KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Perspectives On Health Law: ACA’s Problems Go Beyond Marketing; Sabotaging Outreach

Several opinion sections weigh in on the Trump administration's decision to cut funding for outreach and marketing during the Affordable Care Act's upcoming open enrollment season.

The Wall Street Journal: Navigating ObamaCare
One of the more evidence-free claims on the left is that the Affordable Care Act worked brilliantly before Republicans tried to dismantle it. Witness the claim this week that the Trump Administration is trying to tank the law’s exchanges, which are struggling from lack of consumer choice and affordability, not from a lack of government marketing. ... All told, the navigators last year enrolled about 81,000 people, less than 1% of the total. In fairness to the navigators, it would be tough to sell any product that millions of people are paying fines to avoid buying. (9/1)

The Washington Post: One Small Step For Obamacare
Obamacare is still not collapsing. But the health system could be on much firmer footing. Over the next several weeks, Congress ought to put aside the past seven acrimonious years and make that happen. ... President Trump has threatened to cut off subsidy payments the federal government promised insurance companies. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold hearings this week and may soon craft a bill that would guarantee these payments are made, relieving skittish insurers. In return for approving permanent funding, Republicans would demand that states are offered more flexibility in experimenting with health insurance rules. ... Democrats should be able to agree to offer states some more leeway. (9/2)

Los Angeles Times: Slashing Advertising And Outreach Funds, Trump Takes His Sabotage Of Obamacare To A New Level
President Trump talks incessantly about how the Affordable Care Act has failed. He has threatened to make it “implode.” Now he has taken a major step toward making his own predictions and threats come true. The Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that it is cutting the advertising budget for the upcoming open enrollment period for individual insurance policies by a stunning 90%, to $10 million from last year’s $100 million. The HHS also is cutting funds for nonprofit groups that employ “navigators,” those who help people in the individual market understand their options and sign up, by roughly 40%, to $36.8 million from $62.5 million. (Michael Hiltzik, 9/1)

USA Today: Health Care Truth GOP Must Accept: America Doesn't Want A Free Market Yet
On health care, Democrats have two advantages over Republicans. One is a shared purpose: universal coverage achieved through aggressive government intervention. The other is their willingness to achieve that goal incrementally. Obamacare did not achieve universal coverage. The percentage of uninsured Americans has fallen from 14.6% in 2008 to 11.3%. But Obamacare moved the country closer to the goal, which brought more strident left-wingers on board. Republicans do not share such clarity. There is broad agreement only on the political goal: repealing Obamacare. There is no agreement on the principles, never mind the details, that would guide replacement. (Andrew Cline, 9/5)

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