Obama health law's 'essential benefits' may be in jeopardy

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Scrambling to nail down votes for the health care overhaul legislation, Republicans are considering ways to ease federal requirements that insurers cover such basic services as prescription drugs, maternity care and substance abuse treatment. Lawmakers emerging from a meeting late Wednesday of the conservative Freedom Caucus said "essential health benefits" are in play as party leaders and the White House explore ways to advance the bill.

Republican health bill would widen America's big wealth gap

WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans' health care bill provides massive tax cuts to the wealthy while increasing taxes for many lower income families, adding to America's big income gap between the rich and everyone else. Over the past quarter century, only one group of people has seen significant increases in income -- those at the very top.

Obama health law's 'essential benefits' may be in jeopardy

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Scrambling to nail down votes for the House health care bill, Republicans are considering ways to ease federal requirements that insurers cover such basic services as prescription drugs, maternity care and substance abuse treatment. Lawmakers emerging from a meeting late Wednesday of the conservative Freedom Caucus said "essential health benefits" are in play as party leaders and the White House explore ways to advance the House legislation.

Retirement dreams fizzle for some with 'Obamacare' repeal

CHICAGO (AP) -- Workers dreaming of early retirement are getting the jitters as Washington debates replacing the Obama-era health care law with a system that could be a lot more expensive for many older Americans. The uncertainty over the cost of coverage in the individual market has caused some in their 50s and early 60s to put plans on hold.

Changes to GOP health proposal affect older adults, Medicaid

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican leaders hope that the latest changes to their health care bill win enough votes to drive the legislation through the House later this week. It's looking tight. A major goal of the revisions, unveiled late Monday night, is to create more options for older adults dealing with high medical bills, whose costs in many cases would have gone up markedly under the previous GOP bill.

Already in peril, rural hospitals unsure on health care bill

CLAXTON, Ga. (AP) -- Talmadge Yarbrough had just sat down at his desk and opened a box of pecans when he let out a gasp that could have been his last breath. He'd gone into cardiac arrest in his office, a co-worker called 911, and an ambulance drove him two miles to the small hospital that serves this rural community in southeast Georgia.

Ryan: More help for older people needed in GOP health bill

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Days before a pivotal vote, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Sunday he will seek changes to a GOP health care bill to provide more help to older people. The new willingness to compromise was a bid for more support from moderate Republicans, who expressed continuing unease about the plan to replace Barack Obama's health law unless significant changes were made.

For many older Americans, costs rise under GOP health plan

NEW RINGGOLD, Pa. (AP) -- Among the groups hardest hit by the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act is one that swung for Donald Trump during last year's presidential race -- older Americans who have not yet reached Medicare age. Many of those who buy their own health insurance stand to pay a lot more for their coverage. That is especially true for the nearly 3.

How do insurers decide what medicines to pay for?

How do insurance companies decide what medicines to pay for and when to pay for them? Insurers and other payers look first at how well the drug works -- not its cost -- when they decide whether to cover the latest treatments, according to the nation's largest pharmacy benefits manager, Express Scripts.

Cholesterol drug cuts heart risks, spurs new debate on cost

A long-acting cholesterol medicine cut the risk of having a heart attack or some other serious problems by 15 to 20 percent in a big study that's likely to spur fresh debate about what drugs should cost. Statins such as Lipitor and Crestor are cheap and lower LDL or bad cholesterol, but some people can't tolerate or get enough help from them.

Couple gets word of heart donor for baby girl after prayer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- A North Carolina family says it received a quick answer to a prayer to save their baby daughter's life when word of a heart donor came through just moments leaving church. Melanie and Mike Leitner tell WBTV-TV (http://bit.ly/2mM5783 ) that their daughter Ella Kate had a large mass on a heart ventricle and they were told in November that she needed a transplant.

US consumer prices rose at a tempered pace in February

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer prices rose at a slower pace in February. Clothing and housing costs rose last month, while motor vehicle and gasoline prices dipped. Consumer prices rose 0.1 percent in February, a sharp deceleration from the 0.6 percent jump in January, the Labor Department said Wednesday. The tempered increase comes as the Federal Reserve appears poised to raise a key short-term rate Wednesday for the third time since late 2015.

Ryan's gambit: Second health care bill to woo the reluctant

WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans are working on a companion to their bill replacing "Obamacare," a legislative second act that would ease cross-state sale of health insurance and limit jury awards for pain and suffering in malpractice lawsuits. The problem: the so-called "sidecar" bill lacks the votes in the Senate. Skeptics abound. Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas called it "mythical legislation" in an interview Tuesday on the Hugh Hewitt radio show.

GOP health overhaul puts pressure on state governments

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) -- The Republican health care plan means less money for states and gives them a tough choice: Find a pot of cash to make up the difference or let coverage lapse for millions of lower-income Americans. Governors and state lawmakers analyzing the Republican plan to replace former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act fear a return to the past, when those without health coverage used emergency rooms for their medical needs.

Lawmaker mocks abortion law with call for masturbation fines

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A Texas lawmaker is making a point about legislation that restricts women's access to health care and abortions by proposing to fine men $100 when they masturbate. Alongside the penalty for wasting semen not resulting in a pregnancy, Democratic Rep. Jessica Farrar's bill would require a "medically unnecessary digital rectal exam" before any man undergoes a vasectomy or can be prescribed Viagra.

Facing defiance, GOP leaders press ahead on health bill

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Facing mounting rank-and-file defiance, Republican leaders and the White House redoubled their efforts Tuesday to muscle legislation overhauling America's health care system through Congress following a sobering report about millions being shoved off insurance coverage. President Donald Trump, whose strong Election Day showing in GOP regions makes him the party's ultimate Capitol Hill vote wrangler, discussed the legislation by phone with the House's two top Republicans.

The Latest: Black caucus calls GOP health plan a 'disaster'

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Latest on the House GOP health care bill (all times EDT): 5:50 p.m. The Congressional Black Caucus is calling the Republican health care plan a "disaster" after the release of the Congressional Budget Office's report. The CBO says 14 million Americans would lose coverage next year under House Republican legislation remaking the nation's health care system. Congress' budget analysts say that figure would grow to 24 million by 2026. Rep.

Some parts of 'Obamacare' are working fairly well

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump and Republican leaders say drastic action is needed because the Obama-era health care overhaul is a disaster, with soaring premiums and insurers bailing out. It's true that major parts of the 2010 law are clearly troubled, but others are working fairly well. The risk is that the GOP's "rescue mission" will inflict collateral damage on what's working and cause new problems. Or that promised solutions might disappoint.

Congress' analyst: Millions to lose coverage under GOP bill

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fourteen million Americans would lose coverage next year under House Republican legislation remaking the nation's health care system, and that number would balloon to 24 million by 2026, Congress' budget analysts projected Monday. Their report deals a stiff blow to a GOP drive already under fire from both parties and large segments of the medical industry.