Kaiser Health News Original Stories

3. Political Cartoon: 'Resistance Is Futile'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Resistance Is Futile'" by Darrin Bell.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

MORE SCRUTINY FOR MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PLANS

A whistleblower
In Texas, adds volume to
Fraud allegations.

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Health Law Issues And Implementation

4. Number Of Uninsured Americans Dropped By 7 Million In First 3 Months Of 2015, Federal Report Finds

The report, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, estimated that the total number of people without insurance declined by 15.8 million since major provisions of the health law began taking effect in 2013.

USA Today: Federal Report: 7 Million Fewer Americans Uninsured This Year
The number of Americans without health insurance dropped from 36 million last year to 29 million in the first quarter of this year, according to the latest in a string of reports showing uninsured rates are on the decline. The newest report, released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics on Wednesday, contains early estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, which are based on data for 26,121 people from across the nation. The estimate of 29 million, which represents 9.2% of Americans, reflects the portion of respondents who reported being uninsured at the time of the interview. (Ungar, 8/12)

Politico Pro: Uninsured Rate Drops To 9.2 Percent, Survey Finds
The nation’s uninsured rate dropped from 11.5 percent last year to 9.2 percent in the first three months of this year, according to a new government estimate. The number of uninsured people in the United States declined to 29 million in the first three months of this year, a drop of 7 million people from 2014, according to the new figures from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. (Pradhan, 8/12)

Meanwhile, based on a recent Gallup poll, Kansas may not be keeping pace with other states in terms of expanding health coverage -

The Kansas Health Institute News Service: Change In Kansas' Uninsured Rate Lags Other States
A recent Gallup poll shows that the percentage of uninsured Americans in some states has dropped dramatically since the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). The drops are generally more dramatic in states that have embraced politically controversial portions of the law. In Kansas, which resisted those measures, the reduction in uninsured residents is small and within the poll's margin of error. Seven of the 10 states with the biggest reductions in uninsured rates implemented Medicaid expansion and established a marketplace while two did one or the other, according to Gallup. (Margolies, 8/11)

5. House Republicans View Health Law As Opportunity For Legal Challenge To Executive Power

The New York Times reports on what it describes as a "little-noticed legal fight that could redefine the balance of power in Washington." Meanwhile, other news outlets report on a healthcare.gov special enrollment glitch as well as a new report detailing recommended changes to the overhaul.

The New York Times: House Republicans, Seizing On Health Law, Challenge Executive Branch
Jo-Marie St. Martin, counsel to Speaker John A. Boehner and a ferocious defender of the rights of the House, quietly put the word out that the leadership was looking for potential lawsuit targets so it could challenge the White House in court. ... They settled on the health care law, now at the center of a little-noticed legal fight that could redefine the balance of power in Washington. A federal judge is expected to rule soon on whether the House can sue the executive branch for usurping its authority over spending — its vaunted “power of the purse” — in a case resulting from years of bitter struggle between the Obama administration and the Republican House over who controls which levers of power. (Hulse, 8/11)

Politico Pro: HealthCare.gov Glitch Affects Special Enrollment After Medicaid
HealthCare.gov has a new glitch that’s preventing some people who have lost their Medicaid coverage from getting a new Obamacare health plan through special enrollment. People who lose Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage are eligible to enroll in a plan outside of the regular signup season. But CMS has notified consumer groups that HealthCare.gov is blocking people from qualifying for a special sign-up window, even though they’ve indicated they’re no longer covered by Medicaid or CHIP. (Pradhan, 8/11)

CQ Healthbeat: Changes Needed To Health Law, Says Urban Institute Report
The left-leaning Urban Institute, advised by former White House health officials, recommended Tuesday that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services allow states to partially expand Medicaid by covering people with income up to the federal poverty line, rather than 38 percent above the poverty line. The suggestion was one of several in a report that described ways to improve the 2010 health care law. The report was noteworthy not only because it occasionally strayed from Obama administration positions and contained implicit criticism of the law but also because it provided a glimpse of what some Democrats would do to change the law if they could. (Doshi, 8/10)

On the topic of health exchanges -

And Fox News reports on the momentum behind legal challenges to the health law's contraception mandate -

Fox News: Christian Institutions Garnering Support In ObamaCare Challenge
Three Christian universities gained allies Monday in their battle against ObamaCare. Among their supporters: 16 state governments. Those states, along with a handful of other religious rights organizations, filed friend-of-the-court briefs to the Supreme Court supporting Houston Baptist University, East Texas Baptist University, and Westminster Theological Seminary. (8/11)

Capitol Hill Watch

6. The Scientific Side Of The Fetal Tissue Debate

The Associated Press reports on how this tissue has been used by researchers for decades for the development of vaccines and a variety of treatments. Other news outlets offer fact-checking and insights regarding the controversy over federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

The Associated Press: Scientists Say Fetal Tissue Essential For Medical Research
The furor on Capitol Hill over Planned Parenthood has stoked a debate about the use of tissue from aborted fetuses in medical research, but U.S. scientists have been using such cells for decades to develop vaccines and seek treatments for a host of ailments, from vision loss to cancer and AIDS. Anti-abortion activists triggered the uproar by releasing undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials that raised questions of whether the organization was profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has denied making any profit and said it charges fees solely to cover its costs. (Binkley and Johnson, 8/11)

The Washington Post's Fact Checker: For Planned Parenthood Abortion Stats, ‘3 Percent’ And ’94 Percent’ Are Both Misleading
Three percent or 94 percent? Are abortions just a small portion of the array of Planned Parenthood’s services, as advocates of abortion rights say? Or is Planned Parenthood mainly an abortion provider that masquerades as a reproductive health organization, as opponents of abortion rights say? It depends on the measure you use to make your case. Both figures are being paraded around as controversy over Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donations continues. The Fact Checker obviously takes no stance on abortion rights, fetal tissue donations or defunding Planned Parenthood. Let’s decode these dueling abortion statistics. (Lee, 8/12)

Campaign 2016

7. Women's Health Issues, Planned Parenthood Funding Debate Continue To Find Campaign-Trail Traction

Donald Trump appeared to be taking a step back from his earlier comments that he would be willing to shut the government down over the debate to defund Planned Parenthood. The Washington Post's The Fix details Trump's latest positions as enunciated during the candidate's recent appearance on the Sean Hannity Show. And Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush continue to spar.

Politico: Donald Trump Backs Off Planned Parenthood Defunding Push
Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to back off his demands to defund Planned Parenthood. After saying last week it’s worth having Congress shut down the federal government unless Planned Parenthood is stripped of its $528 million in government funding, the Republican presidential candidate changed his tune. (Collins, 8/11)

The Washington Post's The Fix: Analyzing Donald Trump’s Policy Specifics, As Presented On Fox News
"Earlier today, I asked Donald Trump to get specific about some of his policy positions," Fox News' Sean Hannity said during part 1 of his hour-long interview with Trump that aired Tuesday night. ... What follows are those responses, compacted but matching the verbiage and structure of his replies. Healthcare ... People will have health savings accounts. It costs the country and people very little. It's an amazing system. Prompted by Hannity, Trump adds that he'll cover catastrophic coverage and pre-existing conditions. ... Planned Parenthood ... Abortion is a small but brutal part of what Planned Parenthood does. They also serve women. Jeb Bush was so bad on women's health issues the other day! We have to help women. The answer: Maybe unless they stop with the abortions, we don't do the funding for the stuff that they want. (Bump, 8/11)