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House passes child insurance bill, fate uncertain in Senate. The House passed a bill on Friday to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program over Democratic objections on how the program will be funded. The bill now advances to the Senate, which has yet to take up its own version that passed out of committee last month. Democrats objected to Republicans paying for the traditionally bipartisan program through raising premiums for wealthy Medicare seniors, raiding an Obamacare prevention fund and narrowing a grace period for Obamacare customers to pay premiums. The bill reauthorizes CHIP, which provides insurance for low-income children, for five years and funds community health centers for two years. CHIP expired Sept. 30 but most states won’t run out of funds until early next year. Some states could run out by the end of this month, a federal advisory panel warned Congress last month. However, it is not clear when CHIP will be reauthorized. The funding offsets likely will not receive Democratic support, and the package would need at least 60 votes to break any filibuster in the Senate. The Senate Finance Committee passed its own version of CHIP reauthorization last month, but the bill doesn’t include funding for community health centers or funding offsets.
House votes to nix IPAB. The House on Thursday passed a bill to repeal a panel created by Obamacare to cut Medicare if it spends too much. The House voted 307-111 to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which Republicans and some Democrats say takes away congressional authority over entitlement spending. The bill, which received hefty support from Democrats, faces an uncertain fate in the Senate, but top sponsor Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., is optimistic. “As soon as we see what kind of vote we get here I will contact the Senate folks,” Roe said before the vote Thursday. “I am excited about it. I think this is the best chance I have had since 2010.” IPAB was established in Obamacare to rein in spending under Medicare. If Medicare spending reaches a certain level, IPAB meets to develop automatic cuts to the program. If Congress doesn’t come up with an alternative, those cuts would go into effect automatically. Republicans have feared that over time, IPAB could develop into a board that rations care and centrally dictates healthcare decisions, similar to Britain's NICE. No panel has been brought together, and Medicare spending is about four years away from the threshold to trigger IPAB. Democrats have complained that Republicans are targeting the panel now as part of a larger effort to chip away at Obamacare after congressional repeal efforts faltered in the Senate.
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Hospitals fret over CEO tax in GOP’s plan. The American Hospital Association said it was “concerned” about the proposal in the Republican tax plan to add a 20 percent excise tax for employees at nonprofit organizations who make more than $1 million a year, since many nonprofit hospital CEOs fall under that category. “There is already a rigorous process prescribed by the Internal Revenue Service for setting up executive compensation,” said Tom Nickels, executive vice president of the American Hospital Association. “The process requires an impartial panel drawn primarily from the board of trustees, which is charged with setting CEO compensation based on the marketplace and documenting deliberations to attract the best talent.”
Anti-abortion groups oppose adoption tax repeal. The Republican tax bill would eliminate the adoption tax credit, a move lamented by anti-abortion groups such as March for Life and Susan B. Anthony List. “This important tax credit helps tens of thousands of families each year offset the steep costs of adopting children,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said. “We urge the pro-life House to remove this provision from their bill immediately.” The groups, however, praised in the inclusion of a provision that allows parents who are expecting a child to contribute to a 529 education savings account. “The proposed tax plan is a huge leap forward for an antiquated tax code, and we hope this is the first step in expanding the child tax credit to include unborn children as well,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life.
Aetna CEO on Obamacare: 'We can fix it.' Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, who has been critical of Obamacare and whose company has withdrawn from all its exchanges, said Thursday that he believed Obamacare could be repaired. "Nobody would fix it," Bertolini said about Obamacare, speaking at the U.S. News & World Report Healthcare of Tomorrow conference in Washington. "If you were to leave Medicare alone for seven years or eight years it would fall apart. Just like this is. We need a bipartisan approach." He indicated that he did not believe that Obamacare is beyond repair. "We can fix it; the list is short. We just need a group of people with level heads and rooms to fix it," he said. Bertolini attributed some of the issues with the law to the fact that it had been passed only by Democrats. "Ever major social program this country has ever passed has been a bipartisan program. Every single one of them, except the Affordable Care Act," Bertolini said. "Every one of those programs is tweaked by the legislature every year: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. CHIP hopefully this week. As you look at that and you realize you don't have a bipartisan bill that's been sitting fallow for seven years, it's no wonder it's not working or it's getting worse."
Justice Department asks Supreme Court to hear illegal immigrant abortion case. The Department of Justice on Friday asked the Supreme Court to hear a case involving the 17-year-old undocumented immigrant detainee who received an abortion last month after a weekslong legal battle with the Trump administration. In its petition, the Justice Department said “Jane Doe’s” attorneys — who were American Civil Liberties Union attorneys — ‘misled’ on the timing of the abortion. “After informing Justice Department lawyers that the procedure would be done Oct. 26, Jane Doe’s attorneys scheduled the abortion for the early morning hours of October 25th, thereby thwarting Supreme Court review,” Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said. The Justice Department argues the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Oct. 24 to allow the abortion to go forward “should be vacated.” The filing means the Justice Department believes a situation like this could come up again, and the Justice Department wants there to be a precedent for all lower courts to follow.
Opinion by Rep. Andy Biggs: Fixes, delays or extra money won't undo Obamacare's devastation — only repeal can do that. “Before Democrats rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2009, then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told us ‘we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.’ Since Obamacare became law, we have all found out what is in it — and even Democrats haven’t liked what they’ve seen. In a desperate attempt to cover up the failures of Obamacare, the Obama administration made more than 40 unilateral changes to Obamacare. One of the controversial changes included providing subsidies to insurance companies. Unfortunately, premiums still soared for most, many experienced a decrease in the quality of care, while others lost their health plans. Since 2013, individual premiums in states with Obamacare exchanges have increased by an average of 105 percent. My own state of Arizona has fared far worse: average premiums here have nearly tripled over the past four years. Soaring premiums aren’t the only problem. Every month, insurance premiums pull out of the Obamacare exchanges, leaving Americans with fewer coverage options. Several counties around the country now have only one carrier. Maricopa County, Ariz., which I represent in Congress, falls in this category, despite being one of the most populous counties in the country. But it could be even worse: There are some counties across the country with no remaining exchange carriers.” Read more.
Politico Conservatives push to repeal Obamacare mandate in tax package
The Hill Maine Medicaid vote could be bellwether
Axios Medicare scraps future payment model for home health companies
Reuters China disputes Trump’s claims of fentanyl ‘flood’ into U.S.
STAT News Trump administration strikes policy that supporters say helped lower drug prices
NPR ‘Big chicken’ connects poultry farming to antibiotic-resistant bacteria
Associated Press Healthcare enrollment counselors facing stiff challenges
Washington Post Senators call for crackdown on pharmaceutical industry ‘revolving door’
FRIDAY | Nov. 3
Nov. 1-3. Renaissance Hotel Downtown. U.S. News & World Report Healthcare of Tomorrow event. Details.
Nov. 2-3. Ronald Reagan Building. MedPac public meeting. Details.
Noon. National Press Club. 529 14th St. NW. Luncheon with FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Details.
SATURDAY | Nov. 4
Nov. 4-8. American Public Health Association 2017 Annual Meeting and Expo. Theme: Creating the Healthiest Nation: Climate Changes Health. Details.
SUNDAY | Nov. 5
Nov. 5-7. Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay. San Francisco. Technomy. Details.
Daylight saving time ends. You should have set your clocks back one hour.
MONDAY | Nov. 6
Noon. National Press Club. 529 14th St. NW. Luncheon with VA Secretary David Shulkin. Details.