Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Political Cartoon: 'Common Ground?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Common Ground?'" by Lisa Benson.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Shutdown? No matter.
Medicare moving ahead
With new codes for docs.

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Capitol Hill Watch

5. Boehner To Leave Congress At The End Of October

News outlets report Friday morning that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, plans to resign, amidst growing pressure from the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Politico notes that now, free from intra-caucus concerns, he will be free to push a clean stop-gap funding bill through the House to prevent a government shutdown.

USA Today: Speaker John Boehner To Resign From Congress
In a shocking announcement, John Boehner told his GOP colleagues he will step down as House speaker and resign his Ohio congressional seat on Oct. 30. ... His resignation comes the day after Pope Francis became the first pontiff to address a joint meeting of Congress — a crowning achievement of Boehner's career — and amid a congressional fight over federal funding of Planned Parenthood that threatens another government shutdown. (Shesgreen and Allen, 9/25)

NBC News: House Speaker John Boehner To Resign
Boehner has been under prolonged pressure from conservatives in his party, who have accused him of failing to fight the Obama administration on issues important to the GOP. Foes within his party had been pushing to oust him if he presented any legislation that would continue to fund the government and avoid a government shutdown without stripping federal funding for Planned Parenthood. (9/25)

The New York Times: John Boehner Will Resign From Congress
Most recently, Mr. Boehner, 65, was trying to craft a solution to keep the government open through the rest of the year, but was under pressure from a growing base of conservatives who told him that they would not vote for a bill that did not defund Planned Parenthood. Several of those members were on a path to remove Mr. Boehner as speaker, though their ability to do so was far from certain. (Steinhauer, 9/25)

Politico: Speaker John Boehner Retiring From Congress At The End Of October
Speaker John Boehner, who rose from bartender's son to the most powerful man in Congress, will retire at the end of October, ending a tumultuous five-year tenure atop the House of Representatives. ... Now that he doesn't have internal political considerations to weigh, Boehner is certain to push through a government-funding bill next week that funds Planned Parenthood, and keeps the government open. Boehner's decision, relayed in a closed Republican meeting Friday morning, will set off one of the most intense leadership scrambles in modern Congressional GOP politics. (Sherman, 9/25)

6. Senate GOP Fails To Pass Temporary Spending Bill That Defunded Planned Parenthood

With just days left before a possible federal government shutdown, Democrats blocked passage of a bill that would have funded the government through Dec. 11 but included a provision to strip federal funding from the women's health organization. Meanwhile, Republican leaders in both the House and Senate are moving ahead in efforts to pass a clean, bipartisan budget measure.

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
In the House, GOP leaders called a meeting of their fractious rank and file for Friday morning to discuss whether to accept the Senate’s move or reject it at the risk that continuing the fight over Planned Parenthood would lead to a government shutdown. The White House signaled President Barack Obama would sign the measure, called a continuing resolution, into law — if the House steps aside from the fight tea party Republicans want over “defunding” Planned Parenthood. (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)

The Associated Press: 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. ... Friday's meeting is likely to center on immediate action to use a special filibuster-proof budget bill to send legislation defunding Planned Parenthood to Obama's desk for the first time — rather than a futile bid to attach the anti-Planned Parenthood measure to a stopgap spending bill. The temporary measure is needed to avoid a shutdown at midnight on Wednesday. It would fund the government through Dec. 11. (Taylor, 9/25)

In other Capitol Hill action -

McClatchy: Senate Democrats Introduce Legislation To Repeal Obamacare 'Cadillac Tax'
The call to repeal one of the Affordable Care Act's most controversial provisions got louder on Thursday when a group of prominent Democratic senators introduced legislation to abolish the so-called "Cadillac Tax" on high-cost, employer-sponsored health plans. The action further solidified growing bipartisan opposition to the tax, which has already drawn the ire of employers, insurers, unions and benefits groups. They claim the tax would burden working families with higher costs and force employers to cut benefits. (Pugh, 9/24)

Health Law Issues And Implementation

7. Healthcare.gov Account Information Stored On Vulnerable Database, Audit Finds

The flaws uncovered by auditors are now fixed but included critical issues of security policy, such as not encrypting user sessions. Millions of insurance customers' data is stored on the $110-million system known as MIDAS. In other health law news, a new study shows that Americans' top concern when shopping for health coverage is the monthly premium they will pay.

The Associated Press: Audit Finds Slipshod Cybersecurity At Healthcare.gov
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. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 9/24)

NBC News: Monthly Cost Is Top Concern For Health Insurance Shoppers: Survey
Americans, long used to seeking bargains, look mostly at price when they're shopping for health insurance, a new survey shows. More than half of those who looked but didn't buy anything on the new Obamacare exchanges said they couldn't find a plan they could afford, the survey found. And two-thirds who switched coverage said price was the main factor. (Fox, 9/25)

8. Details Of Utah's Much-Anticipated Medicaid Expansion Plan To Be Rolled Out Tuesday

The plan, which faces skepticism from many Republican state legislators and is the product of hours of negotiations, will be the topic of briefings given next week during closed-door meetings.

Salt Lake Tribune: Utah Republican Lawmakers To Huddle Behind Closed Doors On Medicaid Expansion
House and Senate Republicans will meet next week in closed-door caucuses for briefings on a proposal to use Medicaid funds to help provide health insurance to tens of thousands low-income Utahns. The plan they will hear is the product of hours of negotiations between leaders in the House and Senate and Gov. Gary Herbert, launched after Herbert's Healthy Utah plan failed to win support earlier this year in the Republican-dominated House. Depending on the reception the plan receives — particularly from skeptical House members — the governor could call a special session in mid-October to vote on the plan. (Gehrke, 9/24)

KSL: Details Of Medicaid Expansion Plan Plan Due Next Week
Details of the much-anticipated new plan for Medicaid expansion from Gov. Gary Herbert and legislative leaders will be rolled out Tuesday to lawmakers in closed-door meetings before being unveiled publicly. But the governor has yet to sign off on a final proposal, his spokesman, Jon Cox, said Wednesday. "There are still details that need to be negotiated by the group," Cox said. (Riley Roche, 9/24)

Politico Pro: Utah's Medicaid Expansion Hits Funding Roadblock
One red state’s unprecedented effort to finance Medicaid expansion through a broad array of health care sectors — from hospitals and doctors to drug makers and pharmacies — is running into serious roadblocks. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and legislative leaders in July announced a deal to expand Medicaid, agreeing on a framework that would require “providers and benefactors of Medicaid dollars to pay their fair share.” But months later, Utah leaders are still facing objections from industry groups who argue they’re being asked to pay too much. (Pradhan, 9/24)

Also, Oregon is converting its Medicaid eligibility system to the one used by Kentucky -