KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Dentists Concerned About Gaps In Health Law Coverage; Mass. Effort For Small Business Insurance Hampered By Federal Law

The federal overhaul requires dental care for children but advocates say the mechanism for that will often be complicated. Meanwhile, in a different article about the complications of implementing the health law, the Boston Globe examines efforts by small businesses to buy insurance.

Politico: Gaps In Health Law Dental Coverage
The health care law was supposed to go a long way toward getting more kids access to dental care. But as it stands now, the effort may fall short. Children's dental coverage is considered an "essential health benefit" under the law. But the way it's likely to be offered — through separate dental policies with no penalties for parents who don't get them — has dentists and child health advocates worried (Cunningham, 2/15).

Boston Globe: Small Businesses Fear Rise In Health Costs Under New US Rules
Small businesses, which bore the brunt of health insurance increases over the past decade, were heartened when a state law passed in 2010 allowed­ them to band together to buy coverage at a discount through newly established health insurance cooperatives. But trade groups that set up such group-purchasing co-ops now say they are threatened by new federal rules stemming from the national health care overhaul that would override Massachusetts insurance rating factors, boosting the premiums small employers pay (Weisman, 2/15).

In other implementation news --

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Feds Increase Costs To High-Risk Pool Members
The Obama administration has increased costs for about 38,000 people enrolled in high-risk insurance pools run under the federal health law to prevent the program from running out of money (Galewitz, 2/14). 

Politico: Courts Split On Contraception, Cases Plow Forward
The cases brought against the Obama administration's employer contraception coverage rule are largely marching forward, despite the White House's recent attempt at compromise, the American Civil Liberties Union noted in an update Thursday (Smith, 2/15).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: CDC Report Sheds Light On Contraception Use
Two statistics at the heart of the controversy over mandatory insurance coverage of contraception — that 99% of American women have used contraception, including 98% of Catholics — are getting fresh attention from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The topline findings in a Valentine's Day release from CDC back both of those claims, but with important caveats that are sometimes blurred in the debate (Radnofsky, 2/14).

Medscape: ACA Will Help Spark Boom In Remote Patient Monitoring
The number of Americans remotely monitored at home with devices such as pulse oximeters and peak-flow meters for 5 major chronic illnesses will grow 6-fold by 2017 as healthcare reform pushes hospitals and physicians to stop revolving-door admissions, reports InMedica, a division of IMS Research. In 2012, clinicians reviewed long-distance vital signs on computer screens for some 227,000 patients with congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, hypertension, and mental illness, according to the InMedica report released in January. By 2017, that number will jump to almost 1.3 million (Lowes, 2/14).

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