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GOP wants CBO to take another look at Obamacare. A group of 12 Republican senators demanded Wednesday that the official congressional scorekeeper reassess Obamacare to test out a new model for estimating insurance coverage. The letter the Republicans sent to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, asking it to use a new model for evaluating insurance coverage, underscores the political implications of the scorekeeper's ongoing work to revamp its modeling. Republicans have complained that CBO estimates of their Obamacare repeal bills overshot the impact on coverage losses. The dozen Republicans, who all sit on the Senate Budget Committee, wrote to CBO Director Kevin Hall that the new model, which will be released in Spring 2019, should be used to re-estimate federal spending and insurance coverage under Obamacare. They also want the CBO to publicly release the model prior to its release next spring.
Kavanaugh clears cloture hurdle, final vote remains uncertain. Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court has cleared a key procedural vote, teeing up 30 hours of debate before a final vote on Saturday. The 51-49 vote saw Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski voting “no” while Democrat Joe Manchin voted “yes.” Other Republican swing votes -- Sens. Jeff Flake and Susan Collins were “yesses,” helping put Kavanaugh over the top. Collins said she would give a floor speech at 3 p.m. to announce her decision on the final vote, which could ultimately determine Kavanaugh’s fate. Should she come out as a “no,” Republicans would need to rely on Manchin to get to 50 votes, allowing Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie. It’s unclear whether Manchin, torn between his loyalty to the Democratic Party and the political climate in pro-Trump West Virginia, would be willing to save the nomination if both Murkowski and Collins vote “no.”
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Column: Republicans will be haunted by their desperate defense of Obamacare’s pre-existing condition ban. In a desperate attempt to cling to their House and Senate majorities, Republicans everywhere are promising to protect Obamacare’s policy of forcing insurers to offer coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. Whether it’s President Trump declaring pre-existing condition rules “ safe,” Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher citing their children’s health struggles in ads pledging to keep the rules, or a House resolution offered by endangered members, Republicans have been vowing support for one of the central pillars of Obamacare. Whatever the short-term political rationale for such a move, however, it will inevitably box Republicans into an untenable position that will cripple any efforts to provide a meaningful healthcare alternative to voters. Though there are a number of alternative ways to extend coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, by endorsing Obamacare’s approach, Republicans are making any sort of future free market reforms impossible.
Iowa to offer plans without Obamacare’s protections for the sick. The Iowa Farm Bureau is rolling out health insurance plans for its members that will be allowed to turn away sick people or charge them more. Obamacare had blocked these kinds of arrangements from taking place, but Iowa lawmakers passed a law last spring declaring Obamacare-noncompliant plans not to be health insurance, a move that frees the sale of the plans from state and federal rules. The pre-existing condition exemption was first reported in the Des Moines Register, which noted that it wasn't clear which conditions would cause someone to be turned away or charged more. The plans are expected to cover mental health, maternity care, and medicines. The association health plans are intended to offer people a way out of Obamacare's higher premiums, especially when they don't receive subsidies that help curb the cost of coverage to them.
Colorado Obamacare rates to increase by about 5 percent in 2019. Colorado’s Obamacare insurers will raise rates for 2019 by an average 5.6 percent, a state official announced Thursday, but customers that get financial help are set to see a decrease of 24 percent. A state official said that he believed that the rate levels, as well as the fact that 2018 insurers are staying in the law’s insurance exchanges, are signs that the exchanges are stabilizing. “I am happy that so many of our customers will be seeing premium decreases,” said Kevin Patterson, CEO of Connect for Health Colorado, the law’s insurance exchange. Those who qualify for tax credits will have an average decrease in rate costs of 24 percent next year after applying the credit, the exchange added.
About 6 million pounds of ground beef recalled due to Salmonella risk. An Arizona company is recalling 6.5 million pounds of beef products due to a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 57 people across 16 states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Department of Agriculture released an alert on Thursday on the outbreak linked to ground beef products made by JBC Tolleson. So far, there have been 57 infections linked to Salmonella and 14 people have been hospitalized, the CDC said. No deaths have been reported. The illnesses started from Aug. 5 to Sept. 6, CDC added. The affected products include steakburgers, boneless beef sirloin trimmings and various types of ground beef.
Americans don’t just pay more for prescription drugs compared to Europe. They also face higher prices for medical devices. A new study released Friday found that prices for heart implants were two to six times higher in the U.S. than in Germany, where the implants were the cheapest, a disparity that helps explain why Americans face higher overall health care prices. European countries already pay much lower prices for prescription drugs because government healthcare programs negotiate for lower prices. The study published in Health Affairs looked at the prices for heart stents and pacemakers throughout several European countries from 2006 to 2014. Researchers looked at data from a large hospital survey to determine the prices.
CrossFit sues NIH and CDC Foundations over donor list. CrossFit has sued two foundations with government ties to have them release information about their donors that may expose potential conflicts-of-interest, including improper relationships with soda companies who give money to fitness groups that are at war with CrossFit. The lawsuit, filed Thursday under the Freedom of Information Act, accuses the CDC Foundation and the NIH Foundation of being involved in "ethical scandals" by accepting donations from companies that they say have contributed to Type 2 diabetes, liver disease, opioid addiction, and other illnesses.
Greg Glassman, CrossFit's libertarian founder and chairman, has for several years pushed back against the soda industry's involvement in medical research because fitness competitors funded by the industry have challenged his methods or sought to regulate CrossFit out of business.
The Hill Planned Parenthood targets Dean Heller over Kavanaugh comments in ad
Politico Democrats, rights groups urge State Dept. to bring back reports on women’s reproductive rights
Kaiser Health News Congress targets misuse of hospice drugs
CNN Progressive groups set to take anti-Kavanaugh, women’s health message to doors across America
STAT News Flu season is coming. If you live a large city, it may be a stretch longer than elsewhere, study says
Reuters Taking vitamin D supplements may not improve bone health
Arizona Republic More health insurers to enter Arizona ACA marketplace in 2019
Wall Street Journal MiMedx kept cheaper products out of its offerings to VA hospitals
FRIDAY | Oct. 5
Senate to hold first vote on confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
SATURDAY | Oct. 6
Senate to hold confirmation vote on whether to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
WEDNESDAY | Oct. 10
8:30 a.m. Kaiser Family Foundation. 1330 G St. NW. Alliance for Health Policy Summit on “Aging in America.” Agenda.