KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Alaska Challenge: Signing Up Those Entitled To Free Care

The Washington Post explores the difficulties of enrolling Native Americans in coverage when they are exempt from the health law's mandate and get free care. Other stories look at the still scanty evidence that medical homes are more efficient, and how thousands of consumers eligible to sign up for coverage before the next enrollment period because they changed jobs, gave birth, gained citizenship or got married.

The Washington Post: The Trouble With Trying To Sign People Up For Health Insurance When Care Is Already Free
It’s hard work trying to get people to sign up for health insurance when their care is mostly free to them. Andrea Thomas is working to get Alaska Natives in Sitka, Alaska, to do just that. She’s the outreach and enrollment manager at SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), and it’s her job to sign people up for health insurance coverage through exchanges created as a result of the Affordable Care Act. To get a sense of just how uphill Thomas’s battle is, consider this: Of the more than 100,000 people who live in Alaska and self-identify as Alaska Native or American Indian, only 115 had signed up for health insurance through an Affordable Care Act exchange as of March 31. Alaska Natives and American Indians are exempt from tax penalties for not signing up for health insurance (Sheftie, 8/18).

The Associated Press: Who’s Eligible To Get Health Insurance Before Nov?
More than 200,000 Floridians may be eligible to sign up for health insurance under President Obama's Affordable Care Act soon even though enrollment doesn't officially start until November. Consumers that get married, move, give birth or gain citizenship may qualify for a special enrollment period. They may also qualify if they became unemployed or got a divorce. Enroll America released a report Tuesday showing 222,700 Floridians may be eligible to for special enrollment. Enroll America used Census data to estimate the number of consumers who may qualify for special enrollment (8/19).

The Hill: HHS Pressed On Insurance Discrimination Claims
Patient advocacy groups say health insurers are violating ObamaCare by discriminating against those with chronic diseases, and the groups are forcing the administration to respond. A Health and Human Services spokesperson cited by The Associated Press says a response is nearly prepped for advocacy organizations fighting AIDS, leukemia, epilepsy and other diseases. Groups such as the National Health Law Program and the AIDS Institute have filed complaints with the administration claiming insurers are in violation of the Affordable Care Act’s provisions that prevent them from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions and chronic diseases (Al-Faruque, 8/18).

The Hill: Lawyers Argue O-Care Case Should Go Straight To Supreme Court
Lawyers arguing ObamaCare subsidies should only be granted to states that have created their own health exchanges say they should be allowed to appeal their case directly to the Supreme Court. Plaintiffs in the Halbig v. Burwell case are suing the federal government over an IRS rule that allows the federal government to give subsidies to all health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While they recently won the case in the D.C. Circuit Court, the government has asked for a rehearing before it can be appealed at the Supreme Court. In a submission filed Monday to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the business groups, individuals and states backing the case said continued “uncertainty” about the rule was “simply not tenable” (Al-Faruque, 8/18).

Modern Healthcare: Medical-Home Adoption Growing; Evidence Of Effectiveness Still Elusive
Primary care is a foundation of healthcare reform efforts, and patient-centered medical homes are one of the delivery system innovations encouraged by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But recent studies present a mixed picture of the effectiveness of medical homes in improving quality and reducing costs (Robeznieks, 8/18).

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