KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Experts Say Health Law Expands Coverage But Is Too Confusing To Small Businesses

News outlets examine issues related to the health law's implementation including what is going right and wrong; how it might be applied on Capitol Hill and the White House; and confusion among small businesses.

California Healthline: Five Things Obamacare Got Right – And What Experts Would Fix
The law continues to delight supporters with what they see as positive surprises; for example, some backers say Obamacare deserves credit for the unexpected slowdown in national health spending. But critics warn that the law's perverse effects on premiums are just beginning to be felt. And there still are "vast parts of the bill you never hear about," notes Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington & Lee. "I wonder if they're [even] being implemented." Jost and a half-dozen other health policy experts spoke with "Road to Reform," ahead of Obamacare's third birthday on Saturday, to discuss how the law's been implemented and what lawmakers could have done better (Diamond, 3/20).

Politico: Obama May Enroll Under Health Law
If President Barack Obama wants to make good on a promise to become one of Obamacare's first customers, he'll have to take a route most Americans are unlikely to choose. He'll have to enroll in a health plan that lacks a taxpayer subsidy, even though he has access to generous coverage through his day job (Cheney, 3/21).

Politico: Obamacare To Hit Home On Hill
During debate over the law in 2009, Republicans insisted that if members of Congress were going to put their fellow Americans into health care exchanges, they and their staffs should be in there, too. But vague language in this part of the law — which was passed three years ago this Saturday — has led to a slew of quirks and questions (Haberkorn, 3/20).

The New York Times: Case Study: Questions Abound In Learning To Adjust To Health Care Overhaul
The company is one of thousands of small businesses that employ more than 50 full-time employees and thus will be required to offer health insurance to their workers — or pay into a government fund — beginning Jan. 1. Rachel Shein and Steve Pilarski, the married owners of the bakery, which employs 95 people, estimate this could cost their business up to $108,000, and they are weighing their options as the date approaches (Weed, 3/20).

The Washington Post: Health-Care Law Uncertainty Grips Old Town Alexandria Café – And Other Small Businesses
Jody Manor has run a small cafe and catering company for nearly three decades in Old Town Alexandria. … Six years ago he purchased an adjoining building, and more recently he started searching for a second location. Whether he moves forward with expansion depends on the price tag of the requirements mandated by the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's signature health-care initiative. Manor's company employs 45 people. If he brings in just five more, his business would soon be subject to new minimum coverage standards under the 2010 law — and he does not know whether his current health plan would meet this threshold of coverage or how his premiums might be affected (Harrison, 3/20).

The Medicare NewsGroup: Protecting Patient Exposure: Is There Room In the Medicare Debate Climate?
Medicare has been considered the blue-ribbon, A-plus health insurance plan since its inception in 1966, when it began covering millions of disabled and elderly. But this perception may change in a big way on Jan. 1, 2014, when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) brings a new protection to consumers covered by private coverage. These policies will have annual out-of-pocket spending limits, offering protection for those facing big medical bills. The average maximum annual amount will be $6,400 for a single person and $12,800 for a family. Suddenly, Medicare will be the lone health insurance policy without any protection on the catastrophic end, meaning there is no limit to the amount a patient may be forced to pay out-of-pocket (Rosenblatt, 3/20).

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