KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Administration Unveils New Round Of Health Law Rule Changes

Among the wide-ranging set of changes, the one drawing the most attention is the Obama administration's decision to allow some consumers to keep health coverage into 2017 that does not comply with the overhaul's minimum standards. Other changes include an extension of next year's enrollment period, more backup for plans in insurance exchanges dealing with high patient costs and more time for states deciding whether to run their own marketplaces.

The New York Times: Some Policies Get More Time In Health Shift
The Obama administration, grappling with continued political fallout over its health care law, said Wednesday that it would allow consumers to renew health insurance policies that did not comply with the new law for two more years, pushing the issue well beyond this fall’s midterm elections (Pear,3/5).

Los Angeles Times: Consumers Allowed To Keep Substandard Health Plans Into 2017
The Obama administration announced Wednesday that some Americans with health insurance policies that don't meet consumer standards set by the president's new healthcare law would be allowed to keep their plans into 2017, three years later than originally envisioned. The delay, which could put off the final cancellation of some health plans until after President Obama leaves office, may have limited practical impact (Levey, 3/5).

The Washington Post: Obama Administration Rewrites Some Health-Care Policies
The Obama administration announced Wednesday that it has rewritten an array of far-reaching rules under the Affordable Care Act. ... The rule changes will touch essentially every sector affected by the 2010 health-care law. It will buffer more health plans in insurance exchanges from high patient costs, give states more time to decide whether to run their own marketplaces, and spare certain unions from a fee they have resented (Goldstein and Somashekhar, 3/5).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Gives Health Plans Added Two-Year Reprieve
But a series of delays by the administration—and decisions by states on implementing the law—have taken a toll. The latest delay came Wednesday, when federal officials said insurance companies could continue selling plans that don't meet the law's more rigorous standards until 2016 in some instances. It was the second time the administration delayed that requirement after the law's tougher standards prompted insurers to cancel millions of people's health plans last year. The latest delay averts another raft of cancellations before this year's midterm elections (Radnofsky, 3/5).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: 2-Year Extension Offered For Canceled Health Plans
The decision helps defuse a political problem for Democrats in tough re-election battles this fall, especially for senators who in 2010 stood with President Barack Obama and voted to pass his health overhaul (3/5).

Kaiser Health News: Changes To Health Law Rules Include Extra Month To Enroll In 2015
The Obama administration on Wednesday released a broad set of regulatory changes to the health law that would give some consumers additional time to stay in plans that do not comply with all its coverage requirements and all consumers more time to enroll in coverage come 2015 (Carey, 3/6).

Reuters: U.S. Health Plans That Don't Meet Obamacare Rules Can Renew For Two More Years
The Obama administration on Wednesday said it would allow health insurers to extend plans that fail to comply with its signature health law for an additional two years, a move Republicans quickly condemned as a politically motivated delay (Morgan, 3/5).

Bloomberg: Obamacare Policies Change for 2015 To Add Flexibility 
With midterm congressional elections bearing down, the government changed its regulation of Obamacare to give consumers and states more flexibility to decide on their health plans, insurers more time to sign up customers and taxpayers a chance to avoid more costs (Wayne, 3/5).

McClatchy: Canceled Health Insurance Plans Extended - Again
The administration’s second canceled-policy “fix,” following a one-year extension granted in November, was the most notable and controversial of several new executive branch tweaks made to the health law for next year. Theoretically, the move allows about 500,000 individual and 1 million small group health policies to continue through October 2017 (Pugh, 3/5).

ABC News: White House Extends ‘Keep Your Plan’ Fix for Obamacare
Facing growing opposition from his own party, President Obama announced a transition plan last fall that allowed Americans who were losing their coverage because it didn’t comply with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act to keep their plans for up to a year before being forced into coverage that meets the new standards. Today, the administration said it would extend that transition plan for two years to policies issued up to October 1, 2016, allowing consumers to renew their 2013 plans for two more years (Bruce and Good, 3/5).

NBC News: Feds Offer Two-Year Obamacare Delay For Some
Senior administration officials confirmed rumors that had been circulating for days that the administration would further extend the exception for people who object to being forced to buy new policies that meet tough new government requirements (Fox, 3/6).

CBS News: Obamacare Officials: No Concern About Mass Insurance Cancellations
By extending the policy that long -- potentially letting consumers keep plans that aren't Obamacare-compliant until the fall of 2017 -- the administration says it should avoid another wave of dropped insurance policies (Condon, 3/5).

USA Today: People May Keep Old Health Insurance Another Year
The change represented another midcourse correction for the law, which is still recovering from the flawed opening of the federal and state health care exchanges last Oct. 1 and the delay of several key provisions (Kennedy, 3/5).

Fox News: Administration Offers 2-Year Obamacare Extension For Canceled Health Plans
The Obama administration announced Wednesday that it will let people keep health insurance plans that would otherwise be out of compliance with ObamaCare for another two years, in a delay Republicans portrayed as an election-year ploy (3/5).

The Wall Street Journal: Latest Health-Law Changes Affect Consumers, Insurers, Employers
The Obama administration unveiled a slate of health-law changes Wednesday, including stretching the enrollment period for next year's plans an extra month and fine-tuning a financial backstop meant to limit insurers' losses if they end up with sicker customers than expected. Some of the shifts compensate for a series of earlier policy changes as the Obama administration responded to criticism over the glitchy launch of the Affordable Care Act and a wave of health-plan cancellations. Others, such a new threshold for out-of-pocket medical expenses, give insurers the tools to begin setting prices for 2015 plans (Weaver and Francis, 3/5).

The Washington Post: Obama Administration Permits Further Delay To Health Exchanges For Small Businesses
The Obama administration on Wednesday gave states more time to implement a key feature of the new employer health care marketplaces and gave small businesses more time to comply with some of the new coverage requirements in the law. Under the Affordable Care Act, states are required to offer a health care exchange where small businesses can enroll in and pay for insurance plans, all online. Companies in states that declined to build their own portals would be able to access a similar network run by the federal government (Harrison, 3/5).

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