Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Political Cartoon: 'Tear Down This Wall'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Tear Down This Wall'" by Lisa Benson.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

SPREADING THE NEWS

"Let's get you covered" -
For Native Americans,
improved care options.

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Administration News

5. Obama Orders Government Contractors To Give Workers Paid Sick Leave

The order requires employees be provided at least seven paid sick days a year.

The New York Times: Obama Orders Federal Contractors To Provide Workers Paid Sick Leave
President Obama signed an executive order on Monday requiring federal contractors to provide up to seven days of paid sick leave a year, even as he accused Republican congressional leaders of endangering the economy and Republican presidential candidates of undercutting American workers. ... He also chastised abortion opponents in Congress for threatening to shut down the federal government in an effort to cut off taxpayer financing for Planned Parenthood, saying such a move could damage the economy at a time of global volatility. “A shutdown would be completely irresponsible,” Mr. Obama said. “It would be an unforced error, a fumble on the goal line.” (Baker, 9/7)

The Washington Post: In Boston Speech, Obama Unveils Executive Order For More Paid Sick Leave
President Obama rallied union workers here Monday, unveiling a new executive order that will require federal contractors to offer employees up to seven days of paid sick leave, a move he sought to contrast with Republican economic policies. Obama announced the new directive, which the White House said could benefit more than 300,000 workers, during a Labor Day speech in Boston. It was the latest in the White House’s year-long effort to pressure Congress to approve legislation that would provide similar benefits for millions of private-sector workers. (Nakamura, 9/7)

Politico: Paid Sick Leave: Obama Issues Executive Order
Obama addressed the order during a Labor Day speech at a Boston breakfast and rally, where he also called on Congress to extend paid leave to millions more Americans by passing the Healthy Families Act, which would mandate that all employers with more than 15 employees would have to grant at least seven sick days annually. In addition, Obama pointed to Massachusetts as an example of a state that has passed similar sick leave laws, calling on other cities and states to do the same. (Gass, 9/7)

The Boston Globe: Obama Targets Sick Time In Boston Visit
Business groups said Obama’s order would make it harder for small businesses to retain federal contractors and could hinder economic growth. ‘‘Once again President Obama is using the federal procurement system to do something it was never been designed to do: usurp the legislative authority of Congress to determine appropriate workplace policies,’’ said Randy Johnson, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Ebbert, 9/7)

The Huffington Post: Obama Signs Executive Order On Paid Sick Days
According to the White House, the order will give roughly 300,000 workers under federal contracts up to seven paid sick days per year. Workers will earn one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked. The rules will start with new federal contracts signed starting in 2017. (Jamieson, 9/7)

The Hill also examines regulatory changes that the administration may be looking at.

The Hill: Nine Obama Regulations To Watch This Fall
The window is already closing on President Obama’s regulatory agenda, and agencies across the federal government are moving to crank out a slew of new rules before election year politics bring business in Washington to a virtual standstill. ... Here are ten of the most highly anticipated rules likely to come down the pipeline in the remainder of 2015: Tobacco: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to finalize its tobacco “deeming rule” to regulate all tobacco products under the Tobacco Control Act, including electronic cigarettes and cigars. ... Food safety: The Food and Drug Administration has signed off on final rules to protect people and animals from foodborne illnesses. ... Electronic records: Final rules from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to simplify requirements for its new electronic health record system could come this fall. (Wheeler, 9/6)

6. Administration Cracking Down On Medicare And Medicaid Billing Cheats

With tens of billions of dollars lost each year through improper payments to doctors and medical facilities, the federal government is adopting a “more aggressive strategy” for targeting fraudulent claims.

The Fiscal Times: White House Takes Aim At Billions In Medicare And Medicaid Fraud
Alarmed by the tens of billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid fraud and overpayments annually that are draining the federal health care system, the Obama administration has quietly stepped up its auditing and enforcement efforts to crack down on doctors, hospitals and other medical facilities cheating on their billings. (Pianin, 9/4)

The Hill: White House Sought Safeguards To Reduce Obamacare Fraud
The White House is calling for a “more aggressive strategy” to reduce improper payments made by Medicare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a letter made public to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Center for Public Integrity obtained the February letter — written by Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan and addressed to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell — after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. (Sullivan, 9/4)

Meanwhile, fraud convictions are handed down for two Potomac, Md. doctors -

The Associated Press: Husband And Wife Physicians Convicted Of Health Care Fraud
Two Potomac [Md.] doctors who owned and operated a pain management clinic have been convicted of health care fraud. A federal jury in Greenbelt on Friday convicted 60-year-old Paramjit Singh Ajrawat and his wife, 57-year-old Sukhveen Kaur Ajrawat, of numerous offenses, including health care and wire fraud, obstruction of justice, and aggravated identity theft. (9/4)

Capitol Hill Watch

7. Spending Bills, Dispute On Planned Parenthood Await Congress As Lawmakers Return

This month, Congress has a full plate as members seek to fund the government for the fiscal year that starts in October. But conservatives are calling for an end to government funding of Planned Parenthood, and GOP leaders are trying to find a way to avoid a government shutdown.

Politico: Countdown To Shutdown Begins
Congress returns from its long summer vacation Tuesday to an all-out, three-week sprint to avert a government shutdown – and no apparent plan yet to quell the conservative rebellion over Planned Parenthood that has dramatically increased the odds of a closure. The mad dash – just 10 legislative work days to solve the shutdown crisis, in between major votes on the Iran nuclear deal and the first-ever papal address to a joint session of Congress – presents a major test for Republican leaders in both chambers who vowed to end crisis-driven legislating. (Kim, 9/7)

The New York Times: Prospect Of Another Shutdown Looms As Congress Girds For Fights Over Spending
When Congress returns for business on Tuesday, lawmakers have scheduled a mere 12 legislative days to find a bipartisan compromise to keep the government open, vote on one of the most contentious foreign policy matters in a generation, reconcile the future of funding for Planned Parenthood and roll out the red carpet — and a few thousand folding chairs — to greet Pope Francis. What could go wrong? (Steinhauer, 9/7)

The Washington Post: Defunding Backers May Induce Shutdown
The last thing Republican leaders want is another shutdown quagmire. But a group of conservatives — led by GOP presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — has vowed to oppose any government spending bill that includes Planned Parenthood funds. That includes a stop-gap spending bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), that needs to pass before Sept. 30. (Snell, 9/4)

The Associated Press: Congress Returns To Weighty List Of Unfinished Business
Some tea party lawmakers say they will only back legislation to keep the government open in the new budget year, which begins Oct. 1, if the measure also terminates Planned Parenthood's federal money — even if their battle with Obama over the issue should spiral into a government shutdown. "I'm for doing everything" to halt funds for Planned Parenthood, said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. "There is no way they can get taxpayer support." Conservative groups such as Heritage Action are backing the strategy, though establishment anti-abortion organizations aren't throwing their influence behind it. (Taylor and Fr
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