Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Political Cartoon: 'Change In Stripes'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Change In Stripes'" by Jeff Koterba, Omaha World Herald.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Relinquish the keys?
Planning helps, because it’s hard
To give up the wheel.

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Health Law Issues And Implementation

5. Kansas City, Dallas Among Cities Targeted By The White House For Obamacare Enrollment

Twenty cities have been singled out by the White House for having high rates of uninsured residents. These areas, which the Obama administration views as ripe for improvement in enrollment activities, are key to reaching the federal goal of 10 million people enrolled in marketplace plans.

The Kansas City Star: Obama Targets KC To Boost Health Care Enrollment
President Barack Obama is targeting 20 cities, including Kansas City, to boost enrollment in the Affordable Care Act. The White House’s goal is to finally get total enrollment above the 10 million mark. The 20 cities Obama has singled out have the most uninsured people eligible for coverage, the White House said. The sign-up campaign is called the “Healthy Communities Challenge.” (Kraske, 11/8)

6. As Election Dust Settles, Newly Insured Kentuckians Worry About What Might Become Of Their Coverage

Kentucky Governor-Elect Matt Bevin, a Republican, pledged during the campaign to dismantle Kynect, the state's health insurance marketplace, and to step back from plans to expand Medicaid. Meanwhile, St. Louis Public Radio examines how some nurses may be stuck in the insurance coverage gap.

The Washington Post: Kentucky’s Newly Insured Worry About Their Health Under Next Governor
Such one-by-one life changes are the ground-level stakes ushered in by the election last week of businessman Matt Bevin as Kentucky’s next governor. The second Republican elected to the office in 48 years, he wrapped his campaign around a pledge to dismantle Kynect, the state’s response to the federal health-care law. If he follows through, the Bluegrass State would go from being perhaps the nation’s premier ACA success story to the first to undo the law’s results, razing a state insurance exchange and reversing its considerable expansion of Medicaid. During his first news conference since his unexpected victory, Bevin named abolishing Kynect as a top priority, again contending that the state can’t afford it. He said change would come in “a thoughtful way” and made it clear that he intends for people on Medicaid to pay more for their care — but left other details of his intentions blurry. (Goldstein, 11/9)

St. Louis Public Radio: Stuck In Coverage Gap, With Dreams Of Being A Nurse
In this season of open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, there’s a group of people who might be uninsured: nursing students. Nursing schools frequently require, or highly recommend, that students be enrolled in a health insurance plan before participating in clinical work at local hospitals. Because the Missouri legislature has turned down Medicaid expansion three years in a row, students who work part-time or don’t have insurance through their parents may fall into a coverage gap: Their incomes are too high for Missouri’s Medicaid program, and too low for income-based subsidies to help them buy insurance on Healthcare.gov. (Bouscaren, 11/9)

Also in the news -

The Associated Press: NY Officials Take Extra Steps For Health Republic Customers
New York state authorities say they are taking additional steps meant to protect people covered by Health Republic Insurance as it shuts down. The Department of Financial Services and Department of Health say about 100,000 individual members in the cooperative can select a new insurance plan for the rest of this year through the state Health Exchange by Nov. 30. (11/9)

CQ Healthbeat: Slow Crawl To Insuring Kids In Texas
Like the U.S. overall, Texas saw a decline in the number of children without health insurance in 2014. But supporters of the federal health care law say hostility to the 2010 overhaul is preventing the state — which still has the nation’s biggest population of uninsured kids — from making faster progress. The number of uninsured children in Texas fell by 11.7 percent to about 784,000 in 2014, down from around 888,000 in 2013, according to a Georgetown University Center for Children and Families report released in October. (Evans, 11/9)

The San Antonio Express News: Health Insurance Rates Still A Struggle For Some Employers
Renewal dates are fast approaching for many employers’ group health insurance policies, and while it’s difficult to discern a common trend for 2016, it appears some businesses will not face the steep rate hikes of years past. In some cases, independent brokers in San Antonio have successfully negotiated to reduce the suggested price hikes for large employers so their health insurance premiums will stay the same or go up only slightly next year. (O'Hare, 11/9)

Capitol Hill Watch

7. Lawmakers Fast-Tracking Medicare Post-Acute Overhaul

The new Ways and Means Committee chairman is pushing legislation forward that covers Medicare beneficiaries who had serious illnesses. Elsewhere, New York lawmakers pressure Speaker Paul Ryan to renew health coverage for Sept. 11 workers.

CQ Healthbeat: Progress Seen In Bid To Overhaul Medicare Post-Acute Care Pay
A key health policy goal of the new Ways and Means chairman – changes to the treatment of people recovering from serious illnesses, injuries and surgeries - is moving forward in an influential advisory panel. The work ultimately could result in an overhaul of one of Medicare's fastest-growing expenses. An overhaul of so-called post-acute care, a roughly $60 billion annual expense for Medicare, has been a top priority for Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and has the support of the Obama administration. Medicare's spending on post-acute care more than doubled between 2001 and 2012, with different payment rates set for the four main settings for this treatment. Lawmakers are looking for ways to better direct people toward the best sites for post-acute care, while also keeping this spending in check by flattening payments. Decisions about post-care settings now often are based on factors such as a hospital's relationship with a particular center, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. (Young, 11/9)


8. Activist Investor Bill Ackman Defends Support For Drug Maker Valeant

The New York Times interviews Ackman, who backs Valeant and the company's controversial drug pricing practices. In other marketplace news, U.S. prosecutors seek to extradite pharmacy officials charged with smuggling counterfeit cancer drugs.

The New York Times' DealBook: Bill Ackman’s Enigmatic Approach To Valeant Pharmaceuticals
William A. Ackman, the activist investor, has described his billion-dollar bet and continuing crusade against the nutritional supplements company Herbalife as a “moral obligation.” In at least one presentation, he nearly cried onstage and said that if his Herbalife trade was successful, he would give the profits to charity because he would consider them “blood money.” (Sorkin, 11/9)

The Associated Press: U.S. To Ask Canada, UK To Extradite Online Pharmacy Officials
U.S. prosecutors plan to ask the Canadian and British governments to extradite officials with an online pharmacy on charges of smuggling $78 million worth of mislabeled, unapproved and counterfeit cancer drugs into the country to sell to doctors. Fourteen companies and individuals from Canada, the United Kingdom, Barbados and the U.S. are accused of participating in the conspiracy that involved falsifying customs declarations for shipments from the U.K., according to the criminal indictment. (Volz, 11/9)

Campaign 2016

9. GOP Presidential Hopefuls Begin To 'Make Noise' On Drug-Pricing Issues

STAT notes that Democratic candidates have made the push to lower drug prices central to their campaigns but Republicans are just starting to talk about it. Meanwhile, The Associated Press examines how Hillary Clinton is positioning herself as an insider just as most other candidates are embracing outsider status.

STAT: GOP Hopefuls, Long Quiet On Drug Prices, Begin To Make Some Noise
Republican presidential hopefuls are slowly starting to break up the Democratic monopoly on ideas to rein in prescription drug prices.Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders have mad

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