KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Republicans’ Answer To Covering The Sickest Of The Sick: High-Risk Pools

The cost of caring for people with chronic, serious health conditions is immense and how to pay for it has plagued both parties for years. Republicans are touting high-risk pools as a way to do it, but past attempts have not proven successful. Meanwhile, Vox reporter Sarah Kliff talks about where everything stands after this week's general upheaval.

Stateline: ACA Repeal Could Mean Return To ‘High-Risk Pools’
In 2011, there were 226,615 people in high-risk pools nationwide. But the plans largely disappeared with the advent of the Affordable Care Act .... Now, as President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress prepare to scrap the ACA, they are touting high-risk pools as a partial replacement. In a recent interview, [Lance Rice's] mother, Michelle, described the Indiana pool as “a lifesaver” that prevented the family from going bankrupt [after her son was diagnosed with hemophilia]. But in the other states with high-risk pools, especially the 20 that didn’t help people pay their premiums, the reviews weren’t so rosy. In those states, people struggled with expensive premiums, limited payouts and lifetime limits. (Ollove, 2/16)

WBUR: Where Are We Now On Affordable Care Act Changes
Vox health policy reporter Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) joins Here & Now's Meghna Chakrabarti to discuss how consumers might be affected by a new Trump administration proposal to limit sign-ups for individual health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. The new rules come as House Republicans meet Thursday to come up with a strategy to repeal and replace the ACA. (Chakrabarti, 2/16)

And in other news —

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Affordable Care Act Proposal Is A Good Start, Independence Blue Cross Chief Says
Rules proposed this week by the Trump administration to stabilize the individual health insurance market under the beleaguered Affordable Care Act are a good start, according to Daniel J. Hilferty, chief executive of Independence Blue Cross, the Philadelphia region's largest insurer. The proposal, the first concrete step by the Trump administration to deal with the ACA, would have little effect this year, but could bolster the market in 2018 by luring more insurers back into the market, said Hilferty, whose company was the only one to offer plans in Southeastern Pennsylvania this year. (Brubaker, 2/16)

The CT Mirror: CT Obamacare Exchange At A ‘Critical Crossroads,’ Leader Says
The federal health law and Connecticut’s Obamacare exchange are at a “critical crossroads,” the head of the state’s health insurance marketplace said Thursday, citing a host of potential changes that could affect Access Health CT’s viability. Among them: Plans by the Internal Revenue Service not to reject tax forms from filers who don’t report whether they had health insurance in the past year, Access Health CEO Jim Wadleigh told the exchange’s board, warning that it could “unwind” the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.  (Levin Becker, 2/16)

The CT Mirror: Here’s What We Know About CT’s Obamacare Insurance Customers
In all, 111,542 Connecticut residents signed up for private insurance plans through the state’s health insurance exchange, Access Health CT. That’s a 4 percent dip from last year. CEO Jim Wadleigh said Thursday that could reflect the fact that insurance companies stopped paying commissions to brokers for exchange plans – reducing the availability of help signing up for coverage – and confusion about changes to the Affordable Care Act at the federal level. (Levin Becker, 2/16)

Modesto Bee: People At Town Hall In Modesto Challenge Denham To ‘Show Your Face’ And Speak With Constituents About ACA Repeal
About 300 people gathered in a Modesto church for a town hall Wednesday evening, urging Republicans in Congress not to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Union groups and health advocates kept up pressure on Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, to not support dismantling the federal health program unless there’s a new plan that protects consumers and covers more people. (Carlson, 2/16)

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