KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Parsing The Issues: About Those High-Risk Pools; Does The GOP Health Plan Pave The Way For A Single-Payer System?

Editorial pages examine a range of health policy issues with the Republicans health bill, the American Health Care Act, including an analysis of two Republican governors' signals on preexisting conditions and doubts about how people with mental illness fare.

The Washington Post: Do High-Risk Pools Work? It Depends.
If the American Health Care Act ultimately becomes law, states will have the option to once again let insurers on the individual market charge those with preexisting conditions more than healthy people. Among the more contentious pieces of the AHCA, which the House of Representatives passed narrowly on Thursday, is a provision allowing states to request waivers to rules otherwise forbidding higher premiums based on a person’s health status. To get a waiver, states would have to explain how their approach would reduce premium growth and increase enrollment or competition; a late amendment to the bill added $8 billion to help defray higher costs to individuals with health conditions. (Richard Popper, 5/8)

The Washington Post: Republicans Are Accidentally Paving The Way For Single-Payer Health Care
Sooner or later, we will have universal, single-payer health care in this country — sooner if Republicans succeed in destroying the Affordable Care Act, later if they fail. The repeal-and-replace bill passed by the House last week is nothing short of an abomination. It is so bad that Republicans can defend it only by blowing smoke and telling lies. “You cannot be denied coverage if you have a preexisting condition,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said — true in the narrowest, most technical sense but totally false in the real world, since insurance companies could charge those people astronomically high premiums, pricing them out of the market if, as often happens, they let their coverage lapse. (Eugene Robinson, 5/8)

Los Angeles Times: Two GOP Governors Already Are Thinking Of Killing Protections For Preexisting Conditions In Their States
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus tried to reassure America over the weekend that the most horrific provisions of the Republican Obamacare repeal bill were so horrific that no politicians in their right mind would even contemplate implementing them. The issue is protection for people with preexisting medical conditions. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers aren’t allowed to charge those customers more for coverage just because of their health profile. The repeal bill passed by House Republicans last week allows states to obtain waivers to cut that safeguard way back, potentially allowing insurers to charge sky-high surcharges to make coverage unaffordable for those patients. (Michael Hiltzik, 5/8)

Fortune: The Surprise Gift That Trumpcare Could Yield
The U.S. Constitution is notable for its focus on proscriptions rather than prescriptions. Most of what this masterful charter does is guarantee freedom from government interference in individual liberties “rather than impose any affirmative obligation of the government to provide for the health or welfare of its citizens,” writes Erin C. Fuse Brown, an associate professor of law at Georgia State University’s Center for Law Health and Society in a fascinating 2013 paper. (Clifton Leaf, 5/8)

Kansas City Star: Mentally Ill Will Be Even Worse Off Under GOP Health Bill
There are so few services for those suffering from a serious mental illness that thousands of Missourians in that situation now live in nursing homes intended for geriatric patients, The Star reported this week. ... Yet if anything resembling the “American Health Care Act” — George Orwell would love that name — becomes law, such patients and their families will be even worse off. (5/8)  

Cleveland Plain Dealer: True Health Care Reform Must Go Beyond Just Putting A New (Political) Fox In The Henhouse
Health care in this country has been a political football for too long. Both parties can equally share the blame for this in different ways: the Republicans, for never giving in and admitting that we needed an inclusive system in the first place, even though nearly every developed country in the free world has one; and the Democrats, for ramming through a system so flawed and tainted that it is practically useless to anyone who actually needs it. Its very design entices companies not to hire full-time workers, or to cut full-time workers back to part-time simply to avoid paying health care benefits under this plan. (Dave Moeller, 5/8)

KevinMD: What’s The Difference Between Health Care In The U.S. And Haiti? Not Much.
Naturally, we will always have the option that awaits most of Haiti’s working poor: Simply let people die. It’s cheap and cost-effective and it hardly ever fails. Haiti’s government, while complicit in the country’s chronic dysfunction, simply does not have the funding to provide care for its 10 million people. The United States has no such excuse. We have the financial resources to insure our citizens, but we regularly choose defense spending hikes or tax cuts instead. (Vincent DeGennaro Jr., 5/8)

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