KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Flickers Of Bipartisanship May Light Way For Plan B In Senate If GOP Legislation Fails

There are signs that moderates are reaching across the aisle to talk about health care. Meanwhile, a controversial provision in the Republican legislation was predicted to die in the upper chamber, but now experts aren't so sure. And The Washington Post fact checks claims about rising premiums — under both Obamacare and the Republican bill.

Politico: Senators Hold Back-Channel Talks On Bipartisan Obamacare Fix
Sen. Bill Cassidy held up bright red posters in a mostly empty Senate chamber Thursday for a presentation on how his ideas would pass the "Jimmy Kimmel Test," by helping people with preexisting conditions. After the speech, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia came to the floor and praised the wonkish Republican doctor from Louisiana. “I do applaud my colleague,” Kaine said. "Amen.” (Everett and Schor, 5/14)

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Move To Ease Existing-Condition Health Coverage Mandate Could Endure
One of the most controversial provisions of the House Republican health-care bill had been expected to quietly disappear in the Senate. Now, some government budget experts think it might not. The provision would enable states to obtain waivers to opt out of certain Affordable Care Act regulations, which would let insurers offer skimpier but cheaper health plans. The waivers also would allow insurers to charge more to people with existing health conditions who had let their coverage lapse. (Peterson, 5/12)

The Washington Post Fact Checker: Health Insurance Premiums Will Keep Going Up, Under Either ACA Or AHCA
Advocates for the House Republicans’ health-care overhaul plan frequently say or suggest that premiums would go down under the proposal. There is, in fact, a line in the Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act that, at first glance, might suggest premiums will decline by 10 percent. But, as we have frequently explained, the reference in the report is compared to current law — the Affordable Care Act. What CBO does is measure the impact of a proposed law against a current law baseline. So average premiums by 2026 are projected to be rougher 10 percent lower than the baseline for the Affordable Care Act — but they still would go up. (Kessler, 5/15)

And in related news —

The Hill: Trump Health Chief: Senate Will Vote On ObamaCare Repeal By August
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is predicting the Senate will vote on a bill to replace ObamaCare before Congress's August recess, though GOP senators have refused to give a timeline...Asked if senators would be able to vote before they leave Washington, Price added, "I believe so." Lawmakers have roughly two and a half months before they are scheduled to leave on July 31. They will return to Washington in early September, where they will need to work out a deal funding the government and avoiding a shutdown.  (Carney, 5/12)

Kaiser Health News: Planned Parenthood Funding Could Thwart GOP Efforts On Health Bill
If there’s anything congressional Republicans want to do more than “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act it’s defund Planned Parenthood, which provides health care to women around the country. But Senate rules could prevent lawmakers from accomplishing both of those goals in the same bill, as they intend to do. The American Health Care Act, passed by the House earlier this month to overhaul the federal health law, would bar funding under the Medicaid program for one year to any “prohibited entity” that “is primarily engaged in family planning services, reproductive health, and related medical care; and … provides for abortions” other than those for rape, incest or to protect the life of the woman. (Rovner, 5/12)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Democrats Push GOP On Health Care
Wisconsin Democrats are using last week’s vote to overhaul Obamacare to try to force Republican state lawmakers to take a stand on helping people with cancer and other pre-existing conditions. The effort makes clear health care is likely to remain front and center in next year’s campaigns. (Marley, 5/12)

McClatchy: Obamacare Repeal: Women's Health At Risk In Republican Plans?
As an all-male working group of 13 Republican senators works to give the nation’s health care system a conservative makeover, women’s advocates are using Mother’s Day to illustrate how replacing the Affordable Care Act could disproportionately hurt more than half the country’s adult population. Under the GOP plan that narrowly passed the House of Representatives, funding for Medicaid, which pays for about half of U.S. births, would be slashed. Women with individual insurance in some states could lose guaranteed coverage of maternity and newborn care. (Pugh, 5/12)

The Associated Press: AP Explains: How Lawmakers Get Their Health Care
Republican Sen. John McCain, a former Navy pilot who at 80 has had several health setbacks, gets his coverage from the Department of Veterans Affairs. House leaders, like Speaker Paul Ryan, get their coverage through the Affordable Care Act, as do many members of Congress. Congress voted to include itself in the law when it passed in 2010, and a bill passed by the House last week would continue that requirement in the new version. So how is it working for them? (Jalonick and Freking, 5/15)

Kaiser Health News: Trump Says He Knows About Health Care, But Some Of His Facts Seem Alternative
Lost in all the coverage of the firing of FBI Director James Comey last week were a pair of in-depth interviews President Donald Trump gave that included lengthy comments on health care — one with Time magazine and the other with The Economist. He acknowledged to Time interviewers that health care was not an area of expertise in his previous job. “It was just not high on my list,” he said. But he added that “in a short period of time I understood everything there was to know about health care.” Not really. (Rovner, 5/15)

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