KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Administration Is ‘Fighting Back’ On Obamacare; Democrats’ ‘Nervous Breakdown’ About GOP Inquiry On Navigators

The New York Times: Selling Health Care Reform
In Washington, Republican members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce have sent intimidating letters to many of the groups hired as navigators, demanding all their paperwork and suggesting that the groups intend to exploit the work for fund-raising or political purposes. These are nonprofit groups that are simply trying to help uninsured people through the bureaucracy ... in less than a month, uninsured people will begin signing up for coverage. The more information they get — from the president, from the Baltimore Ravens and from the community group next door — the better their decisions will be (9/5).

The Wall Street Journal: Navigating ObamaCare Outrage
With ObamaCare scheduled to launch on October 1, Democrats seem more than a little anxious about their ability to execute. That's the only fathomable explanation for their nervous breakdown over a routine House inquiry. The Affordable Care Act is paying for "navigators," or non-government groups that received federal dollars in August to help people figure out and enroll for subsidies. ... if the handsomely financed navigators can't spare an hour or two to comply with a congressional investigation, then the law must be in bigger trouble than Democrats care to admit (9/5).

The New York Times: The Conscience Of A Liberal: It Takes A Government (To Make A Market)
Lots of reporting on the new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of what we know so far about premiums under Obamacare. It definitely looks as if there will be a mild "rate shock" — in the right direction. ... What’s going on here? Partly it's a vindication of the idea that you can make health insurance broadly affordable if you ban discrimination based on preexisting conditions while inducing healthy individuals to enter the risk pool through a combination of penalties and subsidies. But there's an additional factor, that even supporters of the Affordable Care Act mostly missed: the extent to which, for the first time, the Act is creating a truly functioning market in nongroup insurance (Paul Krugman, 9/5).

The Washington Post's Post Partisan: Good News For Obamacare
In the conservative echo chamber, there is little doubt about Obamacare: It's an unmitigated, costly disaster. ...  But, as the nation prepares for the phase-in of the law's most important elements next month, we are starting to get real data back. And at least one major criticism — that the law will require people without employer-sponsored insurance to buy very expensive health-care coverage — looks increasingly weak (Stephen Stromberg, 9/5).

The New England Journal Of Medicine: Only the Beginning — What's Next at the Health Insurance Exchanges?
On October 1, the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will open for business. ... Initial glitches are likely. Some may be serious. But with good will and persistence, they can be corrected, as Massachusetts' experience with a law similar to the ACA has shown. That is not the end of the story, however. After the exchanges are up and running, they will be in a position to make decisions that will help shape the organization, quality, and financing of all U.S. health care (Henry J. Aaron and Kevin W. Lucia, 9/4).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Beware Of Political Spin As MNsure Rolls Out
Rates that initially seem high may well turn out to be more affordable once subsidies, other assistance or lower cost-sharing factors in. Comparing costs with coverage from previous years is also difficult, since plans on the exchange may provide better benefits or lower deductibles, for example, than plans previously purchased on the individual market. ... Not everyone will find a good deal on MNsure. Minnesotans, however, need to do the math, not accept others’ politically motivated judgments, to figure out how they will fare in this new marketplace (9/5).

The New York Times' Opinionator: Hi, It's Your Doctor
[F]ire up your DeLorean. Health care is headed back to the future. House calls are a sign that we will all see our health care going back to the “old days” when, like my father, the doctor came to our homes, giving us real personalized medicine — and saving money at the same time s (Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, 9/5).

JAMA Internal Medicine: Less Tinkering, More Transforming
The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) movement has reached a sink-or-swim moment. Government and private payers are evaluating their return on investment, and many studies of PCMH interventions have not demonstrated savings despite extra investment. However, a few cases of the PCMH resulted in the contrary: large reductions in emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations. The difference between successful and unsuccessful examples is glaring. If medical homes emulated best practices to gain PCMH status, the transformation would prove worth the investment (Dr. David Margolius, 9/4).

Texas Tribune: Shut Down Obamacare, Not The Government
First of all, the scenario [Sen. Ted Cruz] has proposed is not analogous to the shutdown in the mid '90s. The senator has posited that Republicans should fund all of the government except Obamacare. In the mid '90s, the entire federal budget was held ransom to the shutdown. Secondly, as one close Obama advisor put it, "Never let a crisis go to waste." What we are seeing every day out of D.C. is the inability of the Affordable Care Act and its caretakers to properly implement (or understand) the law (Texas State Sen. Matt Krause, 9/5).

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