obamacare fix, or set it aside for now and then try to roll it into a far-reaching year-end spending bill. (Haberkorn and Cancryn, 10/23)

The Hill: Senate Republicans Push Trump To Join ObamaCare Talks 
Senate Republicans say it’s up to the White House to decide whether a bipartisan ObamaCare deal can move forward. President Trump has repeatedly expressed support for the bipartisan negotiations led by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), but has sent mixed signals on whether he supports the agreement that the senator reached with Democrats. Without Trump’s support, it’s unlikely the bill can pass. (Sullivan, 10/23)

The Hill: 1.1 Million Fewer People Could Sign Up For ObamaCare This Year Due To Trump Funding Cuts
The Trump administration's funding cuts to ObamaCare's advertising budget could result in at least 1.1 million fewer people signing up for coverage this year, according to an analysis released Monday. "The threat to Open Enrollment this year is very real," wrote Josh Peck, the author of the analysis, who served as's chief marketing officer during the Obama administration.  (Hellmann, 10/23)

Reuters: U.S. Judge Questions States Seeking To Restore Obamacare Payments
A U.S. judge on Monday appeared skeptical toward a request from several states that want him to order the administration of Republican President Donald Trump to continue payments to health insurers under Obamacare. At a hearing in San Francisco federal court, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said he aimed to issue a ruling on Tuesday. (Levine, 10/23)

Los Angeles Times: Federal Judge Appears Unlikely To Block Trump's Action On Obamacare
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra, joined by Democratic counterparts from 17 other states and the District of Columbia asked the court to put Trump’s order on hold. They argue Trump’s action would spark “chaos and uncertainty,” raise the cost of health insurance and the number of uninsured Americans and saddle states and local governments with higher expenses. But U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, an Obama appointee, expressed considerable skepticism during a hearing Monday. (Dolan and Lauter, 10/23)

The Associated Press: Judge Skeptical Of Need To Reinstate Trump Health Care Cuts
Chhabria peppered an attorney for California with questions about why he should force the administration to resume payments when the states had devised a workaround that would benefit many consumers. "The state of California is standing on the courthouse steps denouncing the president for taking away people's health care, when the truth is that California has come up with a solution to that issue that is going to result in better health care for a lot of people," Chhabria said. (10/24)

The Associated Press: Iowa Withdraws Proposal To Opt Out Of Affordable Care Act
Iowa officials withdrew a proposal Monday that sought to pull out of the Affordable Care Act and redirect federal money toward lowering premiums for younger participants under a separate program. If the Trump administration had approved Iowa's waiver request, it would have been the first to create a state-run alternative to the health exchanges required under the law championed by President Barack Obama. (10/23)

The New York Times: Iowa Withdraws Request To Leave Obamacare Market
The waiver request had been closely watched by health policy experts as the most far-reaching effort by a state to sidestep requirements of Obamacare. Governor Reynolds, a Republican, said the Trump administration had tried hard to approve it, but had found it impossible to do so without violating the terms of the law. “Unfortunately, it now appears Obamacare’s waiver rules are as inflexible as the law itself,” Ms. Reynolds said at a news conference in Des Moines. “I’m extremely disappointed.” (Goodnough, 10/23)

The Washington Post: Iowa Abandons Bold Attempt To Jettison ACA Rules
The state’s withdrawal comes two months after President Trump telephoned a top federal health official with instructions to reject Iowa’s proposal. In announcing the withdrawal of what the state has called a crucial “stopgap” plan to prevent its marketplace from collapsing, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) on Monday did not mention the president’s intervention, instead thanking Trump for trying to repeal the ACA and blaming the law itself for what she called its inflexibility. (Goldstein and Eilperin, 10/23)

The Wall Street Journal: Iowa Halts Effort To Overhaul Affordable Care Act
The Iowa setup would have offered just one type of insurance plan in the individual market and reshaped the subsidies that help people buy coverage, among other big alterations to the infrastructure of the ACA. Iowa’s largest insurer, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, had said it would reverse its plans to exit from the state’s individual market and would instead sell plans in every county next year if the state won approval for its proposal. On Monday, after Iowa’s decision, Wellmark said it “will continue to work on a long-term solution with state and federal officials.” (Wilde Mathews, 10/23)

Politico Magazine: How Iowa Became An Obamacare Horror Story
Nick Podhajsky plans to get married this year for an unusual reason: health insurance coverage. The 44-year-old farmer had expected to tie the knot next year. But because Iowa’s individual health insurance market is in chaos—with competition disappearing and prices skyrocketing—his fiancee was potentially going to be left with no affordable coverage options for next year. So they’ve decided to hold the ceremony before the end of the year, allowing his bride-to-be to get coverage through his plan. (Demko, 10/23)

The Hill: Dem Pushes Back On CHIP Extension Proposal 
Disagreements over how to pay for an extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) could result in a partisan bill reaching the House floor as soon as this week, a top House Democrat said Monday. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Republicans are insisting that the extension is paid for by cutting other health programs, adding that the bill could get a floor vote in the House on Thursday. (Weixel, 10/23)

The Hill: White House To Host Opioid 'Event' Thursday
The White House will hold an event on the opioid epidemic Thursday afternoon, according to an email obtained by The Hill that suggests President Trump will make his announcement about a national emergency this week. The email, from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, is an invitation and a call to RSVP to an event at the White House on the “nationwide opioid crisis” at 2 p.m. Thursday. (Roubein, 10/23)

The Associated Press: Woman Indicted In Boy’s Fatal Drug Overdose At Sleepover
A woman has been indicted on involuntary manslaughter and child-endangering charges in the death of a 12-year-old boy who authorities say died from a fentanyl overdose during a sleepover at her Ohio apartment. The Franklin County prosecutor says the boy, Kanye Champelle, got the drug from atop a refrigerator and ingested it while the baby sitter was gone. The prosecutor says the woman, 60-year-old Sheila Hutchins, ran errands and left several children she was baby-sitting. (10/23)

The New York Times: U.S. Hospitals Wrestle With Shortages Of Drug Supplies Made In Puerto Rico
One of the workhorses of Clarke County Hospital, a 25-bed facility in rural Osceola, Iowa, is an unassuming product known as a Mini-Bag. It is a small, fluid-filled bag used by nurses to dilute drugs, like antibiotics, so that they can be dripped slowly into patients’ veins. The bag’s ease of use has made it popular in small facilities like Clarke County, where the pharmacy is closed on nights and weekends, as well as at nationally known hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic, which uses 34,000 of the bags every month. (Thomas, 10/23)

Stat: FDA: Drug And Device Companies In Puerto Rico Still Operating Far Below Capacity After Storm
Drug and device companies with manufacturing operations in Puerto Rico have told the American public that their plants are getting up and running again, but that does “not reveal the true scope of the challenge that we are facing,” Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in prepared congressional testimony made available Monday. ...Gottlieb will appear before the subcommittee on oversight and investigations of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Tuesday morning for a hearing on the Department of Health and Human Services’s response to hurricanes this summer and fall, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Officials from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the main HHS office will also testify. (Swetlitz, 10/23)

The New York Times: Stricter Gun Laws Tied To Fewer Firearm Injuries After Gun Shows
Gun shows in a state with weak gun restrictions increase the short-term risk for firearm-related injuries, a new analysis has found. Researchers studied deaths, emergency department visits and hospitalizations related to firearms before and after 915 gun shows in California and Nevada from 2005 to 2013. California has laws requiring background checks, waiting periods, documentation and Department of Justice surveillance at gun shows. Nevada has no regulations pertaining explicitly to gun shows. (Bakalar, 10/23)

Stat: App Known As The ‘Uber For Birth Control’ Sparks Ire In Conservative States
It’s a telemedicine app that seems rather innocuous — enter your info, have it reviewed by a physician, and get a prescription. The California-based company behind it has raised millions to support its mission of expanding access to the pill, ring, or morning-after pill with minimal hurdles. But that last option is now starting to attract pushback from anti-abortion activists, who consider the morning-after pill equivalent to abortion — and who say lax telemedicine laws are enabling access to this drug with insufficient oversight. (Blau, 10/24)

NPR: Poll: Most Americans Say They Are Discriminated Against, Regardless Of Race
Majorities in many ethnic, identity and racial groups in America believe that discrimination exists against their own group, across many areas of people's daily lives, according to a poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The poll asked a wide range of questions about where Americans experience discrimination — from the workplace to the doctor's office — and people's experiences with discrimination and perceptions of it. The groups polled include whites, blacks, Latinos, Asian-Americans, Native Americans and LGBTQ adults. (Neel, 10/24)

NPR: Screening For Diabetes Is Working Better Than We Thought
Undiagnosed diabetes may not be as big of a public health problem as thought. That's the takeaway from a study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine that says that some previous efforts have likely overestimated the number of people with undiagnosed diabetes because they relied on a single positive test result. (Hobson, 10/23)

The New York Times: New York State Bans Vaping Anywhere Cigarettes Are Prohibited
Electronic cigarettes, the popular vapor substitute to traditional tobacco cigarettes, will soon be banned from public indoor spaces in New York State — just like the real thing. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday signed a bill to ban vaping anywhere cigarettes are already prohibited, like workplaces, restaurants and bars. The ban goes into effect in 30 days. (Nir, 10/23)

The Associated Press: Law Provides Health Benefits To Volunteer NY Firefighters
New York volunteer firefighters who have been diagnosed with certain cancers will be eligible for health care benefits under a new state law. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday that he had signed legislation that will provide the benefit to the nearly 100,000 New Yorkers who serve as volunteers with fire companies across the state. (10/23)

Los Angeles Times: As Flames Fade, Wine Country Grapples With Emotional Scars Of Devastating Fires
In the days since fires ravaged towns here, people have pulled together. Strangers at coffee shops share their trauma, talking of homes destroyed and loved ones lost. Almost everyone seems to know a neighbor who knocked on a door or lifted someone into a car, and saved a life. The phrase “The love in the air is thicker than the smoke” is on signs in shop windows, in Facebook posts and on people’s lips. (Karlamangla, 10/23)

The Associated Press: Woman Says She Was Misled Into Mastectomy, Hysterectomy
A 36-year-old Oregon woman has filed a $1.8 million lawsuit against medical professionals who she says mistakenly suggested she undergo a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy. The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Monday that Elisha Cooke-Moore’s lawsuit says she underwent the life-altering surgeries after her gynecologist, Dr. William Fitts, determined that genetic blood tests indicated she had a 50 percent chance of getting breast cancer and up to an 80 percent chance of getting uterine cancer. (10/24)

The Washington Post: Conjoined Twins Survived One Of The World’s Rarest Surgeries. Now They’re Preparing To Go Home.
Abby Delaney can roll onto her stomach, hold up her head and turn pages in her favorite books. Her sister, Erin, can now sit up on her own, and she is starting to think about crawling — learning to hold herself up on her small hands and knees. More than four months after the formerly conjoined twins were separated in a rare surgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, their mother said there have been rewarding but “terrifying” moments as the 15-month-olds recover. (Bever, 10/23)

Los Angeles Times: Mann Packing Recalls Some Bagged Vegetables And Salads Because Of Listeria Concerns
Vegetable supplier Mann Packing has issued a voluntary recall for a number of bagged vegetables, salads and other vegetable products sold in the U.S. and Canada due to a potential risk of listeria contamination. The Salinas, Calif., firm said last week it issued the recall “out of an abundance of caution” after a “single positive result” for the germ, Listeria monocytogenes, was found on one of its products during a random test by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. (Masunaga, 10/23)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2017 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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