KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Insurance Rate Hikes Could Be Issue In Key States

Although rate hikes average 7.5 percent nationally for the individual health insurance market, consumers in politically key states such as Florida and North Carolina may see higher increases-- and insurers are partly blaming the administration's decision to allow consumers to hold onto their old policies.Other stories look at the long-term challenges faced by for-profit hospitals and insurers under the health law and the tech issues plaguing the website designed to show how much drugmakers give to doctors.

Politico Pro: ACA's 2014 Solution Could Be A 2015 Problem
The Obama administration’s effort to end one political crisis during the 2014 Obamacare rollout may have sown the seeds of another controversy: potential double-digit rate hikes in 2015. Although insurers’ proposed rates average 7.5 percent for much of the country, some residents in politically key states like Florida, North Carolina and Iowa would face hikes of 11 percent to nearly 18 percent if insurers have their way. Major carriers there in part blame such increases on the administration’s response to the furor that erupted when millions of Americans received notice last fall that their health policies would be canceled because they fell short of Obamacare requirements (Norman, 8/13).

Modern Healthcare: Rosy Q2 For Hospitals, Insurers Doesn’t Eliminate Long-Term Challenges
Several for-profit hospitals and health insurers have booked improved financial results in the second quarter of the calendar year, thanks in part to healthcare reform, but providers and payers still face headwinds to maintain sustained profitability, Standard & Poor's analysts say in a report. Several investor-owned hospital chains, including HCA, LifePoint Hospitals, Tenet Healthcare Corp. and Universal Health Services, said in second-quarter earnings reports that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has shifted payer mix for the better and expanded each system's insured base. Many have consequently raised financial expectations for the remainder of 2014 as more covered patients enter their doors (Herman, 8/12).

Des Moines Register: Harkin: Public Clinics Still Needed As Insurance Expands
The United States should continue expanding publicly subsidized clinics even as it covers more people with health insurance, Sen. Tom Harkin said today. "The community health centers have done a wonderful service all over America," the Iowa Democrat said in Des Moines. The health centers receive substantial federal financing to care for people who have trouble finding help elsewhere. Harkin, who is the chairman of a Senate committee that helps oversee health-care spending, said the public clinics will continue to be needed, even as more Americans gain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (Leys, 8/12).

Politico Pro: Tech Issues Continue To Bug New CMS Site
CMS and drugmakers are blaming each other for the latest derailed launch of a high-profile health care website. And at least for the moment, neither side’s pointing a finger at the contractor that built the agency’s Open Payments site — CGI Federal, the same vendor behind last fall’s HealthCare.gov meltdown. The indefinite delay of Open Payments, which will list payments and gifts that drug and medical device companies make to doctors, comes as the Obama administration is bringing in hired guns to fix all government websites. The system has been hobbled by mix-ups in doctor information and glitches preventing doctors from reviewing data for mistakes (Pittman, 8/12).

The Hill: Spammer To Pay $350K Over O-Care Emails
A company has agreed to pay $350,000 over claims that it sent threatening spam emails regarding the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Kobeni Inc. and its president, Yair Shalev, have agreed to pay the sum to settle regulators’ charges that it sent deceptive emails that pushed recipients to register for health insurance and falsely warned that users would be violating federal law if they did not do so, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced Tuesday. The FTC brought the charges — its first related to ObamaCare fraud — in January (Tummarello, 8/12).

CQ Healthbeat: CMS Moves To Define Where Medicare and Exchange Plans Overlap
The notion that the worlds of Medicare and exchange coverage never overlap is a fallacy, a new federal document shows. Most Americans 65 or older need not be concerned about exchange coverage, according to the 15-page document entitled “Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Medicare and the Marketplace” (Reichard, 8/12).

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