KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Administration Defends Obamacare, Employer Mandate Delay Decision

The New York Times: Sebelius Defends Law And Zeal In Push To Insure Millions
[HHS Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius is on the defensive more than ever now that the White House has delayed a major provision of the law that requires larger employers to offer health insurance to full-time employees. Republicans say she has given a far too rosy picture of progress in carrying out the law. And they are demanding that she explain why people should be required to carry insurance next year if employers are not required to offer it. In her zeal to make the health care law work, Ms. Sebelius has tested the limits of her authority. After Congress refused to provide as much as she wanted for a nationwide campaign publicizing the new insurance options, she shuffled money between government accounts and sought cash from outside groups (Pear, 7/8).

The Hill: White House Downplays Delays
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday defended the administration's decision to delay Obamacare's employer mandate, and said the law's central pieces will take effect as planned. Carney said state-based insurance exchanges are set to launch "as advertised" by Oct. 1, despite delays implementing other provisions (Baker and Viebeck, 7/8).

National Journal: White House Has Known For Months Obamacare Implementation Wouldn’t Work
If you've been reading all the Obamacare stories lately, you might get the impression that the administration has just realized it will not be able to implement the massive health reform as designed. It has known for months (Sanger-Katz, 7/9).

The Associated Press: What Now? Q&A About Latest Snag In Health Care Law
Nothing's ever easy with President Barack Obama's health care law. The latest hitch gives employers an additional year before they must offer medical coverage to their workers or pay a fine (Cass, 7/9).

Related, earlier KHN story: FAQ: What Workers And Employers Need To Know About The Postponed Employer Mandate (7/3)

The Associated Press: A Break For Smokers? Glitch May Limit Penalties
Some smokers trying to get coverage next year under President Barack Obama's health care law may get a break from tobacco-use penalties that could have made their premiums unaffordable. The Obama administration — in yet another health care overhaul delay — has quietly notified insurers that a computer system glitch will limit penalties that the law says the companies may charge smokers. A fix will take at least a year to put in place (Alonso-Zaldivar, 7/9).

Related, earlier KHN stories: 
California Moves To Protect Smokers From Higher Obamacare Insurance Costs (O'Neill, 4/30).
Mass. Advocates Want To Snuff Out Higher Premiums For Smokers (Bebinger, 5/24).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.