KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Preventive Care, Illegal Immigrants And Other Health Law Notes

Reports continue to explore elements of the health reform debate such as the politically contentious issue of illegal immigrants' coverage, health care coverage for young adults, disease prevention and the next tanning-salon tax.

The New York Times: Embedded in the health legislation are "a set of wide-ranging public initiatives to prevent disease and encourage healthy behavior." The initiatives – many of which had bipartisan support before being coupled with the contentious overhaul law – are meant "to counter the powerful forces that encourage people to engage in sedentary lifestyles, to smoke and to eat fatty, high-calorie foods." They include a requirement that chain restaurants include nutrition information in menus; that employers offer breaks for nursing mothers; and that insurers cover the full cost of certain screenings, vaccines and other preventive measures, to name a few (Pear, 4/4).

Associated Press: "The question of whether to extend coverage to illegal immigrants was so politically contentious that, under the approved legislation, they will not even be able to buy health insurance in the newly created purchasing pools called exchanges if they pay entirely out of their own pocket." That may leave illegal immigrants with medical needs and low incomes struggling to "patch together health care as they can." One doctor who treats undocumented immigrants said, "We have to be very creative - not asking for labs unless it's really essential, working with generics, working with drug companies, giving them samples" (Barbassa, 4/4).

The Wall Street Journal: "One provision of the health-care bill that is now law says that parents will be able to keep their dependent children on their health insurance policies up to age 26." Economists say under current law, hospital visits for people in that age group fall when they "age out" of their parents insurance plans. The Journal writes, "The obvious implication: 'Expanding health insurance coverage would result in a substantial increase in care provided to currently uninsured individuals'" (Wessel, 4/5).

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: By next year, "young adults up to age 26, who aren't covered by a company insurance plan, will be able to join their parents' policies under the U.S. health overhaul signed into law last month." That includes a 23-year-old Nashville guitar player who expects to save $800 a year in premiums and put the money toward "savings and a diet that's less dependent on road-tour fast food." It also includes millions of other uninsured Americans in the age range (Nussbaum, 4/5).

The (Glen Falls, N.Y.) Post-Star: Beginning in July, tanning salons will have to pay a 10 percent levy on indoor tanning services, or pass it on to customers. "The provision was added to the health care bill a few months ago, following the removal of a 5 percent tax on cosmetic surgery procedures because of strong opposition." The industry is not arguing that its trade groups were not consulted about the tax, which tanning salon operators say is unfair to women (Jones, 4/3).

NPR/Kaiser Health News: Five days before passage of the new health law, Arizona had attempted to cut Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program spending because of a budget crisis. But, the health law forbids states form lowering eligibility for those programs. "That will leave a $400 million hole in their new budget. All told, Arizona officials estimate the federal law will cost the state $11.6 billion over the next 10 years." Other states with budget gaps that would now be difficult to close with health cuts could face similar challenges (Greenblatt, 4/4).

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