KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Employers Eye Limited Plans To Avoid Health Law Penalties

The Wall Street Journal reports that "bare-bones" health plans may help some employers avoid the law's fines. Meanwhile, the Journal Sentinel explores how investors are assessing winning or losing stocks as a result of the law's implementation.

The Wall Street Journal: Employers Eye Bare-Bones Health Plans Under New Law
Employers are increasingly recognizing they may be able to avoid certain penalties under the federal health law by offering very limited plans that can lack key benefits such as hospital coverage. Benefits advisers and insurance brokers—bucking a commonly held expectation that the law would broadly enrich benefits—are pitching these low-benefit plans around the country. They cover minimal requirements such as preventive services, but often little more. Some of the plans wouldn't cover surgery, X-rays or prenatal care at all. Others will be paired with limited packages to cover additional services, for instance, $100 a day for a hospital visit (Weaver and Mathews, 5/19).

Journal Sentinel: New Health Law Offers Opportunities For Investors
Three years after the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and less than a year before some of ObamaCare's key measures take effect, there are still many unanswered questions about its impact. Obamacare has raised concerns about increases in health insurance premiums, doctor shortages and any number of issues. It has also created debate among investors about which stocks will benefit and which will suffer (Gallagher, 5/18).

Also in the news, small businesses looking for a way out of complying with the health law get no help from Congress, and the new CMS chief plans a busy implementation schedule --

The Hill: Despite Talk, No Effort In Congress To Change ObamaCare’s Employer Mandate
Small businesses looking for a break from President Obama’s healthcare law aren’t getting any help from Congress. The law’s critics spend a lot of time talking about its potential effects on employers, and small businesses in particular. But there hasn’t been a real effort on the Hill to address the provisions that will have the most immediate impact on small businesses (Baker, 5/19).

CQ HealthBeat: Newly Confirmed As CMS Administrator, Marilyn Tavenner Eyes A Summer Of Change
There’s something about Marilyn Tavenner that the White House could use a whole lot of right now as it absorbs successive waves of Republican criticism of its implementation of the health care law. She clearly has the ability to engage opponents of the overhaul and to earn their good will, as Wednesday’s overwhelming Senate vote confirming her as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator attests (Reichard, 5/17).

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