KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Obama Unveils Gun Control Policies, Including Mental Health Provisions

The plan includes a variety of executive actions which touch the health care system, including clarifications that the health law does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes and that no federal law prohibits health care providers from reporting threats of violence to law-enforcement authorities.

Politico: Obama Announces Guns Pan
President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced what he called a "common sense measures" plan to reduce gun violence. ... He also initiated 23 executive actions aimed at improving background checks, school security and mental health care, in an effort to go around Congress wherever possible. ... Aware of the challenges of getting gun-related bills passed, Obama is also taking steps on his own, directing federal agencies to take steps to ... improve mental health care. ... Other executive orders will include planks on education and mental health(Epstein and Epstein, 1/16).

The Washington Post: Obama Unveils Gun-Control Proposals
President Obama on Wednesday formally proposed the most expansive gun-control policies in generations and initiated 23 separate executive actions aimed at curbing what he called "the epidemic of gun violence in this country" (Rucker and Branigin, 1/16).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: List: Obama's 23 Executive Actions On Gun Violence
The President is announcing that he and the Administration will: 2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system. ... 14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence. ... 16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes. 17. Release a letter to health-care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law-enforcement authorities.... 20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental-health services that Medicaid plans must cover. 21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges. 22. Commit to finalizing mental-health-parity regulations. 23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health (1/16).

The New York Times: Obama Calls For Broad Action On Guns
The administration also said it will strengthen the background check system by addressing legal barriers that keep some mental health records out of the database, improve incentives for states to share records and direct law enforcement agencies to crack down on those who evade the background check system. ... The president also promises to "launch a national dialogue" on mental health led by Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, and Arne Duncan, the education secretary. r. Obama also was overturning a 15-year-old ban on the Centers for Disease Control conducting research on gun violence (Shear and Baker, 1/16).

Los Angeles Times: Obama Announces Sweeping Proposals To Curb Gun Violence
All told, aides said in advance of the president's remarks, Obama's package addresses four key goals: keeping guns out of the wrong hands, keeping "weapons of war" off the streets, making schools safer, and improving mental health services (Memoli, 1/16).

NBC News: Obama Unveils Sweeping New Gun Control Proposals
The president's recommendations also direct administration officials to "clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes" and to "release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities" (Dann, 1/16). 

Politico Pro: Obama: Doctors' Gun Talk Won't Break Law
The health law includes provisions restricting the way some health and wellness programs collect gun ownership information from patients. It also prohibited the collection of gun ownership data by HHS. But the White House says that language doesn’t constitute a sweeping ban on doctors talking to patients about guns and gun safety — even if some have interpreted it that way (Cheney, 1/16).

The Hill's Healthwatch: Obama Gun Plan Calls For Long-Awaited Rules On Mental Health
President Obama's plan to reduce gun violence calls for long-awaited rules requiring insurance companies to cover mental health services. Obama said his administration would finalize rules on mental health parity, the requiring of mental healthcare to be covered the same way as physical healthcare. The regulations have languished since 2008, and Senate Democrats had called on Obama to push the rules forward as part of his gun-control recommendations (Baker, 1/16).

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