KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: September 23, 2010

A flurry of news coverage today highlights the health law's six-month anniversary and the specific provisions that take effect today, as well as the GOP's scheduled release of their "Pledge To America," which includes a repeal of the health overhaul among its priorities. 

New Opportunities For Kids With Preexisting Conditions to Get Covered; Challenges Remain
Kaiser Health News staff writers Laurie McGinley and Mary Agnes Carey report: "When an insurance company refused to cover Deborah Gustlin's son because he has Asperger's syndrome, she took a drastic step: 'I decided to lie,' says the 51-year-old resident of Morgan Hill, Calif. She applied to another insurer, didn't disclose that Benjamin has a form of autism, and got him covered. She doesn't submit claims related to Asperger's, but 'at least I have coverage for him if he breaks his arm'" (Kaiser Health News).

How The Health Law Changes Could Affect You
In this Kaiser Health News video, columnist Michelle Andrews and KFF's Jackie Judd discuss a number of the health law's key provisions that kick in today (Kaiser Health News). Read the transcript.

A Guide To Sept. 23: Health Law's Big Day
According to this Kaiser Health News resource page, The national health reform that was signed into law exactly 6 months ago contained an ambitious timetable for changing elements of the health care system. Some planned changes have already happened; even more provisions take effect now. This collection of stories and resources will help you sort through the details (Kaiser Health News).

Obama Touts Healthcare Law As New Provisions Take Effect
President Obama, marking major provisions of the new healthcare law that go into effect Thursday, visited with Americans who stand to benefit immediately as he stepped up efforts to repulse Republican attacks on his signature domestic initiative (Los Angeles Times).

Obama Returns To Stump For Health Care, This Time To Praise New Law
Six rocky months after winning passage of the landmark health-care law, President Obama celebrated the half-year mark by holding a sunny backyard get-together in the Virginia suburbs with a sampling of Americans from across the country who he said are already benefitting (The Washington Post).

Obama Touts New Patient Protections In Health-Care Reform
Six months ago Thursday, President Obama signed landmark health-care reform – and he's still trying to sell it (The Christian Science Monitor).

Obama Dares Foes To Hobble Health Law
President Barack Obama promoted Wednesday consumer-friendly provisions in health-care legislation passed six months ago, seeking to counter what the administration sees as a Republican-driven scare campaign (The Wall Street Journal).

For Many, Health Care Relief Begins Today
On Thursday, the six-month anniversary of the signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a number of its most central consumer protections take effect, just in time for the midterm elections (The New York Times). Accompanying articles spotlight how the law impacts certain populations, including the chronically ill, young people who are uninsured, and those who have been affected by lifetime limits (The New York Times).

Some Families Win Under New Health Care Provisions
The nation's new health care law adds consumer protections that kick in Thursday, forcing insurers to meet new requirements. Coverage for children with pre-existing conditions is guaranteed. Lifetime dollar caps are eliminated. And insurers can no longer cancel policies retroactively for frivolous reasons when people get very sick (The Associated Press).

Health Law Brings Preventive Care Without Copays
New health insurance policies beginning on or after Sept. 23 must cover - without charge - preventive care that's backed up by the best scientific evidence. Most people will see this benefit, part of the Obama administration's health care overhaul, starting Jan. 1 (The Associated Press).

States Ask For Phase-In On Insurance Change
State insurance regulators told the White House on Wednesday that health insurance markets in some states would be disrupted unless President Obama gave insurers a temporary dispensation from one major provision of the new health care law (The New York Times).

Children Face An Unfortunate Side Effect Of Health Reform
Congress passed a healthcare reform law this year in part to curb a series of abuses by insurance companies, particularly in the market for individual health policies. Some of its provisions take effect Thursday, providing more safeguards and benefits for consumers but also raising insurers' cost of doing business (Los Angeles Times).

Insurance Rescission Ban Comes Too Late For Some
The six-month anniversary of the new health law marks the official effective date of a raft of new consumer protections, including a ban on most so-called "rescissions." That's the insurance industry practice of revoking an insurance policy retroactively, after a policyholder has racked up hefty medical bills (NPR).

Insurers Scramble To Comply With Health Rules
The first big wave of new rules under the federal health care law goes into effect on Thursday, leaving many insurers scrambling to get ahead of the changes (The New York Times).

Small Firms' Rates Soaring
Many small Massachusetts businesses are grappling with major increases in health insurance costs, despite an aggressive effort by the Patrick administration to cap rate increases (The Boston Globe). 

GOP Cites Tax Cuts And Health Care As Main Focus
House Republicans on Thursday will issue a legislative blueprint called "A Pledge to America" that they hope will catapult them to a majority in the November elections. Its goals include a permanent extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts, repeal of the newly enacted health care law, a cap on discretionary federal spending and an end to government control of the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (The New York Times).

GOP Ready To Make 'Pledge To America'
Drawing on ideas favored by conservatives and stoked by "tea party" activists, House Republicans on Thursday will unveil a governing manifesto that calls for cuts in government spending, repeal of the new health care measure and a strict Constitutional test for every proposed law, according to a draft (Los Angeles Times).

New GOP Contract Focuses On Taxes, Spending, Security
The Republicans' new Contract With America, which will be unveiled officially on Thursday, calls for a crackdown on government spending, repeal of the healthcare reform law and extension of all the expiring Bush tax cuts (The Hill).

GOP 'Pledge To America' To Call For US Spending Freeze
After enduring "party-of-no" insults from President Obama and Democrats for many months, House Republicans are offering a collection of conservative ideas, including freezing government spending and replacing the president's sweeping health-care legislation with a scaled-back version allowing for the purchase of health plans across state lines (The Washington Post).

House Republicans Spell Out Their Own Plans
House Republicans are set to release an agenda Thursday that features longtime GOP goals, such as repealing President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul, but is less specific about how the party would tackle some long-term problem areas such as Social Security and Medicare spending (The Wall Street Journal).

Democrats Guess Wrong On Health Care
Rarely have so many political strategists been so wrong about something so big. But when it comes to the health care bill, everyone from former President Bill Clinton on down whiffed on some of the more significant predictions (Politico).

WellPoint Unit To Reimburse Policyholders
A WellPoint Inc. subsidiary in Colorado agreed to repay individual policyholders in that state $20 million after an examination by the state insurance commissioner concluded that several premium increases were unjustified, the insurance commissioner said (The Wall Street Journal).

Two Readings On A Hospital's Health
When Mountain View's El Camino Hospital last month announced plans to lay off about 140 workers due largely to a rise in nonpaying clients, the medical provider highlighted a debate over the financial health of the Bay Area's nonprofit hospitals (The Wall Street Journal).

Health Care Costs Dive With Telephone Follow-Up
Make people pay higher copayments, higher coinsurance and higher deductibles and they'll cut back on the use of unnecessary care. Give them health savings accounts where they will be spending their own money, and they will be more likely to spend it frugally (The Fiscal Times).

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