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Nearly 9,000 fail to meet Medicaid work requirement in Arkansas. A total of 8,895 Arkansans failed in January to meet the Medicaid work requirement — meaning they either didn’t work, volunteer, or take classes for 80 hours during the month or failed to log their hours. No one will be kicked off Medicaid yet, but if they don’t meet the requirement for two more months during the course of the year then they will lose Medicaid coverage unless they get an exemption. Every January, the work requirement is “reset” to zero months of noncompliance for all people enrolled in Medicaid. This means people who were kicked off last year are allowed to re-enroll the following year and do not have past months of not complying with the requirement counted against them.

Welcome to Philip Klein’s Daily on Healthcare, compiled by Washington Examiner Executive Editor Philip Klein (@philipaklein) and Senior Healthcare Writer Kimberly Leonard (@LeonardKL). Email dailyonhealthcare@washingtonexaminer.com for tips, suggestions, calendar items, and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and you’d like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list.

Please join us in welcoming our new healthcare reporter, Cassidy Morrison! You can reach her at cmorrison@washingtonexaminer.com for news pitches.

The turncoat lobbyist pushing Medicare for All. Wendell Potter knows all the arguments against a government-financed healthcare system in the U.S., because he used to make them himself when he led communications for the health insurance giant Cigna. A decade later, he is fighting against those same arguments, seeking to expose what he now views as a deeply flawed and inefficient healthcare system. Potter, president of the newly formed Business Initiative for Health Policy, is working to convince employers to support the Medicare for All Act backed by liberals in Congress, a move that he says would extend coverage to 30 million uninsured and improve coverage for those already insured. He wrote in his 2010 book Deadly Spin that he had "sold his soul" in his previous career with Cigna. Since then, he has been blowing the whistle on insurers offloading the sickest and most expensive patients in order to boost profits. “I obviously am very familiar with all the arguments against it because I was in the business of scaring people away from this,” said Potter of government-financed healthcare, speaking to the Washington Examiner during an interview in downtown Washington, D.C.

Potter opposes a general shift toward ‘Medicare for all.’ Most rank-and-file House Democrats during the last Congress were co-sponsors of the Medicare for All Act, as are most of the senators who are running for the Democratic nomination for president. House leaders, however, are on a different page. They instead favor fixes to Obamacare and letting people have the option of buying into Medicare at age 50 or 55. Potter disapproves of such incremental approaches. In his view, insurers want to fend off government-financed healthcare and instead steer Congress toward tweaks to Obamacare for their own self-interest. He argues that merely funneling more money into Obamacare wouldn't help people deal with high out-of-pocket costs. “I think it's time for an overhaul,” Potter said. “I think that a gradual shift is not in the best interest of the public or businesses, unless you are in the business of offering insurance. There's going to be fierce resistance certainly from the entrenched moneyed interest in healthcare, not just the insurance companies.”

Iowa won’t appeal ‘heartbeat’ abortion law. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said on Monday that the state will not appeal a ruling by a federal judge determining the state’s limits on abortion to be unconstitutional. Reynolds signed the bill into law last year, which would have prohibited abortion after a heartbeat could be detected, at roughly six weeks of gestation. Reynolds said in a statement that she didn’t see a way that appealing the ruling would be effective. "This was an extremely difficult decision, however it is the right one for the pro-life movement and the state of Iowa," Reynolds said in a statement.

Seniors believe controlling drug costs is key to Medicare’s survival: Survey. An eHealth survey of more than 2,000 Medicare beneficiaries found that 73 percent of those surveyed believe that putting a cap on prescription drug costs is key to the future stability of Medicare. In contrast, roughly a quarter believed hospitals and doctors should be paid less, or that people who are not yet eligible for the program should be taxed more. The survey also shed some light on the thinking of seniors regarding healthcare coverage reform. It showed the Medicare program remains popular: Only 6 percent of those surveyed said they had some level of dissatisfaction with coverage, and 41 percent said that they thought more people should have access to something similar to Medicare. That latter figure is up from just last August, when 34 percent of respondents said they thought more people should have access.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg returns to the bench after undergoing cancer surgery. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be back on the bench for oral arguments today, marking the first time she will hear cases since undergoing lung cancer surgery in December. Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Ginsburg is expected to be in attendance to hear arguments in one case before the justices. The Supreme Court returned for its February sitting on Tuesday after a four-week recess. At 85, Ginsburg is the oldest justice and senior member of the court’s liberal bloc. She underwent surgery on Dec. 21 to remove two cancerous growths from her left lung, a procedure that took her away from the court and caused Ginsburg to miss her first oral argument in her 25-year career on the Supreme Court.

Mexican man in Border Patrol custody dies after 15-day hospital stay. A Mexican man who had illegally entered the country on more than one occasion died Monday morning in a Texas hospital after being apprehended by local police earlier this month. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement late Monday the unnamed 45-year-old man was taken into custody by the Roma Police Department about 50 miles northwest of McAllen, Texas, on Feb. 2. The man told police he needed medical help and was driven by Starr County Emergency Medical Services to Mission Regional Medical Center. The staff deemed him OK to be taken to the Rio Grande City Border Patrol Station, where he would be processed by Border Patrol and held for up to 72 hours before being turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as is standard practice. The man told Border Patrol agents during a welfare check on Feb. 3 that he needed to see a doctor and was taken back the McAllen Medical Center that day. While there, he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and congestive heart failure. He stayed at the hospital for 15 days before dying there around 9 a.m. local time Monday.

Melania Trump debuts healing garden at Miami children's hospital. Melania Trump debuted a healing garden and intensive care unit for heart patients at the Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami on Monday. The first lady, who was staying at the Trump Mar-a-Lago resort in nearby West Palm Beach, Fla., over the holiday weekend, unveiled the Morton and Linda Bouchard Healing Garden, as well as the Esrick Dream Foundation Cardiac Intensive Care Floor. “It is because of the generous donations of people like Morton and Linda Bouchard, or Steve and Kiki Esrick of the Dream Foundation, that hospitals can offer more care and comfort to children who are already battling to get well,” Trump said.


The Hill Sherrod Brown pushes for Medicare buy-in proposal in place of 'Medicare for all'

HuffPost Elizabeth Warren to unveil sweeping plan for universal child care

Stat ‘Everyone is at fault’: With insulin prices skyrocketing, there’s plenty of blame to go around
New York Times Embryo ‘adoption’ is growing, but it’s getting tangled in the abortion debate

FierceHealthcare Judge allows House Democrats to join defense of ACA in Texas case




TUESDAY | Feb. 19

Senate and House on recess.


8:30 a.m. CVS fourth quarter earnings call. Details.

9:30 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Brookings event on “Emerging policy solutions to surprise medical bills.” Details.

THURSDAY | Feb. 21

2 p.m. 1789 Massachusetts Avenue NW. American Enterprise Institute event on “E-cigarette regulation: Teens and trade-offs.” Details.