KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Sebelius Talks Health Insurance Exchanges

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took questions from PBS Newshour viewers about these new health insurance marketplaces that were envisioned in the health law. Also in the news, analysis of the recess appointment of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Director Donald Berwick and more about what implementation activities are happening at the state level.  

PBS Newshour: Secretary Sebelius Answers Your Questions On Health Insurance Exchanges
By 2014, the health insurance market will be flooded with 30 million more Americans purchasing plans through "health insurance exchanges." Created by the reform law, these online marketplaces will make purchasing a health plan "more like buying plane tickets or a home appliance," according to Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. An interesting idea, but what exactly does that mean? To find out, we spoke with Julie Appleby of Kaiser Health News for a Health Exchange 101 and looked at the exchange experiment already underway in Utah. Then we turned it over to you to ask Sebelius -- the top Obama administration official charged with overseeing the implementation of the exchanges -- your own questions about the big changes coming to the insurance marketplace (Kane, 8/11). 

The Hill: Sebelius Highlights National Health Plans
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday highlighted the national healthcare plans that will be available through state-based insurance exchanges. While taking questions from viewers of PBS' NewsHour, Sebelius was asked about exchanges' ability to promote competition in the insurance marketplace. Exchanges are intended to function as a "one-stop shop" for individuals and small businesses to compare and buy insurance (Baker, 8/11). 

PBS Newshour: Berwick Recess Appointment Part Of A 'Fundamentally Broken' System
Berwick's appointment provoked the immediate wrath of some Republicans, who accuse the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services chief of being an advocate of rationing care and supporting a "bureaucratic" health care system similar to Great Britain's. But the heat surrounding his nomination says as much about the political theater framing most of today's recess appointments as about Berwick himself -- a life-long ideas man whose policy approach to driving down costs and putting patients at the center of the health care experience was acclaimed by leaders of both parties before he became associated with health care reform (Kane, 8/11). 

Politico Pro: Wisconsin Is Only GOP 'Early Innovator'
Now that two Republican governors have returned hefty federal grants to build a health exchange in their states, a major question lingers over health reform implementation efforts: Will Wisconsin return its $37.8 million HHS grant? That's not at all likely, according to the governor's office and industry stakeholders in Wisconsin, which now stands alone as the only Republican-led state to accept an Early Innovator Grant. Wisconsin "remains committed" to using the grant to upgrade the state's Medicaid eligibility and enrollment systems and integrate them with the state's health exchange, Gov. Scott Walker's spokesman Cullen Werwie told POLITICO (Millman, 8/11). 

Omaha World Herald: Coalitions At Odds On Health Reform
Two new Nebraska coalitions are pushing conflicting ideas about how best to carry out federal health care reform in the state. But both say Nebraska should run its own health insurance exchange rather than leave the job to the federal government. The exchanges are a central feature of the federal overhaul. They are to be "one-stop shops" where people can compare and buy health insurance and enroll in public benefits. Subsidies to help people afford insurance will be provided through the exchanges (Stoddard, 8/12). 

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