KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: June 7, 2013

Today's headlines include previews of the speech President Barack Obama is expected to deliver today in California as well as news about particular health law implementation issues.

Kaiser Health News: Can I Stop My Health Reimbursement Account From Being Drained?
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews answers a question from a reader about who pays first when there is coverage from two insurance plans (6/7). Watch the video or read the transcript.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Latinos Key To Obama’s Health Law Strategy; Study: Consumers Saved $2.1B On Individual Coverage
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Jenny Gold reports on the Obama administration's outreach strategy for Latinos: "President Barack Obama, who was re-elected with strong support from the Latino community, is in California today to endorse a plan that focuses on getting Latino Americans signed up for coverage under his health care law" (Gold, 6/7).

Also on Capsules, Julie Appleby reports on a new study about the costs of individual coverage: "People who bought their own health insurance last year saved $2.1 billion because of the federal health law, mainly because of a provision that limits how much of their premium can go to insurers' administration and profits, says a report out today from the Kaiser Family Foundation" (6/7). Check out what else is on the blog.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Pleads For Californians, Latinos, Young People To Get Coverage Under New Health Care Law
President Barack Obama is making a personal plea to Californians, Latinos and young people to sign up for coverage under the new health care law. Obama on Friday will use his visit to California to highlight how the state is implementing the Affordable Care Act. He also will discuss California's collaboration with non-government groups to promote, primarily to Hispanics, the health care exchanges that are being created to help millions of now-uninsured consumers afford coverage, White House officials said (6/7).

The Washington Post: California Is The White House's Proof That Obamacare Is Working
President Obama will try to allay anxiety over his signature health-care law Friday during a visit to California, a state that the White House is highlighting as proof that the law is working. With the focus in recent months on the law’s shaky rollout and continuing political battles, the president wants to draw attention to a state that has embraced the law and yielded some good news: Officials in the Democrat-led state recently released figures that show insurers expect to charge lower-than-expected premiums for individual policies sold under the law (Somashekhar and Kliff, 6/6).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Ohio Complains Of Higher Health-Insurance Premiums
President Barack Obama is heading to California to tout premiums for new health plans that will be sold on the state's insurance exchange. Ahead of that visit, his officials are getting early incoming fire from officials in Ohio, who say that premiums for their state have jumped dramatically because of the health-care law’s new requirements for richer benefits (Radnofsky, 6/6).

Politico: House GOP's New Anti-ACA Group
House Republicans are planning a coordinated messaging operation against Obamacare starting this summer. They call it HOAP — the House Obamacare Accountability Project (Haberkorn and Cunningham, 6/7).

The Wall Street Journal: Planners Expect Glitches In Health-Exchange Sites
Teams of technology experts are racing to finish building government websites that will allow people to shop and sign up for health insurance this October. People involved in the effort say to expect some problems, at least initially. The functioning of the websites—which will enable people without health insurance to enroll in plans offered through a federal or state insurance exchange—will play a major role in determining whether the Affordable Care Act is deemed a success or failure, since the 2010 law's prime objective was to bring coverage to those who lack it (Dooren, 6/6).

The Wall Street Journal: How The New Health Law Could Raise Costs For Young, Healthy Employees
The younger and healthier a small business's workforce, the greater its chances of facing a big spike in health-insurance premiums next year. That is because the Affordable Care Act's impact on small employers will split largely on generational and industry lines, putting entrepreneurs like Eileen Hasson, owner of a technology-services firm with mostly male employees in their 20s and 30s, at a disadvantage (Needleman, 6/6).

The Wall Street Journal: Will New Health Insurance Be Too Expensive For America's Lowest-Paid?
For people like Salvador Martínez, a 50-year-old grounds crewman, the health-care law seems to be a potential game changer. Because of the law, his employer, a landscaping service in Santa Clarita, Calif., will begin offering coverage to him, and to its 230 other low-wage workers, next year. But Chris Angelo, a second-generation owner of the landscaping firm, Stay Green Inc., doesn't expect a groundswell of enrollments next year from lower-wage workers such as Mr. Martínez (Maltby, 6/6).

Los Angeles Times: Health Led To $2.1 Billion In Savings For Consumers, Report Says
A new report estimates that U.S. consumers who purchase their own health insurance saved $2.1 billion last year due to tougher rules in the federal healthcare law. Thursday's report by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that individual premiums would have been $1.9 billion higher in 2012 without the requirements in the federal Affordable Care Act. In addition, the nonprofit group said individual policyholders nationwide should receive $241 million in rebates this summer (Terhune, 6/6).

The New York Times: In House, Immigration Spurs Push By G.O.P.
Late Wednesday, a bipartisan group of representatives who had been meeting to write a broad immigration bill announced they had completed their negotiations. But a prominent Republican in the group, Raúl Labrador of Idaho, said he was leaving. Mr. Labrador said that he disagreed with the other lawmakers over health care provisions for illegal immigrants who would gain legal status under the measure (Parker and Preston, 6/6).

Los Angeles Times: Affordable Care Act Spurs Hiring Blitz
The nation's complicated healthcare overhaul is proving to be a surprising source of work: People are needed to explain the law's provisions to consumers. In addition to the expected demand for more nurses and doctors to treat millions of newly insured patients, the federal Affordable Care Act is feeding a cottage industry in call centers (Lopez, 6/6).

Los Angeles Times: Wal-Mart's Wages Drive Employees Onto Public Benefits, Report Says
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. wages are so low they force many of its employees onto the public doles, creating a drag on taxpayers and the economy, according to a new report from the staff of congressional Democrats. The report analyzes data from Wisconsin's Medicaid program, estimating that a single 300-person Wal-Mart Supercenter in that state likely costs taxpayers at least $904,542 per year and could cost up to $1,744,590 per year, or roughly $5,815 per employee (Lazo, 6/7).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Judge's Rulings In Heart-Wrenching Cases Raise Questions Of Fairness In US Transplant Policy
It’s a life or death matter: Who gets the next scarce donated organ? In an unprecedented challenge to the nation’s transplant system, a federal judge has allowed one dying child — and a day later another — to essentially jump the line in rulings that could have ramifications for thousands of people awaiting new organs (6/7).

Politico: Court Steps Into Second Child Lung Transplant Case
A federal judge in Philadelphia has granted a temporary restraining order in the second case involving children needing lung transplants in as many days, raising questions among ethicists about political pressure, emotional media coverage and case-by-case decision making about allocating scarce organs (Norman, 6/7).

The New York Times: Council Bill Would Crack Down On Proliferation Of Adult Day Care Centers
New York City officials said on Thursday that they would introduce legislation to crack down on Medicaid-supported senior day care centers that lure relatively healthy clients with enticements like free takeout food and even cash (Bernstein, 6/6). 

Check out all of Kaiser Health News' e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.