KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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As ACA Emerges From The Rubble Intact, Attention Shifts To Enrollment Season

Many questions remain about what exactly the enrollment period will look like, and if President Donald Trump and his administration will try to undermine sign-ups. Meanwhile, the damage may already be done to the individual marketplace following months of uncertainty.

The Washington Post: The First Affordable Care Act Enrollment Season Of The Trump Era Is Still A Mystery
As the fate of the Affordable Care Act dangled dramatically in the Senate last month, the Trump administration abruptly canceled contracts with two companies that have helped thousands of Americans in 18 cities find health plans under the law. The suspension of the $22 million contracts, which ends enrollment fairs and insurance sign-ups in public libraries, is one of the few public signs of how an administration eager to kill the law will run the ACA’s approaching fifth enrollment season. (Goldstein and Winfield Cunningham, 8/6)

The Associated Press: Trump's Role Shifts To Caretaker As Health Repeal Stalls
With Republicans unable to advance a health care bill in Congress, President Donald Trump's administration may find itself in an awkward role as caretaker of the Affordable Care Act, which he still promises to repeal and replace. The Constitution says presidents "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed." So as long as former President Barack Obama's law is on the books, that doesn't seem to leave much choice for Trump, even if he considers the law to be "a disaster." (8/7)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Move Threatened By Trump Could Create Turmoil In The Obamacare Market
President Donald Trump appears inclined to send rates soaring for at least some health plans sold directly to individuals and families next year, a move that could make health insurance far more expensive for millions of people who don’t get federal subsidies through the Affordable Care Act. Although congressmen from both parties are discussing ways to prevent such a shock in the marketplaces set up by the law, Trump tweeted last weekend that he wants to “let ObamaCare implode.” (Boulton, 8/4)

Politico: GOP Efforts To Stabilize Obamacare Markets Might Come Too Late
Republicans now say they want to stabilize the distressed Obamacare markets for 2018, but it may be too late. Insurers have warned for months that they need certainty from Washington in order to decide where they will sell Obamacare plans and how much to charge. But after months of fruitless repeal efforts and growing unease over White House threats about pulling funding and undermining the law, the damage may be done. Lawmakers can’t simply flip a bipartisan switch and pass a stabilization plan, particularly since they won’t return to Washington for a month. (Demko, 8/4)

Boston Globe: Mass. Health Insurers Uneasy Over Trump’s Threat To Cut Subsidies
Health insurance subsidies that help about 155,000 lower-income Massachusetts residents pay for their coverage are at risk if President Trump makes good on his threat to cut off the payments promised under the federal Affordable Care Act. ...An abrupt cutoff of the subsidies could further destabilize insurance markets by forcing insurers to raise their rates, which would make insurance less affordable for families on the lower end of the income scale. (Dayal McCluskey, 8/4)

And in other marketplace news —

Houston Chronicle: Insurer Lost $230 Million Last Quarter But Says Texas Market Remains Strong 
Molina Healthcare, one of three health insurers expected to remain on the Affordable Care Act's exchange in Houston next year, announced a $230 million loss in its second quarter. Molina Healthcare this week announced a $230 million loss in its second quarter and said it would stop offering plans on Affordable Care Act exchanges in Utah and Wisconsin. It's also looking at participation levels in other states. (8/4)

New Hampshire Union Leader: Member Medical Cuts Prices In Reaction To Obamacare Increase 
With rates expected to increase an average of 44 percent on the state’s Obamacare exchange, a New Hampshire company has decided to lower its membership prices.  “We want to make health care more accessible and more affordable,” said Nicole Lane, chief operating officer with Member Medical, which was founded by Nick Vailas, also the founder and CEO of Bedford Ambulatory Surgical Center in Bedford. (Houghton, 8/6)

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