KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: May 17, 2013

Today's headlines include reports about the GOP vote to repeal the health law -- for the 37th time -- as well as how the current IRS scandal is being connected to the health law's implementation. 

Kaiser Health News: My Insurer Says It Paid Too Much. Do I Have To Reimburse Them? (Video)
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews  answers a reader question about having to repay an insurer that says it reimbursed too much after the patient received care from an out-of-network provider (5/17). Watch the video or read the transcript.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: CDC Takes A Closer Look At Kids' Mental Health
Now on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Capsules, Jenny Gold reports: "Somewhere between 13 and 20 percent of kids in the United States experience some sort of mental illness, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That adds up to millions of children suffering from disorders like ADHD, depression, autism and illicit drug use" (Gold, 5/16). Check out what else is on the blog.

The New York Times: Congressional Hearings On I.R.S. Scandal Set To Start
Joseph Grant, commissioner of the I.R.S.'s tax-exempt and government-entities division, announced Thursday that he, too, would be leaving in the next month. But Republicans jumped on news Thursday evening that Mr. Grant's predecessor, Sarah Hall Ingram, who led the division when the targeting operation began, is now in charge of the I.R.S. division overseeing implementation of parts of the president’s health care law. Ms. Ingram's name did not appear anywhere in the inspector general's report of the program, nor had Republicans singled her out for criticism until now. But Republicans were eager to link the I.R.S. scandal with their opposition to the health care law (Weisman, 5/17).

Politico: Obamacare Repeal Now About The IRS
Republicans have hated Obamacare for years, and on their 37th repeal vote Thursday, they found a reason to hate it even more: the IRS. They've warned about its role in Obamacare before, but this time, they used its targeting of conservative groups as a fresh warning about how it might apply the law to the rest of the country. It’s the IRS, after all, that will enforce the individual mandate that most of the country already hates. And if the IRS can’t shake its image as a political tool of the White House, any conservatives who get hit with an Obamacare penalty are certain to cry foul (Samuelsohn and Cunningham, 5/16).

USA Today: Obamacare: 3 Years In, It Faces Steep Challenges
The Affordable Care Act is sure to survive the latest vote by the House of Representatives Thursday to repeal it — since the Senate doesn't plan to take it up and President Obama would veto a repeal bill if it somehow reached his desk — but the administration's signature legislative achievement still faces serious perils ahead (Page, 5/16).

The New York Times: House Votes Again To Repeal Health Law
For many Republicans, this was one of the major reasons for coming to Washington in the first place. And they were not going to miss their chance — whether it was their 37th time voting to repeal the 2010 health care overhaul, or their first (Peters, 5/16).

Los Angeles Times: House Republicans Repudiate Obama Healthcare Program- Again
House Republicans voted for the 37th time Thursday evening to repeal all or part of President Obama's healthcare law, underscoring once again the deep partisan divide over the landmark 2010 legislation. The bill to roll back the entire Affordable Care Act passed 229 to 195, with just two  Democrats crossing the aisle to join the GOP. No Republicans voted against the legislation, which is assured of going nowhere in the Senate (Levey, 5/16).

The Washington Post: House Votes To Repeal Obamacare For 37th Time
This vote does not put the Affordable Care Act in jeopardy. Thursday's repeal bill will probably meet the same fate as five others that would have eliminated the entire health-care law: It will die in the Democrat-led Senate. But for the GOP, the point was not to change the law. At least, not right away. Instead, the point was to refocus the House — and, hopefully, a swath of the American public — on a law that remains controversial three years after it was passed (Fahrenthold, 5/16).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Freshman Republicans Get Chance To Vote Against Health Law
More than 70 freshmen Republicans had pushed House Speaker John Boehner to give them a chance to go on the record in opposing the 2010 law, and many of them made short speeches in the several hours of debate preceding the vote (Radnofsky, 5/16).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: House GOP  Pushes Full Repeal Of Obama’s Health Care Law – 37th Vote To Scale Back Or Kill It
One more time, with feeling! The Republican-led House voted yet again Thursday to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law, knowing full well that won’t stop it. Only months away from the rollout of coverage for uninsured Americans, it was the 37th attempt in a little more than two years by House Republicans to eliminate, defund or partly scale back the Affordable Care Act. The Democratic-led Senate and the president will simply ignore the House action, which came on a virtual party line vote, 229-195 (5/16).

The Washington Post's Wonk Blog: Yes, The 37th Obamacare Repeal Vote Matters
It's easy to write off these votes as pure political spectacle with no substantial meeting. Members of Congress can tell their constituents that they voted to repeal Obamacare and move on to other issues. But there's actually a compelling case on the other side, that these actions do really matter in a substantive way. This slew of three dozen repeal votes have changed both how the Affordable Care Act works and how the public perceives it (Kliff, 5/16).

Politico: GOP: GAO Should Investigate Kathleen Sebelius
A group of Republican lawmakers called on the Government Accountability Office to investigate Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius over her fundraising for a nonprofit supporting Obamacare. Republicans are criticizing news that Sebelius sought donations from health care companies for a group working to encourage more people to enroll in Obamacare programs (Gibson, 5/16).

Politico: Conservatives Link IRS Mess To Obamacare
Conservative lawmakers and tea party advocates Thursday sought to link the IRS scandal to efforts to repeal Obamacare, even acknowledging the potential of impeachment. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) made the leap from Benghazi to the IRS scandal to Obamacare, a progression she said was all related. At a packed press conference, she argued that the IRS will now be able to access individuals' health records because they are tasked with overseeing compliance with the new law (Gibson, 5/16).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Appeals Court In Va. Hears Christian University's Suit Against Obama Health Care Law
A Liberty University lawyer urged a federal appeals court to overturn the Obama administration's health care reform law Thursday, arguing that it violates the school’s religious rights by requiring it to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs. Mathew Staver told a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the conservative Christian university founded by Jerry Falwell faces millions of dollars in penalties if it refuses to provide employee health insurance that violates its religious beliefs (5/16).

Politico: Liberty University Pivots In Health Law Challenge
Judges on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday appeared skeptical that Liberty University can challenge the Obama administration’s rule that most employers provide contraceptives in their employee health plans. But at least one of the judges suggested that the health reform law’s employer mandate could be at risk since last year’s Supreme Court health care ruling narrowed the Commerce Clause (Haberkorn, 5/17).

The New York Times: Pills Tracked From Doctor To Patient To Aid Drug Marketing
The information allows drug makers to know which drugs a doctor is prescribing and how that compares to a colleague across town. They know whether patients are filling their prescriptions — and refilling them on time. They know details of patients’ medical conditions and lab tests, and sometimes even their age, income and ethnic backgrounds (Thomas, 5/16).

The New York Times: New Jersey Hospital Is The Costliest In The Nation
The most expensive hospital in America is not set amid the swaying palm trees of Beverly Hills or the luxury townhouses of New York’s Upper East Side (Creswell, Meier and McGinty, 5/16).

Los Angeles Times: Cedars-Sinai Stands Out For Steep Pricing
When Medicare disclosed average charges from thousands of U.S. hospitals for 100 common procedures last week, only one hospital was near the top in every category: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Be it a cardiac stent, a hip replacement or a pacemaker, Cedars-Sinai's list prices for these routine treatments ranked among the top 5% in the country (Terhune and Poston, 5/17).

The Washington  Post: Psychiatry’s Revamped DSM Guidebook Fuels Debate
For ADHD, the definition is being broadened, meaning the disorder could be diagnosed in more children. In the case of autism, the opposite is true. The new criteria are among the changes that will be released with the publication this weekend of the long-awaited guidebook that psychiatrists and other mental health clinicians use to diagnose mental disorders. It’s the first major update in nearly 20 years. The 947-page tome by the American Psychiatric Association adds some new disorders, broadens criteria for existing ones and tightens them for other illnesses (5/17).

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