KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

In Letter To Hill, HHS Asserts Authority To Redistribute Money To Insurers

Elsewhere, more subpoenas are issued in the investigation of whether some Hill staffers may have leaked Medicare policy news to stock brokers.

The Hill:  Republicans Spar With HHS Over Insurer 'Bailout'
Congressional Republicans are clashing with the Obama administration over whether it has the authority to distribute money to health insurance companies in what they are calling a "taxpayer bailout" under Obamacare. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell sent a letter this week to Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) asserting that she has the legal authority to redistribute the money in the "risk corridors" program, which was created by the health care law (Al-Faruque, 6/19).

The New York Times: House Ways And Means Committee Subpoenaed In Insider Trading Case
Federal prosecutors and financial regulators have subpoenaed Congress in an investigation that could test the limits of federal insider trading laws. The investigation focuses on a Washington research company, Height Securities. Last year, it correctly predicted a change in government health care policy, prompting a surge in the stock prices of health insurance companies. … The authorities want to know if someone in the government improperly revealed the forthcoming policy change (Apuzzo, 6/19). 

The Hill:  Ways And Means Subpoenaed In Medicare Leak Probe 
Federal prosecutors have issued subpoenas for the House Ways and Means Committee and a top health care aide as part of an investigation into an alleged leak of sensitive Medicare policy news. The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are probing whether government officials illegally passed on information that led to a surge in insurance stocks before a major Medicare policy announcement last spring (Viebeck, 6/19).

And senators introduced a bill to lessen the Medicare penalties on some hospitals that have high rates of patient readmissions --

Kaiser Health News: Senators Offer Bill To Ease Readmission Penalties On Some Hospitals
A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation on Thursday to make Medicare take the financial status of hospital patients into account when deciding whether to punish a hospital for too many readmissions. The bill attempts to address one of the main complaints about the readmissions program: that hospitals serving large numbers of low-income patients are more likely be penalized (Rau, 6/19).

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