KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Reporters Reflect On Health Law Battles

Huffington Post gathers five reporters who followed the passage and implementation of the health law to share their insights. Meanwhile, the journal Health Affairs examines how accountable care organizations have given little attention to surgery, focusing instead on managing chronic conditions, and a new study looks at premium increases before the health law.

Huffington Post: 'Wait, Is This Thing On?': Health Care Reporters Share Obamacare War Wounds
For the past four years, operatives, politicians, aides, lobbyists, activists and the like have toiled, first to craft a bill and then to defend it. They watched Congress nearly derail the prospects of reform and the Supreme Court nearly rule it unconstitutional. They waded through a presidential election during which repeal was on the table. They saw the launch of the health insurance exchanges marred by a glitchy website. And then they observed more than 8 million people sign up for insurance through those same exchanges. Health care reporters documented the process every step of the way. And now that it's over, they have a chance to relax a bit and reflect on everything that happened. The Huffington Post figured we would facilitate that relaxation and tape that reflection (Stein, 6/5).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: What's A Surgeon's Role In An ACO? Not Much So Far, Survey Says
Accountable Care Organizations have given little attention to surgery in the early years of the Medicare program, choosing to focus instead on managing chronic conditions and reducing hospital readmissions. That's according to a case study and survey published this week in the journal Health Affairs. The authors conducted case studies at four ACOs in 2012 and sent a survey to all 59 Medicare ACOs in the first year of the program, with 30 responding (Gold, 6/5).

The California Health Report: Cost-Saving Hopes Still Pinned On Accountable Care Organizations
Two goals drive health care reform and the dramatic changes now reshaping our health care system: cutting costs and improving care. Accountable Care Organizations are one cost-saving measure rolling out across the U.S., a change pushed by the Affordable Care Act. But how much they will save – and when savings will start – remains an open question (Graebner, 6/5).

Meanwhile, a new study looks at insurance premium increases before the health law -

CQ Healthbeat: Study Sheds Light On Insurance Increases Before Health Care Law
In 2010, the year that the health care law passed, insurance premium rate increases for individual insurance ranged from 3 percent in Idaho to 21.8 percent in Nebraska, according to a study released early Thursday by the Commonwealth Fund. The report is by Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has advised the Department of Health and Human Services on implementation of the law. Gruber analyzed data from the three years before the law passed in order to provide context about the state of the individual health insurance market (Adams, 6/5).

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Illinois Insurance Prices Were Rising Before Health Law
Health insurance prices in Illinois were increasing by about 10 percent or more annually in the three years before President Barack Obama signed the nation's health care law, according to a report released Thursday. The report by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund is meant to help people gauge whether prices for 2015 climb faster or slower than they did before the health care law. It includes trends in 22 states where data was available for health insurance prices for people who buy their own coverage (6/5).

And a judge grants Catholic employers a temporary exemption from the contraceptive mandate -

The Associated Press: Catholic Group Exempt From Contraceptive Rule
A federal judge has granted nearly 200 Catholic employers an injunction to temporarily prevent the U.S. government from forcing them to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives. The Catholic Benefits Association filed a lawsuit in March alleging that a provision of the Affordable Care Act forced them to violate their religious objections to contraception and abortion-inducing drugs. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge David Russell of Oklahoma City granted an injunction that exempts members from any fines or penalties arising from not complying with the provision while their objections are litigated (Talley, 6/5).

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