KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

What Would A Mandate Delay Mean For Insurers, The Health Law

As talk continues over possibly putting off parts of the health law, news outlets look at what delaying the mandate that nearly all Americans have health insurance could do to insurers and just how smart the move really would be -- despite the seemingly good politics of a delay.

Marketplace: Delaying Obamacare: How Do Insurers Feel? 
As continues to frustrate, the chorus calling for delay of the Affordable Care Act is growing. A handful of Senate Democrats have joined Republican calls to hold off on the individual mandate (the part of the law that fines people who don't get insurance). But a delay would be trouble for health insurance companies. ... The insurance companies set their premiums based on one set of rules: rules in which everyone without insurance has to sign up. But, if those rules change, and people don’t have to get health insurance right away, says [Bradley Herring, a professor of health economics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health], "then they are kind of left holding the bag" (Hill, 10/28). 

McClatchy: Critics Point To Drawbacks In Changing Health Law Deadline, 'Individual Mandate'
Extending the Affordable Care Act's March 31 open enrollment deadline has become a familiar plea for congressional Democrats frustrated with the poor performance of the federal insurance marketplace. Republicans on Capitol Hill want to go even farther and waive the health law's "individual mandate," which requires most Americans to have coverage in 2014 or face a fine. While both consumer-friendly fixes make for good politics, neither proposal is as simple or as smart as it sounds, according to experts (Pugh, 10/28).

On the topic of enrolling young people --

PBS NewsHour: Will Health Care Premiums Be Affordable For Young People? White House Says Yes
White House and insurance industry officials are counting on relatively healthy young population to help share the costs of older Americans with pre-existing conditions. The law will ban insurance companies from charging the latter significantly higher premiums, making cost-sharing with a wider group of people crucial. But some analysts said that insurance plans wouldn't be cheap enough for young adults, that the fine would be more attractive, and the entire scheme would fall apart (Kane, 10/28).

And, in other implementation news --

Politico: Obamacare And The Limits Of The Wayback Machine
It just means that President Barack Obama's signature health care law shouldn't be written off just yet. Everything depends on what happens in the next few months. A full recovery is possible, if the federal enrollment website stops having comical breakdowns within the next month and the rest of the implementation runs more smoothly. If that doesn't happen, none of the lessons of Medicare Part D's rollout will be able to save Obamacare (Nather, 10/29).

The Fiscal Times: Is The Embattled IRS The Next Obamacare Nightmare? 
Lurking down the road, however, could be another crisis when the IRS moves center stage in the next year or two to assume responsibility for enforcing 46 new tax-related provisions and tasks associated with Obamacare. Those include imposing new taxes on medical devices and Medicare, overseeing new itemized deductions for medical expenses, and imposing penalties on uninsured Americans who fail to purchase coverage on the new exchanges (Pianin and Ehley, 10/29).

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