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KHN First Edition: September 25, 2015


First Edition

Friday, September 25, 2015
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

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

Kaiser Health News: Clinton Seeks To Build On Health Law, But Does She Have The Rx For Rising Health Costs?
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Rovner reports: "While the Republicans running for president are united in their desire to repeal the federal health law, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton is fashioning her own health care agenda to tackle out-of-pocket costs – but industry experts question whether her proposals would solve the problem. In addition to defending the Affordable Care Act, Clinton released two separate proposals this week. One would seek to protect people with insurance from having to pay thousands of dollars in addition to their premiums for prescription drugs; the other would set overall limits on out-of-pocket health spending for those with insurance." (Rovner, 9/25)

Kaiser Health News: Seniors Tell Medical Students What They Need From Doctors
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, Susan Jaffe writes: "When doctors told Robert Madison his wife had dementia, they didn’t explain very much. His successful career as an architect hardly prepared him for what came next. 'A week before she passed away her behavior was different, and I was angry because I thought she was deliberately not doing things,' Madison, now 92, told a group of nearly 200 students at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine here. 'You are knowledgeable in treating patients, but I’m the patient, too, and if someone had said she can’t control anything, I would have been better able to understand what was taking place.'”(Jaffe, 9/25)

Kaiser Health News: D.C. Women To Get Access To Full Year’s Worth Of Contraceptives
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "Under a new law, District of Columbia women will be able to scratch one item off their list of things to worry about: running out of birth control pills. Under the law, which passed its congressional review period this month, women will be able to get a year’s supply of pills at once. Prescriptions for birth control pills typically have to be renewed every 30 or 90 days, potentially resulting in women missing scheduled pills. The yearlong provision will begin in 2017." (Andrews, 9/25)

The Associated Press: Audit Finds Slipshod Cybersecurity At
The government stored sensitive personal information on millions of health insurance customers in a computer system with basic security flaws, according to an official audit that uncovered slipshod practices. The Obama administration said it acted quickly to fix all the problems identified by the Health and Human Services inspector general's office. But the episode raises questions about the government's ability to protect a vast new database at a time when cyberattacks are becoming bolder. (9/24)

The New York Times: House GOP May Opt Against Shutdown Over Planned Parenthood
House GOP leaders have summoned their divided conference for a make-or-break discussion on how to fight taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood without having the battle lead to a government shutdown next week. In the wake of moves by the Senate's top Republican to advance a stopgap spending bill free of the dispute over Planned Parenthood, House GOP leaders may be ready to plot the same course. (9/25)

Los Angeles Times: Senate Fails To Advance Bill That Would Cut Planned Parenthood Funding
With a federal shutdown days away, Senate Republicans tried -- and failed -- on Thursday to advance legislation that would eliminate money for Planned Parenthood but keep government offices and services open. Democrats blocked the bill with a filibuster, refusing to cut funds for the large family planning organization after secretly recorded videos disclosed officials discussing the practice of providing fetal tissue from abortions for research. The debate has become a national conversation on abortion. (Mascaro, 9/24)

USA Today: Democrats Block Planned Parenthood Defunding; McConnell Offers 'Clean Bill'
Senate Democrats blocked a bill Thursday to keep the government funded through Dec. 11 because of a Republican provision to strip Planned Parenthood of federal money for a year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., moved immediately after the vote to try to avert an Oct. 1 government shutdown by filing a new bill that funds federal agencies but does not include the divisive Planned Parenthood provision. A vote on that bill could come as early as Monday. (Kelly, 9/24)

The Associated Press: McConnell Moves Ahead With Bipartisan Stopgap Spending Bill
The Senate’s top Republican moved swiftly to avoid a government shutdown in six days, pushing legislation that would keep agencies operating without a contentious fight over money for Planned Parenthood. The action of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., followed a decisive Senate vote blocking a bill that would have stripped Planned Parenthood of its taxpayer funding while keeping the government running through Dec. 11. (Taylor, 9/24)

Politico: Boehner Plots Shutdown Move As Critics Weigh Options
House Republican leaders will move next week to approve a "clean" government spending bill — and avert a shutdown — but only after they hold a vote on a measure to bar federal funding for Planned Parenthood, according to multiple sources familiar with the GOP's plan. The move, which comes as conservatives are weighing whether to try to remove John Boehner as House speaker, was discussed at a closed GOP leadership meeting Thursday. It involves a legislative tactic called an "enrollment correction," which essentially changes the text of a bill that has passed the House and the Senate. But it would ultimately be a meaningless exercise: The Senate would reject the measure, and President Barack Obama has said he will veto any spending bill that tries to defund Planned Parenthood. (Sherman, Palmer and Bresnahan, 9/24)

Reuters: U.S. Insurance Mega Mergers Could Hurt Care: Psychiatric Gro
The American Psychiatric Association warned U.S. antitrust regulators this month that two proposed health insurance deals could worsen access to mental health care services, adding to public opposition from several prominent doctors groups. Anthem Inc would become the largest U.S. health insurer through a proposed $47 billion acquisition of Cigna Corp, announced in late July. Earlier that month, Aetna Inc said it would buy Humana Inc and become the largest provider of Medicare plans for older people. (9/24)

The Wall Street Journal: Federal Judge Declines To Block Steris From Acquiring Synergy Health
A federal judge on Thursday handed a rare court loss to U.S. antitrust enforcers, declining to block Steris Corp., a U.S. infection-prevention company, from acquiring U.K.-based Synergy Health PLC. U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland rejected a request by the Federal Trade Commission to issue a preliminary injunction halting the merger, saying the FTC hadn’t met its burden of showing the deal was likely to damp competition in the U.S. (Kendall, 9/24)

NPR: California Counties Add Health Care For Immigrant Adults
A California county voted Tuesday to restore primary health care services to undocumented adults living in the county. Contra Costa County, east of San Francisco, joins 46 other California counties that have agreed to provide non-emergency care to immigrants who entered the country illegally. (Romero, 9/24)

The New York Times: Alabama Vote Is Rare Win In The South For The U.A.W.
The 2-to-1 margin of victory at the small factory, which makes seats for trucks, represents an unusual win in the uphill battle to organize autoworkers in the South. But it was unclear whether the vote signaled a broader breakthrough for labor and the U.A.W. in a region that has historically been allergic to most unions. Employees at C.V.G. cited low pay, which tops out at $15.80 an hour, the growing use of temporary workers at even lower wages and rising health insurance costs as reasons they voted to join the union. (Cohen, 9/24)

Los Angeles Times: Utah Unveils Tool Showing Impact Of Federal Budget Crisis
The calculator comes with several built-in scenarios that the commission says are "extreme but possible," such as broad federal spending cuts and or deep slashes to Medicaid money. On the website, the public can access a slimmed down version of a more sophisticated tool that legislative budget staff can use. Jonathan Ball, the director of the legislature's budget office, said no one knew what to do during a partial shutdown of the federal government two years ago. (Price, 9/24)

The Wall Street Journal: Lawmakers Fail To Override Christie Veto
New Jersey Democrats unsuccessfully attempted on Thursday to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a gun-control bill when most GOP supporters of the legislation decided not to buck the presidential candidate. The legislation would have prevented people with a documented history of mental illness from expunging that record to buy a gun. (Haddon, 9/24)

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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