Kaiser Health News Original Stories

2. How One Home Health Agency Earned Five Stars

In North Carolina, Brookdale Home Health Charlotte was one of just two agencies out of the state’s 172 to earn the maximum five stars from the federal government. (Michael Tomsic, WFAE, 9/18)

3. Political Cartoon: 'Waiting Game'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Waiting Game'" by Chris Wildt .

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Time to think about
the flu vaccine this year… Time
to roll up my sleeve.

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.

Capitol Hill Watch

4. GOP Leaders Mum On Strategy To Avert Government Shutdown Over Planned Parenthood

The Republican congressional leaders do not appear to have set a plan yet on how to pass a temporary spending bill before the Sept. 30 close of the fiscal year. Efforts continue to be mired in conservatives' desire to cut off Planned Parenthood funding and leaders' concerns that the fight with Democrats would lead to a shutdown.

Politico: House, Senate Leaders Still Lack Plan To Avoid Shutdown
The same Republicans who campaigned on doing away with legislative crises are careening toward government shutdown in less than two weeks with still no concrete plan to stop it. It’s not that Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) leadership team is hiding their best hand. They have no trick up their sleeve, no ace in the hole — pick your cliché. Nearly everyone in House and Senate leadership recognizes a simple reality: At some point in the next two weeks, they will move on a bill free of provisions to strip Planned Parenthood of its government funding. It just depends how long it takes, how painful it is and whether Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) team stumbles into their second government shutdown in three years. (Sherman and Palmer, 9/17)

CQ Healthbeat: No CR In Sight As House Republicans Debate Planned Parenthood
House Republicans continued to evaluate their options on Planned Parenthood funding Thursday as the number of scheduled legislative days until a government shutdown shriveled to six. After back-to-back closed-door conference meetings Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, GOP lawmakers said they have yet to decide whether to include defunding language in a must-pass continuing resolution. Outraged conservatives want to use the spending bill as a way to respond to videos targeting the women’s health group and its handling of fetal tissue. (Hallerman and McCrimmon, 9/17)

CNN: Top Hill Dems Meet With Obama, Boehner In Hopes Of Avoiding Government Shutdown
President Barack Obama met with top Democratic leaders behind closed doors at the White House Thursday as Congress scrambles to avoid a government shutdown. Speaking to reporters outside the West Wing following the hour-and-a-half-long huddle that focused on budget negotiations, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced that he, Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were in agreement on a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government running and allow time for negotiations on a "meaningful" budget. Democrats want to keep pressure on Republicans to negotiate a broader budget deal that would remove the across-the-board forced spending cuts, known as "sequestration," that are in place now. The sooner they reach a deal, the sooner domestic programs would potentially be less impacted by these budget cuts. (Holmes and Walsh, 9/17)

The Washington Post: Congress Inching Ever Closer Toward Government Shutdown
Reid and Pelosi met with Obama for about 90 minutes to prepare for negotiations. They said they are willing to back a continuing resolution to keep the government open, but insisted that such a stopgap measure be a short-term one and include the same size increases for military and non-military spending. They said that they will also demand that it not include any language about ideological issues, such as funding for Planned Parenthood. (Mufson and Snell, 9/17)

Politico: Boehner, Pelosi Huddle To Talk Shutdown Strategy
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi huddled with Speaker John Boehner Thursday evening to discuss the looming government funding crisis. The roughly 20-minute meeting came after Pelosi had been pressuring him for weeks to start negotiations on legislation that would keep the government open past Sept. 30. ... Congressional Republicans are currently logjamed over funding for Planned Parenthood with a group of more than 30 conservatives refusing to vote for any spending bill that doesn't strip the health care organization of its federal money. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that proposal is unlikely to pass the Senate meaning that Boehner may have to rely on Democratic votes to pass a continuing resolution. (French, 9/17)

Politico: Senators Weigh Planned Parenthood Options
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn't decided how next week's floor schedule will go. But Republicans are clearly entertaining a scenario in which the Senate must take the lead on avoiding a government shutdown on Oct. 1. "I guess he deserves credit for doing the right thing in ultimately passing a clean [spending bill], but it's a hell of a gamble since it leaves no time for a plan B," a senior Democratic aide said of McConnell, who opposes hardline tactics that could result in a shutdown over Planned Parenthood's funding. Cornyn said it remained unclear whether the House or Senate would vote first on the bill to defund Planned Parenthood. (Everett and Haberkorn, 9/17)

News outlets report that the obscure budget tool known as reconciliation is among the ideas some Republicans continue to consider as a way to defund Planned Parenthood -

CBS News: GOP Leaders Eye Other Tactics To Defund Planned Parenthood
Republican leaders are eyeing an obscure budget tool called reconciliation to end funding for Planned Parenthood -- although it wouldn't necessarily prevent a government shutdown. House Speaker Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday morning that "reconciliation is an option." A Republican move to defund Planned Parenthood was killed in the Senate in early August because Democrats had enough votes to block the measure. Reconciliation's appeal lies in the fact that it requires only a simple majority to pass the Senate instead of a filibuster-proof 60 votes. (Kaplan, 9/17)

CQ Healthbeat: Upton Skeptical On Reconciliation For Planned Parenthood Defunding
House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton expressed uncertainty Thursday about whether budget reconciliation can be used to defund Planned Parenthood, one of the options that Republicans are considering to starve the family planning group of federal funds, appease unhappy conservatives and still avoid a government shutdown. “I don’t know that we can do that in reconciliation,” the Michigan Republican said in an interview with CQ Roll Call. His comments are significant because Energy and Commerce is one of three committees in the House that would be tasked with writing reconciliation legislation that likely would be focused on repealing parts of the 2010 health care law (Krawzak and Attias, 9/17).

5. Abortion Bills Move Forward As Part Of Capitol Hill Showdown

News outlets detail some of the key legislative proposals related to abortion and Planned Parenthood and examine how they could fit into the current fractious debate over federal funding for this reproductive health organization.

The New York Times: Abortion Bills Advance, Setting Up A Showdown
Senate Republicans said on Thursday that they would take up legislation outlawing all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and the House voted to move forward with a bill that would end government financing for Planned Parenthood, intensifying a fight over abortion that threatened to paralyze budget talks and force a government shutdown at the end of the month. (Herszenhorn, 9/17)

The Associated Press: House Bills Hit Planned Parenthood, Some Abortion Doctors
Republican leaders hope House passage of bills targeting Planned Parenthood and curbing some abortion procedures will mollify fractious conservatives demanding a face-off with President Barack Obama that could trigger a federal shutdown. The GOP-run chamber was on track to approve the two measures Friday, despite White House veto threats and opposition from most Democrats. One would block Planned Parenthood’s federal funds for a year. The other would inflict criminal penalties on doctors who don’t try saving infants born alive during abortions. (Fram and Taylor, 9/18)

The Huffington Post: Obama Threatens To Veto Planned Parenthood Defunding Bill
President Barack Obama "strongly opposes" and would veto a pair of House bills that would strip federal funds from Planned Parenthood and impose new restrictions on abortion, the White House said in a statement on Thursday. The administration said the GOP-backed bills "would have the same consequence of limiting women’s health care choices." The Planned Parenthood bill, in particular, would cut access to health care services for as many as 630,000 people, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Wednesday. (Bassett, 9/17)

Politico Pro: Chaffetz Sets Up Battle Over Planned Parenthood Videos
House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz is setting up a battle of wills with a federal judge in California over unreleased footage in the sting operation against Planned Parenthood. Chaffetz has subpoenaed David Daleiden, the anti-abortion activist behind the videos, to turn over all of his footage on the women’s health organization. But U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick has already blocked Daleiden from releasing some of the tapes, particularly anything filmed at a National Abortion Federation conference. (Haberkorn, 9/17)

And the stakes are especially high for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio -

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Kevin McCarthy: Conservative Push To Oust Boehner ‘A Distraction’
Mr. Boehner of Ohio was elected speaker on the House floor in January with the most opposition in a speaker election since 1923. Since then, a series of fights over spending bills, President Barack Obama’s immigration policy, and the nuclear deal with Iran have generated further friction with his party’s right flank. This month, conservatives angered by videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing fees for procuring fetal tissue for medical researchers have tangled with GOP leaders over whether to use a must-pass spending bill as leverage to seek to strip federal funding from the women’s health organization. Such a move could lead to a stand-off resulting in a partial government shutdown if no stopgap spending measure is passed by the Oct. 1 start of the next fiscal year. Rep. Matt Salmon (R., Ariz.) said conservatives are watching Mr. Boehner and that his behavior this month will affect his standing among House Republicans. (son, 9/17)

6. Push To Repeal 'Cadillac Tax' Gains Bipartisan Support In Senate

In other health law news, an obscure provision -- known as 1332 waivers -- takes effect in 2017 and could help a Republican administration waive parts of the health law without congressional action.

Bloomberg: Senators Raise Pressure On Health Law's 'Cadillac Tax'
A new bipartisan effort to cancel the Affordable Care Act's Cadillac tax -- the 40 percent levy on high-cost health insurance plans -- adds a wrinkle to an impending fight in Congress. The repeal bill unveiled Thursday in the Senate by Nevada Republican Dean Heller and New Mexico Democrat Martin Heinrich stands little chance of becoming law soon, especially with Barack Obama in the White House. Yet it demonstrates lawmakers' frustration with the tax, which takes effect in 2018. (Rubin, 9/17)

Politico Pro: How The GOP Could Use Obamacare To Gut Obamacare
Forget "repeal and replace." An obscure Obamacare provision that takes effect in 2017 could empower a Republican president to unravel Obamacare — without a single vote from Congress. The provision allows the executive branch to waive big chunks of the law for a state that chooses a different approach to expanding health coverage. It was designed to allow progressive states to go further than Obamacare. Vermont, for instance, wanted to create a single-payer plan. (Pradhan, 9/17)

Health Law Issues And Implementation