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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

New Hampshire’s Medicaid Work Requirements Blocked By Same Judge Who Knocked Down Rules In Kentucky, Arkansas

KHN Morning Briefing

U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg said “we have all seen this movie before” and criticized HHS Secretary Alex Azar for acknowledging the potential impact of the Medicaid work requirements without analyzing it. “Are the coverage losses in Arkansas likely to be replicated in New Hampshire? We have no idea, since the approval letter offers no hints,” Boasberg said. Medicaid news comes out of Utah, Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma and Minnesota, as well.

Many Moderate Democrats See A Public Option As The Next Logical Step, But It Could Undercut ACA Marketplace

KHN Morning Briefing

In cities, “a public option could come in and soak up all of the demand of the ACA. market,” said Craig Garthwaite, a health economist at Northwestern University. And in rural markets, insurers that are now profitable because they are often the only choices may find it difficult to make money if they faced competition from the federal government. Meanwhile, a new poll finds support is slipping for “Medicare for All.”

House Democrats May Have Had Busy Year, But There’s Little Progress To Show Their Constituents

KHN Morning Briefing

House Democrats have passed legislation on gun control, immigration and health care, yet the measures die in the Senate. As they head home to face constituents during recess, it’s unclear if that message will translate. “I go home and people say, ‘How come your party isn’t helping me with the cost of inhalers or EpiPens, or health care in general?’” said Rep. Elissa Slotkin, Democrat of Michigan. In other news from Capitol Hill: surprise medical bill votes, mental health clinics and cannabis products.

CMS Denies Utah’s Request For More Generous Support To Expand Its Medicaid Program

KHN Morning Briefing

The federal government will pay for 70 percent of the expanded program, but that’s less than what other states that expanded the program have received. Utah is different from other states that expanded health insurance because it decided to extend eligibility to a more limited number of residents than is permitted under the health law. Medicaid news comes out of Florida and North Carolina as well.

Expanding Medicare Is All The Rage For Candidates Right Now, But What Kind Of Coverage Does It Really Offer?

KHN Morning Briefing

“Medicare for All” plans have become something of a litmus test among progressive voters, but a look at how Medicare currently operates–and the treatments it does and does not cover–reveals the pitfalls that await if a proposal like that is ever passed. Meanwhile, candidates get tripped up by private insurers’ role in a new health system. And while many are painting the picture of a health system in crisis, the numbers provide a more nuanced reality.

Kamala Harris Unveils Health Plan That Would Expand Medicare But Keep Private Insurers In The Fold

KHN Morning Briefing

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a 2020 presidential hopeful, splits the difference between the plans from rivals Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden. Her plan would give consumers a choice of joining a government plan modeled on Medicare or choosing from insurance policies modeled on those in Medicare Advantage, and would be run by private insurers rather than the government. “If they want to play by our rules, they can be in the system. If not, they have to get out,” Harris said of the insurance companies. Her shifting position on whether they would be included in her health plan has brought her criticism in the past.

Will The New Generation Of Slick And Savvy Health-Tech Startups Live Up To The Hype?

KHN Morning Briefing

A handful of initial public offerings are expected to be a litmus test as more companies consider going public. In other news from the intersection of health care and technology, the VA to spend billions to maintain its current EHR system through a transition to Cerner, a medicine company plans a comeback, the questionable motives at the heart of a hospital’s offer from free screenings, and more.

Prestigious Consulting Firm McKinsey Thrust Into Spotlight Over Advice It Gave To Drugmakers At Height Of Opioid Crisis

KHN Morning Briefing

Court cases over the opioid epidemic are putting an embarrassing spotlight on McKinsey’s strategic advice that’s usually kept strictly behind a curtain. One lawsuit stated that McKinsey advised a pharmaceutical company to “get more patients on higher doses of opioids” and study techniques “for keeping patients on opioids longer.” In other news on the epidemic: Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) rails against companies that he says have hurt Americans through the crisis, the Massachusetts attorney general is investigating a pharmacy over improper prescriptions for opioids, and more.

Senate Finance’s Sweeping Drug Prices Bill Moves Forward But It Has A Bumpy Path In Front Of It

KHN Morning Briefing

In particular, a provision that would cap drug prices paid by Medicare based on the rate of inflation has sparked some pushback even among Republicans who voted to advance the long-awaited bill. And Democrats, who unanimously voted to advance the bill, may still kill it. Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is trying to make the case that lawmakers may not like his bill, but they’ll dislike what the Trump administration and House Democrats come up with more.

The Cost Of Unwarranted ER Visits: $32 Billion A Year

KHN Morning Briefing

A trip to the emergency room is on average 12 times higher than being treated at a physician’s office for common ailments, an analysis from UnitedHealth Group found. The claims data showed ailments frequently treated in the emergency room include cough, bronchitis, headache, sore throat, nausea and upper respiratory infection, which may not actually need emergency care.

Threats To Marketplace From Lawmakers, Administration Wearing Thin On Health Care Investors

KHN Morning Briefing

“There are a significant number of investors who are completely on the sidelines from the industry,” SVB Leerink biopharma analyst Geoffrey Porges said. “And you can pick your ‘until’: until the proposed rule on Medicare international reference pricing is announced, or until the next Democratic debate, or until the election. There’s a lot of ‘until’s.”