KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Health Law’s ‘Risk’ Question; Medicaid Options In Va.

The Wall Street Journal: An Obamacare 'Risk' Question For Insurers
As insurers submit bids for the 2015 open-enrollment season, media reports have trumpeted increased participation by carriers on several health exchanges. Depending on the legal and judicial interpretations of two important issues, those insurance companies may end up getting much more than they bargained for (Chris Jacobs, 6/19). 

The Wall Street Journal: Does The Affordable Care Act Cover The Uninsured?
One of the big criticisms of the Affordable Care Act has been that very few people covered in the new insurance marketplaces were previously uninsured. It's an important criticism, as expanding insurance coverage was a bedrock goal of the law. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the number of uninsured will be reduced by about 26 million by 2017, cutting in half the number of uninsured in this country. A new Kaiser Family Foundation survey out Thursday gives us real data on this question. Among the facts: 57% of those who bought coverage from the new marketplaces during the first ACA open-enrollment period were previously uninsured, and seven out of 10 of them had been uninsured for two years or more (Drew Altman, 6/19).

The New York Times: Good Progress On Affordable Health Care
Americans are finding very affordable health insurance and a wide choice of plans on the exchanges operated by the federal government, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services. The report was based on data from the 36 states in which the federal government is operating health insurance exchanges this year. Comparable data from states operating their own exchanges is not yet available. ... A separate survey of enrollees who bought policies on the exchanges or directly from insurers, issued by the Kaiser Family Foundation on Thursday, revealed that 34 percent felt they had benefited from the law. Of those, 49 percent said it had lowered their costs and 45 percent said it had increased their access to insurance or medical care (6/19).

The Washington Post: McAuliffe's Best Option On The Budget
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has until Sunday to figure out what to do about the troublesome budget the General Assembly has handed him that forbids the expansion of Medicaid health coverage to 400,000 lower-income state residents. Depending on what he chooses to do, McAuliffe risks blowing out the entire $96 billion, two-year budget and tossing state finances into turmoil on July 1. Since he has vowed to make expanded Medicaid a reality, he is sure to do something other than simply approve the budget. What are his options? (Peter Galuszka, 6/19). 

The Washington Post: Obamacare Sticker Shock
When last we left off in the late spring, the administration was goosing up the enrollment figures without ever telling us how many had paid and how many were newly insured Americans. But the "affordable" part of the Affordable Care Act has always been its Achilles heel. By heavily subsidizing health-care insurance and insisting on very expensive coverage plans, the administration is almost certainly encouraging demand (i.e. overuse) — thereby moving the price of health-care insurance in the wrong direction (Jennifer Rubin, 6/19).

The Boston Globe: Don Berwick And The Single-Payer Pitch
While (Bernie) Sanders came out of Vermont’s '60s-era socialist movement and started his career in local politics, (Don) Berwick is a doctor and former Medicare administrator who comes armed with one major issue: single-payer health care. When his rivals claimed he wasn't really offering anything new — just another health care commission — Berwick doubled down by calling it "Medicare for all," a description that pretty much suggests he'd eliminate private insurance. Now, with the Democratic race [for Massachusetts governor] down to three candidates — Berwick, and two party regulars with histories of failing to excite voters — single-payer will finally get the attention it merits as essentially the only markedly different policy proposal to emerge from either party (Peter Canellos, 6/19).

The Washington Post: Summit Addresses Mental Health Of Teens
When six Fairfax county youths who have wrestled with depression and flirted with suicide spoke their minds on a stage in front of 200 people last week , it was the right thing to do, they said, especially after closing out another school year with four suicides among their peers. One boy from Langley High School talked about that night — July 23 — when he decided to die (Petula Dvorak, 6/19).

Journal of the American Medical Association: Health Care At The VA
Legislative efforts to address the problems within the VA are important. However, feedback from employees is paramount, and VA clinicians and scientists should be empowered to help solve their local problems. What is effective in one community might not be equally effective in another. This is an ideal opportunity to analyze and redesign the VA system, to make it not only the largest integrated care system in the country, but a model in every measurable sphere. This will require the commitment, innovation, and resources necessary to provide the best care possible for veterans (Faisal G. Bakaeen, Alvin Blaustein and Melina R. Kibbe, 6/19).

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