KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: September 17, 2013

Today's headlines include stories detailing how the health law's new online insurance marketplaces will work. 

Kaiser Health News: FAQ: What You Need To Know About The New Online Marketplaces
Kaiser Health News staff writers Mary Agnes Carey and Julie Appleby, working in collaboration with The Washington Post, report: "The health law's online marketplaces, also known as exchanges, will be open for enrollment Oct. 1.  They will allow individuals and consumers to comparison shop for health insurance, much like they do now online for an airline ticket or a hotel room, and apply for subsidies, if they are eligible. If done well, proponents say, the marketplaces could make it easier to buy health insurance and possibly lead to lower prices because of increased competition. But, if designed or marketed poorly, the exchanges will not attract healthy people and will instead be left with a higher percentage of sicker people that will cause premiums to rise" (Carey and Appleby, 9/16). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health : For Workers Leaving Their Jobs, Health Exchanges Offer Insurance Choices Beyond COBRA
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews reports: "Workers who lose their jobs and their employer-based health insurance will have new coverage options when the Affordable Care Act's state marketplaces open in October. But consumer advocates are concerned many may not realize this and lock themselves into pricier coverage than they need" (Andrews, 9/16). Read the column.

Kaiser Health News: Marketplace Premiums Likely To Mirror Plans Sold Privately (Video)
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews helps you navigate the new insurance marketplaces that are scheduled to launch on Oct. 1. Today's question is about comparison shopping between the health law's new exchanges and the individual market (9/16). Watch today's video or watch others from this series.

Kaiser Health News: Obamacare Will Be Both Ally And Rival To eHealthInsurance
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, Eric Whitney writes: "America's biggest online health insurance retailer is getting ready for some stiff new competition from Uncle Sam. The federal government will be opening new online marketplaces for health insurance in 34 states on Oct. 1. State governments are opening their own on the same day in the remaining states" (Whitney, 9/17) Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Little Evidence To Back Texas Abortion Law, According To Official Records
The Texas Tribune's Becca Aaronson, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News, reports: "In their successful push this summer for strict new regulations on abortion facilities and the doctors performing them, proponents of the Texas legislation said it was needed because conditions at existing facilities made it unsafe for women seeking to terminate pregnancies. But a Texas Tribune review of state inspection records for 36 abortion clinics from the year preceding the lawmakers' vote turned up little evidence to suggest the facilities were putting patients in imminent danger" (Aaronson, 9/16). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: What To Know About Enrolling In Obamacare's 'Exchanges';
Join A Live Discussion Today On washingtonpost.com
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, watch video of KHN's Jenny Gold on C-SPAN's Washington Journal Monday morning taking questions about the impending enrollment period for the health law's health insurance marketplaces and what consumers need to know (9/16).

In addition, KHN's Julie Appleby and Mary Agnes Carey, who wrote today's consumer guide to the marketplaces, are participating in an online discussion on the Washington Post website today, answering reader questions about how to navigate the new system. The discussion begins at noon ET, but you can submit your questions now at: http://live.washingtonpost.com/obamacare-enrollment-questions-answered.html. Check out what else is on the blog.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Census Data Expected To Show Modest Decline In US Poverty Rate After 5 Years Of No Improvement
Analysts predict the poverty rate will decline by up to half a percentage point from its current level of 15 percent, or 46.2 million people. It could be the first decline since 2006. The figures also are expected to show little if any improvement in the number of uninsured (9/17).

Politico: GOP Leaders Link Debt Hike, CR Fights
One option under consideration is an accelerated vote on the debt ceiling. There is discussion in House Republican leadership circles about setting a debt ceiling vote before Sept. 30. If Republican leaders show in the next few weeks how they will use the debt ceiling to delay Obamacare, it will display that the party’s brass is serious about an all-or-nothing legislative brawl with Senate Democrats and President Barack Obama. That could help ease the passage of the continuing resolution to fund the government (Sherman and Bresnahan, 9/16).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Seeing Potential 'Economic Chaos,' Obama Warns GOP On Shutdown Threat Over Budget, Obamacare
A potential federal shutdown looming, President Barack Obama on Monday warned congressional Republicans they could trigger national "economic chaos" if they demand a delay of his health care law as the price for supporting continued spending for federal operations. House Republican leaders were to meet Tuesday in hopes of finding a formula that would avoid a shutdown on Oct. 1 without alienating party conservatives who insist on votes to undercut the Affordable Care Act. Even more daunting is a mid- to late-October deadline for raising the nation’s borrowing limit, which some Republicans also want to use as leverage against the Obama administration (9/16).

The New York Times' Congressional Memo: Amid Revolt Over Fiscal 'Gimmicks,' Options Dwindle For G.O.P.
For three years, Congressional leaders have relied on tactical maneuvers, sleights of hand and sheer gimmickry to move the nation from one fiscal crisis to the next — with little strategy to deal with the actual problems at hand. Medicare and Social Security continue to swell with an aging population. Health care costs grow. A burdensome tax code remains unchanged, and economic revival is shadowed by the specter of Washington's crisis-driven mismanagement. Now, with a government shutdown looming at month's end and a crippling default on the nation's debt possible by mid-October, Congressional leaders may have run out the string on legislative trickery (Weisman, 9/16).

USA Today: For Millions, Insurance Will Cost Less Than $100/Month
About 6.4 million Americans eligible to buy insurance through the new health exchanges will pay $100 or less a month in premiums because of tax subsidies, according to a Department of Health and Human Services report to be released Tuesday and obtained by USA TODAY. The report by the HHS office for planning and evaluation said the lower premiums would primarily apply to insurance customers who buy what are called "silver" plans on the exchanges that open Oct. 1 (Kennedy, 9/17).

The Washington Post: Health Insurance Marketplaces Open Oct. 1. What You Need To Know To Choose A Plan.
It might not be Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, but Oct. 1 should be a shopping day to remember. For the first time, millions of uninsured Americans will be able to go online to compare health insurance plans, find out if they are eligible for federal help in paying the premiums and buy coverage (Sun, 9/16).

USA Today: Survey: Some Seniors Confused About Law And Medicare
About 17% of seniors incorrectly believe the Affordable Care Act replaces their Medicare with insurance policies purchased on line through the state and federal health insurance exchanges, according to a study released exclusively to USA TODAY (Kennedy, 9/17).

The Washington Post’s Wonk Blog: Obamacare Hits A Tipping Point: Most Governors Now Want To Expand Medicaid
The Medicaid expansion appears to be, well, expanding, and it's happening with the support of Republican governors. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to announce on Monday afternoon his support for expanding Medicaid in his state to 500,000 currently uninsured Pennsylvanians. Earlier Monday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation that will expand the Medicaid program in his state, as well. Between Pennsylvania and Michigan, you're looking at more than 800,000 people becoming eligible for new health law programs (Kliff, 9/16).

The Wall Street Journal: Pennsylvania Governor Seeks Expanded Health Coverage For Poor
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said Monday he wants to expand health insurance to hundreds of thousands of low-income state residents under the federal health-care law, as long as he is allowed to use Medicaid funding to pay for private insurance policies for them. … The Department of Health and Human Services in Washington has previously said it is open to such a compromise, which is being mulled by a handful of other states including Arkansas, Ohio and Tennessee (Radnofsky, 9/16).

Politico: Pennsylvania To Take Medicaid Funds, With A Catch
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett on Monday became the latest Republican to embrace Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, but he did so in a way that leaves the program’s future in Pennsylvania highly uncertain. Corbett, flanked by dozens of stakeholders from the medical community, unveiled a plan that would accept billions of Obamacare dollars to provide private health coverage to Pennsylvania’s poorest — but only if the White House backs a set of reforms to the program first (Cheney and Millman, 9/17).

Los Angeles Times: Group Meetings Turn Doctor Visits Inside Out
A growing number of physicians around the nation are turning the traditional medical visit inside out, making what were once one-on-one, private appointments a group experience. Shared medical appointments are becoming more widespread as physicians look for more efficient and effective ways to treat increasing numbers of patients with chronic diseases. The visits could increase significantly under the nation's healthcare overhaul when millions more Americans gain insurance coverage and need to access doctors. Multi-patient appointments are especially valuable in areas with physician shortages, proponents say (Gorman, 9/16).

The New York Times: Hoping To Raise Awareness, 2 Leading Groups For The Blind Plan A Merger
Two venerable nonprofit organizations based in Manhattan that provide health care and rehabilitation services for blind and visually impaired people are merging, with the top officials of both groups raising the possibility of broad affiliations among similar local groups around the country (Barron, 9/16).

The Washington Post: D.C. Council May Expand Paid Sick Leave Law
A proposed law to be introduced Tuesday would change that by expanding landmark legislation from 2008 that guaranteed nearly universal paid sick leave in the District but excluded tipped wait staff, including most servers, bussers and bartenders (Sadon, 9/16).

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