KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Care Reform Law Still Generating Lots Of Questions

News organizations continue looking into the effects of the new health care law.

The Los Angeles Times answers several health reform-related questions, including: "How will this bill change my life this year? A: Many of the insurance reforms will take effect in the coming months. Insurers will no longer be allowed to place lifetime limits on coverage or drop customers from their rolls without cause. Plans will be required to cover preventive services and they must disclose how they put premium dollars to use. By next year, insurers will be required to provide rebates to customers if less than 80 percent of premium dollars are spent on actual care and improving quality" (Geiger, 4/2).

The Wall Street Journal has a table of all of the states' "legal authorities over rates in the individual [insurance] market" (4/2).

Related story from Kaiser Health News: True or False: Seven Concerns About The New Health Law (3/31).

In a health care "fact check," the Cleveland Plain Dealer answers the question: "Government-run long-term care insurance, similar to private policies that people buy to help pay for nursing home or convalescent care, was included in the health-reform bill the president signed. When can the public sign up? A: You'll have to wait a while. While enrollment technically could start as soon as next January, the Department of Health and Human Services first must complete actuarial studies and set up the entire program."

"The new government insurance program would ... save money that the government now spends on Medicaid. People would enroll through the workplace, although employers as well as employees could opt out" (Koff, 4/4).

Politifact looked into a March 21 statement by Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, on the House floor: "you can certainly sum up our many, many pages with four words: 'You've got health care.' With this reform, every insured American gets valuable consumer protections, and every uninsured American can become insured."

Politifact concluded: "He's right about the law introducing consumer protections. Also, the law is expected to ease access to coverage, though not everyone benefits immediately. Still, starting in 2014, every American will be able to sign up for insurance. We rate Doggett's statement as True" (4/2).

Virginian-Pilot: "There are numerous unanswered questions as the 2,000-plus pages of law get transformed into even more pages of regulation. ... Roughly 1 million Virginians are uninsured. According to the Virginia Health Care Foundation, it's expected that under the new law about one-third will be newly eligible for Medicaid, the shared federal and state insurance for the poor and disabled. An additional 17 percent of the state's uninsured fall between ages 18 and 24, and they could be added to their parents' insurance. And 700,000 are expected to qualify for insurance subsidies, according to the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis" (Simpson, 4/4). 

Allentown, Penn. Morning Call: "It's the question plenty of senior citizens are asking about health care reform: What does it really mean for Medicare? If they don't like the answer, it could have a major impact come election time. ... Indeed, the government-run insurance program for seniors is slated to see significant changes because of the new health care reform law -- both new benefits that should help most beneficiaries, as well as cuts that could limit options for some."

"The lawmakers who pushed health care reform through are hoping there are enough pros to counterbalance any cons for seniors, who are among the most reliable of voters" (Callaway, 4/3).


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