KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Obama Takes Aim At Surprise Medical Expenses In Budget

Patients face unexpected charges usually because of large payment disagreements between insurance companies and physicians, and the president's plan would remove patients from the equation completely. In other news, turmoil awaits as Congress moves forward with its own budget plans.

Modern Healthcare: Surprise Medical Bills Attract Attention Of Obama Administration
Embedded within President Barack Obama's 2017 budget for HHS is a provision to “eliminate surprise out-of-network healthcare charges for privately insured patients.” Details are scant, but the administration would try to solve the problem by requiring physicians who “regularly provide services in hospitals” to accept in-network rates, even if they aren't in the insurer's network. Hospitals would also have to “take reasonable steps” to ensure patients see in-network physicians. (Herman, 2/11)

CQ Healthbeat: Gridlock Warnings Ahead Of Preparations For Congressional Budget Plans
The current turmoil between the White House and Senate Republicans over an upcoming Supreme Court appointment appears to introduce the possibility of a higher level of legislative gridlock on the annual spending bills. The court vacancy also will likely influence current Supreme Court deliberations on abortion and contraception services mandate cases. ... Any reductions in non-defense discretionary spending targets could threaten any plans for funding increases for medical research programs and other health care funding priorities. Changes to set spending levels for fiscal 2017 likely will prompt Senate Democrats to block action on the annual spending bills. Additionally, recent budget plans offered by the GOP-led House have proposed major changes to the beneficiary structure of Medicare and federal funding for Medicaid. (2/16)

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