KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

First Edition: June 20, 2012

Today's headlines include a new Associated Press poll that finds Americans want the president and Congress to work on another health overhaul package if the Supreme Court overturns the health law.

Kaiser Health News: Catholic Hospital Leader Defends Split With Obama Administration On Contraceptives
Late last Friday, the Catholic Health Association dealt the Obama administration a blow when it announced that it would not support a compromise plan on contraception coverage. In an effort to work with religious organizations' concerns about providing free contraception in employees' health plans, the administration had proposed that insurers be the ones to contact workers and pay for the coverage. Kaiser Health News' Mary Agnes Carey talked with CHA chief Sister Carol Keehan, a key ally of President Barack Obama during the run up to passage of the health care law (Carey, 6/19). Read the interview.

Kaiser Health News: What's At Stake For Women If SCOTUS Overturns The Health Law
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby reports: "A provision in the 2010 health care law requiring contraceptive coverage for women without copays has gotten most of the press. But much more is at stake for women if the Supreme Court overturns the health care law. Starting in 2014, the law bars insurance practices such as charging women higher premiums than men, or denying coverage for pre-existing conditions that could include pregnancy, a Caesarean-section birth or a sexual or a domestic violence assault" (Appleby, 6/19). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: What's At Stake For Medicare Beneficiaries In Supreme Court Decision
Kaiser Health News staff writer Marilyn Werber Serafini reports: "On average, seniors and disabled people covered by Medicare saved $604 in 2011 on prescription drugs, and more than 26 million saw their doctors for wellness visits or got preventive services. If the court strikes down only the law's individual mandate, which requires most people to buy insurance, nearly all of the health law's Medicare changes will remain intact" (Werber Serafini, 6/19). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Some Health System Changes Will Stay, No Matter How SCOTUS Rules
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jay Hancock reports: "Now the Affordable Care Act is in jeopardy, but many of the reforms it encouraged aren't, Wilson says. Soaring costs, tight budgets, better technology and industry consolidation ensure health care won't go back to 2009 no matter what the court or Congress do, say analysts and industry officials" (Hancock, 6/19). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Obama Administration Finds 3.1 Million Young Adults Gained Coverage Under Law; LGBT Community Still Has Hurdles In Health Care Equality
Now on Kaiser Health News blog, Christian Torres reports on the latest numbers regarding young adults’ health insurance coverage: "More than 3 million young adults have gained insurance coverage under the health law, according to the latest government estimate. Obama administration officials touted the benefit Tuesday as an example of how the law is making a difference" (Torres, 6/19).

Also on the blog, Shefali S. Kulkarni reports that this year’s Human Rights Campaign's Healthcare Equality Index "shows which hospitals and health care facilities score best on measures relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients, visitors and employees, is flashing some big numbers" (Kulkarni, 6/19). Check out what else is on Capsules.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Poll: Political Leaders Should Work On New Bill If Supreme Court Throws Out Obama Health Law
Americans overwhelmingly want the president and Congress to get to work on a new bill to change the health care system if the Supreme Court strikes down President Barack Obama's 2010 overhaul as unconstitutional, a new poll finds (6/20).

Politico: Fix Health Care After Supreme Court Ruling, Poll Says
If the Supreme Court strikes down President Barack Obama's signature health care reform law, 77 percent of Americans want the president and Congress to work on new legislation overhauling the system, according to a new AP-GfK poll on Wednesday. Only 19 percent of Americans want lawmakers to leave health care the way it is (Robillard, 6/20).

The Wall Street Journal: Band-Aids For The Health Law
White House officials say they are confident the Supreme Court will uphold the health-care law, but they also are preparing for a range of outcomes, including pressing ahead with what remains of the law if the court strikes down only part of it (Meckler and Radnofsky, 6/19).

Politico: Health Care Ruling: What To Expect
No matter what the Supreme Court finally rules on the health law, tens of millions of Americans are not going to like it. And judging from the wildly contradictory polls and expectations of the past few years — in which people often declare how much they detest the health law and at the same time say how much they like what’s in it — many won’t understand the ruling, either (Kenen, 6/19).

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Health Benefits Americans Could Lose In Court Ruling
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling by the end of this month on the fate of President Barack Obama's healthcare law. Following are some of the provisions already in effect under the law that Americans would lose immediately if it were to be overturned. Other provisions not listed below would come into force in 2014 if the court were to leave the law in effect (6/19).

Los Angeles Times: California To Lose Big If Supreme Court Scraps U.S. Healthcare Law
If the Supreme Court scraps the Affordable Care Act in the coming days, California will lose out on as much as $15 billion annually in new federal money slated to come its way, dealing what state officials say would be a critical blow to efforts to expand coverage to the poor and uninsured. The state is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the federal healthcare law because of its large number of uninsured residents — about 7 million people, or nearly 20% of California's population (Terhune, Gorman and Loury, 6/20).

The New York Times’ Economic Scene: Self-Interest Meets Mandate
Odds that the justices will reject this measure, the so-called individual mandate, are approaching 80 percent on Intrade, a market where investors can bet on the outcome of pretty much everything. What’s harder to figure out is what will then happen to health insurance. Advocates of health care reform argue that eliminating the mandate could gut the president’s plan. Most health economists would probably agree. But this consensus is based on a fairly optimistic view that the individual mandate and accompanying fines for failing to comply will be highly effective at persuading Americans to buy health insurance that they would otherwise forgo (Porter, 6/19).

NPR's Shots Blog: How Opponents Won The Health Care Messaging War
OK, so it's not exactly news that the Obama administration hasn't done the best job in the world selling the Affordable Care Act to the American public. But now the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism has some statistics to demonstrate just how sorry that job has been. And it suggests that the media gets at least some of the blame (Rovner, 6/19).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Senate Judiciary Committee Leaders Request Live TV For Supreme Court Health Care Decision
Leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee are asking the Supreme Court to allow live television coverage when it delivers its ruling on President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Chairman Patrick Leahy and ranking Republican Charles Grassley said the issues in the case are as important and consequential as any in recent court history (6/19).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Senators Want TV Cameras At Supreme Court
It’s hard to predict how the Supreme Court will rule on the Obama health law, but we can safely forecast the court’s action in one aspect of the case: It will strike down a request by the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee to televise the ruling (Landers, 6/19).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Health Officials Say 3.1M Young Adults In US Gain Insurance Coverage With Affordable Care Act
U.S. health officials say the number of young adults with medical coverage grew by more than 3 million since the new health care overhaul took effect. The Affordable Care Act mandates that insurers allow young adults to remain on their parents' plans until they turn 26, even if they move away from home or graduate from school. About 64 percent of adults ages 19 to 25 had insurance when the policy took effect in 2010 (6/19).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Some States Socking Away Cash To Refill Reserves Drained To Balance Budgets During Recession
States starting to turn the corner on their Great Recession budget woes are taking the cautious approach, socking away millions of dollars in rainy day funds rather than restoring spending for education, health care and social services (6/19).

The New York Times: In Romney And Obama Speeches, Selective Truths
Despite Mr. Romney's claim, the new health care law will not drive government spending up to half of the economy, unless all health care spending in the country is reclassified as government spending. Given that the new law still relies heavily on private insurance provided by employers, it is a stretch to treat all of that as if it were government expenditures (Baker and Cooper, 6/19).

The Washington Post’s Two Chambers: Mitt Romney Adviser Mike Leavitt Meets With Conservative GOP Lawmakers About Health Care
A campaign adviser to Mitt Romney who supports elements of the 2010 health-care reform law huddled Monday with conservative Republican lawmakers to discuss health care just days before the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the reforms (O'Keefe, 6/19).

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: SEIU To Focus ON 8 Battleground States
The union's goal is to inform the public where candidates stand on issues such as job creation, taxation, immigration overhaul, Social Security and Medicare. It plans to convey that President Obama is the candidate who's prepared to help working people (Trottman, 6/19).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: McConnell Says Obama's Health Care 'Europeanizing America,' Says It's Time To 'Start Over'
The top-ranking Republican in the Senate calls the Obama health care law the first step in "Europeanizing America" and says Congress should "start over" if the system is ruled invalid by the Supreme Court. Kentucky's Sen. Mitch McConnell says Republicans believe Americans want to "repeal the whole thing" (6/19).

Chicago Tribune: Minnesota Seeks To Expand Suit Against Accretive Health
The Minnesota attorney general's office moved Tuesday to expand its lawsuit against Chicago-based Accretive Health Inc., after more patients have come forward with complaints of aggressive collection of current and past-due bills (Sachdey, 6/19).

The New York Times: Employee Sues For Benefits To Cover Same-Sex Spouse
A lesbian employee of St. Joseph's Medical Center in Westchester County filed a class-action lawsuit on Tuesday claiming that her spouse is entitled to the same medical coverage as the spouses of heterosexual employees (Otterman, 6/19).

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