Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Sanders’ Rift With Culinary Workers Reveals A Labor Union Civil War Over ‘Medicare For All’

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Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) supporters caused a dust-up when they tangled with the powerful Culinary Union ahead of the Nevada caucuses. The spat highlights a divide not only within the Democratic party, but within labor as well. On one side are unions who argue “Medicare for All” could allow them to focus on priorities beyond health care. On the other, are unions who don’t trust the government to provide something as good as what they have negotiated themselves. Meanwhile, Sanders rejects a suggestion that he compromise on his health plan from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose support he courted earlier in the primary.

Appeals Court Shoots Down Arkansas’ Medicaid Work Requirements In Latest Legal Blow For Trump Administration

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The ruling, written by a Reagan-appointed judge, upheld a lower court’s stance that Arkansas’ plan to add work requirements to its Medicaid program was “arbitrary and capricious” and failed to show how such rules would help Medicaid to meet its mission of covering the poor. The Trump administration has been encouraging states to add work requirements, but so far has come up short in the courts.

Sanders’ ‘Medicare For All’ Becomes Albatross Ahead Of Nevada Caucuses In Face Of Union Opposition For Policy

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The union for culinary workers, a powerful force in a state where entertainment and tourism is big, had issued warnings against “Medicare for All” because the union has fought so hard for its health care coverage. That sparked backlash among Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) supporters, whose online harassment of union members provoked a slap on the wrists from its leaders. Sanders’ rivals are jumping on the weak spot ahead of the state’s caucuses.

Azar Grilled About Administration’s Lack Of A ‘Replacement’ Plan For ACA If It’s Overturned By Supreme Court

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Although the Trump administration promises that it will protect popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act even if the law is struck down, officials have yet to provide a detailed plan on how they would accomplish that without the less popular parts. HHS Secretary Alex Azar bore the brunt of congressional Democrats’ frustration during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Thursday.

Powerful Nevada Union Chastises Sanders Supporters For ‘Vicious Attacks’ Provoked By Its ‘Medicare For All’ Warnings

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Nevada’s Culinary Workers Union said that its members have been the subject of attacks “simply because our union has provided facts on what certain health care proposals might do.” Labor unions have spent years negotiating high quality, union-backed health care plans they fear will be snatched from them if a single-payer model is adopted. The state holds its presidential caucuses next week.

Even When Patients Plan Ahead A Significant Number Can Be Walloped By Surprise Medical Bills

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A new survey that examines how Americans are effected by surprise medical bills finds a slight decline in the number of people worrying about the issue, but far less of a dip than there has been in the past. Meanwhile, Congress continues to work on legislation to address the problem, but with so many powerful stakeholders with strong opinions, progress is slow.

Insurers Try To Avoid Trump Administration Order By Taking Price Transparency Into Their Own Hands

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The insurers are hoping that if they voluntarily provide more price transparency in the way they want to, they can convince the Trump administration to abandon its proposal that would force them into it. In other news from the health industry: middle-aged Americans worry about costs, how some patients are setting their own terms when it comes to surprise medical bills, and an update on the Theranos fraud case.

Trump’s Proposed Budget Would Cut About A Trillion Dollars From Medicaid Programs, ACA Subsidies

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While President Donald Trump’s budget doesn’t offer specifics on his “health care vision,” an $844 billion mystery pot — along with other Medicaid changes — signal deep cuts to health programs. Critics were quick to challenge Trump’s promises to protect people’s coverage despite any funding cuts. “You can’t cut $1 trillion from these programs and protect the most vulnerable,” said Aviva Aron-Dine of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The budget also includes a big funding drop for CDC, a proposal to strip the FDA of its authority over tobacco products, a provision to slash funding for the agency currently working to create a coronavirus vaccine, and more.

Big Tech’s Push Into Health Care Is So Last Year. Now It’s Big Retail That’s Making Waves.

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Companies like BestBuy and Walmart are getting into the lucrative landscape. In other news from the health industry: Johnson & Johnson hit with another painful jury decision; workforce growth for those caring for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities plateaus; scope-of-practice legislation sparks debate; some nonprofit hospitals aren’t earning their tax breaks; and more.

An Arcane Rule Proposed By CMS Could Lead To Significant Medicaid Cuts, Governors Warn

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CMS Administrator Seema Verma said that the rule would help the agency increase “transparency, integrity and clarity,” in Medicaid funding for states. But some governors warn her that the rule could force them to seek broad tax increases, cut payments to hospitals and doctors, reduce benefits, restrict eligibility, or some combination of such measures. Medicaid news comes out of Alaska, Tennessee and Florida, as well.

Democrats Chant Name Of House’s Drug Costs Bill After Trump’s Vow To Act On High Pricing At State Of Union

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When President Donald Trump vowed to pass a bipartisan drug pricing bill if it got to his desk, Democrats at the State of the Union began chanting “H.R. 3,” a reference to legislation the House passed last year that included many of Trump’s own policies. It has since been languishing in the Senate. Democrats also countered other health claims from the president, such as which party was working to protect American’s care.

In State Of The Union, Trump Calls For Action On Drug Prices, Surprise Billing And Promises To Protect Health Care

KHN Morning Briefing

President Donald Trump in his State of the Union address to Congress touched on health care topics that are front of mind for voters, such as drug pricing and costly surprise medical bills. Trump also touted his push for price transparency within the industry, a main theme in his administration’s actions, and took a swipe at Democrats’ support of “Medicare for All.”

Health Care Top Of Mind For Iowa Caucus Voters; ‘Inconsistencies’ In Data Lead To Delay In Announcing Winner

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About 60 percent of the Iowa caucus-goers said they support eliminating private health insurance. About 4 in 10 Democrats also said health care was the most important issue for them, making it the leading issue of the night. But there was no clear cut candidate emerging as the winner after the caucus, due to technical issues. The Iowa Democratic Party said it expected to release results later on Tuesday.