KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Sebelius: No More Health Law Delays; No Enrollment Extension

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified Wednesday before the House Ways and Means Committee, taking questions on a range of health law questions.

The New York Times: Health Mandate Won’t Be Delayed, Sebelius Says
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said Wednesday that the Obama administration would not extend the deadline for people to sign up for health insurance or delay the requirement for most Americans to have coverage. And she declined to say whether the administration was still committed to its original goal of enrolling seven million people in private coverage through federal and state exchanges by March 31 (Pear, 3/12).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Insurance Rates Likely To Rise In 2015
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said health-insurance premiums are "likely to go up" in 2015, an acknowledgment that the Obama administration doesn't believe the sweeping changes to the health-insurance marketplace will end premium increases in the near term. Testifying Wednesday before the House Committee on Ways and Means about the White House's 2015 budget proposal, Mrs. Sebelius was peppered with questions about the impact of the Affordable Care Act, including one from Rep. Erik Paulsen (R., Minn.) about its effect on insurance rates (Corbett Dooren and Radnofsky, 3/12).

Politico: Kathleen Sebelius: No More Obamacare Delays
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday that there would be no delay of Obamacare’s individual mandate, the penalty for violating it or the March 31 closing date of the enrollment period, the strongest statement yet that the administration has no plans for more major changes to the law in the final weeks of the first sign-up period. Asked by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) at a House hearing whether the administration would change its policy for enforcing the individual mandate after all the other delays, extensions and adjustments it has made to different provisions in the law, Sebelius bluntly replied, “No, sir” (Norman, 3/12).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Ryan Quizzes Sebelius On Savings Estimate From IPAB
On Wednesday, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., asked Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius how the agency determined that IPAB savings would be $12.9 billion over the next decade and why it was so much higher than the fiscal 2014 budget estimate, which was $4 billion. "The question is, where does it come from?’ Ryan asked" (Carey, 3/13). 

Reuters: Sebelius Says No Obamacare Mandate Delay, Enrollment Extension 
There will be no delay in the penalty most Americans face under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law if they fail to obtain health coverage this year, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Wednesday. Sebelius also said there would be no postponement of this month's deadline for enrolling in coverage through new private health insurance marketplaces or the Medicaid program for the poor (Morgan, 3/12).

CBS News: Kathleen Sebelius Redefines Success For Obamacare
Last year, embracing nonpartisan estimates for the Affordable Care Act, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius set a benchmark for the new insurance marketplaces: "Success looks like at least 7 million people having signed up by the end of March 2014," she said to NBC. Enrollment, however, began at a snail's pace in October because of all the technical problems with HealthCare.gov, the federal Obamacare website serving 36 states. Some state-run Obamacare websites have had their own problems as well. Within that context, Sebelius on Wednesday redefined what success looks like: "Success looks like millions of people with affordable health coverage, which we will have by the end of March," she told the House Ways and Means Committee (Condon, 3/12).

The Fiscal Times: Republicans Grill Sebelius on Unanswered Obamacare Questions
Republicans slammed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday for not providing answers to a lingering question most crucial to understanding how the Affordable Care Act is working so far. How many people are actually getting coverage through Obamacare? The administration released the latest enrollment figures on Tuesday—revealing that some 4.2 million Americans have signed up for coverage on the new exchanges. However, that figure does not include how many people have actually paid for their plans—a metric that could make the actual number of enrollees significantly lower (Ehley, 3/12).

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