KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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‘Akin To Armageddon’: How Repealing Health Law Could Deal Major Blow To Mental Health Care

If the law is dismantled it could wipe out benefits and protections for millions of Americans with mental illnesses. In other news, advocates launch a campaign to try to save the Affordable Care Act, the acting CMS administrator asks lawmakers to work to fix, rather than scrap the law entirely, and actuaries add their voice to a growing list of those concerned about repeal.

Politico: Obamacare Repeal Could Be 'Akin To Armageddon' For People With Mental Illness
Millions of Americans, including many struggling with opioid addiction, risk losing access to mental health treatment if Republicans make good on their promise to do away with Obamacare. Full repeal of the health law would gut major benefits and protections for what HHS estimates is 60 million people with mental illness and substance abuse disorders — creating barriers to treatment at a time when opioid abuse is epidemic, suicide rates are at a record high and there's a severe shortage of psychiatric beds. (Ehley, 12/7)

Politico: Liberals Mount Campaign To Save Obamacare
Liberal groups plan to mount a campaign to save Obamacare, sharing the personal stories of thousands of Americans who would lose health insurance in a last-ditch effort to block Republicans’ agenda to gut the law early next year. The goal of the campaign is to take back the narrative from Republican critics who depict the law as a government boondoggle by spotlighting how it has helped millions of Americans who wouldn’t otherwise have health insurance. (Pradhan, 12/7)

Modern Healthcare: Slavitt: 'There Should Be No Pride Of Authorship' With Healthcare Reform 
Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt on Wednesday urged all lawmakers to improve on the progress made by the Affordable Care Act, rather than plunge the healthcare industry into chaos if the ACA is repealed and inadequately replaced, or isn't replaced at all. “There should be no pride of authorship,” Slavitt said.  “If we can improve upon the things that were started in the ACA, we should do it. It doesn't matter if that comes from a Democrat. It doesn't matter if it comes from a Republican. I would encourage people on both sides of the aisle to say, 'Let's take a step forward, let's focus on the things that haven't been working.'” (Livingsont, 12/7)

CQ Roll Call: Actuaries Warn Of Impact Of Obamacare Repeal Without New Plan
The American Academy of Actuaries on Wednesday joined a chorus of experts and interest groups warning House leaders of the potential harm in repealing President Barack Obama's signature health care law without a clear replacement lined up. Repealing major provisions of the law would raise immediate concerns that individual market enrollment would decline, leading to a higher percentage of sick people remaining in the market and causing premiums to become less affordable, the group wrote in a letter to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. (Williams, 12/7)

And in more new on the health law —

North Carolina Health News: N.C. Rural Hospital Leader Worries About Looming ACA Repeal 
Joann Anderson, CEO of Southeastern Health in Lumberton, served as a national voice for rural health care Tuesday as two U.S. hospital associations made a case against the proposed repeal without prompt replacement of the federal Affordable Care Act. ... Anderson heads the 325-bed Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, county seat of Robeson, where the ACA has had a significant impact. She said repeal of the act would be catastrophic for health care in Robeson County, recently hit hard by Hurricane Matthew, as well as in other rural areas across the country. (Goldsmith, 12/7)

New Hampshire Public Radio: 10,000 N.H. Residents Sign Up For Obamacare In First Month Of Enrollment 
The federal government says more than 10,000 Granite Staters signed up for insurance on Healthcare.gov in the first four weeks of open enrollment. A total of 10,554 New Hampshire residents signed up for health insurance during open enrollment between November 1 and November 26, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Over that same period, more than 2.1 million across 39 states have bought coverage on the federal website. (Rodolico, 12/7)

Georgia Health News: Interstate Health Insurance Sales Had Tryout In Georgia
Among Republican ideas to transform the health care system is a proposal to allow health insurers to sell their policies across state lines. President-elect Donald Trump and Tom Price, the Georgia congressman picked by Trump to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, have backed the proposal. They and other advocates see it as a way to boost competition. The interstate sales idea is part of a general GOP blueprint to replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare. (Miller, 12/7)

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