OVERNIGHT HEALTHCARE: McConnell takes hits on Kentucky exchange

The campaign of Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes took opponent Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to task Wednesday for his recent comments over their state’s healthcare exchanges.

"Mitch McConnell has been in the fantasyland that is Washington for so long that he cannot tell the difference between fact and fiction,” said Grimes’s senior adviser, Jonathan Hurst, in a statement.

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McConnell has faced criticism after he insisted last week that repealing Obamacare wouldn’t affect Kynect, the state exchange created by the law. Kynect has been lauded as one of the most successful exchanges in the nation.

An editorial in the Lexington Herald-Leader Wednesday also slammed McConnell for his stance.

"How can average people be expected to understand if the Senate Republican leader still hasn't figured it out, or at least is pretending there is no connection?" said the editorial.

The exchanges rely on federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore in a statement this week said Kentucky could decide whether to keep Kynect if the health law was repealed.

“[I]f Obamacare is repealed, Kentucky should decide for itself whether to keep Kynect or set up a different marketplace,” she said.

 

GROUP TARGETS PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Anti-abortion rights activists are working to reignite debate on whether to fund Planned Parenthood with a new report that accuses the organization of a variety of offenses, including a failure to report sex trafficking.

The group Live Action distributed the report to members of Congress arguing taxpayers should not be funding abortions. However, Planned Parenthood has dismissed the report as an attempt to shut down its clinics.

Federal law already prohibits taxpayer dollars from funding abortions, but opponents of Planned Parenthood argue that any federal payment to the group ultimately subsidizes its abortion services.

 

AUTISM RESEARCH: The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health approved an amendment Wednesday that would require the Health and Human Services secretary to designate a deputy to oversee federal autism research and services.

The measure would help coordinate anti-autism activities across federal agencies and ensure the projects "are not unnecessarily duplicative," according to the amendment.

 

HEALTH COSTS: A study released by the insurance company Aflac warns employers are shifting costs of healthcare coverage to their workers by having them pay more of their own out-of-pocket costs and higher premiums.

Authors of the study warn the sums employees pay toward health insurance premiums in most plans have grown three times faster over the past three years than average salaries, a change that could strain workers’ finances.

The study also notes only 17 percent of employees are really prepared to pay for major out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Half of workers in the poll said they would be able to afford costs less than $1,000 and a quarter said they could only afford costs less than $500.

 

ON TAP THURSDAY: Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) will hold a briefing to discuss findings from a House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee report on federal programs addressing severe mental illness. The report focused on gun violence in the wake of mass killings in Newtown, Conn.; Fort Hood, Texas; and at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.

The National Academy of Social Insurance will hold a half-day event with experts to talk about antitrust laws to counter the pricing power of physicians and hospitals, and the implications of Accountable Care Organizations for competitive markets.

 

STATE BY STATE: 

Transplant patients put on hold due to new Indiana Medicaid rules

Ky. hospital to pay $41 million in unnecessary surgeries

Jindal's healthcare plan for La. advances

Is health reform working in Massachusetts?

Ga. disputes jump in Medicaid enrollment

Florida Hospital owner admits it violated federal law

Okla. enacts new restrictions on abortions, La. to follow

New York assembly passes medical marijuana bill

 

READING LIST:

Small business advice: How to survive rising health care costs

Abortion doctor restrictions take root in South

Insurers scrutinize drug costs after $84,000 Sovaldi surprise

CDC defends mistaken call on third suspected U.S. MERS patient

‘National dialogue’ urged on cost of new hepatitis C drug

 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED AT THE HILL:

Report finds veterans waited 115 days for care in Phoenix

Support for Shinseki crumbling

Dem proposes studying health effects of menstrual products

Vilsack says Senate school lunch compromise is acceptable

Democratic candidates go on offense in ObamaCare ads

Poll: 43 percent view O-Care unfavorably