Minnesota Governor: “Obamacare is No Longer Affordable”

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Republicans have new material for their attack on ObamaCare.

Minnesota’s Democratic governor said Wednesday that the healthcare law “is no longer affordable” for many people.

“Ultimately … the reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people,” Gov. Mark Dayton said, according to a transcript provided by his office.

Democrats have long acknowledged that improvements need to be made to the health law, but Dayton’s remarks go farther and are more negative than usual from members of his party.

Dayton added that a “deadlocked” Congress is hurting the situation by preventing improvements from being made to the law.

The comments come as Minnesota expects to have some of the highest premium increases in the nation next year, ranging between 50 to 67 percent.

The state’s insurance commissioner said in a news release last month announcing the rates that the ObamaCare market there had been “on the verge of collapse,” given that all of the insurers offering coverage under the health law considered leaving the market. Read more here. https://bit.ly/2eabj5q

Conservative groups pressure GOP to block ObamaCare ‘bailouts’

A coalition of more than 50 conservative groups is calling on Congress to stop “bailouts” of insurance companies under ObamaCare.

The groups, in a Wednesday letter to members of Congress, are calling for the passage of two bills that would keep funds away from insurers under two ObamaCare programs that have been the target of growing Republican outrage.

The conservative groups are now further pressuring Republicans.

“American households deserve better than to have their tax dollars go toward bailouts for insurance companies,” wrote the groups, which include Freedom Partners, Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Action and Americans for Tax Reform.

Democrats counter that the programs in question actually help lower premiums and say Republicans are simply trying again to undermine the healthcare law. Read more here. https://bit.ly/2d87wbw

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California companies sued for allegedly selling fetal tissue for profit

A California district attorney on Wednesday announced a civil lawsuit against two fetal tissue companies, claiming they have illegally sold fetal tissue for profit.

The issue of profits from the sale of fetal tissue was thrust into the spotlight last year due to undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood.

Multiple state investigations have since found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.

In this case, though, the Orange County district attorney says two companies, DaVinci Biosciences and DV Biologics, which share some of the same owners, illegally sold fetal tissue for profit.

The companies obtained their fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood, the DA’s office said. The district attorney, Tony Rackauckas, said that there is no evidence the companies exchanged money with Planned Parenthood or that Planned Parenthood did anything unlawful, according to the Los Angeles Times. Read more here. https://bit.ly/2e6tOfd

Soda makers under scrutiny

The nation’s two largest soda companies have extensively lobbied against “public health intervention” even as they pour money into public health groups’ coffers, according to an alarming new report by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo donated to nearly 100 national health groups while simultaneously lobbying against 29 different bills considered public health legislation, the report found.

“These companies lobbied against public health intervention in 97% of cases, calling into question a sincere commitment to improving the public’s health,” the article states. Read more here: https://bit.ly/2dcigAW

ON TAP TOMORROW:

The Kaiser Family Foundation unveils its annual 50-state Medicaid budget survey at an event starting at 9:30 a.m.

WHAT WE’RE READING:

The Drug Enforcement Administration is backing away from its much-maligned decision that would have banned the use of a plant called kratom, which is seen as a way to help opioid addicts. (Washington Post)

As companies increasingly look to trim health insurance costs, more workers will likely pay higher deductibles or be asked to pay the difference between generic and brand-name prices. (Wall Street Journal)

Columnist Michael Hiltzik says people hate ObamaCare because they don’t know much about it. (Los Angeles Times)

The American Cancer Society says it won’t change its guidelines for cancer screenings after a study showed high rates of misdiagnosis. (Reuters)

IN THE STATES:

Two years after West Virginia approved the federal government’s Medicaid expansion, fewer patients are using charity care though twice as many people have joined the program’s rolls. (WV Public Broadcasting)

Colorado wrestles with ethics issues as vote looms to allow doctor-assisted death for terminally ill patients. (NPR)

A prominent Maine advocacy group is launching a signature-gathering campaign to put Medicaid expansion on the state ballot. (Portland Press Herald)

ICYMI FROM THE HILL DOT COM:

House Dem to introduce sweeping drug pricing bill https://bit.ly/2egZmyC

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