KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Administration Retreats On Rules For Insurers’ Networks, Standardized Options For 2017

Modern Healthcare reports on the final rule out Monday that backs down from earlier efforts by the administration to force insurers to have minimum quantitative standards for networks of hospitals and doctors and to offer standardized options for health plans. News outlets also look at health law issues in Texas, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Modern Healthcare: Obama Administration Backs Off On ACA Rules For 2017 Health Plans
In a major win for the industry, health insurers will not be forced to have minimum quantitative standards when designing their networks of hospitals and doctors for 2017, nor will they have to offer standardized options for health plans. The CMS released a sweeping final rule Monday afternoon that solidifies the Affordable Care Act's coverage policies for 2017. The agency proposed tight network adequacy provisions and standardized health plan options in late November, which fueled antipathy from the health insurance industry. ... The rule addresses several other issues, including surprise medical bills and the 2017 open-enrollment period. (Herman, 2/29)

Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal: Bills Aim To Save Kynect, Medicaid Programs
Rep. Darryl Owens, a Louisville Democrat, has filed two bills seeking to block Gov. Matt Bevin's plans to dismantle kynect, the state health exchange, and scale back the state Medicaid program. Owens said he hopes to get a hearing on his bills in the House, where Democrats hold the majority, though he acknowledged that they likely won't fare well in the Senate, controlled by Republicans. (Yetter, 2/29)

NPR: In Texas, Uneven Expansion Of Obamacare Sows Frustration
People in Texas are significantly more likely than adults nationwide to report that it has gotten harder to see a doctor in the past two years. The finding comes from polling done by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. ... Almost 1 in 5 people in Texas says it's gotten harder to see a doctor in the past two years according to the NPR poll. It didn't matter what kind of insurance they had. About 70 percent of insurance plans for Texans available on are small ones, according to Dan Polsky, a health economist at the University of Pennsylvania. (Silverman, 2/29)

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Wisconsin Uses Affordable Care Act But Rejects Funding For It
Wisconsin's decision last week to challenge a fee imposed by the Affordable Care Act set up a comparison not lost on advocates who support the law. The fee has cost the state about $23 million so far. In contrast, Gov. Scott Walker and the Legislature's opposition to the law is projected to cost $678.6 million in state tax dollars through the 2017 fiscal year. That's because Wisconsin is the only state in the country to use the Affordable Care Act to expand its Medicaid program while turning down the additional federal dollars available through the law to pay for it. (Boulton, 2/29)

Minnesota Public Radio: Report: Only 4 Percent Lack Health Insurance In Minnesota
An improving economy and access to affordable coverage led more than 200,000 uninsured Minnesotans to get health insurance the past two years, boosting Minnesota's insured rate to an all-time high, officials said Monday. ... Among its findings, the survey found uninsured rates for Latino Minnesotans fell from 35 percent in 2013 to 12 percent in 2015. Other groups saw progress, too, although the department said there are still gaps between the insurance rates of whites and people of color in the state. (2/29)

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