Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Upcoming Ruling On Health Law Poised To Be Huge Headache For Trump Heading Into 2020 Election

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The ruling on the law’s constitutionality, expected in the next few weeks, could reignite the same concerns that helped propel Democrats into taking back the House in the 2018 midterm elections. It would also possibly let the Democrats re-frame their messaging, which has been centered on pro- or anti-“Medicare for All,” a plan that’s losing popularity in the polls.

Warren Feels The Heat As Rivals Pile-On Over Her Alleged Hedging On ‘Medicare For All’ Costs

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The latest Democratic debate on Tuesday night highlighted the rising popularity of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in the polls as many of her rivals went on the attack. Most notably South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who struck a more aggressive tone than in previous debates, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who is fighting for her place in the 2020 presidential race, had sharp words for the scope of Warren’s health plans. “I don’t understand why you believe the only way to deliver affordable coverage is to obliterate private plans,” Buttigieg said. Klobuchar joined in with, “At least Bernie’s being honest here and saying how he’s going to pay for this, and that taxes are going to go up.”

‘Medicare For All’ Talk Likely To Be Center Stage At Dem Debate. But What About Other Health Topics?

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While much of the health campaigning in the primaries has focused on how the different candidates will ensure health care coverage, there’s large swaths of the cost conversation that haven’t been touched — such as hospital spending, health care deserts and even decisions over drug development. Abortion, as well, has been one of the least talked about topics in the previous debates. Will that change at Tuesday night’s debate in Ohio when 12 Democratic presidential candidates take the stage?

Warren Faces Increasing Pressure To Explain How She’d Pay For A ‘Medicare For All’ System

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) says that she supports rival candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) health care plan. But she also has faced criticism from members of her own party that she’s been “evasive” when it comes to paying for such a system. Other news on the elections looks at more candidates’ health plans, where the Democrats stand on gun control, and the pregnancy discrimination story that inspired women to speak out.

Bernie Sanders’ Health Incident Confirmed As Heart Attack, Drawing Spotlight To Candidate At Pivotal Moment In Race

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said the episode made him “more determined than ever to fight alongside you to make health care a human right.” The heart attack is likely to heighten scrutiny on age in a primary where the top candidates are all in their 70s. Meanwhile, both Sanders and rival candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) struggle to answer questions about how the middle class will be affected by “Medicare for All.”

Medicaid Expansion Remains A Primary Sticking Point In North Carolina Budget Stalemate

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North Carolina’s Republican-led state legislature plans to adjourn by Oct. 31, with or without an approved budget. Earlier in the summer, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a budget bill, in part because it did not include Medicaid expansion. In Florida, state Medicaid officials recommend cuts to its program for people with disabilities, though the caps were not as severe as some had initially feared. And in other state budget news, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defends her line-item vetoes.

Hospitals Fight CMS Rule That Would Cut Disproportionate-Share Hospital Funds

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DSH funds are intended to support hospitals’ uncompensated-care costs, helping facilities that serve large numbers of Medicaid and uninsured patients. A final rule released Monday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services mandates cuts to that money beginning in fiscal 2020. Other hospital and health system news is reported on Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Trinity Health, and value-based pay.

Minnesota Lawmakers Tackle How To Help People With Diabetes Who Can’t Afford Rising Costs Of Insulin

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The plan under consideration would require pharmaceutical companies to supply insulin to Minnesota patients who are not already on a public health program and who make less than 400 percent of the federal poverty line. As the debate goes on, one state legislator’s suggestion about buying cheap insulin incites criticism. And in other state legislative news, Georgia lawmakers consider electric scooter limits.

Tennessee Reveals $7.9B Plan To Shift Medicaid Into Controversial Block Grant System

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The plan’s likelihood of ever being implemented, however, remains largely unknown. To date, no state has been given permission to rely solely on block grants to cover Medicaid expenses. Gov. Bill Lee, however, remains hopeful, pointing to the fact that the Trump administration has been encouraging states to take more control of their programs.

Verma Pushes Back Against Dems’ Accusations That Uptick In Uninsured Rate Is Trump Administration’s Fault

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CMS Chief Seema Verma said that the true culprit is that high premiums that have priced out people who don’t qualify for subsidies. A closer look at the numbers, however, shows that immigrants’ fears over a Trump administration crackdown may lay at the heart of the increase. Hispanics were the only major racial and ethnic category with a significant increase in their uninsured rate.

Front-Runners Exchange Jabs As Health Care Once Again Takes Center Stage At Democratic Debate

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Even though much-anticipated fireworks between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) failed to materialize, Biden did take shots at her and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) over how much “Medicare for All” will cost. The clash over health care opened the Thursday night debate in a sign that the issue is coming to represent the dividing line between the Democratic field: sweeping change versus building on existing framework.

Number Of Americans Without Insurance Rises For First Time In A Decade Amid Political War Over Health Law

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A Census Bureau report found that 8.5% of the U.S. population went without medical insurance for all of 2018, up from 7.9% in 2017. The growth in the ranks of the uninsured was particularly striking because the economy was doing well. The numbers give Democrats data to back up their pushback against Republican efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act.

A Look Back At Bernie Sanders’ Early Political Career–And A Significant Death–Shows Why He Stakes His Legacy On ‘Medicare For All’

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Decades before “Medicare for All” became the buzzword du jour for the elections, Sen. Bernie Sanders, frustrated with how his family struggled to pay for his mother’s care when she was dying, made a trip to Canada. He walked away from that “thrilled” with the prospect of something better than the U.S. health care system. Meanwhile, where do the candidates stand on the proposal? Reuters takes a look ahead of the Democratic debate this week.