KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Based On Preliminary Premiums, HHS Sees Lower-Than-Expected Costs

Coverage of health law implementation issues includes reports about a recent Department of Health and Human Services analysis that concluded premium costs would be less than initially projected in 11 states, as well as news about rate shock, the role of the health law in triggering a shift to part-time work and other issues.

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: HHS Analysis Finds Lower Health Insurance Premiums
An analysis by the Department of Health and Human Services looked at proposed, preliminary premiums of insurance plans in 11 states that would be sold under health law in 2014, and found they were less expensive than previously projected by the administration (Dooren, 7/18).

Reuters: U.S. Sees Lower-Than-Expected Obamacare Insurance Costs
Hoping to gain the high ground in an escalating war of words over Obamacare, the U.S. administration on Thursday forecast sharply lower than expected insurance costs for consumers and small businesses in new online state health care exchanges. The exchanges represent the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and their success could depend on the cost of so-called "silver plans" with mid-range premiums, which are expected to attract the largest number of enrollees (Morgan, 7/18).

Bloomberg: Fed Ponders Part-Time Shift As Obamacare Role Questioned
Bailey Brewer, 28, is a writer with a graduate degree in journalism. She's been employed since the start of the year as a temporary office worker, unable to find a full-time job. … Brewer isn't alone. The number of workers holding full-time positions fell in the U.S. in June as part-timers hit a record after rising for three straight months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics household data (Nussbaum and Smialek, 7/19).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Hatch to Unions: Join GOP In Calling For Health Law Delay
The Affordable Care Act is upsetting some political alliances and inspiring a flurry of letter-writing among politicians. Last week, three union presidents wrote a letter to Congress's top Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, sharply criticizing the Obama administration and the law’s impact on union-run health plans. Today, the unions got a response of sorts -- from Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch (Maher, 7/18).

CQ HealthBeat: Urban Institute Study Predicts 'Rate Shock' Would Be Temporary
If the premiums that health plans charge in the insurance exchanges opening this fall start out shockingly high, they won’t stay that way, predicts a study released by the Urban Institute on Thursday. The study also suggests that the new health care law marketplaces will prove viable in the long run because the rates that insurers charge will be reasonable (Reichard, 7/19).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Survey: Latino Groups Worry About Money For ACA Enrollment
The Obama administration is counting on Latinos to help make the Affordable Care Act a success, but there may be troubles ahead: Hispanic health centers and community organizations say they don't have the funding or resources to carry out the complicated sign up process for the 10 million Latinos who will be eligible for new public and subsidized health coverage options (Gold, 7/18).

The Hill: Top Treasury Official: No More Obamacare Delays Looming
A top Treasury official on Thursday suggested that his department has no current plans to delay additional provisions of the ObamaCare. J. Mark Iwry, Treasury's deputy assistant secretary for retirement and health policy, told lawmakers that the employer mandate is the only policy that has been considered for deferral (Viebeck, 7/18).

Stateline: Nurse Practitioners Slowly Gain Autonomy
When the federal health law takes effect in January, some 30 million more Americans are expected to have health insurance, many for the first time. An already critical shortage of primary care providers may make a doctor's appointment hard to come by. Increasingly, you might hear, "The nurse will see you now." Some states are trying to fill the primary care physician shortage with nurses who have advanced degrees in family medicine. That requires relaxing decades-old medical licensing restrictions, known as "scope of practice" laws that prevent these nurse practitioners from playing the lead role in providing basic health services. At least 17 states now allow them to work without a supervising physician, and lawmakers in five big states are considering similar measures (Vestal, 7/19).

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