KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Roundup: Calif. Revisits Single Payer; Kan. And Maine Join Lawsuit; Texas Young Adults’ Insurance Challenge

CQ HealthBeat: Kansas, Maine Officials Say They'll Sign On To Health Care Lawsuit
Republican attorneys general in Kansas and Maine say they will join more than 20 other states in a lawsuit challenging the federal health care law. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt sent a letter to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Wednesday formally asking that Kansas join the multistate lawsuit pending in federal district court in Florida. Schmidt in his letter said he was giving authorization to lawyers to add Kansas as a plaintiff in the suit filed in the Northern District of Florida (Norman, 1/12).

California Healthline: Third Time's the Charm for Single Payer?
During the previous legislative session, the single-payer idea, embodied in SB 810 by Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) failed to make it through the Legislature. That follows two other sessions where the bill was successfully passed by the Legislature, only to be vetoed both times by Governor Schwarzenegger (Gorn, 1/12).

The Boston Globe: Insurance Requirement Key To Mass. Law's Success, Researchers Say
A new analysis from a team of Massachusetts economists concludes that the Massachusetts 2006 health law's requirement, that most residents buy coverage or pay a tax penalty, has been pivotal to the law's success. The findings, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that there was a greater increase in the number of healthy people who signed up for coverage in the state's subsidized health insurance program in 2007 -- the first full year of the "individual mandate" -- than chronically ill people, compared with the months before (Lazar, 1/12).

The Texas Tribune: 25-Year-Olds on State Insurance Face Coverage Gap
The federal provision, which went into effect in late September, forced all insurance providers to extend their dependent age cap to 26 at the start of their next "plan year." For many private providers, that began Jan. 1. But for Texas' Employees Retirement System, which administers health coverage for hundreds of thousands of state employees, retirees and their dependents, the plan year is tied to the state's fiscal year, which doesn't begin until next September (Ramshaw, 1/13).

Kansas Health Institute News: Health Insurers Cut Agent Commissions
A provision in the federal health reform law requiring that insurers spend at least 80 percent of their premium dollars on health care has triggered cuts in the commissions paid to local insurance agents. 'Every major carrier except for Blue Cross Blue Shield, effective Jan. 1, 2011, reduced their commissions,' said Tom Bryon, a spokesman for the Greater Kansas City Association of Health Underwriters (Ranney, 1/12). Related, earlier KHN story: Health Insurance Brokers Fight For Their Future (Gold, 12/3).

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