Kaiser Health News Original Stories

2. Patients In Iowa Worry About Private Management Of Medicaid

Many in Iowa get Medicaid -- the state-federal health program for poorer Americans -- especially after the state expanded the program under the federal health law. But a plan to switch administration of the program to private health care companies has patients worried that their care will suffer. (Clay Masters, Iowa Public Radio, 8/6)

3. Political Cartoon: 'Follow The Crowd?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Follow The Crowd?'" by Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


We all play a role.
Stop the spread of HAIs --
Our shared enemy.

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.

Campaign 2016

4. Top GOP Presidential Contenders Clash In First 'Official' Debate

These 10 candidates were selected by Fox News, the debate sponsor, because they rank highest in the polls. An earlier session was held for the other candidates. Among the topics tackled were the health law, Medicaid expansion, other health reform proposals and defunding Planned Parenthood.

The Washington Post: Trump Roils First Debate Among GOP Contenders
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee disagreed sharply over changes to Social Security and other entitlements. Christie argues that fiscal realities make cutbacks inevitable, while Huckabee has insisted that the safety net for the elderly must be preserved. ... The Republicans voiced outrage over recently surfaced clandestine videos of Planned Parenthood employees discussing the harvesting of organs from aborted fetuses. ... The Fox moderators put [former Florida Gov. Jeb] Bush on the defensive over his role on the board of former New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable foundation, which supported Planned Parenthood. ... [Ohio Gov. John] Kasich, a recent entrant into the race, sought to make the most of his turn on the main debate stage. He delivered impassioned defenses of his expansion of Medicaid in Ohio to help lift up the poor as well as on gay rights. (Tumulty and Rucker, 8/6)

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Candidates Hold Raucous Debate
The result was a two-hour debate that underscored just how unwieldy the GOP primary campaign will be, despite the party leadership’s efforts to make the process more orderly and less damaging to the eventual nominee than 2012. ... At points throughout the night, Mr. Trump was forced to defend the number of times he has filed for bankruptcy, his support for government-funded, universal health insurance and the donations he has given to Mrs. Clinton and her family’s foundation. (O'Connor, Hook and Ballhaus, 8/7)

Los Angeles Times: Republicans Try To Find Footing In Race By Attacking Trump, And Each Other, In 1st Debate
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who had been seen as the party’s most likely nominee earlier in the campaign, sought to regain his footing after comments on immigration, women’s health and the Iraq war that had made him a target from both the left and right. ... Over two hours, the candidates were quizzed on prominent issues including the fight against the Islamic State and the Iran nuclear deal reached last month, as well as the recent controversy over funding Planned Parenthood, same-sex marriage, healthcare and the economy. The candidates’ jabs at one another were sometimes veiled ones, while others directed at the president and Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton more blunt. (Mascaro, Mehta and Memoli, 8/6)

The Associated Press: FACT CHECK: GOP Candidates Veer From The Truth In 1st Debate
BUSH: "You get rid of Obamacare and replace it with something that doesn't suppress wages and kill jobs." THE FACTS: According to the Labor Department, the unemployment rate was 9.9 percent in March 2010, when Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. In June of this year, it had fallen to 5.3 percent. The economy has added more than 12 million jobs since March 2010. While the health care law doesn't seem to have had a major impact on jobs, some lesser consequences are likely. The Congressional Budget Office projected that having government subsidized health insurance will prompt some people to leave the labor market, since they can get coverage without a job. And although Republicans may be able to repeal Obama's law, it's unclear if and how they would replace it. (Lederman, 8/7)

USA Today: The GOP Primary Debate: Five Takeaways
JOHN KASICH’S HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE ... The Ohio governor barely cracked the top 10 field, but the home-state setting played to his advantage. Kasich, who has battled image problems about his temper, offered a compassionate conservative stance defending his expansion of Medicaid and acceptance of gay marriage as the law of the land. (Davis, 8/7)

And on the Democratic side of the campaign trail -

Los Angeles Times: Hillary Clinton Meets With Healthcare Workers
Hillary Clinton brought her presidential campaign to Los Angeles on Thursday, telling home healthcare workers that she wants to improve their working conditions, training and wages so more people can remain at home as they age. Clinton met with eight women, all of whom had either worked in home healthcare or hired someone for care-giving, for a round table discussion at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. (Karlamangla, 8/6)

Capitol Hill Watch

5. McConnell Stands Firm Against Idea That Planned Parenthood Funding Fight Could Trigger Shutdown

He warns the Republican caucus of the consequences of such a stand-off but is still facing increasing pressure from his party's conservative wing.

Politico: Mitch McConnell: GOP Shouldn’t Shut Down Government Over Planned Parenthood
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans should not use a must-pass government spending bill to defund Planned Parenthood, despite increasing pressure from conservatives who want to use a threat of a shutdown to target the embattled women’s health group. In a wide-ranging news conference with reporters Thursday, McConnell warned of the consequences for Republicans if the party triggers a government shutdown over a controversial policy dispute, like the GOP did with Obamacare in 2013. (Kim, 8/6)

The Wall Street Journal: 5 Things To Know About Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood Federation of America has been thrust into a political fracas following the release of five undercover videos by an antiabortion group that show Planned Parenthood officials discussing obtaining fetal tissue for research. Republicans are seeking to halt federal funding of the organization, though an attempt in the Senate was blocked. (Armour, 8/6)

Health Law Issues And Implementation

6. Blue Cross Hikes Premium Increase Request To 35% For Heath Law Insurance Plans Sold In N.C.

In June, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina said it was seeking to raise rates by almost 26 percent but now says even that jump is not sufficient to cover the company's costs. Elsewhere, Delaware will not move forward with plans to build its own insurance exchange while in Washington, the head of that state's exchange is stepping down.

The Associated Press: Blue Cross Raises Rate Hike Sought On Affordable Care Plans
North Carolina's largest health insurer says higher-than-anticipated costs after two years of selling federally subsidized coverage has forced it to seek premium increases even greater than it thought would be necessary two months ago. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina said Thursday that it now seeks an average 34.6 percent higher premium for insurance sold under President Barack Obama's health insurance overhaul law. The company said in June that it wanted to raise rates by an average of almost 26 percent starting in January, compared with this year's allowed 13.5 percent increase. (Dalesio and Masters, 8/7)

The Associated Press: Delaware Decides Against State Health Insurance Exchange
Delaware officials have decided not to develop the state's own health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act and instead will keep the current federal partnership model. Delaware was granted approval in June to develop a state-based health insurance marketplace, but Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf told the Delaware Health Care Commission the state will not move forward with the plan. (Chase, 8/6)

The Associated Press: Head Of Washington Health Exchange To Step Down
The man who has led the Washington health insurance exchange since its inception in 2012 has announced he will be stepping down at the end of the month. Richard Onizuka says his goal has been to establish a health insurance marketplace that best served the people of Washington. Now that the exchange has helped hundreds of thousands of people get health insurance, he’s ready to step aside. (8/6)


7. Hospitals Urge Antitrust Regulators To Scrutinize Anthem Acquisition Of Cigna

Also in the news, the CVS decision to stop covering Viagra for many of its drug plan members is the latest example of how some health-care managers are using muscle to control rising drug costs.

Reuters: Hospitals Seek Justice Department Probe Of Anthem-Cigna Deal
Hospitals are urging antitrust regulators to consider whether health insurer Anthem Inc.’s planned acquisition of rival Cigna Corp. would boost health care costs. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, the hospital industry’s largest lobbying group said combining the No. 1 and No. 5 health insurers threatens to reduce competition in 817 geographic markets serving 45 million consumers. (Humer, 8/6)