Congressional watchdog says the government checks few health plans to ensure accurate provider listings and adequate access for seniors on Medicare Advantage. (Phil Galewitz, 9/30)
Voluminous and sometimes wacky new medical diagnostic codes in “ICD-10” have staffers at hospitals and doctors’ offices reaching for bromides. (Barbara Feder Ostrov, 10/1)
Residents say a lead battery recycler’s decades of contamination in low-income, largely Latino neighborhoods of Los Angeles County wouldn’t have been tolerated in wealthier areas. (Anna Gorman, 10/1)
One of the 55 hospitals nationwide that the CDC named as future “Ebola treatment centers” is Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. One year after the first confirmed case of Ebola in the U.S., the hospital is about to open a new eight-bed biocontainment wing -- the only one of its kind for children in the country. (Carrie Feibel, Houston Public Media, 10/1)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Out Of The Question?'" by Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
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The measure, which was signed by President Barack Obama just hours before the federal government's funding expired, extending government operations until Dec. 11. Lots of issues remain in play for a long-term spending bill.
The Wall Street Journal: Congress Passes Bill To Fund Government Through Dec. 11
Congress on Wednesday avoided a government shutdown by passing a bill that keeps the government running through mid-December, but leaves unresolved a divide over federal spending that threatens to resurface this winter with more perilous economic consequences. ... Congress now confronts a new Dec. 11 deadline to try to strike a long-term budget deal at a time when House Republicans are losing their most experienced leader and remain split about how to negotiate with Mr. Obama and Democrats. (son and Timiraos, 9/30)
The Washington Post: On Eve Of Shutdown, Congress Buys More Time
The stopgap spending bill, which passed the Senate 78 to 20 and cleared the House 277 to 151, continues current funding levels through Dec. 11 and sets the stage for negotiations between congressional Republican leaders, who want to hew to strict caps on nondefense discretionary spending, and President Obama and Democrats, who want higher levels. ... Meanwhile, Republican demands to end Planned Parenthood’s access to Medicaid reimbursements and federal health-care grants, which nearly prompted a shutdown ahead of Wednesday’s midnight deadline, show no sign of abating. ... The influential conservative activist group Heritage Action for America, for instance, on Wednesday called on aspiring House leaders to end Planned Parenthood funding and respect the sequestration caps. (DeBonis and Snell, 10/1)
Politico: Shutdown Fight Pushed To December
Conservatives in both chambers wanted the continuing resolution to cut federal funding for the women’s health care organization but nearly unified Senate Democratic resistance — not to mention a promised veto from President Barack Obama, meant the defunding language was jettisoned from the bill that the House cleared on a 277-151 vote and that will move on for Obama’s signature. A coalition of 91 Republicans joined 186 Democrats to pass the bill in the House. ... Conservative Republicans are already planning an aggressive tact to strip Planned Parenthood of its funding after falling short this round. ... And with the House GOP embroiled in leadership election intrigue after Boehner’s surprise resignation last week, there are several variables in play. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters on Tuesday that he is worried that fights over spending caps, Planned Parenthood and overall government funding could lead to a shutdown in December. (French and Kim, 9/30)
Reuters: Congress Averts Government Shutdown, Obama Signs Funding Measure
The House of Representatives relied heavily on Democrats to secure passage in a 277-151 vote. A large majority of Republicans voted against the measure, which did not meet conservatives' demands to cut off money to women's healthcare provider Planned Parenthood amid an abortion controversy. The House also passed a companion bill aimed at restoring the Planned Parenthood defunding provision, but the Senate is not expected to act on it, effectively killing it. (Lawder and Cowan, 9/30)
The Hill: House Panel Advances Measure Defunding Planned Parenthood
The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday advanced a fast-track bill to defund Planned Parenthood for one year and repeal an Obamacare public health fund. The bill is part of the process called reconciliation, which will allow measures to bypass a Senate Democratic filibuster. President Obama is still sure to veto them, but Republicans say that they will at least reach his desk. (Sullivan, 10/1)
The program provides medical care and monitoring for the emergency personnel who became sick after working at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Though it is funded through part of 2016, New York House members wrote in an editorial that allowing the program to formally expire would send a signal that "'never forget 9/11' is just a slogan on a bumper sticker."
The Associated Press: Federal Health Program For Sept. 11 Responders Set To Expire
A law that provides medical monitoring and treatment for Sept. 11 first responders expires at midnight Wednesday due to the failure of Congress to act. For now, first responders who rushed to the World Trade Center after the 2001 terrorist attacks, worked for weeks and now suffer from illnesses like pulmonary disease and cancers will still be able to get their health care. But federal officials who administer the program say it will face challenges by February and will have to start shutting down by next summer. (9/30)
NBC News: Never Forget? Law Covering 9/11 Responders' Medical Care Expires
Congress recessed without reauthorizing the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act, which covers medical care for those who became sick after working at the World Trade Center following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. ... "We never intended for this important legislation to expire so quickly, but, once again, Washington politics got in the way," Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and King of New York wrote in an op-ed Wednesday in the political newspaper The Hill. The act is fully funded well into 2016, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told reporters earlier this month that "we do plan to extend the program."(Johnson, 10/1)
The 2010 health law sets a 40 percent tax in 2018 on coverage that costs more than $10,200 for single plans and $27,500 for family insurance. Also in related health law news, The Hill examines whether a quiet bipartisan effort is developing to revamp some parts of the law.
The Associated Press: 4 Ways Companies May Adjust To Looming Employee Benefits Tax
The taxman is coming to employer-sponsored health insurance, and his visit may trigger changes to your benefits. The health care overhaul calls for a 40-percent tax starting in 2018 on the value of employer-sponsored coverage that costs more than $10,200 for single plans and $27,500 for family insurance. Employers are working to avoid this tax by cutting costs that have been rising for several years. (Murphy, 9/30)
The Hill: Poll: 60 Percent Oppose Obamacare Cadillac Tax
The public opposes ObamaCare’s “Cadillac Tax” on high-cost health insurance plans by a wide margin, according to a new poll. (Sullivan, 10/1)
The Hill: Is Obamacare Debate Starting To Thaw?
In a nearly empty House chamber on Monday afternoon, a little-noticed bill came up for a voice vote. The few lawmakers on the floor shouted “aye,” no one shouted “no,” and the bill was passed. Changing Obamacare has rarely been so drama-free. Passage of the bill, which would adjust the healthcare law’s definition of a small employer, is raising hopes that more bipartisan tweaks to ObamaCare could be on the way. (Sullivan, 10/1)
The Vermont senator and presidential candidate, who describes himself as a Democratic socialist, favors approaches to health reform education and child care that would convert these industries from the current public-private mix to operations run mainly with federal money.
The Washington Post: How Bernie Sanders Would Transform The Nation
The biggest pieces of Sanders’s domestic agenda — making college, health care and child care more affordable — seek to capture these industries and convert them to run chiefly on federal money. ... Bernie Sanders — a senator from Vermont who describes himself as a “democratic socialist” — will never get everything he wants in Washington. And that still would be true if he became President Sanders. Republicans in the Congress would fight him fiercely. Democrats might not be much help. In fact, Sanders’s most recent Senate bills — legislation that would make college free and provide universal health care — attracted exactly zero Democrats as co-sponsors. (Fahrenthold, 10/1)
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, how the landscape may or may not be changing for conservatives -