KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Doctors, Hospitals, Insurers Prepare As Health Law Implementation Nears

The New York Times profiles a Louisville clinic's efforts to be ready for changes, while several outlets look at the progress of the health exchanges where consumers will be able to buy insurance plans.

The New York Times: A Louisville Clinic Races To Adapt To The Health Care Overhaul
One morning last month, a health clinic next to a scruffy strip mall here had an unlikely visitor: a man in a suit and tie, seeking to bring a dose of M.B.A. order to the operation. ... For doctors and their staffs, this is a period of fevered preparation for the far-reaching changes that are soon to come as the law moves out of the realm of political jousting and into the real world. To follow how the historic law is playing out, The New York Times will look periodically at its impact in Louisville, a city of 600,000 that embodies both the triumphs and the shortcomings of the medical system in the United States (Goodnough, 6/22).

Kaiser Health News: Blue Cross-Blue Shield Bets Big On Obamacare Exchanges
At a closed White House meeting in April, President Barack Obama told corporate insurance bosses 'we’re all in this together' on implementing his signature health law. But some insurance companies seem to be more in than others. At least five Blue Cross and Blue Shield executives sat at the table of about a dozen CEOs with the president, according to those knowledgeable about the session, first reported by the New York Times. Just as significant is who wasn’t there: chiefs of the country's biggest and third-biggest health insurers, UnitedHealth Group and Aetna (Hancock 6/21).

Politico: Multistate Affordable Care Act Plans May Not Spur Competition
A program meant to beef up competition on Obamacare exchanges may not add much to the mix of insurance options after all. The Multi-State Plan Program — which was the closest thing to a watered-down "public option" that made it into the final health law — is eventually supposed to provide at least two new insurance options in every state. The problem is that the only insurers likely to be able to quickly scale up coverage across the country are already doing just that: selling their plans from coast to coast (Norman, 6/24).

The Hill: 10 To Watch On ObamaCare Rollout
The Obama administration’s implementation of the 2010 healthcare law will help shape the president’s legacy, for better or worse. Federal and state officials are preparing to launch the health law’s insurance exchanges on Oct.1. But while most attention is trained on federal Health secretary Kathleen Sebelius, there are many others behind the scenes playing important roles in setting up the health exchanges, preparing for the Medicaid expansion and trying to get the public on board (Viebeck, 6/23).

USA Today: Government Begins Education Blitz For Uninsured
A week after a Government Accountability Office report said new health insurance exchanges may not be fully ready to launch in October, the government Monday began a 100-day public education blitz by releasing a new website, call center and publicity campaign. The campaign is designed to educate those who do not have insurance about how the marketplaces will work and how to obtain health insurance (Kennedy, 6/24).

The Washington Post: Obamacare Starts In 100 Days
There are, arguably, two big things that need to happen between now and October. The first is technical: The federal government needs to finish building the infrastructure that allows multiple government agencies to transmit information, determining whether an individual should qualify for tax subsidies. This is a really big lift. ... Also in the technical arena, the federal government needs to finish building the federal exchange, an online portal that most states will have their residents use to purchase health insurance (Kliff, 6/23).

Kaiser Health News: Officials Prepare For 'Biggest Open-Enrollment Season We've Ever Seen'
At the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange in Carson City, Nev., workers have been counting down the days until Oct. 1 on an office corkboard. Sunday is a big milestone --- 100 days to the deadline for opening the online marketplaces that are a linchpin of the federal health law known as Obamacare. "We certainly will need every one of the days that we have left," said Jon Hager, executive director of the Nevada exchange. "But I am confident we will be ready to go." ... Opening the marketplaces on time represents the Obama administration’s biggest opportunity to fulfill the law’s promise to extend coverage to uninsured Americans, including those who have been denied coverage in the past because of health conditions (Galewitz and Hancock, 6/23).

Baltimore Sun: Health Reform Outreach Begins In Maryland And Across The Across
As a multimillion-dollar national campaign launches Sunday to enroll Americans in the nation's new health care program, Maryland officials have already begun enlisting local groups in a similar drive. In one example, 200 Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders were brought together in Baltimore in May to discuss the health care initiative — part of a series of meetings and webinars to engage hospitals, religious congregations, insurance brokers and other groups seen as crucial to the outreach campaign. The state will begin more aggressive steps, including a door-to-door effort to reach the most vulnerable residents, later in the summer and early fall, ahead of the October opening of the enrollment period for Maryland's health exchange (Walker, 6/22).

In other health overhaul news -

The Associated Press: Promise Of Price Cut On Hospital Bills Is In Limbo
Huge list prices charged by hospitals are drawing increased attention, but a federal law meant to limit what the most financially vulnerable patients can be billed doesn't seem to be making much difference. A provision in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul says most hospitals must charge uninsured patients no more than what people with health insurance are billed. The goal is to protect patients from medical bankruptcy, a problem that will not go away next year when Obama's law expands coverage for millions (Alonso-Zaldivar, 6/24).

The Associated Press: Some Immigrants Excluded From Health Care Overhaul
President Obama has championed two sweeping policy changes that could transform how people live in the United States: affordable health care for all and a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. But many immigrants will have to wait more than a decade to qualify for health care benefits under the proposed immigration overhaul being debated by Congress, ensuring a huge swath of people will remain uninsured as the centerpiece of Obama's health care law launches next year (Silva, 6/21). 

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