KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Healthcare.Gov Has Busiest Day Ever — Even As Uncertain Future Looms

Officials announce that 670,000 people signed up for coverage on Thursday, outpacing the previous high of 600,000 from last year.

The Washington Post: Obama Announces Record Sign-Ups For A Single Day In ACA Marketplaces
President Obama used his final pre-Christmas news conference to tout anew the popularity of the sprawling health-care law that his successor wants to abolish, announcing that sign-ups in Affordable Care Act market­places just hit an all-time record for a single day. The president said 670,000 Americans chose health plans in states relying on HealthCare.gov on Thursday, the original deadline to have ACA coverage in place by Jan. 1. That is 70,000 more than the enrollment on the same date last year — a record at the time. (Goldstein, 12/16)

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Care Website Saw Busiest Sign-Up Day Ever Thursday, Obama Says
President Barack Obama said the website selling coverage under his signature health law had seen its busiest day ever on Thursday, with 670,000 people using HealthCare.gov to renew or obtain health plans ahead of a year in which Republicans have pledged to begin dismantling the law. The president announced the numbers early into his final press conference of 2016, listing them as one of the achievements of his eight years in office that he said he was proud to leave to his successor. (Radnofsky, 12/16)

Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Sign-Ups Hit New Record Even As GOP Promises Repeal
The record tally, announced by President Obama at his year-end news conference Friday, continues the strong enrollment this fall following Donald Trump’s Nov. 8 election victory. And it underscored again the challenge that Trump and his Republican congressional allies face in repealing Obamacare, as the law is often called. "More are signing up by the day," Obama told reporters in the White House briefing room. (Levey, 12/16)

The Hill: Obama Touts 'Biggest Day Ever' For Healthcare Signups
President Obama on Friday announced that the federal government’s healthcare marketplace had seen its “biggest day ever” for signups. Obama used the good news for HealthCare.gov to tout the progress made by his signature healthcare law. “Since I signed ObamaCare into law, businesses have added more than 15 million new jobs,” he said in his final press conference of 2016. (Ferris, 12/16)

In other health law news —

The Hill: Feds Issue New Rules Aimed To Strengthen ObamaCare Market
The Obama administration on Friday issued new rules making tweaks to the ObamaCare insurance marketplaces for next year, seeking to address lingering issues even as Republicans push forward with plans to repeal the law.  The 465-page final regulation for 2018, part of an annual process to set the rules for the law’s marketplaces, seeks to address some insurer complaints with how the marketplaces operate. (Sullivan, 12/16)

The Star Tribune: Hospitals Face Uncertain Prognosis With Affordable Care Act Up In The Air
In 2010, when federal lawmakers passed the Affordable Care Act, Minnesota health systems provided $226 million in charity care to patients who couldn’t cover all of their treatment costs. By the time Minnesota fully expanded its Medicaid insurance program as part of health law in 2014, annual charity care expenses dropped to just $164 million. The savings point to one reason why hospitals and clinics are apprehensive about Republican control in Washington, D.C., where President-elect Donald Trump and congressional leaders have vowed to repeal and replace the health law. (Snowbeck, 12/17)

Chicago Tribune: If You Have Employer Health Insurance, An Obamacare Repeal Will Affect You Too
In recent weeks, much attention has focused on what repealing and replacing the law might mean for the roughly 1 million Illinois residents and nearly 20 million Americans who get health insurance through the law's exchanges or Medicaid expansion. But Obamacare is far broader than that. Scrapping the law also could change how health insurance works for 6.8 million Illinois residents and 156 million Americans who had coverage last year through employers, as estimated by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. (Schencker, 12/17)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: GOP Eager To Roll Back Health Law. Then Comes Hard Part.
While the GOP is united on gutting the law often called Obamacare, they have yet to agree on what they would do differently.Some want to move as fast and aggressively as possible anyway. Others, including lawmakers from the Philadelphia area, hope for a two- or three-year transition period while they sort out a Republican replacement that will address the 20 million people who get coverage under the law. Democrats, meanwhile, will have to choose between firmly opposing Republicans - leaving the GOP to own any consequences of their changes - and cooperating on a replacement in an attempt to preserve as many of the law's benefits as they can. (Tamari, 12/19)

Columbus Dispatch: Birth-Control Coverage At Risk In Obamacare Repeal 
Trump and congressional Republicans have vowed as soon as next month to scrap the 2010 health-care law known as Obamacare. The law requires private health-insurance policies sold through the state and federal marketplaces known as exchanges to include coverage of contraceptive devices. (Heigl, 12/19)

Health News Florida: Intersection: The Fate Of The Affordable Care Act In Florida
For people who want their insurance to kick in January 1st, enrollment has been extended through Monday Dec. 19. With that said, the big question for those who get their health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act is, what will happen to the ACA once President Elect Donald Trump takes office Jan. 20? (Miller, Aboraya and Peddie, 12/16)

And from the states —

Pioneer Press: High Volume, Longer Waits At MNsure Deadline
Thousands of people swarmed MNsure’s help lines Thursday evening, trying to purchase health insurance on the deadline for it to take effect in January. A total of 52,000 Minnesotans have signed up for insurance through Thursday’s deadline, which means around 8,000 signed up on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. This is around twice as fast as the pace of enrollment last year, a change a MNsure spokesperson attributed to carriers imposing new enrollment caps this year and Minnesotans trying to sign up before those caps are reached. (Montgomery, 12/16)

California Healthline: For Conservatives, It’s A New Day In Health Care
So what would a Republican replacement plan actually look like? And would it maintain some of the more popular pieces of the ACA? To find out, we spoke with leading conservative health care expert, Lanhee Chen, co-author of the influential American Enterprise Institute replacement proposal. Chen previously served as the policy director for Governor Mitt Romney during his presidential campaign and is currently a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. (Gold, 12/19)

California Healthline: California Consumers Face More Immediate Concerns Than Obamacare’s Uncertain Future
While Washington debates the future of the Affordable Care Act, many Californians face more pressing concerns about rising premiums and shrinking networks of doctors and hospitals. Open enrollment for the Covered California exchange is underway, and sign-ups are running ahead of last year’s pace. About 1.2 million Californians had renewed their existing coverage and more than 190,000 people had signed up for new health plans as of last week. The enrollment deadline for coverage that starts Jan. 1 ends Monday at midnight. But people can still sign up for 2017 coverage until Jan. 31. (12/19)

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