Kaiser Health News Original Stories

2. Political Cartoon: 'Toss-Up'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Toss-Up'" by Lee Judge, Kansas City Star.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


When someone inquires...
What’s app?” ... They’re asking about
Your technology.

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Capitol Hill Watch

3. Conservatives' Aversion To Planned Parenthood Funding At Center Of Current Budget Fight

A government shutdown could occur if a temporary budget is not passed by the end of the month. However, passage of a short-term spending bill faces opposition from conservatives who are troubled by federal funding for the reproductive health organization. But GOP congressional leaders fear that a shutdown could risk the party's White House bid.

The Associated Press: How Planned Parenthood Became A Reason For A Shutdown Threat
The federal government could be headed for a shutdown at the end of the month, over funding for Planned Parenthood. ... Republicans in Congress have long disliked Planned Parenthood because the group performs abortions, among many other health services for women. Their revulsion for Planned Parenthood was reignited this summer by secretly recorded videos showing organization officials offhandedly discussing how they sometimes provide tissue from aborted fetuses for medical researchers. (9/19)

The Associated Press: GOP Leaders Face Tough Test In Congress To Keep Gov’t Open
Congress’ Republican leaders face stark tests as they fight to keep the government open past month’s end, amid fears a shutdown could imperil their party’s White House ambitions. ... Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., must contend with the ambitions of several GOP presidential candidates. One of them, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, has made it his business to oppose the Kentuckian at every turn, even taking to the Senate floor to accuse him of lying. ... Together they are demanding that must-pass spending legislation cut off all federal money for Planned Parenthood. The efforts follows the disclosure of secretly recorded videos in which Planned Parenthood officials are shown discussing how they acquire fetal parts for medical research. (Werner and Taylor, 9/21)

Politico: Conservatives Balk At GOP Pitch To Avert Shutdown
Republican leaders who are eyeing a rarely-deployed, fast-track budget procedure as a way to defund Planned Parenthood and stave off a government shutdown appear to be in for a rude awakening. The idea is aimed at placating conservatives by giving them a way to pass legislation to strip Planned Parenthood of its funding and decouple the issue from the entire federal budget. But conservatives are balking at the proposal to use the majority-vote reconciliation process, calling it a "ruse" that, in the end, would leave Planned Parenthood's federal funding intact and amount to little more than a feel-good exercise. (Bade, 9/18)

Politico: Meet The 26-Year-Old Activist Who Could Close The Government
If the U.S. government shuts down Oct. 1, it will be because of a chain of events set in motion by a 26-year-old and a video camera. Yet David Daleiden, the young Californian who masterminded the Planned Parenthood sting, isn’t worried about whether the threat of a shutdown is the right way to go. He just wants the women’s health provider that he says traffics in "baby body parts" to be stripped of taxpayer support. (Haberkorn, 9/21)

The Hill: Judge: Anti-Planned Parenthood Group Must Turn Over Evidence
A federal judge said Friday that the anti-abortion group targeting Planned Parenthood with hidden cameras cannot refuse to turn over potential pieces of evidence by pleading the Fifth Amendment. Judge William Orrick said in a hearing that the Center for Medical Progress must comply with the court’s requests for documents, escalating the weeks-long legal battle over the secret videos. The organization’s founder, David Daleiden, had previously told the court that the group planned to invoke the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. (Ferris, 9/18)

4. House Passes Bill To Strip Planned Parenthood Of Federal Funds For One Year

The 241-187 vote fell along party lines. Another bill also passed, on a 248-177 vote, that would require medical personnel to aid an infant born alive after an attempted abortion, a provision that Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., will introduce in the Senate. Neither measure is expected to become law in the face of a potential Senate filibuster and presidential veto.

The New York Times: House Republicans Vote to Stop Funding Planned Parenthood
House Republicans vented their rage against Planned Parenthood on Friday, voting to block all federal financing for the organization, which they accused of profiting from the sale of aborted fetuses for medical research. It was unclear, however, if the vote would mollify conservative lawmakers who have threatened to force a government shutdown over the abortion issue. (Herszenhorn, 9/18)

The Washington Post: House Votes To Defund Planned Parenthood, But Will That Help Avert A Shutdown?
The House passed two abortion-related bills Friday, including one that would strip federal health-care funding from Planned Parenthood for one year, but it remains unclear whether the votes would appease conservatives who have threatened a government shutdown over the organization. ... But neither bill is likely to become law as Senate Democrats have filibustered similar measures, and President Obama has indicated he would veto both bills. That’s why the move is unlikely to stave off growing fears of a government shutdown on Oct. 1. (DeBonis, 9/18)

Poiltico: House Votes To Defund Planned Parenthood For One Year
The House on Friday approved legislation to defund Planned Parenthood for one year and to add new medical and reporting requirements on live births resulting from an attempted abortion. The bills were the latest in the House’s response to a series of videos that opponents of Planned Parenthood say show that the organization is making money off the trafficking of human fetal tissue and organs. Planned Parenthood denies such claims and says the videos were highly edited. (Haberkorn, 9/18)

The Associated Press: House Bills On Abortion Aim To Avert Possible Gov’t Shutdown
Seeking to avert a government shutdown, Republican leaders are hoping to contain conservatives’ demands for a politically risky showdown with President Barack Obama by striking a quick blow against abortion and Planned Parenthood. In a nearly party-line 241-187 vote on Friday, the House passed a bill blocking Planned Parenthood’s federal funds. The vote followed a no-holds-barred debate that included a graphic, poster-size photo of a scarred, aborted fetus and underscored how abortion has resurfaced as a white-hot political issue. (Fram and Taylor, 9/19)

Politico: GOP Ties Anti-Abortion Push To Papal Visit
Democrats have a lengthy wish list for Pope Francis when he addresses Congress this week. But Republicans are seizing on the Catholic leader’s historic visit to make good on one of their top social priorities: Tough new abortion restrictions. As they rally behind a long-awaited measure that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, GOP lawmakers are tying their messaging to the teachings of the Catholic Church, which opposes the practice. And the presence of Pope Francis on Capitol Hill this week shines an even brighter spotlight on the legislation, which has long been a top priority of advocacy groups that oppose abortion. (Kim and Haberkorn, 9/21)

The Hill: Senate Gets Companion For 'Born Alive' Protections Bill
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) is planning to introduce a bill Monday that imposes criminal penalties on doctors who mishandle live-birth abortions, one day after the same language was approved by the House. The freshman senator’s legislation will mirror the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which was passed the House on Friday. Under the legislation, any doctor who fails to give “appropriate care” to an infant born during an abortion can be sentenced to five years in prison. (Ferris, 9/18)

Health Law Issues And Implementation

5. Bipartisan Effort Takes Aim At Obamacare Provision That Would Impact Small, Midsize Companies

In other health law news, Stateline reports on the future of health insurance co-ops. Meanwhile, the National Committee for Quality Assurance institutes a new quality ratings system for health plans, and a Latino group in Texas receives a federal grant to help enroll people under the Affordable Care Act.

The New York Times: Bipartisan Effort Fights Health Law Rule That Could Raise Premiums
Members of Congress from both parties, as well as some employers, insurers and state insurance commissioners, are calling for changes in the Affordable Care Act to prevent premium increases that are expected to affect workers at many small and midsize companies next year. Lawmakers see the potential for a rare bipartisan agreement on the issue, after five years in which Republicans have repeatedly tried to repeal the law and Democrats have blocked their efforts. (Pear, 9/20)

Stateline: Can Health Insurance Co-Ops Survive?
Consumer-run health insurance cooperatives, created under the Affordable Care Act to stimulate competition and lower prices for health insurance, faltered almost from the start. In just the last two months, health insurance cooperatives in Louisiana and Nevada announced they were going belly up at the end of the year. They followed another, operating in Nebraska and Iowa, which had been ordered by a state court to liquidate. (Ollove, 9/21)

Modern Healthcare: NCQA Nixes Health Plan Rankings In Favor Of Ratings
The National Committee for Quality Assurance has scrapped its old ranking system for health plans and instituted a new ratings system that's similar to what the CMS has implemented for providers and Medicare Advantage plans. NCQA made the change to be more consistent with the government's strategy for judging healthcare quality and to more accurately represent a health insurer's performance. (Herman, 9/18)

The Austin American-Statesman: Austin Group To Help With Signups For Affordable Care Act Coverage
The Austin-based Latino HealthCare Forum has received a federal gra

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