Will Obamacare Ever Be Popular?
DISAPPROVAL REINS: Despite the surprising success of the first open enrollment period, the public isn't warming up to Obamacare. Two new polls -- the Kaiser Family Foundation's monthly tracking poll and a survey yesterday from Gallup -- showed the law staying where it's been for months, with public opinion divided and tilting negative. And the Kaiser poll has a reminder of why the issue should scare Democrats: anti-Obamacare passions run much deeper than supporters' enthusiasm. The survey found that Republican voters still want Congress to focus on repealing Obamacare -- a sign that the issue still motivates the base, even as the debate in Washington has started to cool.
Top Health Care News
OBAMACARE'S PARTISAN DIVIDE IS BENDING OUR BRAINS: People believe what they want to about Obamacare, even when the question is about their family and friends. (Sam Baker, National Journal)
- GALLUP: Fifty-nine percent of Americans report that the health care law has not affected them, twenty-four percent say it has hurt them, and 14 percent say it has helped them, according to a new survey. (Frank Newport, Gallup)
ZIGZAGGED PATHS FOR DUELING SPOKESMEN IN DRUG-PRICING DEBATE: Foes Brendan Buck and Robert Zirkelbach have even held the same job. (Billy House, National Journal)
FOUR INSURERS ACCUSED OF DISCRIMINATING AGAINST H.I.V. PATIENTS.: The AIDS Institute and the National Health Law Program filed a complaint on Thursday with the HHS Department's Office for Civil Rights saying that the companies violated the Affordable Care Act provision that prohibits discrimination against consumers with pre-existing conditions. The groups say the insurers imposed cost-sharing restrictions on medications commonly used by people with H.I.V. (Katie Thomas, New York Times)
DOCTOR SHORTAGE IS CITED IN DELAYS AT VA HOSPITALS: The Veterans Affairs Department says it has 400 vacancies to fill, and had 5,100 primary care doctors total on its roster last year. (Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Abby Goodnough, New York Times)
BOEHNER AND PELOSI RESIST CRIES FOR OUSTER OF VETERANS AFFAIRS CHIEF: "At least 100 members of Congress, including almost a dozen Senate Democrats, have called for Secretary Eric Shinseki to step down." Both Pelosi and Boehner said his resignation would not solve the core issue: unacceptable wait times for veterans in need of care. (Jonathan Weisman, New York Times)
OBAMACARE IS SLASHING THOSE CRAZY COBRA PREMIUMS: "COBRA is the program that allows you to stay on your employer's policy, or your spouse's employer policy, even after you no longer qualify...[But] if you lose your job and want to stay on COBRA coverage, you have to pick up both your share and the employer's share. As an employee, you might have paid just $1,000 a year for an insurance policy. As a laid-off employee, you might suddenly have to pay $6,000." (Jonathan Cohn, The New Republic)
MCCONNELL: REPEAL OBAMACARE (EXCEPT WHAT IT DOES IN KENTUCKY): Pushback continues against Republican Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell's recent statement that the continuation of the state's insurance exchange, Kynect, is unrelated to his calls for repeal of the health care law that created it. (Andrew Prokop, Vox Media)
- Democratic Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear responded to McConnell's statements in an op-ed in the Huffington Post Thursday. "At best, of course, his promise represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the ironclad link between the ACA and 'kynect,'" he wrote. "At worst, it's a blatant attempt to mislead Kentucky families for his political benefit." (Governor Steve Beshear, Huffington Post)
REP. MURPHY AIMS FOR MENTAL HEALTH BILL TO PASS BEFORE NEXT SHOOTING: At a hearing Thursday, psychologists and others urged members of Congress to do more. (Laura Sullivan, National Public Radio)
DR. PHIL: STOP OVER-MEDICATION OF FOSTER CHILDREN: Talk show host Phil McGraw joined government officials and other witnesses before the House Ways and Means Committee Thursday, to testify on the use of psychotropic medications by children in foster care. A recent Congressional Research Service report found that about one-quarter of all foster children use psychotropic medications on any given day--over four times the rate of children generally. Advocates like McGraw say the degree of use of the drugs is problematic, and that the real issue is that these children are coming from difficult backgrounds and experiences that the medications don't address. "These drugs can change and even save lives, there's no question about it," he said. "But when it comes to these vulnerable children, they're too often misused as a chemical straightjacket. It makes them less inconvenient so they don't take as much energy to manage…[But] these kids face problems that you're not going to fix by throwing drugs at them."
HOW OBAMA WANTS TO MAKE SPORTS SAFER: The high rate of head injuries is a major public health concern for youth and the president announced new partnerships to advance research on sports injuries. (Sophie Novack, National Journal)
CDC: NUMBER OF U.S. MEASLES CASES HITS 20-YEAR HIGH: The confirmed case count for 2014 is 288 as of May 23, and growing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases have been reported in 18 states and New York City, with about half in this month alone, due to a major outbreak in unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio. (Kim Painter, USA Today)
FDA ANNOUNCES STRICTER REGULATION OF TANNING BEDS: The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that beginning next year, tanning bed manufacturers will be required to include a black-box warning that states they should not be used by anyone under age 18, though the agency did not go as far as banning their use by minors. (Catherine Saint Louis, New York Times)
PREGNANCY IS CONTAGIOUS: A new study in the American Sociological Review finds that the decision to have a child is influenced by social networks stretching back to high school. (Brian Resnick, National Journal)
STUDY: DELAYING VACCINES MAY INCREASE RISK OF SEIZURE: "For children who received any of their shots as recommended before age 1, there was no difference in the incidence of seizure in the 10 days after vaccination compared with the period before vaccination. But compared with giving it in the first year, giving the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine at 16 months doubled the incidence of seizure, and giving the measles-mumps-rubella-varicella vaccine at that age increased it almost six times." (Nicholas Bakalar, New York Times)