Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Political Cartoon: 'Plain And Simple'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Plain And Simple'" by Brian Crane.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


After Clinton’s hints
Biotech stocks plummeted.
What will today bring?

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Capitol Hill Watch

5. Senate Poised To Vote On 20-Week Abortion Ban

The chamber's vote on this legislation -- which is viewed as mostly symbolic -- is also considered to be the first step in avoiding a government shutdown. But tension over Planned Parenthood funding continues to cast questions about Congress' ability to pass a short-term spending bill that will keep the federal government open.

The Wall Street Journal: Senate Expected To Move To Prevent Government Shutdown
The Senate is expected to take the first steps this week toward avoiding a government shutdown on Oct. 1, GOP lawmakers and aides said Monday. Congressional Republicans incensed over videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing fees for procuring fetal tissue for medical researchers have been weighing whether to try to strip federal funding for the women’s health organization in a spending bill that must be passed before the government’s current funding expires on Sept. 30. (son and Hughes, 9/21)

The Associated Press: Senate Dems Likely To Block GOP Bill Curbing Late Abortions
Democrats seem certain to block Republican legislation banning most late-term abortions in a Senate showdown with plenty of political significance but little suspense. Though the GOP controls the Senate, Democrats appeared certain to prevent them from getting the 60 votes needed Tuesday to move ahead on the bill. It would be the second time since this summer’s release of videos involving Planned Parenthood that Senate Democrats have scuttled a Republican effort to curb the organization and abortions. (Fram, 9/22)

Politico Pro: Senate To Vote On 20-Week Abortion Ban
The bill, introduced in the Senate by Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), prohibits abortions after 20 weeks with the exception of rape or incest or if the mother’s life is threatened. Supporters argue that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks of gestation, though the leading obstetric association says the science does not support that. The bill goes to the floor as Congress struggles to find a way to avoid a government shutdown next week amid the Planned Parenthood defunding fight. (Ehley, 9/22)

CQ Healthbeat: Abortion Vote A Prelude To Senate's Shutdown Watch
The Senate will start its week debating abortion, but it’s far from certain Tuesday’s symbolic vote will diffuse the tension over Planned Parenthood funding enough to avert a government shutdown. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is following through on a promise made to social conservatives to line up a vote on a bill to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks, a measure that’s spearheaded in the Senate by presidential candidate Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. (Lesniewski, 9/21)

Meanwhile, on the House side -

The Washington Post: Congress Could Hear From Planned Parenthood On Eve Of Shutdown Deadline
Congress could finally hear directly from Planned Parenthood's leader next week after months of controversy — on the day before it confronts a potential government shutdown spurred by conservatives demanding an end to the group's federal funding. The timing of the possible Sept. 29 hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has Democrats crying foul, accusing Republicans in a Monday letter of "using this issue to force a government shutdown unless [House Speaker John A. Boehner] bows to their demands." (DeBonis, 9/21)

Los Angeles Times: Budget Standoff Puts Nancy Pelosi Back In The Driver's Seat
Over the next week, as congressional leaders try to avoid another government shutdown, Pelosi will exert her rising clout as she tries to use a battle over the federal budget to win concessions from the GOP majority. ... To pass a bill that would keep government agencies and departments running after Sept. 30, [Speaker John Boehner] will almost certainly have to rely on Democratic votes that Pelosi controls. Boehner and his Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), badly want to avoid another politically damaging shutdown like the 16-day episode two years ago. Government officials say that fight cost taxpayers an extra $24 billion to shut down government programs and then reopen them. Polls show that voters blamed the GOP for the stalemate, hurting the party’s standing with the public. But conservative Republicans say they will not vote for any spending bill unless Congress blocks federal grant money for Planned Parenthood. (Mascaro, 9/22)

And in the background -

The Wall Street Journal: Republican Health-Policy Focus Shifts To Abortion Limits
With little to show for their efforts to repeal the 2010 health law, Republicans have refocused on trying to defund Planned Parenthood Federation of America and tighten federal abortion restrictions. The shift has occurred both on Capitol Hill and the campaign trail. In the most recent GOP presidential debate, abortion was a prominent talking point while candidates mentioned the Affordable Care Act only a handful of times. In Congress, Republicans are weighing shutting down the government on Oct. 1 in a bid to defund Planned Parenthood. And both chambers are voting on antiabortion bills this month amid a crush of other issues. The GOP shift reflects a grudging acknowledgment that repealing the ACA won’t happen as long as President Barack Obama is in office. (Armour and son, 9/21)

Campaign 2016

6. Clinton Unveiling Plan To Curb Rising Drug Prices With Rules For Pharmaceutical Makers

The Democratic candidate is proposing efforts to force drug makers to spend more of their profits on research and development and add new restrictions to their consumer advertising.

The Wall Street Journal: Clinton To Propose New Rules For Drug Makers
Hillary Clinton is proposing new rules that would pressure prescription-drug companies to spend a set portion of their revenue on research and development, one of several ideas aimed at controlling the rising cost of pharmaceuticals. Her plan, to be laid out in Iowa on Tuesday, also would attempt to dissuade drug companies from spending large sums on consumer advertising by barring that from counting as a tax-deductible business expense. (Meckler and Loftus, 9/22)

The Washington Post: Clinton Proposing $250 Monthly Cap On Prescription Drug Costs For Patients
Clinton herself telegraphed the plan with a Twitter message Monday vowing to go after “price-gouging” by drug companies. She cited the nearly 5,000-percent increase in the per-pill cost of a drug to treat parasitic infections. That price hike was profit-driven, Clinton said Monday at a political rally in Little Rock, Ark. The Democratic front-runner said she would crack down on such price increases because “nobody in America should have to choose between buying the medicine they need and paying rent.” (Gearan and Goldstein, 9/22)

The Associated Press: Clinton Adds Details To Plans On Prescription Drug Costs
Health care and the rising cost of prescription drugs are expected to be a dividing line in the 2016 campaign. Clinton’s main challenger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has campaigned on the creation of a single-payer health care system and introduced legislation earlier this month that would allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices with pharmaceutical companies and let consumers import prescription medication from Canada, where costs are cheaper. (Thomas and Lucey, 9/22)

Politico: Hillary Clinton Taking On Drug Industry
Hillary Clinton will launch a broadside against the pharmaceutical industry on Tuesday, rolling out an aggressive plan to drive down prescription drug costs, a populist health care issue largely unconnected with Obamacare that Democrats want to position front and center in 2016. At a campaign event in Iowa, Clinton will unveil a set of proposals that her campaign says will save well over $100 billion over 10 years — taking those savings mostly from the drug industry but targeting insurers as well. (Norman, 9/22)

USA Today: Hillary Clinton Unveils Plan To Lower Prescription Drug Costs
The proposal, which she’ll outline in a speech in Iowa later today, would also allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug costs and cap out-of-pocket expenses, according to details of the plan sent out by the campaign. The plan seeks to address a key shortcoming of Obamacare, President Obama’s signature health law, as the Democratic front-runner aims to show how she would put her imprint on it. (Pryzybyla, 9/22)

CNN: Hillary Clinton To Take On Drug Companies
Hillary Clinton will take aim at pharmaceutical companies on Tuesday when she unveils a plan to lower prescription drug prices. Clinton's plan, previewed to CNN by campaign aides, would reform the way drug companies do business, particularly by stopping them from spending government grants on advertising and by allowing Medicare -- and the U.S. government -- to negotiate down prescription drug costs. (Merica, 9/22)