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KHN First Edition: September 15, 2015


First Edition

Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Small Changes Can Have Notable Effects In Workers’ Coverage Or Costs
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "During this fall’s open enrollment period, workers who get health insurance through their employers may not see huge premium increases or significant hikes to deductibles or other out-of-pocket costs. But there may be less obvious changes that could make a notable difference in coverage or costs, benefits consultants say." (Andrews, 9/15)

Politico: House GOP Obsessed With Boehner's Future
Speaker John Boehner says he’s not worried about his political future, but the Ohio Republican’s fate has become an overwhelming obsession of House Republicans. His backers believe Boehner is being “blackmailed” by conservative hard-liners into supporting a government shutdown. His critics insist they just want their leader to do the right thing. The latest flash point for Boehner is the controversy over federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Hard-line conservative Republicans want Boehner to do whatever it takes to shut off funding for the group, even if it means a shutdown. They’re vowing to vote against any spending bill that allows such funding to continue. (Bresnahan and Palmer, 9/15)

The Washington Post: Medicare Unfairly Penalizes Hospitals Treating Sickest, Poorest Patients, Study Finds
Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that hospitals are being penalized to a large extent based on the patients they serve. The researchers found that nearly two dozen variables, such as patients’ education, income and ability to bathe, dress and feed themselves, explain nearly half of the difference in readmission rates between the best- and worst-performing hospitals. The worst performing hospitals, for example, have 50 percent more patients with less than a high school education than the best performers, according to the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. (Sun, 9/14)

The Wall Street Journal: Price Tag Of Bernie Sanders’s Proposals: $18 Trillion
Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose liberal call to action has propelled his long-shot presidential campaign, is proposing an array of new programs that would amount to the largest peacetime expansion of government in modern American history. ... His agenda includes an estimated $15 trillion for a government-run health-care program that covers every American, plus large sums to rebuild roads and bridges, expand Social Security and make tuition free at public colleges. ... A campaign aide said additional tax proposals would be offered to offset the cost of some, and possibly all, of his health program. A Democratic proposal for such a “single-payer” health plan, now in Congress, would be funded in part through a new payroll tax on employers and workers, with the trade-off being that employers would no longer have to pay for or arrange their workers’ insurance. (Meckler, 9/14)

The Washington Post: Clinton’s Support Erodes Sharply Among Democratic Women
Hillary Rodham Clinton is suffering a rapid erosion of support among Democratic women — the voters long presumed to be the bedrock in her bid to become the nation’s first female president. ... On the stump, Sanders also appeals to women’s concerns, touting his support for abortion rights, equal pay, and paid family and medical leave. ... Clinton is holding several weeks of rallies billed as “Women for Hillary,” but the message she is delivering speaks to broad concerns, focusing heavily on the economic benefits of equal pay, better child care and reproductive rights.(Tumulty, 9/14)

The Wall Street Journal's CFO Journal: Some Companies Balk At Disclosing Details Of Political Giving
Some disclosure holdouts say they don’t use company funds for political donations, making any policy in that area moot. ... Not everyone agrees. If companies “do zero” political contributions, “they could write that on the website with one sentence,” said Robert Jackson Jr., a professor at Columbia University’s law school. Other holdouts include health insurer Aetna Inc., whose shareholders have made political-disclosure proposals for four years in a row. ... Aetna already discloses contributions to candidates, political-action committees, party committees and trade groups. “The overwhelming majority of our shareholders agree that additional disclosure is not warranted,” said an Aetna spokesman, citing 25% support for Mr. DiNapoli’s proposal. In 2012, Aetna inadvertently revealed in filings that it had poured about $3 million into a group campaigning against the Affordable Care Act—contributions it hadn’t disclosed in its regular political report. (Monga and Murphy, 9/15)

NPR: Panel Says Aspirin Lowers Heart Attack Risk For Some, But Not All
Millions of Americans take baby aspirin every day to prevent a heart attack or stroke. If they are at high risk of heart disease, they're doing the right thing, according to draft recommendations issued Monday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The independent panel also said that taking low-dose aspirin daily for at least 10 years may also protect against colorectal cancer, at least in people who are already taking it to prevent heart attacks and stroke. (Neighmond, 9/15)

Los Angeles Times: California Voters Sharply Disagree On Low-Cost Healthcare For Immigrants
California has adopted a series of laws in recent years to help people in the country illegally, and polls show broad support for a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 2 million such immigrants living in the state. But it's a different story when it comes to providing them healthcare benefits. California voters are sharply divided over whether free or low-cost health insurance should be granted to those who reside in the state without legal status, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll. (Carcamo, 9/15)

Reuters: Broad Change Needed to Heal Racially Divided Missouri: Report
The commission's report said the racial divide through the St. Louis region is deep and cuts across access to healthcare, housing and high-quality education, and fosters injustice in the courts. ... Among other recommendations: improved public transportation; more quality, affordable housing; expanded Medicaid eligibility; expansion of nutrition assistance programs for poor people; a higher minimum wage; improved education; and the establishment of school-based health centers. (9/14)

The Wall Street Journal: Ferguson Study Says Root Causes Of Racial Inequity Need To Be Addressed
The panel reported that similar criminal-justice issues were a problem across the St. Louis area. The members were tasked with determining the underlying causes of inequity and offered 189 policy recommendations covering education, job training, health care and other quality-of-life issues. ... For example, in the St. Louis area, life expectancies vary by nearly 40 years between those living in a wealthy, predominantly white ZIP Code and residents in a mostly black one. And according to a survey cited, nearly 18% of black residents lack health insurance, while just more than 7% of white residents are uninsured. (Kesling, 9/14)

The Associated Press: Judge Sets Hearing On Arkansas Defunding Planned Parenthood
A federal judge has set a Thursday hearing over Arkansas’ decision to cut off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on Friday set the hearing over Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit challenging Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s decision to cancel the organization’s Medicaid contract. The state’s cancellation of the contract took effect Sunday, and Planned Parenthood says it’ll affect Medicaid patients scheduled to visit its health centers starting Sept. 21. (9/14)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2014 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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