KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Democrats Express Dismay Over White House Health Law Implementation Delays

The Hill reports that this "friendly fire" comes as Republicans are preparing to make health care an election-year topic and Democrats are hoping for speedier progress regarding some of the measure's most popular provisions. In related news, the law's taxes and penalties, as well as the premium increases that some are predicting, continue to draw analysis.

The Hill: ObamaCare Takes Friendly Fire
Delays in implementing popular pieces of ObamaCare are hurting it with Democrats. Ahead of an election year in which Republicans promise to make healthcare an issue again, Democrats are criticizing the White House for delaying policies that could help build support for the unpopular law (Baker, 4/6).

The Fiscal Times: Two Taxes Could Decide The Fate Of Obamacare
Much of Obamacare's success hinges on whether a pair of new taxes can compel more Americans to have health insurance. For all the carrots in the 2010 law such as tax credits and subsidies, there are two big sticks ... meant to change the behavior of a projected 58 million uninsured. There are other taxes on medical devices and gold-plated insurance plans that all told will raise $1 trillion over the next decade (Boak, 4/8).

The Wall Street Journal: Some Small Businesses Opt For The Health-Care Penalty
Small-business owners across the U.S. are bracing for the health-care law that kicks in next year, fearing it will increase the cost of providing insurance to employees. But Rick Levi, a business owner in Des Moines, Iowa, is among those considering the government's escape hatch: paying a penalty to avoid the law's "employer mandate" (Maltby and Needleman, 4/7).

Modern Healthcare: Insurance Commissioners Propose Ideas To Minimize 'Rate Shock'
A group of insurance commissioners is sharing ways states can minimize the likelihood of large premium increases, particularly for young adults, as major provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act go into effect in 2014. Several provisions of the law affecting the individual and small-group markets—such as essential health benefits, limits on age-rating factors, guaranteed issue and single risk-pool ratings—could make claims costs spike for insurers, leading to premium hikes, according to a draft paper titled "Rate Increase Mitigation Strategies" (PDF) presented today at the National Association of Insurance Commissioner's annual spring meeting in Houston (Block, 4/5).

Today's coverage also includes reports about what's happening on the state level -

Kansas Health Institute: House Tussles Over 'Mandate Lite' Health Insurance Measure
The Kansas House tied itself in knots today over a bill to allow insurance companies to market "mandate lite" health insurance policies in the state. Members voted in the morning to reject the bill but abruptly reversed themselves in the afternoon. The whole thing took hours of debate. The measure, part of a legislative package included in a conference committee report, passed the Senate on Thursday. It now goes to Gov. Sam Brownback (McLean, 4/5).

The Associated Press: Bentley Won't Enforce Federal Health Care Rules
Gov. Robert Bentley has rejected another provision of the federal health care overhaul pushed by President Barack Obama, saying Alabama insurance regulators won't enforce parts of the law aimed at protecting consumers. Bentley wrote a letter to federal officials last month saying Washington, rather than state regulators in Montgomery, should be responsible for ensuring that insurance policies sold in Alabama comply with the federal law's requirements such as covering people with pre-existing health conditions, the Montgomery Advertiser reported Saturday (4/7).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.