Latest Morning Briefing Stories

How An IRS Letter About Health Care Coverage Ended Up Saving 700 Lives

KHN Morning Briefing

The letter prompted the recipients to sign up for health coverage to avoid penalties, which in turn prevented premature deaths that would have occurred without it. It was essentially the first rigorous experiment to find that health coverage leads to fewer deaths, a claim that politicians and economists have fiercely debated in recent years

Nearly 700,000 Americans To Lose Food Stamp Benefits As Trump Administration Tightens Work Requirements For Program

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The Agriculture Department estimates the change, which will limit states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to maintain steady employment, would save roughly $5.5 billion over five years. But critics say the move will hurt the most vulnerable Americans. “Instead of combating food insecurity for millions … the administration is inflicting their draconian rule on millions of Americans across the nation who face the highest barriers to employment and economic stability,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Media outlets look at how the rule will affect people in states across the country.

Increasingly Bitter Personal Rivalry Between Azar And Verma Threatens To Derail Administration’s Health Goals

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Politico reports on the escalating feud between HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma and the disruptions people close to the situation say it has caused. Privately, Azar’s and Verma’s camps are pointing the finger at one another, and disclosures about Verma’s use of highly paid consultants to raise her personal profile exacerbated the tensions.

Dems Who See Health Care As Winning Issue Increasingly Sounding Alarm Over Political Pitfalls Of ‘Medicare For All’

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Warnings are being issued at all levels of the party–from union members to candidates running in swing states. “We won in Kentucky and Louisiana, barely, in part, because we won on health care. I don’t think we can afford to lose on health care,” Gov. Gina Raimondo (D-R.I.) said. Meanwhile, industry opponents for “Medicare for All” are starting to go after the moderates’ health plans as well. In other election news, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has a plan to expand mental health treatment.

A ‘Public Option’ Used To Be So Controversial It Was Dropped From ACA. In Era Of ‘Medicare For All’ It’s Regained Appeal.

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A so-called “public option” would allow people to buy a government-run health plan that competes with the private marketplace. In previous years, the policy was considered extreme, while now it’s starting to sound like the moderate option in the current political landscape. Meanwhile, Politico takes a look at the army being built to fight “Medicare for All.”

U.S. Territories On Path Toward ‘Medicaid Cliff’ As Congress Drags Its Feet Over Funding

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If Congress doesn’t increase the amount of designated money by the end of the year, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam say they would need to cut their Medicaid rolls in half, while Puerto Rico says it would need to cut back dental and prescription drug services. Medicaid news comes out of Kansas and North Carolina, as well.

Single-Payer Promises Were Hallmark Of Calif. Governor’s Campaign. Can 2020 Candidates Learn Lessons From Him?

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After his primary victory, California Gov. Gavin Newsom admitted that single-payer is a hard reality to achieve. Now that he’s in office, though, he has had some success inching the needle forward. As 2020 Democratic candidates make similar big promises on health care, can they look to him for when they need to turn a political slogan into policy? Meanwhile, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan to gradually ease country into “Medicare for All” has once again all but guaranteed the topic will come up in the debate on Wednesday.

Warren Presents Detailed ‘Medicare For All’ Road Map With Three-Year Transition Period

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The plan may blunt moderates’ criticism that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) would strip people of their private insurance immediately. The plan still sets ambitious health goals for the first 100 days of Warren’s presidency, where she would use a budgetary maneuver in Congress to create a generous “Medicare for All option.”

New 2020 Candidate Deval Patrick Could Have Health Care Achilles’ Heel In His Ties To Industry, Drug Companies

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Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick served on the boards of American Well Corp., a telemedicine company, and Global Blood Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical firm. His links to the health sector are unlikely to serve him well in an election where the industry often serve as the common enemy. In other news from the 2020 campaign trail: the “Medicare for All” debate, veteran suicides, and emergency preparedness.

Medicaid Expansion Becoming More Politically Palatable As Link To Obama Administration Fades In People’s Minds

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Red states are noticing the benefits their neighbors reaped by expanding the program, and are slowly warming up to it themselves. “There’s been a ton of evidence showing large gains in health care coverage, while helping states economically and keeping rural hospitals open,” said Connie Farrow, spokeswoman for Healthcare for Missouri. “And it hasn’t hurt state budgets. It remains a really good deal for states to cover hundreds of thousands of people.” Medicaid news comes from Wyoming, Idaho and Florida, as well.