KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Half Of Doctors Listed As Treating Medicaid Patients Are Unavailable, HHS Finds

The report by the HHS inspector general's office concludes that large numbers of doctors on Medicaid provider lists were not offering appointments to enrollees. Also, Modern Healthcare examines whether the health law's Medicaid expansion may be tied to a drop in disability claims.

The New York Times: Half Of Doctors Listed As Serving Medicaid Patients Are Unavailable, Investigation Finds
Large numbers of doctors who are listed as serving Medicaid patients are not available to treat them, federal investigators said in a new report. “Half of providers could not offer appointments to enrollees,” the investigators said in the report, which will be issued on Tuesday. Many of the doctors were not accepting new Medicaid patients or could not be found at their last known addresses, according to the report from the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services. (Pear, 12/8)

Modern Healthcare: Is Medicaid Expansion Reducing Disability Claims?
The number of Americans applying for Supplemental Security Income benefits dropped in the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year, and experts are debating whether the decline is partly related to the healthcare reform law's Medicaid expansion to low-income adults. A total of 1,189,567 SSI disability claims—mostly related to physical or mental disability— were filed in the first six months of 2014, compared with 1,330,169 during the same period last year, a drop of 10.6%, according to data obtained by Modern Healthcare from the Social Security Administration through a Freedom of Information Act request. The total decline in SSI claims in states that expanded Medicaid in the first six months of 2014 was 11.2%, compared with 10.0% in non-expansion states. (Dickson, 12/8)

The health law's support of wellness incentives is also in the news -

Politico Pro: Is EEOC On A Collision Course With Obamacare?
Does the Obama administration support wellness programs or doesn’t it? That’s the question Big Business is asking as it fumes over three lawsuits filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against company wellness programs — most notably, an October lawsuit against Honeywell International Inc. (Levine, 12/9)

Reuters: New York Health Insurer Oscar To Pay Members Who Walk More
Oscar Health Insurance, which sells health plans on Obamacare exchanges in New York and New Jersey, said it will pay members up to $240 per year in Inc gift cards for the thousands of steps they take each day. The plan is the latest effort by venture-capital backed Oscar to distinguish itself in the individual insurance market, where it is rare to offer members incentives to improve their health. Employer-sponsored health plans regularly use incentives such as lower premiums or higher contributions as part of their "workplace wellness" programs. (Humer, 12/8)

Meanwhile, media examine the increased investment in addiction and other mental health services and a survey showing business leaders' concerns about workers' share of health care costs  -

Reuters: Obamacare Helps Private Equity To Get Its Rehab Clinic Fix
Investors are pouring money into the operators of U.S. rehab centers as many more Americans get health care coverage for addiction treatment, driving up valuations and triggering a consolidation of businesses in the fragmented sector. Under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, new health plans must cover ten core health benefit areas. This includes substance abuse and mental health disorders, opening up services such as alcohol and drug detox or addiction therapy to many Americans who previously couldn’t afford them. (Oran, 12/8)

The Wall Street Journal's CFO Journal: Workers To Bear Burden Of ACA Cost Increases
Workers in the U.S. should expect health care to take a bigger bite out of their paychecks next year, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Finance chiefs at U.S. companies expect the Affordable Care Act to increase health care costs next year, and the majority expect to pass that along to their employees. The bank surveyed 602 CFOs and other finance executives at companies with annual revenues between $25 million and $2 billion. Of those, 69% said they expected their labor costs to rise to cover the costs of the ACA. The CFOs expected an average increase of 7.1%. (Monga, 12/8)

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