KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Health Industry, Shunted To Sidelines In House Negotiations, Eager For A Chance At The Senate

Meanwhile, under the reconcilliation process that Republican lawmakers are using to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, each provision they change has to be directly related to the budget. But Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) argue that the rules aren't set in stone.

Bloomberg: Shut Out By House GOP, Industry Pins Health Bill Hopes On Senate 
The health-care world is gearing up for a lobbying offensive to persuade Republican U.S. senators to address their problems with an Obamacare replacement that was conceived in the House in a virtual vacuum. Insurers, doctors, patient groups and most health-care experts are pinning their hopes on the Senate being more receptive after House Republicans -- led by Speaker Paul Ryan -- deliberately avoided discussing their plans with the main groups that would be affected by repealing the 2010 law. (House, Edney and Edgerton, 5/16)

Politico: Cruz, Paul Want To Go ‘Nuclear’ On Obamacare Repeal
Conservative GOP Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are pushing to test the limits of how much of Obamacare can be repealed under Senate rules, setting up a potential “nuclear” showdown. The firebrands want to overturn long-standing precedent for what can be done under reconciliation, the fast-track budget process the GOP is using to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. They argue Republicans are allowing stale Senate norms to tie their hands and are forfeiting a chance to completely abolish the law. (Haberkorn and Kim, 5/16)

Roll Call: Trump Feels ‘Very Strong’ About House Health Bill
The White House fired a shot across the Senate’s bow Monday, signaling President Donald Trump feels “very strong” about the health overhaul passed by the House. Several Senate groups, including one composed of Republicans and Democrats, are holding talks about how to alter the House measure or craft an entirely new bill. But just as senators return to Washington to get back to work, Press Secretary Sean Spicer walked a tightrope about what Trump wants them to pass. (Bennett, 5/15)

In related news, a look at the Wisconsin high-risk pool that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) uses to counterattack criticisms of the concept; what the deal is with preexisting conditions and continuous coverage; Trump administration rhetoric; and how efforts to improve the uninsured rate have stalled —

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Paul Ryan Touts Wisconsin High-Risk Insurance Pool To Counter Attacks On House Bill
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has touted Wisconsin’s former high-risk insurance pool to counter concerns that some of those people could be priced out of the market under the health care bill recently passed by the House. The state’s Health Insurance Risk-Sharing Plan, known as HIRSP, was considered a model. But it was an exception, not the norm — and it worked only for people who could afford insurance in the first place. (Boulton, 5/15)

Boston Globe: Maine Health Care Advocates Demand To Know: Where’s Bruce?
Representative Bruce Poliquin was hard to find the week after casting his vote in Washington to repeal the Affordable Care Act and slash Medicaid spending. So when 30 or so unhappy Mainers descended on his district office in this old mill town, they brought a 5-foot-tall poster version of the Republican lawmaker and stood it in front of the building where they say the real Poliquin will not meet with them. (McGrane, 5/15)

Kaiser Health News: Preexisting Conditions And Continuous Coverage: Key Elements Of GOP Bill
Before he was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in 2015, Anthony Kinsey often went without health insurance. He is a contract lawyer working for staffing agencies on short-term projects in the Washington, D.C., area, and sometimes the 90-day waiting period for coverage through a staffing agency proved longer than the duration of his project, if coverage was offered at all. When Kinsey, now 57, learned he had cancer, he was able to sign up for a plan with a $629 monthly premium because the agency he was working for offered group coverage that became effective almost immediately. (Andrews, 5/16)

WBUR: OMB Director Says GOP Health Bill Shouldn't Cover Diabetics Who Eat Poorly 
Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office and Management and Budget, told a Stanford University forum that the GOP health care bill should cover some pre-existing conditions, but not others. Asked about late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel's statement that "no parent should ever have to decide whether they can afford to save their child's life," Mulvaney said that he agreed, but "that doesn't mean that we want to take care of the person, or should be required to care of the person, who sits at home, drinks sugary drinks, and doesn't exercise, and eats poorly and gets diabetes." (Young, 5/15)

The Associated Press: Gov't Report: Efforts To Reduce US Uninsured Stalled In 2016
After five consecutive years of coverage gains, progress toward reducing the number of uninsured Americans stalled in 2016, according to a government report that underscores the stakes as Republicans try to roll back Barack Obama's law. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 28.6 million people were uninsured last year, unchanged from 2015. The uninsured rate was 9 percent, an insignificant difference from 9.1 percent in 2015. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 5/16)

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