KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

New Rule Sets 2013 As The Time For Small Business To Count Staff Size For Health Law

Health law implementation headlines include reports about how new regulatory guidance might impact small businesses. Also, prominent physicians call for the government to release regulations for the part of the law forcing drug and medical device makers to disclose financial ties to doctors.

The Wall Street Journal: Insurance Rule Will Go By Size Of 2013 Staff
Start counting your staffers now. That is the upshot of regulatory guidance issued by the government on Dec. 28, when few small-business owners noticed in the midst of the holidays and the "fiscal cliff" debate (Maltby, 1/16).

The Wall Street Journal: A Health Scare For Small Businesses
During her two-plus years in business, Elizabeth Turley has steadily recruited new employees for her apparel company, Meesh & Mia Corp., to keep pace with its rapid growth. But this year could be different. Instead of increasing her staff, she plans to hire independent contractors for tasks that can be outsourced. … Her reason? Meesh & Mia is on the cusp of having 50 full-time employees. If the company hits that threshold, it will have to provide health coverage that meets government standards or potentially pay a penalty (Maltby, 1/16).

Fox News: Premiums Set To Rise This Year In Run-Up To ObamaCare Tax On Insurance Industry
While the most sweeping provisions of the health care overhaul have not yet gone into effect, plenty of Americans will still be paying higher insurance premiums this year -- as insurance companies try to preemptively cover the cost of a tax increase included in President Obama's Affordable Care Act. That tax doesn't take effect until next year, when other major provisions like the so-called "individual mandate" and insurance subsidies also kick in. But that hasn't stopped insurance companies from charging higher premiums this year to cover the hike, as well as the cost of ObamaCare benefits such as free birth control and preventive care. Premiums for individuals and small businesses are projected to increase due to the tax by roughly 2 percent this year and by as much as 3.7 percent in 2023, according to a widely cited analysis by the insurance industry (Weber, 1/16).

Politico: HHS Keeping Up With The Times Online
Health reform — you've got mail. The Obama administration is giving its health reform website a 21st-century revamp, inviting consumers to sign up for text alerts and email updates. That's a prelude to encouraging people to jump in when enrollment opens in the fall for the exchanges — henceforth to be known as "health insurance marketplaces" (Cheney, 1/17).

Medpage Today: Clamor For Sunshine Act Rules Continues
Demand is growing for the Obama administration to issue regulations implementing the Physician Payments Sunshine Act (PPSA), a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires drug and device makers to publicly disclose their financial relationships with physicians, including how much money they are being paid. On Tuesday, a group of prominent physicians including former New England Journal of Medicine editors Marcia Angell, MD, and Jerome Kassirer, MD, wrote to outgoing White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew expressing their concerns about the lack of action (Frieden, 1/16).

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