KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: Trump Takes Credit Where It Isn’t Due

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The final debate for Democratic presidential candidates before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses did not delve as deeply into health care as some earlier debates. But it did include discussion of several health issues that have received relatively little attention, including prescription drug prices and long-term care.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is claiming credit for having “saved” federal protections for preexisting health conditions, perhaps the most popular piece of the Affordable Care Act, even as his own administration is in court trying to have the entire health law declared unconstitutional.

And Kansas may soon become the latest state to expand the Medicaid program under the ACA, as the Democratic governor and GOP Senate majority leader strike a deal.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner from Kaiser Health News, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Tami Luhby of CNN and Shefali Luthra of Kaiser Health News.

Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:

  • Some advocates have complained that the Democratic presidential candidates are not discussing threats to abortion rights during the debates. But, generally, candidates look to talk about issues that differentiate them from their primary opponents, and all of the Democrats on stage are supportive of a woman’s right to an abortion.
  • Trump’s claim this week that he was protecting the right of consumers with medical problems to get health coverage was widely derided by ACA supporters. But his contention goes to the heart of the administration’s effort to buttress its health care initiatives ahead of the campaign.
  • At the same time, the Trump administration has set a requirement for plans sold on Obamacare marketplaces to bill consumers separately for the portion of the plan that covers abortion, generally a minuscule amount. That could confuse customers and create billing headaches for insurers and prompt some to discontinue the coverage.
  • Recent action by the Supreme Court may signal some changes coming in its view of abortion rights, now that the court has a stronger conservative majority. The justices refused to take an appeals court decision upholding a Kentucky law that requires doctors to show women seeking an abortion an ultrasound image of the fetus and describe the procedure to them.

Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read too:

Julie Rovner: The Deductible’s “Seven for the Twenties: A Futurist Looks at the Next Decade,” by Jeff Goldsmith

Alice Miranda Ollstein:The Wall Street Journal’s “Plan to Revamp Medicaid-Eligibility Checks Draws Criticism,” by Stephanie Armour

Tami Luhby:Vox.com’s “Everybody Covered,” by Dylan Scott, Ezra Klein and Tara Golshan

Shefali Luthra:Kaiser Health News’ “High-Deductible Plans Jeopardize Financial Health Of Patients And Rural Hospitals,” by Markian Hawryluk

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Kaiser Health News(KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundationwhich is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.