Kaiser Health News Original Stories

1. Biking Behind Bars: Female Inmates Battle Weight Gain

Women in prison often eat to relieve stress or boredom. The resulting weight gain can make other physical and emotional problems worse. In one prison, spinning helps keep the pounds and rage at bay. (Taunya English, WHYY, 10/14)

2. Political Cartoon: 'Fake It 'Til You Make It'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Fake It 'Til You Make It'" by Harley Schwadron.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Not a hot topic
for Dems, but Jeb’s 10-page plan
outlines replacement.

If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.

Campaign 2016

3. Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Face Off In First Debate; Health Policies Drew Little Attention

Candidates briefly touched on issues such as the high costs of prescription drugs, but little mention was given to the 2010 health law.

The Washington Post: Clinton, Sanders Dominate Democrats’ First Go On The Debate Stage
The Democrats’ differences were focused largely on issues and policies, though there was far more engagement than some had predicted. The debate included discussions about climate change and renewable energy, college affordability, prescription drugs, terrorism and civil liberties, and the most serious threats to U.S. security in a world awash in conflicts. (Balz and Gearan, 10/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Hillary Clinton Confronts Critics At First Democratic Debate
The Democrats’ first matchup proved to nearly be as rough-and-tumble as the previous Republican debates, though the candidates also found several areas of agreement. ... Each candidate had a chance to cite interest groups they had taken on when asked which enemies they are most proud of. Mrs. Clinton narrowed her list to health-insurance companies, drug companies, the Iranians and “probably the Republicans.” Mr. Sanders mentioned Wall Street and pharmaceutical companies. Mr. Webb mentioned an enemy soldier who wounded him but added with a smile that he was no longer around. (McCain Nelson, Meckler and Nicholas, 10/14)

The Huffington Post: What Democrats Said About Obamacare During The Debate (Not Much)
President Barack Obama's landmark health care reform law -- one of the most contentious political issues of the past six years -- received all but no attention during the Democratic debate Tuesday tonight. But considering that all five Democrats on the stage were supporters of the Affordable Care Act, perhaps it's not surprising that CNN opted to raise issues more likely to provoke confrontation. (Young, 10/14)

4. Bush Steps Up 'Obamacare' Attacks, Offers 10-Page Replacement Plan

Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush filled in some of the details regarding how he would repeal and replace the 2010 health law.

Los Angeles Times: Jeb Bush Increases Attacks On Obamacare, Pledges Replacement
Bush's 10-page replacement plan is now the most detailed alternative being offered by any of the top-tier GOP candidates. It represents a stark contrast with Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has been campaigning on the health’s law historic expansion of health coverage while proposing new regulations to protect consumers from rising drug prices and runaway medical bills. (Levey, 10/13)

Politico: Bush Envisions Health After Obamacare
Jeb Bush unveiled his alternative to the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, vowing to fully repeal President Barack Obama’s Washington-centric approach and shift to a system where states would have a freer hand to shape the health insurance market. (Cook, 10/13)

Health News Florida: Bush Outlines Health Care Plan, But Who's Not Covered?
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said he would scrap the national health insurance law known as Obamacare. Bush outlined his plan to replace it during a speech in New Hampshire Tuesday. Bush wants a system that protects people from worst-case scenarios rather than comprehensive coverage that includes services they may not want. He said insurance shouldn’t cover everything. (O'Connor, 10/13)

Capitol Hill Watch

5. McConnell Likely To Seek Entitlement Changes In Return For Budget Deal

CNN reports that, according to sources, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will seek major revisions to Social Security and Medicare in return for legislation to raise the debt ceiling and keep the government open. In other news, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is pushing for a bill designed to lower drug costs.

CNN: Sources: McConnell Floats Entitlement Changes In High-Stakes Fiscal Talks
Mitch McConnell privately wants the White House to pay this price to enact a major budget deal: Significant changes to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for raising the debt ceiling and funding the government. Several people familiar with the high-stakes fiscal negotiations said the Senate majority leader's staff is trying to drive a hard bargain in the private talks with the White House and Democratic leaders. (Raju, 10/13)

The Cleveland Plain Dealer: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown Presses For Action On Bill To Lower Drug Prices
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown stood in the corner of a Cleveland supermarket Tuesday and launched a broadside on the pharmaceutical industry. He argued prices for prescription drugs are out of control, and that the businesses responsible are offering scant justification for sudden increases. ... Brown made the appearance to push for a bill he is co-sponsoring -- The Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act -- to lower drug costs by giving Medicare the power to negotiate prices on behalf of seniors. (Ross, 10/13)

Meanwhile, the GOP leadership saga continues -

Politico: Ryan Or Bust: GOP Lacks Viable Fallback For Speaker
If Kevin McCarthy was Plan A, and a very resistant Paul Ryan is Plan B, House Republicans don’t currently have a viable Plan C to become their next speaker. The half-dozen or so Republicans seriously looking at running believe they can unite the warring GOP Conference. But most or all of them would face a serious challenge wooing the several dozen hard-line conservatives who don’t have the numbers to get one of their own in the No. 1 spot but have demonstrated that, if they stick together, they can veto other candidates. (French, 10/13)

Health Law Issues And Implementation

6. Utah's Medicaid Expansion Plan Fails In Key Vote Among GOP Legislators

In a closed-door meeting, only seven GOP legislators said they favored the plan, which appears to have killed any action on the expansion for this year.

Salt Lake Tribune: Utah House GOP Deals Death Blow To Latest Health Care Plan
The latest attempt to help low-income Utahns get health insurance was dead on arrival Tuesday, as House Republicans dealt the proposal a crushing blow, sending state leaders back to the drawing board and leaving tens of thousands of people without hope for health care for the foreseeable future. Utah Access Plus, the latest plan aimed at expanding health-insurance coverage to an estimated 125,000 Utahns, received seven votes from the 63 GOP House Republicans in the three-hour closed-door meeting, House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, said Tuesday night. Hughes said it was concerns about the long-term sustainability of the Medicaid funding for the program, the potential for exploding costs and vocal opposition from medical providers who were called on to pay for part of the program that ultimately doomed Utah Access Plus in the House. (Gehrke, 10/13)

Deseret News: Latest Version Of Medicaid Expansion Fails To Win House, Senate Support
The latest version of Medicaid expansion, crafted by Gov. Gary Herbert and GOP legislative leaders, failed Tuesday to muster more than a handful of supporters among House Republicans and members of the Senate. ... That straw vote, along with a poll of both Republican and Democratic senators, leaves little hope of action on a plan to provide health care to some 95,000 low-income Utahns before the 2016 Legislature. The governor's spokeswoman, Aimee Edwards, said in a statement that Herbert "stands by" his plan for Medicaid expansion, known as Healthy Utah, that was defeated in the House last session. (Riley Roche, 10/13)

In other news, a new report highlights the number of people without insurance in Florida.

Health News Florida: 2.8M In Florida Still Uninsured
Florida still has nearly 2.8 million residents who lack health insurance, according to a new report, and 80 percent of them are uninsured for reasons that have nothing to do with Medicaid politics. Many qualify for subsidized plans under the Affordable Care Act but haven’t signed up, says the report released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Others have enough income to buy it on their own or through their employer, but don’t. (Gentry, 10/13)


7. Medicare Part D Buyers Beware: Insurers' 2016 Changes Could Hit Your Wallet

As insurance providers implement cost-cutting measures, experts advise consumers to not just re-enroll in their Part D prescription drug plan without shopping around during open enrollment. In related news, The Fiscal Times explores why Medicare costs can vary so widely across the country. And Reuters reports on a lawsuit filed by 250 hospita

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