KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

No Easy Answers About Health Law’s Impact On Full-Time Jobs

CQ HealthBeat parses conflicting data on whether the health law may be spurring employers to keep workers part-time. Meanwhile, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, questions whether the projections of rising health insurance subsidy costs may be due to employers dumping coverage. News outlets also offer reports on health exchanges from Connecticut, Maryland, Colorado and California.

CQ HealthBeat: Gauging Impact Of Health Law On Part-Time Work No Simple Matter
Will the health law trap a growing number of workers in part-time jobs as employers scramble to avoid higher health insurance costs under the overhaul? And to avoid a penalty, will those workers increasingly have to get federally subsidized coverage from insurance exchanges to comply with the law’s insurance mandate that starts next year? (Reichard, 6/5).

The Hill: Hatch Probes Rising Cost Of Health Law's Subsidies
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wants to know why the price tag keeps rising for new insurance subsidies under President Obama's healthcare law. Hatch wrote to Cabinet officials Wednesday seeking more information about the cost of providing tax credits to help people pay for their insurance premiums (Baker, 6/5).

CT Mirror: Anthem Files Rate Proposal For Obamacare Insurance Prices
In a much-anticipated proposal, the state's largest insurer has indicated what it wants to charge people buying coverage in the new insurance marketplace being created under federal health reform. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield said the average monthly premium for an individual health plan would be $440.65. The prices would vary based on each customer’s age, location and the specific health plan chosen, ranging from $101.73 to $1,259 (Becker, 6/5).

Baltimore Sun: Maryland Panel Approves Hospital Rate Increase
A state panel voted unanimously Wednesday to increase the rates hospitals can charge by 1.65 percent, but the medical institutions say the amount is inadequate and will collectively drive hospitals into the red. The Maryland Hospital Association said the decision will cause operating margins to plummet to negative 0.24 percent. The association had pushed for a rate hike of 2.43 percent, which would have also pushed down margins, but still left hospitals operating in positive territory (Walker, 6/5).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Rates Vary Widely, Should Promote Brisk Insurance Market
Competition among health insurance companies should be brisk in Colorado, according to an analysis by a consumer health advocacy group. “As we’ve dug more deeply, we’ve seen enough competition that we think Colorado’s going to have a really good marketplace,” said Dede de Percin, executive director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative (CCHI). “Despite doomsday predictions, the state is not seeing ‘rate shock,’ so many of the choices will be more affordable, especially with the subsidies.” Regulators from Colorado’s Division of Insurance (DOI) are reviewing all proposed plans and must approve or deny them by July 31. Then, they’ll be available to consumers starting on Oct. 1 on Colorado’s exchange, Connect for Health (Kerwin McCrimmon, 6/5).

California Healthline: Physicians Wary – Or Simply Unaware – Of ACA Loophole
Doctors who contract with state health insurance exchanges next year might find themselves on the hook for treatment costs resulting from what many are calling a loophole in the Affordable Care Act. Some say the provision might prompt doctors to avoid the exchanges altogether, while other experts say few health care providers are aware of the issue and likely won't know about the loophole until it's too late. Under the ACA, if families who obtain subsidized health plan coverage through the exchanges fail to pay their premiums, they have a three-month grace period before the policy is cancelled. However, insurers are responsible only for paying claims during the first month of that grace period (Wayt, 6/5).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Feds Require Contingency Plans For Health Exchange
Federal health officials have required Colorado to create contingency plans in case the state’s health exchange can’t function as planned by the beginning of October. Documents that Solutions obtained show that Colorado health exchange managers are preparing for three primary problems that could undermine the planned Oct. 1 launch. … Colorado officials already had to deploy one contingency plan earlier this year. Colorado lawmakers set up the exchange as an independent public agency, not part of state government. Exchange officials and those at the state Medicaid office were planning to build a single shared IT "rules engine" to determine whether people qualify for Medicaid and are eligible for tax credits (Kerwin McCrimmon, 6/5).

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