KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Conrad: Repealing Health Law Via Budget Rules Would Be Misuse

Also in the news, media outlets report on a range of issues related to the health law's implementation, including accountable care organizations, essential benefits and an HHS warning about a fake website related to the measure's pre-existing condition insurance plan.

The Hill: Conrad: GOP Would Be 'Misusing' Reconciliation To Repeal Health Law
Using the budget reconciliation process to repeal health care reform would be inappropriate, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said Wednesday. Even if Republicans win the White House and keep the House in 2012, repealing the health care law through normal procedures would require the same 60-vote threshold that was needed to pass it. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said during Tuesday night's debate that he would ask Congress to repeal the health care law through reconciliation, which only requires 51 votes in the Senate (Baker, 10/12).

Politico Pro: Why Did IOM Pick The Small-Business Model?
Did the Institute of Medicine blunder by pegging the essential health benefit package to a typical small employer plan instead of a large employer's? That depends on who you ask. The debate was sparked by the Affordable Care Act's vague instruction that the basic benefit package offered on state-run health insurance exchanges must reflect the "typical" employer plan. The statute did not say anything about the employer's size. In recommendations notably marked by sensitivity to health insurance affordability, the IOM committee ultimately took the position that the essential health benefit package, which will eventually serve as the coverage benchmark for 68 million individuals, should be calibrated to small-employer plans (Millman, 10/13).

Politico Pro: ACO Pioneers Named Soon, Participants Say
CMS aims to announce within a week the health systems that have been selected for the accountable care organization Pioneer program, according to multiple sources with groups that have been notified that their applications have been accepted. The ACO Pioneer program is a fast-track payment reform pilot run by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. It will run parallel to the main ACO program, which was created as a key part of the Affordable Care Act and formally known as the Medicare Shared Savings Program. A CMS spokesman declined to comment on the timetable. HealthCare Partners, which proposed to operate ACOs in California, Nevada and Florida, was among those notified it had been accepted, but CEO Robert Margolis said many details still must be worked out before final contracts can be signed (Feder, 10/12).

Politico: HHS Issues Warning About Fake Website
HHS is warning consumers about a private website that's posing as the central hub for health care reform's Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. The website,, may have the look and feel of an official website for the federal health insurance program, but HHS is warning consumers that it's not the real thing (Millman, 10/12).

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