KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Veterinarians Complain About One Impact Of The Health Law While Seniors Look Forward To Lower Drug Spending

The vets say a new tax aimed at helping pay for changes from the health overhaul is hurting them, according to KHN. Meanwhile, Healthy Cal looks at closing of the prescription drug coverage gap. CNN also explores the arguments over the law's effect on overall health spending.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Why Some Veterinarians Have a Bone To Pick With Obamacare
The law's 2.3 percent medical device tax, which started this year, was meant to have device manufacturers and their buyers contribute to the cost of expanding health coverage because they would benefit from having more business from insured patients. But some devices used on humans are also used for animals, including ultrasound machines, laboratory and X-ray equipment. So as a result, veterinarians have to pay the extra tax as well (Galewitz, 10/8).

CNN: Is Obamacare Slowing Health Care Spending?
Myth: Obamacare has slowed health care spending growth. Reality: President Obama likes to stress that health care spending has fallen to record lows in recent years thanks in part to Obamacare. It's true that after years of skyrocketing increases, America's health care spending growth has slowed to record lows. The Office of the Actuary in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported earlier this year that national health spending grew by 3.9% each year from 2009 to 2011, the lowest rate of growth since the federal government began keeping such statistics in 1960, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. But is Obamacare the reason? (Luhby, 10/7). 

Healthy Cal: Alzheimer's Advocates Look To ACA For Better Coverage
Ruth Gay, the director of public policy and advocacy for the Northern California Alzheimer's Association, said her agency has been watching closely as the Affordable Care Act progresses. Benefits for the elderly so far include better prescription care coverage, which started this year. ... "For a lot of seniors that doughnut hole is a big piece we were interested in – many of them were hitting it very early on," Gay said. The doughnut hole Gay is referring to is a gap in prescription coverage under Medicare Plan D. In 2013, patients on Medicare Plan D can accrue up to $2,970 in out-of-pocket and insurance payments before they go into the "doughnut hole." The ACA is slowly eliminating the doughnut hole (Anderson, 10/7).

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