KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: Waiting For The Trump Health Plan

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President Donald Trump has been promising to reveal a new health plan since early this year. That hasn’t happened yet. Now, there is a debate about whether having a plan for Democrats to criticize would help or hurt the president’s campaign.

Meanwhile, among the Democrats vying to take on Trump next November, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is proposing a plan to forgive billions of dollars of medical debt owed by patients.

Other drama playing out this fall: What will happen to the federal family planning program now that Planned Parenthood has dropped out over Trump administration rules it says violate medical ethics, and what will a multimillion-dollar verdict against opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson mean for the funding of programs to help those with addiction?

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Stephanie Armour of The Wall Street Journal, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico and Kimberly Leonard of the Washington Examiner.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • We are still waiting to see what a Trump health care plan might look like. Conventional wisdom suggests it will likely take the form of a collection of goals and ideas — many of which have already been announced or launched, such as the administration’s efforts on health price transparency. The rollout of a legislative package is increasingly unlikely.
  • One variable that could change that: Incentives for Republicans and the administration might be different if the lower-court ruling invalidating the Affordable Care Act is upheld on appeal.
  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has teased out a plan to cancel an estimated $81 billion worth of medical debt. There’s no talk about how this concept would be funded. One point that could create a lot of interest among voters: Medical debt would no longer affect consumers’ credit scores.
  • Planned Parenthood has, for now, dropped out of the Title X family planning program. More states and organizations could follow suit in the weeks ahead, especially as these entities now must file plans with the administration outlining how they will comply with new requirements.
  • The first verdict in favor of a state lawsuit against an opioid manufacturer, with Oklahoma suing Johnson & Johnson, brought a verdict of more than half a billion dollars. But that was so much less than the state was seeking ($17.5 billion) that the company’s stock rose after the decision. That makes it unclear what impact this test case will have as other states sue other opioid makers to recover damages caused by their products.

Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Rachel Bluth, who wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” feature about a patient who did everything right to prepare financially for an elective surgical procedure — and still got billed more than he expected. If you have an outrageous medical bill you would like to share with us, you can do that here.

Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read too:

Julie Rovner: Kaiser Health News’ “Beset By Lawsuits And Criticism In U.S., Opioid Makers Eye New Market In India,” and “In India’s Slums, ‘Painkillers Are Part Of The Daily Routine,” by Sarah Varney

Alice Miranda Ollstein: The New York Times Magazine’s “Why Doesn’t the United States Have Universal Health Care? The Answer Has Everything to Do With Race,” by Jeneen Interlandi

Kimberly Leonard: Vox.com’s “She Spent More Than $110,000 on Drug Rehab. Her Son Still Died,” by German Lopez

Stephanie Armour: The Atlantic’s “L.A.’s Health-Care Reform Is a Lesson for Democrats,” by Ronald Brownstein

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Related Topics

Cost and Quality Courts Elections Health Care Costs Insurance Multimedia The Health Law