Daily Health Policy Report

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Last updated: Wed, Jun 19

KHN Original Reporting & Guest Opinion

Health Reform

Capitol Hill Watch

Health Care Marketplace

Public Health & Education

Health Information Technology

State Watch

Editorials and Opinions

KHN Original Reporting & Guest Opinion

Patients Lead The Way As Medicine Grapples With Apps

WBUR's Martha Bebinger, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "Health apps such as My Fitness Pal are turning smartphones and tablets into exercise aides, blood pressure monitors and devices that transmit an EKG. And the day is not far off when doctors may be suggesting apps along with prescribing drugs to help patients manage their health. But the explosion of apps is way ahead of tests to determine which ones work" (Bebinger, 6/18). Read the story.

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Capsules: Young Adults Value Health Insurance, Poll Finds; Brill: Law Won't Bring Prices Down For Patients; Improper Use Of Prescription Drugs Costs $200 Billion A Year, Report Finds

Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Jordan Rau reports on Kaiser Family Foundation poll findings regarding young adults feelings about health insurance: "A strong majority of young adults, whose participation in the health law may be key to its success or failure, strongly believe health insurance is important for them and worth the money, according to a new poll. As some states and the federal government prepare new online marketplaces for people to purchase insurance this fall, the willingness of young people to buy coverage has been a topic of great uncertainty. Their participation in these marketplaces is considered crucial, since the young tend to be healthier than older people and, therefore, will use fewer medical resources, allowing their premiums to help subsidize the care of the old and sick" (Rau, 6/19).

In addition, Julie Appleby reports on a study regarding prescription drug costs: "Much of those costs result from unneeded hospitalizations or doctor visits, according to the study by the IMS Health’s Institute for Healthcare Informatics, which provides data and other consulting services to the health care industry. Medical costs are driven up by patients who don’t get the right medications or fail to take their drugs, the misuse of antibiotics, medication errors and inadequate oversight when patients take multiple drugs" (Appleby, 6/19).

Also on Capsules, Alvin Tran reports on journalist Stephen Brill's Senate testimony on health care pricing: "At a Capitol Hill hearing Tuesday, journalist Steven Brill, who examined the issue of the high cost of health care in a much quoted March 2013 Time magazine article, told Senate Finance Committee members that President Barack Obama's health care law will do very little to lower prices for consumers" (Tran, 6/18). Check out what else is on the blog.

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Political Cartoon: 'Intelligent Design?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Intelligent Design?" by Chip Bok.

Meanwhile, here is today's health policy haiku:

Senate's Bitter Pill 

When I buy a car
I know cost and quality
Not so with health care.
- Laura Mortimer

 

If you have a health policy haiku to share, please send it to us at http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/ContactUs.aspx and let us know if you want to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.

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Health Reform

GAO: Smooth And Timely Launch Of Health Exchanges Unsure

The report by the Government Accountability Office noted that the federal government has missed several deadlines, and there is a risk it won't be ready to open the online marketplaces Oct. 1. But the report also noted some positive signs. 

The Associated Press: Gov't Report: Smooth Launch Unsure For Health Law
There's no guarantee that President Barack Obama's health care law will launch smoothly and on time, congressional investigators say in the first in-depth independent look at its progress. But in a report to be released Wednesday, the congressional Government Accountability Office also sees positive signs as the Oct. 1 deadline approaches for new health insurance markets called exchanges to open in each state — in many cases over the objections of Republican governors (Alonso-Zaldivar, 6/19).

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Insurance Exchanges Are Falling Behind Schedule
Government officials have missed several deadlines in setting up new health-insurance exchanges for small businesses and consumers—a key part of the federal health overhaul—and there is a risk they won't be ready to open on time in October, Congress's watchdog arm said. The Government Accountability Office said federal and state health officials still have major work to complete, offering its most cautious comments to date about the Obama administration's ability to bring the centerpiece of its signature law to fruition (Radnofsky and Needleman, 6/19).

Meanwhile, news from Kansas regarding its federal exchange -

Kansas Health Institute: Kansas Insurance Officials Hope To Give Federal Insurance Exchange A Local Flavor
Kansas is among the states where federal officials will run the new health insurance exchange but the state’s top insurance regulators said they hope to inject a local flavor. Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger said her agency has been in discussion with the feds about having some of the more complex calls to the exchange's toll-free helpline roll over to her department so that Kansas consumers come in touch quickly with local people more familiar with the Kansas insurance plans offered in the exchange and the governing regulations (Shields, 6/18).

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'Get Covered America' Campaign Launched By Nonproft Group

In an effort to sign up people for the new health coverage that will become available this fall, Enroll America is one of a number of organizations launching aggressive health law outreach campaigns.

The Washington Post: Groups Launch Multimillion Dollar Push To Promote Health-Care Law, Sign Up The Uninsured
The race is on to sign up uninsured Americans for health-care coverage this fall, with a number of large national advocacy groups launching aggressive, multimillion-dollar campaigns this summer aimed at promoting President Obama's health-care law. The groups are buying television ads, tapping social networks, training hundreds of new workers and volunteers and developing online and on-the-ground efforts akin to an enormous, months-long get-out-the-vote campaign. They aim to raise awareness in preparation for a big push leading up to open enrollment Oct. 1, when people can begin signing up for insurance plans and government subsidies available under the law (Somashekhar, 6/18).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Enroll America Launches Health-Insurance Push
The group will hold at least 50 events in 18 states over the next few days including a farmer's market in Austin, Texas, private homes in Florida and Tennessee, churches in New Jersey and Texas, at least one doctor’s office in Delaware and an Irish pub in Cincinnati to discuss the health law and recruit additional volunteers to join in the effort. Events and door-to-door campaigning will continue throughout the summer. (Enroll America President Anne) Filipic side-stepped questions Tuesday about how much the group plans to spend on enrollment outreach efforts (Dooren, 6/18).

The Associated Press: Nonprofit Launches Campaign To Reach Uninsured
A nonprofit group helping to spread the word about President Barack Obama's health care overhaul launched a campaign Tuesday that will target states with high numbers of uninsured Americans and tackle their skepticism with straightforward messages. The "Get Covered America" campaign will include door-to-door visits by volunteers, brochures handed out at farmers markets and churches and, possibly, partnerships with sports leagues and celebrities, said Anne Filipic, a former White House official who recently became president of Enroll America, the group sponsoring the campaign (Johnson, 6/18).

Politico: Selling Of Obamacare Officially Begins
The nonprofit organization spearheading the effort to enroll Americans under President Barack Obama's health care law officially started Tuesday, with more than 50 events scheduled this week across the country in settings ranging from farmers' markets to churches. Enroll America, which is led by several former Obama campaign staffers, plans to target the uninsured in multiple ways: knocking on doors, advertising on television and radio and partnering with churches, civic groups, hospitals and celebrities (Haberkorn, 6/19).

Modern Healthcare: Enroll America Kicking Off Its ACA Push, But Hospitals And Insurers Have Their Own Campaigns
Hospitals and health insurers that will benefit from the new paying customers generated by next year's expansion of insurance coverage under the health reform law have moved quietly on their own to promote consumers' new options. The moves come after HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius came under fire from Republicans in Congress, who have questioned whether she solicited firms and institutions regulated by her department to contribute money to Enroll America, the privately organized not-for-profit that is working to build public awareness about the new law (Zigmond and Landen, 6/18).

CQ HealthBeat: Enroll America Campaign Launch Lacks Enrollment Projections
Earlier this year, it became apparent that the Obama administration would fall a billion dollars short of the resources it needed to sign up the uninsured under the health law. Now, with the launch Tuesday of a private sector enrollment campaign that administration officials hoped would pick up the slack, there are questions about how effective that effort will be as well (Reichard, 6/18).

Health News Florida: Tampa 1st To Launch 'Get Covered'
A national movement to find the uninsured and get them plugged into benefits under the Affordable Care Act kicked off Tuesday night at a house party in Tampa. The Harbour Island get-together, which attracted about 30 volunteers, was the first official event in the nation for Get Covered, America, organizers said. Other Get Covered events are scheduled for Wednesday in Phoenix, Ariz., and Austin, Texas. The official launch of the enrollment effort is Saturday (Gentry, 6/19).

Politico: White House Seeks NBA Assist On Obamacare
Could LeBron James be the next spokesman for Obamacare? The Obama administration has reached out to the NBA about a potential marketing partnership to promote the health law, POLITICO has learned (Cheney, 6/19).

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Medicaid Chief Signals That State Enrollments May Start Slowly

But Cindy Mann says that she is confident states will be ready by October to cover the new enrollees who will gain access to the safety net program. 

Modern Healthcare: Slow Start Predicted For Expanded Medicaid Enrollment
Officials hoping to enroll millions more beneficiaries into Medicaid programs this fall are signaling the possibility of a slow start. Ultimately, they hope to use some past success to overcome obstacles that have long left uncovered millions of Medicaid-eligible enrollees. Cindy Mann, Medicaid director for the CMS, said at a recent Washington ACO Summit that she is confident that states will be ready by October to enroll millions who will gain access to the safety net insurer under healthcare reform. ... But more time and work will be needed to improve the Medicaid enrollment process, Mann said at the gathering of health policy experts. Such problems would mean states won't be ready for "plan A" during the first year, but will instead rely on "plan B," she said (Daly, 6/18).

Meanwhile, in news from Ohio --

The Associated Press: Ohio Legislators Offer Two Bills To Change Medicaid
Proposed changes to the Medicaid program in Ohio are unlikely to clear the legislature before lawmakers break at the end of the month, the Republican leader of the House said Tuesday. Ohio legislators have been trying to find common ground on the federal-state health program for the poor and disabled people (Cano, 6/18).

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Poll: Young Adults Consider Health Insurance Important

A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found a strong majority of young adults believe health insurance is worth the money.

Huffington Post: Young Adults Want Health Insurance, Don't Feel 'Invincible,' New Obamacare Poll Shows
Young adults overwhelmingly value health insurance and don't believe they are too healthy to need it, according to survey data published Wednesday. The findings of the poll by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation could have significant implications for the prospects of President Barack Obama's health care reform law (Young, 6/19).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Young Adults Value Health Insurance, Poll Finds
A strong majority of young adults, whose participation in the health law may be key to its success or failure, strongly believe health insurance is important for them and worth the money, according to a new poll. As some states and the federal government prepare new online marketplaces for people to purchase insurance this fall, the willingness of young people to buy coverage has been a topic of great uncertainty. Their participation in these marketplaces is considered crucial, since the young tend to be healthier than older people and, therefore, will use fewer medical resources, allowing their premiums to help subsidize the care of the old and sick (Rau, 6/19).

Also in the news -

The Fiscal Times: Confused IRS Tax Rules Threaten Obamacare Rollout
Last month, Gallup conducted a survey to determine small business attitudes toward the Affordable Health Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The results were not encouraging for backers of the law…But small businesses aren’t the only ones concerned about Obamacare implementation. Dave Du Val, vice president of tax services at TaxResources.com, said tax preparers are worried the IRS won’t be prepared (Pianin and Francis, 6/19).

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Capitol Hill Watch

House Passes Ban On Abortion After 20 Weeks Of Pregnancy

House lawmakers Tuesday passed a nationwide ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy -- one of the most far-reaching federal bills on abortion in years. The bill, which faces long odds in the Senate and even longer odds to get the president's signature, is unlikely to ever become law.

NPR: House Passes Bill That Would Ban Abortions After 20 Weeks
The House has passed one of the most far-reaching abortion bills in decades. But it's unlikely to ever become law. By a mostly party-line vote Tuesday of 228-196, lawmakers passed the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," which would ban nearly all abortions starting 20 weeks after fertilization (Rovner, 6/18).

The Wall Street Journal: House Votes To Put New Limits On Abortions
The bill, which would ban abortion after a fetus is 20 weeks old, returns the spotlight to an issue that bedeviled the GOP in the 2012 elections, when some Republicans' comments about abortions resulting from rape cost the party support among women. The House vote was 228-196, with 6 Democrats joining 222 Republicans in support. Opposing the measure were 190 Democrats and 6 Republicans (Hook, 6/18).

USA Today: House Passes Far-Reaching Bill To Limit Abortions
The bill included an exemption for women who get pregnant through rape or incest as long as they first report the sexual assault to legal authorities. It was added at the last minute by House Republican leaders after a broader Democratic amendment to add the exemption was defeated in the House Judiciary Committee last week. "It shows a distrust of women and a lack of the reality of sexual assaults," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., regarding the legal conditions placed on the exemption (Davis, 6/18).

Politico: House OKs 20-Week Abortion Ban Bill
The House Tuesday passed a bill that would ban most abortions nationwide after 20 weeks. The most far-reaching abortion legislation in the House in a decade, it was passed 228-196, mostly along party lines. The vote is largely symbolic: The bill will be dead on arrival in the Senate. And the White House has already threatened to veto the "fetal pain" legislation, which is based on the controversial assertion that a fetus can feel pain at that stage of development (Smith and Gibson, 6/19).

Star Tribune: GOP-Led House Passes Sweeping Abortion Restrictions
Republicans in the U.S. House passed sweeping new restrictions on late-term abortions Tuesday, a mostly symbolic initiative that served to re-ignite social and cultural tensions that divided the nation in the last presidential election. Two Minnesota Republicans were among the bill's 184 co-sponsors: Reps. John Kline and Michele Bachmann. So was rural Democrat and abortion rights foe Collin Peterson. A third Minnesota Republican, Rep. Erik Paulsen, joined in a largely party-line vote of 228-196, but was not a co-sponsor (Diaz, 6/18). 

ABC News: House Passes Bill Banning Abortion After 20 Weeks
The House of Representatives voted this evening to pass legislation to ban abortion after 20 weeks, except in what Democrats assailed as "narrow" cases of incest of a minor, rape, and health of the mother, prompting a partisan debate on the House floor as lawmakers grappled over the question of how soon a fetus is able to detect pain in the womb. The bill, H.R. 1797 -- Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, passed by a vote of 228-196. Six Republicans opposed the measure, while six Democrats crossed the aisle to support it (Parkinson, 6/18).

CBS News: House Republicans Pass 20-Week Limit On Abortions 
Despite calls from Republican Party leaders to move away from focusing on social issues, especially in light of the GOP's 2012 election losses, the Republican-led House of Representatives Tuesday passed a bill that would restrict abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Restricting the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision by a month, the bill is a statement from social conservatives in the House and no more. It passed along party lines -- all but six Republicans voted yea and all but six Democrats voted nay -- but has no chance of even being considered in the Democratic-controlled Senate and, even if it did and passed there, President Obama said he would veto it (Haven, 6/18).

Bloomberg: House Votes To Ban Abortions After 20 Weeks Of Pregnancy
The House of Representatives voted to ban abortions nationwide past 20 weeks of pregnancy, joining at least 10 states in seeking to expand prohibitions on the procedure further than the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed. The bill, passed yesterday on a mostly party-line 228-196 vote, would make such abortions a crime with a possible prison sentence (Tiron, 6/19).

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Senate Finance Committee Examines Health Care Prices; Steven Brill Testifies

The journalist, who examined the issue of the high cost of health care in a much-quoted March 2013 Time magazine article, appeared during a Capitol Hill hearing.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Brill: Law Won't Bring Prices Down For Patients
At a Capitol Hill hearing Tuesday, journalist Steven Brill, who examined the issue of the high cost of health care in a much quoted March 2013 Time magazine article, told Senate Finance Committee members that President Barack Obama's health care law will do very little to lower prices for consumers (Tran, 6/18). 

CQ HealthBeat: Senate Finance Scrutinizes High Price Of Health Care
Witnesses on Tuesday told the Senate Finance Committee that while lawmakers should encourage more transparency on health care pricing, they also must find ways for consumers to use that information to save money and still obtain quality health care (Ehtirdge, 6/18).

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CBO Finds Immigration Bill Would Save Gov't. Money

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the measure would save $175 billion dollars, but lawmakers question how this would play out for entitlement programs such as Medicare.

The Wall Street Journal: CBO: Senate Immigration Bill To Save $175 Billion
[Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.)] said that while many illegal immigrants would be barred from receiving health care benefits for at least 10 years, they could become eligible in later years. Mr. Sessions also said the CBO didn't provide enough information to explain why illegal immigrants who gain legal status under the bill would pay more to the government than they receive in welfare payments or in entitlements, such as Medicare (Murray and Peterson, 6/18).

The Washington Post’s Wonk Blog: Keeping Undocumented Immigrants Off The Dole Is Easier Said Than Done
A new report by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities highlights amendments by Rubio, and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala). (Sessions’s amendments were rejected in committee, and he’s likely to oppose the bill.) Rubio is a Gang of Eight member, and Hatch voted for the bill in committee, but both have signaled that their support is tentative and that they could oppose the final bill. The lawmakers have three amendments that deal with benefits. The first prevents Social Security and Medicare taxes paid by undocumented immigrants who are then legalized from counting toward benefits upon those citizens’ retirement (Matthews, 6/18).

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Health Care Marketplace

Report: Improper Prescription Drug Use Drives Up Cost Of Care

Doctors and hospitals could save the U.S. $213 billion annually if they used prescription drugs more wisely, according to IMS health.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Study: Wiser Medication Use Could Save US $213 Billion A Year In Avoidable Health Care Costs
If doctors and patients used prescription drugs more wisely, they could save the U.S. health care system at least $213 billion a year, by reducing medication overuse, underuse and other flaws in care that cause complications and longer, more-expensive treatments, researchers conclude (6/19).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Improper Use Of Prescription Drugs Costs $200 Billion A Year, Report Finds
Much of those costs result from unneeded hospitalizations or doctor visits, according to the study by the IMS Health's Institute for Healthcare Informatics, which provides data and other consulting services to the health care industry. Medical costs are driven up by patients who don’t get the right medications or fail to take their drugs, the misuse of antibiotics, medication errors and inadequate oversight when patients take multiple drugs (Appleby, 6/19). 

Also in the news, a change is on the horizon in how diabetics on Medicare purchase supplies --  

The Associated Press/Washington Post: July 1 Brings Changes to Way Diabetics On Medicare Purchase Blood Testing Supplies
Medicare begins a major change next month that could save older diabetics money and time when they buy crucial supplies to test their blood sugar -- but it also may cause some confusion as patients figure out the new system. On July 1, Medicare opens a national mail-order program that will dramatically drop the prices the government pays for those products but patients will have to use designated suppliers. The goal is to save taxpayers money but seniors should see their copays drop, too (6/18).

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Public Health & Education

AMA: Obesity Is A Disease

Going against a recommendation by one of its committees to label it only a "major public health problem," the American Medical Association has recognized obesity as a disease.

The New York Times: A.M.A. Recognizes Obesity As A Disease
The American Medical Association has officially recognized obesity as a disease, a move that could induce physicians to pay more attention to the condition and spur more insurers to pay for treatments. In making the decision, delegates at the association's annual meeting in Chicago overrode a recommendation against doing so by a committee that had studied the matter (Pollack, 6/18).

USA Today: Medical Group Recognizes Obesity As A Disease
Experts in obesity have struggled for years to have obesity recognized as a disease that deserves medical attention and insurance coverage as do other diseases. Previously the AMA and others have referred to obesity as "a major public health problem" (Hellmich, 6/18).

Marketplace: Doctors Look To Change The Economics Of Obesity
All you need to do is look around to know that obesity is an enormous problem in this country. In fact, in the past 30 years, the percentage of American adults who are obese has doubled. And the costs? More than $200 billion a year for everything from related illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes to lost work days. Today, at its national meeting in Chicago, the American Medical Association voted to recognize obesity as a disease (Gorenstein, 6/18).

NBC News: Obesity Is A Disease, Doctors’ Group Says
The American Medical Association officially designated obesity as a disease on Tuesday -- a disease that requires medical treatment and prevention. The organization doesn't have any kind of official say in the matter, but it’s influential nonetheless, and the vote of the AMA’s policy-making House of Delegates is one more step in the evolution of social attitudes towards obesity. … One third of Americans are obese -- and that's on top of the one-third who are overweight. Obesity is more than just a matter of carrying around too much fat, says Dr. Michael Joyner, an exercise physiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.  (Fox, 6/18).

Medpage Today: AMA House Votes Against Council, Calls Obesity A Disease
Obesity should be called a disease and not simply a condition, the American Medical Association's policy-making House of Delegates voted on Tuesday. The vote -- approved by roughly 60 percent of the AMA's full House -- goes against the recommendation of its Council on Science and Public Health, which issued a report earlier this week saying that calling obesity a disease would be problematic. The resolution was backed by delegates from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, and the American Society of Bariatric Physicians (Pittman, 6/18).

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Health Information Technology

Patients Press Forward With Health Apps

Fox News reports how one specific app is helping give patients more access to their doctors while Kaiser Health News and WBUR look at how the increase in available apps also raises questions about what works and doesn't.

Fox News: New App Gives Patients More Access To Doctors
Eight minutes: that's the average time a patient spends with his or her doctor during an appointment. And for many, it's just not enough. To battle this ongoing problem, Dr. Gopal Chopra, a neurosurgeon-turned-entrepreneur, developed a free app called PingMD that enables a person to stay in contact with his or her doctor outside of office visits. … Now, hundreds of physicians in numerous specialties are using the app to simplify the communication process. PingMD is especially popular with pediatricians, who deal with lots of questions from new parents (6/19).

Kaiser Health News: Patients Lead The Way As Medicine Grapples With Apps
Health apps such as My Fitness Pal are turning smartphones and tablets into exercise aides, blood pressure monitors and devices that transmit an EKG. And the day is not far off when doctors may be suggesting apps along with prescribing drugs to help patients manage their health. But the explosion of apps is way ahead of tests to determine which ones work (Bebinger, 6/18).

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State Watch

Texas Senate Approves Abortion Restrictions, Prompting Access Fears

Texas lawmakers on Tuesday approved three pieces of legislation that tighten the state's abortion restrictions, prompting worries that abortion clinics could close because of the changes.

The Texas Tribune: After Hours Of Debate, Senate OKs Abortion Regulations
After hours of emotional debate, the Senate late on Tuesday evening approved omnibus legislation to tighten abortion restrictions. … SB 5 includes three abortion regulation measures that failed to reach the floor of either chamber during the regular legislative session: a requirement that abortions be performed in ambulatory surgical centers, which state Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, has filed as SB 24 in the special session; a requirement that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility; and a requirement that if doctors administer the abortion inducing drug, RU-486, they do so in person, which state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, has proposed separately in SB 18 in the special session (Aaronson,6/18).

Bloomberg: Texas Senate Passes Bill That May Close Abortion Clinics
The Texas Senate passed rules that advocates for access to abortion say may force most of the state's clinics to close.  Backed by Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, the measure passed the Senate 20-10 yesterday at about 11:30 p.m. local time and now heads to the House of Representatives, where both sides say they expect it to win approval. Before the vote, lawmakers took out a provision to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy (Mildenberg and Deprez, 6/19).

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State Highlights: Ark. AG Asks State Supreme Court To Uphold J&J Fine; N.Y. Abortion Measure To Get Separate Vote

A selection of health policy stories from Arkansas, New York, Massachusetts and California.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Ark. AG Asks State's High Court To Uphold $1.2B Fine Against Johnson & Johnson, Subsidiary
Arkansas' attorney general filed a brief Tuesday backed by his counterparts in 35 other states asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to uphold a $1.2 billion fine levied against Johnson & Johnson and a subsidiary over the marketing of the antipsychotics drug Risperdal (6/18).

The Wall Street Journal: Abortion Measure May Get A Vote In New York State Senate
Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed late Tuesday night to split the governor's Women's Equality Act into 10 separate bills to be voted on individually, setting the stage for a showdown over the proposal's most controversial provision, a measure to amend the state's abortion laws. The tactic represented an 11th-hour attempt to force an up or down vote on the abortion-rights plank, an issue that legislative observers and even Mr. Cuomo himself had said was dying in the closing days of Capitol's lawmaking session (Orden, 6/18).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: N.Y. Agency To Pay $1 Million Over Unqualified Aides
Federal and New York state authorities have announced a $1 million settlement with a Brooklyn agency that used untrained health aides to care for elderly and disabled clients. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch announced the settlement with Parkshore Home Health Care on Tuesday (6/18).

WBUR: Radio Boston: Sec. Polanowicz On The Health Of Our State (Audio)
We're joined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services for Massachusetts, John Polanowicz, to discuss everything from controlling the state's health care costs to implementing the usage of medical marijuana (6/18).

California Healthline: Floor Vote Coming For 'De-Linking' Plan
A legislative committee yesterday had a lot of questions about a proposal to expand the role of the Department of Finance in the state's Coordinated Care Initiative and to de-link some provisions in it. CCI is the plan to combine funding and coordinate services for 1.1 million Californians dually eligible for Medicare and Medi-Cal. [Monday's] hearing came one working day after the budget language for the plan was officially released on Friday (Gorn, 6/18).

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Editorials and Opinions

Viewpoints: Urgency Has Slipped Away For 'Grand Bargain'; The Need To Scrutinize Drug Competition; Restore Funding To 'Meals On Wheels'

Los Angeles Times: Congress Kicks The Can
It may seem paradoxical that Congress was willing to tackle a grand bargain when the deficit problem looked big and insoluble — but quickly lost interest as soon as the problem became more manageable. … But the reason isn't really mysterious. A grand bargain would have required both sides to swallow unpalatable compromises. It would have required Democrats to agree to cuts in future spending on Medicare and Social Security. Likewise, it would have required Republicans to accept increases in tax revenue (Doyle McManus, 6/19).

The New York Times: Economix: Health Spending: Watching For A Rebound
Every new report about the American health care economy seems to confirm the same pattern: spending is rising at the slowest pace in decades. In 2013, health spending will grow less than 4 percent for the fourth time in five years and shrink as a share of the economy, according to the number crunchers at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In February, the Congressional Budget Office forecast that spending on Medicare and Medicaid over the coming decade would be $382 billion less than it had predicted last August. The new numbers have provided an unexpected dose of optimism to the debate about squaring a budget deficit that is expected to widen sharply as the baby-boom generation enters retirement (Eduardo Porter, 6/19).

The New York Times: Our Genes, Their Secrets
The Supreme Court's unanimous ruling last Thursday, barring patents on human genes, was a wise and balanced decision that clears away a major barrier to innovation in the areas of biotechnology, drug development and medical diagnostics. But the decision is just a first step toward finding the right balance between protecting legitimate intellectual property and securing an open future for personalized medicine (Eleonore Pauwels, 6/18).

The New York Times: Proper Scrutiny For Drug Settlements
The Federal Trade Commission has been battling for years to end a devious tactic used by some drug companies to pay competitors to delay putting cheaper generic versions of their brand-name drugs on the market. The tactic, known as pay-for-delay or reverse payments, results in higher costs for consumers. On Monday, the Supreme Court, in a 5-to-3 decision, gave the trade commission a partial victory that will allow it to bring antitrust charges against pay-for-delay practices that lower courts had deemed legal, provided the deal did not keep a generic off the market beyond the patent life of the brand-name drug. The commission estimates that such agreements cost Americans $3.5 billion a year in higher drug prices (6/18). 

Politico: Keep Meals On Wheels Going
In America today, while the wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well, poverty among seniors is increasing and nearly half of all seniors are now unable to afford their basic living expenses, according to a recent study from the Economic Policy Institute. ... Despite the success of the Older Americans Act in keeping seniors healthy, independent and out of hospitals and nursing homes, this vitally important program has been inadequately funded for years. Today, only a small percentage of seniors who need the services provided by the Older Americans Act are able to receive them. From one end of the country to the other, there are waiting lists for the Meals on Wheels program. Only 9 percent of seniors eligible for home-delivered meals are getting them (Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., 6/18).

The Wall Street Journal: The Young Won't Buy ObamaCare
(Supreme Court Justice Samuel) Alito pointed out that young, healthy adults today spend an average of $854 a year on health care. ObamaCare would require them to buy insurance policies expected to cost roughly $5,800. The law, then, isn't just asking them to pay for "the services that they are going to consume," he added. "The mandate is forcing these people to provide a huge subsidy to the insurance companies . . . to subsidize services that will be received by somebody else." Since he puts it that way, why would they sign up for ObamaCare, especially since the alleged penalties will be negligible and likely unenforced? (Holman W. Jenkins Jr. 6/18).

Bangor Daily News: LePage Fails To Surprise On Medicaid Expansion
In unsurprising fashion, Gov. Paul LePage on Monday vetoed legislation to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. We didn't expect him to be open to the idea of extending health insurance to tens of thousands of Maine's poorest. ... We didn't expect rational arguments from LePage. He has not demonstrated thoughtful ideas on the issue since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Medicaid expansion optional under the federal health reform law. But we do expect more from GOP lawmakers who interact more closely with Maine residents and were elected, in many cases, with more support than LePage. Their constituents need them to gather their political courage and vote to override LePage's veto (6/18).

Baltimore Sun: Countdown To Obamacare
The countdown has started. In about 100 days, starting Oct. 1, millions of families across the nation will have an opportunity to enroll in health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. The full benefits of the law will be most apparent and available to residents of Maryland. This is because Maryland, thanks to its more active role in implementing the historic health reform law, is expected to be one of the model states for the rest of the nation. As a result, Maryland will demonstrate the vast potential benefits of the ACA. Here are some other things about the law to watch for, as we approach and pass the Oct. 1 milestone (Ron Pollack, 6/18).

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EDITOR:
Stephanie Stapleton

ASSOCIATE EDITOR:
Andrew Villegas

WRITERS:
Lisa Gillespie
Shefali Luthra

The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2014 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.