KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Health Law Provisions Also Help Those Who Already Have Insurance; Enrollment Fights In Texas, Calif. Could Heavily Impact Law

Although many people think of the federal health law's focus on the uninsured, it also is driving changes for those who have coverage. Meanwhile, two news outlets look at the importance of signing up young, healthy individuals in Texas and California.

USA Today: Health Law Changes Everyone's Open Enrollment
The Affordable Care Act, which led to the creation of state and federally run health insurance exchanges that launched last week, is generally thought of as being for the uninsured. But that's not entirely true. It could help the Callaways, too. The law offers many new protections for anyone who has employer-provided health insurance. It could even help some people with hard-to-afford plans and/or plans that don't cover enough of their health costs (O’Donnell, 10/6).

Politico: Obamacare Showdown In Texas
The ground war over Obamacare — the one that will determine whether people sign up — will be won and lost in places like Texas. If Obamacare fails in the Lone Star State — that is, if a significant portion of the 6.1 million uninsured Texans don't or can't enroll — then the White House could miss its national enrollment targets, the new health insurance exchanges could falter and insurance rates could spike (Haberkorn, 10/7).

Politico Pro: Cal State Pushes ACA For Students, State
If California — with its huge, diverse population of uninsured residents — is a test for Obamacare in the United States, then the California State University system is a test for Obamacare in California. The university’s 437,000 students hit a demographic sweet spot for the health care law. The system serves a large number of young adult students, too old for their parents’ insurance but still young enough to be the healthy, uncomplicated clients insurance companies need. Nonwhite students make up about two-thirds of the student body, and a third are Hispanic or Latino — another group the administration is counting on to get coverage through the Affordable Care Act (Nelson, 10/4).

In other news about the health law policies -

Bloomberg: Obamacare Seen Straining Clinics With Medicaid Expansion
They start showing up at the St. John's Well Child and Family Center in Los Angeles at 5 a.m. By the time the doors open at 8 a.m., as many as 60 patients are queued up in a line that stretches down the street. In South L.A., where St. John's is one of the few organizations that makes doctors available to the poor, the lines may soon get much longer. More than 5 million additional Americans are expected to enroll over the next two years in Medicaid, the taxpayer-funded insurance for the poor that's expanding Jan. 1 under the Affordable Care Act. Yet 43 percent of doctors in California and a third nationwide won’t take new Medicaid patients (Pettypiece, 10/7).

CQ HealthBeat: Employers Trimming Benefits Now To Avoid Cadillac Tax In 2018
Even though it won't take effect for several years, the so-called Cadillac tax in the health law already appears to be causing employers to try to rein in the costs of health coverage. As employees at many private companies prepare for the open enrollment season, some will find out soon about decisions their employers have made about benefits in order to escape a tax on expensive health care coverage that hits in 2018 (Adams, 10/4).

The Star Tribune: Aided By Obamacare, Private Health Exchange Ready For Growth
A Minnesota firm, quietly working for two years on employer-sponsored private insurance exchanges stimulated by Obamacare, plans to double in size over the next year, thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act. CieloStar soon will announce the first of several agreements it has reached with state chambers of commerce that could help thousands of small employers and their workers acquire health and other types of insurance through chamber-sponsored exchanges on CieloStar’s customized online benefits-selection system  (St. Anthony, 10/6).

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