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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

A Decade-Old Experiment To Control Massachusetts’ Health Care Costs Is Actually Paying Off

KHN Morning Briefing

Blue Cross’s payment program gives doctors a fixed amount of money to take care of their patients. When doctors stay on budget and improve care, they can earn bonuses. If not, they can be penalized. “This contributes to a growing sense that smarter ways of paying for health care are going be to an important part of the solution to rising health care costs,” said Katherine Baicker, dean of the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

Puerto Rico Medicaid Funding Bill Advances, But Lawmakers Agree To Work On Safeguards In Wake Of Corruption Scandal

KHN Morning Briefing

The Health Subcommittee sent the bill, which includes an additional $12 billion over four years for Puerto Rico, to the full House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Lawmakers said that there was no time to address the recent corruption scandal over a government employee allegedly stealing Medicaid dollars in the current bill, but that members will work to add oversight to the funding.

PBMs Breathe Sigh Of Relief As Trump Kills Drug Rebate Proposal And Pharma Companies Become Next Likely Target

KHN Morning Briefing

President Donald Trump’s drug pricing strategy received its second major blow this week on the announcement that the proposal to eliminate drug rebates in Medicare and Medicaid plans will be withdrawn. In January, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said that the proposal had “the potential to be the most significant change in how Americans’ drugs are priced at the pharmacy counter, ever.” But the changes met significant pushback from insurers and hospitals who worried the proposal wouldn’t force drugmakers to lower prices and would likely see higher profit margins from it. Looking forward, Trump will be left considering ideas that are more popular with progressives than his party.

Kamala Harris Proposes Plan To Chip Away At Backlog Of Rape Kits That Can Often Sit Untested For Years

KHN Morning Briefing

2020 hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said she would spend $1 billion to encourage states to clear rape kit backlogs and invest in reforms, including requiring rape kits to be tested within narrow time frames, counting and reporting untested kits, and giving victims information about the status of their testing. The issue received national attention in recent years after it came to light how many states and counties have crushing backlogs of kits.

Study Eases Fears That Capping Hours For Doctors In Training Has Ill-Effect On Patients

KHN Morning Briefing

Physicians who trained before the 2003 limits on work hours typically logged about 100 hours a week. When that was capped at 80 hours a week, some worried it wouldn’t be enough to properly train the doctors. But a new study finds that there were no difference in hospital deaths, readmissions or costs from the change.

Trump’s Ambitious Order Aims To Revolutionize ‘Stagnant’ Kidney Care System With Focus On Cost, Care And Donors

KHN Morning Briefing

The wide-ranging executive order includes proposals to increase accessibility for at-home treatments, encourage kidney donations to address shortages, launch a public awareness campaign, develop artificial kidneys and more. President Donald Trump touted the plan as a “a first, second and third step” toward improving kidney care for Americans.

Judges’ Blunt Questions Hint At Skepticism Over Health Law: ‘If You No Longer Have The Tax, Why Isn’t It Unconstitutional?’

KHN Morning Briefing

During closely watched oral arguments over the constitutionality of the health law, a federal appeals court voiced skepticism that a central feature of the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, though it appeared to struggle with whether that meant the legislation should be struck down in its entirety. Media outlets take readers inside the courtroom for the play-by-play. Meanwhile, what will happen if the law is struck down? The potential headaches go beyond the big headlines about loss of coverage to calorie information on menus, lactation rooms, and more.

If United States Provided Health Care To Undocumented Immigrants It Would Be An Outlier Even Among Progressive Countries

KHN Morning Briefing

Countries with government-run, universal health care often still place tough restrictions on providing that care for immigrants in the country illegally. Yet the idea is a popular one among the 2020 Democratic candidates. The New York Times looks at what would be involved in implementing the policy. In other news from the campaign trail: former Vice President Joe Biden promises to bring back the individual mandate if he’s elected, the complexities of “Medicare for All” continue to divide candidates and more.

DHS Watchdog Warns That ‘Dangerous Overcrowding,’ Inhumane Conditions At Detention Facilities Require Swift Action

KHN Morning Briefing

In a strongly worded report, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General said the prolonged detention of migrants without proper food, hygiene or laundry facilities — some for more than a month — requires “immediate attention and action.” Photos in the report show how extensive the problems at the facilities are.