KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Obama’s ‘Lawless Rewrite’ Of Health Law; AOL’s CEO Gets The Villain Wrong; CBO (Politely) Rebuts GOP On Job Loss

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Rewrites Obamacare
"ObamaCare" is useful shorthand for the Affordable Care Act not least because the law increasingly means whatever President Obama says it does on any given day. His latest lawless rewrite arrived on Monday as the White House decided to delay the law's employer mandate for another year and in some cases maybe forever (2/10).

Bloomberg: AOL's Armstrong Needs Obamacare
Let's get the obvious out of the way: As chief executive officer of AOL Inc., Tim Armstrong shouldn't have stood up and blamed proposed changes to the company's 401(k) plan on two discrete? and, to many AOLers, recognizable medical catastrophes. ... Although Armstrong's comments were a disaster, the problem he's facing is real. Large companies such as AOL self-insure. Even companies that are much smaller than AOL self-insure. That means their risk pools are made up of their employees. If their employees are older or sicker than average, their premiums rise. ... An irony of Armstrong's predicament is that Obamacare, which he partly blames for his company's increased costs, might be its salvation (Ezra Klein, 2/10).

MSNBC: Was AOL’s Tim Armstrong right?
There is one aspect to Armstrong’s behavior in this otherwise-dishonorable episode that deserves praise: honesty. Armstrong dared—foolishly, in this instance—to acknowledge that providing decent health care coverage requires taking money away from some people in order to give it to other people. Insurance, like the government, redistributes income. Indeed, in the case of insurance, redistributing income is—shhhh!–pretty much the whole idea (Timothy Noah, 2/10).

Los Angeles Times: The CBO Tells Republicans (Politely) They're All Wet On Obamacare
As a bipartisan agency, the Congressional Budget Office has to tread lightly when it tells any of its clients on Capitol Hill that they're full of it. So the agency's remarks Monday about the employment impact of the Affordable Care Act is remarkable for its bluntness, even if it is spelled out with the CBO's customary tact (Michael Hiltzik, 2/10). 

The Washington Post: The U.S. Insurance Model Doesn’t Work
The left-right battle that erupted over last week’s Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report showing that Obamacare reduces work incentives was, on the surface, yet another argument about the health-care law’s impact on the U.S. economy. On a deeper level, however, what's at issue are long-standing American assumptions about government assistance and who deserves it (Charles Lane, 2/10). 

The Wall Street Journal: Obamacare Is A Job-Killer? Not At All
The political echo chamber reverberated loudly last week after a new Congressional Budget Office report allegedly projected that cumulative job growth over the next 3-10 years could be 2 million-2.5 million lower because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Does that mean "ObamaCare" is a job killer? Not at all. But to understand why, we need to take a trip down memory lane—back to Economics 101 (Alan S. Blinder, 2/10).

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare: Breathing New Life Into Obama's Broken Promise
Remember "If you like your health plan, you can keep it"? The Obama administration may try to breathe new life into that broken promise. In particular, the Associated Press' Tom Murphy reported last week that the administration is mulling whether to let insurers continue offering policies that do not meet the minimum standards set by the 2010 Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. After insurers canceled a huge number of individual policies, President Obama announced in November that those policies could be resurrected for 2014. The administration is now considering whether to give insurers up to three more years before terminating noncomplaint policies (Jon Healey, 2/10). 

USA Today: Religious Liberty Should Trump HHS Mandate
Like many startups, Hobby Lobby began in founder David Green's garage. Now, more than 40 years later, the Green family business has 16,000 full-time employees in stores across the country with 70 new stores opening this year. They are a quiet family that loves God, honors their employees and enjoys serving people in their stores around the nation. But two years ago, the rules changed for every business. As of 2013, the Green family had to decide if they would follow their faith or follow the Obama administration's new regulations (James Lankford and Tony Perkins, 2/10). 

Fox News: ObamaCare Patients May Encounter Fewer Doctors, Longer Wait Times
Those who signed up for ObamaCare or were forced into it now are learning they're going to face some nasty surprises when they seek care. "Many consumers ended up purchasing a plan through the exchange, thinking it would cover their normal set of physicians, and hospitals," says Jim Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. "Now as they are using services, they are figuring out that they don't." Which is why President Obama was forced to confess he was wrong to say that people could keep their plans or their doctors, no matter what (Jim Angle, 2/11).

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