KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: January 11, 2013

Today's headlines include reports on developments in the health care marketplace as well as state health policy and budget news.  

Kaiser Health News: A Guide To Health Insurance Exchanges
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby reports: "It seems like a simple idea: create new marketplaces, called 'exchanges,' where consumers can comparison shop for health insurance, sort of like shopping online for a hotel room or airline ticket. But, like almost everything else connected with the health law, state-based insurance 'exchanges'  are embroiled in politics" (Appleby, 1/10). Read the story.

Politico: Insurers' 2014 Hikes Already Taking Toll
If you work for a small business, your next health insurance premium may give you sticker shock. Many of the small-business and individual insurance policies are working the health reform law's 2014 fees into their 2013 bills, contributing to double-digit premium increases for some people (Haberkorn, 1/11).

The Wall Street Journal’s MarketBeat: Big Health Insurers Aim Cautiously – For New Exchanges
Some of the biggest health insurers confirmed goals this week to offer plans over state-based exchanges set to launch late this year, but they're moving cautiously while waiting to learn more about these new markets (Kamp, 1/10).

Politico: Feds, Ohio Clash Over High-Risk Pool Eligibility
The Obama administration and Ohio's insurance regulator are locked in a fight over whether to dump people from the health insurance pool for some of the state's sickest residents — and they're not taking the sides you'd expect. In fact, it's the overseers of Obamacare who want to cut off health insurance for 14 people — and it’s the state of Ohio that wants to keep them covered (Millman, 1/11).

The New York Times: In 2nd Look, Few Savings From Digital Health Records
The conversion to electronic health records has failed so far to produce the hoped-for savings in health care costs and has had mixed results, at best, in improving efficiency and patient care, according to a new analysis by the influential RAND Corporation (Abelson and Creswell, 1/10).

The New York Times: Children's Flu Medicine In Short Supply
As influenza cases surge around the country, health officials say they are trying to stem a shortage of treatments for children (O'Connor, 1/10).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Hobby Lobby Attorney Says Okla. Firm Can Delay Birth-Control Requirement Of Health Care Law
An attorney for Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby says the company has found a way to delay providing insurance coverage for emergency contraceptives as required under the federal health care law. Peter Dobelbower said in a statement Thursday that the company will shift the plan year for employee health insurance that will delay by several months the Jan. 1 effective date of the requirement (1/10).

Politico: Ken Cuccinelli: 'Go To Jail' To Fight Contraception Mandate
A devout Catholic, Cuccinelli told Deace that opponents of the mandate should put the controversial measure on trial by making the government enforce it in as heavy-handed a way as possible (Burns, 1/10).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: On Iowa Radio, Cuccinelli Says Jail May Be A Fitting Protest To Feds' Contraception Mandate
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said on a syndicated radio program that going to jail may be an effective way to protest a federal mandate that employers cover contraceptives in insurance plans. On Iowa conservative radio host Steve Deace’s Wednesday night show, the Republican gubernatorial candidate and tea party favorite said civil disobedience is one way to attack the Affordable Care Act requirement now being challenged in a federal lawsuit by the Hobby Lobby stores (1/10).

The New York Times: New York City To Restrict Prescription Painkillers In Public Hospitals' Emergency Rooms
Some of the most common and most powerful prescription painkillers on the market will be restricted sharply in the emergency rooms at New York City's 11 public hospitals, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Thursday in an effort to crack down on what he called a citywide and national epidemic of prescription drug abuse (Hartocollis, 1/10).

Los Angeles Times: Gov. Jerry Brown Commits To Major Medi-Cal Expansion
Brown earmarked $350 million in his spending plan to help enroll more Californians in Medi-Cal, the state's health insurance program for the poor. Under the proposal, enrollment rules would be simplified to cover residents who are currently eligible but not enrolled. Those costs would be split evenly between state and federal governments. The governor's plan also calls for a separate, larger expansion of Medi-Cal that would cover a group of low-income Californians not currently eligible for the program: adults without children, earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level -- or $15,415 a year. The federal government would subsidize costs for the first three years, with the state shouldering a portion of the bill after that (Mishak, 1/10).

Los Angeles Times: Brown's Budget Proposal Has Good News For Some
California would significantly expand public health insurance under Brown's proposed budget as part of a plan to implement President Obama's healthcare overhaul…. Brown earmarked $350 million to help enroll more Californians in Medi-Cal, the state's health insurance program for the poor. The cost would be split between the state and federal governments (1/10).

Los Angeles Times: Restored Funding For Prescription Drug-Program Monitoring Program Urged
California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris on Thursday called on Gov. Jerry Brown to restore funding to a prescription drug-monitoring program that health experts say is key to combating drug abuse and overdose deaths in the state (Girion and Glover, 1/11).

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