KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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The Twists And Turns Of Unraveling The Health Law And Related Federal Policies

Opinion writers examine the issues in play -- and how people might be affected by them -- as the repeal-replace-repair debate continues.

The Wall Street Journal: To End ObamaCare, Be Bold
The current Republican plan for partial repeal of ObamaCare is replete with downsides that make political opportunists on the left salivate. But consider the recent statement by Aetna’s CEO that ObamaCare is entering a “death spiral” as higher premiums drive healthier customers from the marketplace. This permits a better approach. (Heather R. Higgins, 2/26)

The New York Times: Why Undoing Obamacare Will Be So Hard
House Republicans will be unveiling their replacement for the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a Obamacare) next week and the White House has been signaling that it may reveal its thoughts not long after. But what is becoming increasingly clear is the extent to which Obamacare has become embedded in the American health care structure and how difficult it will be to craft an acceptable replacement. (Steven Rattner, 2/24)

The Washington Post: Face It: When It Comes To Health Care, People Are Hard To Please
Pass the Affordable Care Act, and for seven years, Americans tell pollsters they do not like it. Threaten to take away the ACA, and Americans tell pollsters, in effect, “How dare you take away the ACA!” Are people fickle, contrarian? Perhaps, but they are also deeply risk averse when it comes to their health and that of their family. Therein rests a cautionary tale for Republicans bent on repealing Obamacare. (Jennifer Rubin, 2/24)

RealClear Health: Don’t Throw Children Under The School Bus: Medicaid Is A Smart Investment In Our Nation’s Children
Medicaid provides millions of America’s children with that critical link to health and success. Children make up the single largest group of individuals who rely on Medicaid for their health care coverage. Medicaid has been working for kids for over 50 years now. What’s more, Medicaid includes a unique child-centered benefit package known as Early Periodic Screening Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) so that children are not denied coverage for services they need to stay on track developmentally. This important provision helps our nation’s most vulnerable children have the best shot possible of reaching their full potential. (Joan Alker, 2/27)

Los Angeles Times: Trump's Pick To Run Medicare And Medicaid Thinks Maternity Coverage Should Be Optional. Here's Why She's Dead Wrong
With these words, [Seema] Verma demonstrated either utter ignorance about how health insurance works, or such desperation for this job that she’s willing to profess ignorance and paper it over with conservative shibboleths about “individual choice” and the freedom to make one’s own decision. She deliberately overlooked that prior to the ACA, there was no such freedom, and women were typically not given a practical choice of whether to take maternity benefits or not; they simply weren’t offered. (Michael Hiltzik, 2/24)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Keep Defending Ohio Medicaid Expansion, Gov. Kasich
Some fellow Republicans will undoubtedly pressure Kasich to get with the Trump administration's program, whatever it is. But "repeal and repair" is really mostly about repeal -- and about walking away from those in Ohio who are counting on Kasich to stand firm. John Kasich must not agree to such a proposal. Given Ohioans' needs, he simply cannot. (2/25)

Nashville Tennessean: TN Health Insurance: Hope For Best, Prepare For Worst
Humana’s recent decision to cease offering individual health coverage on the Affordable Care Act exchanges in 2018 reflects the fact that there is more uncertainty than ever before about health insurance — both in Tennessee and nationwide. In the face of so much uncertainty, insurers are facing a May filing deadline related to whether they intend to sell individual plans next year. Without further intervention from President Trump’s administration or Congress, more insurers may follow Humana’s lead and decide not to offer individual coverage in 2018. This could create a worst-case scenario in 2018 where some Americans cannot get health insurance at all because no insurer offers it in their market. In fact, right now this seems more likely than not in 16 Tennessee counties where Humana is the only carrier in 2017. (Alex Tolbert, 2/26)

Richmond Times Dispatch: Inova’s Plan To Help People Enjoy Better Health At Lower Cost
As Republicans and Democrats brace for a battle royal over Obamacare and what might replace it, they would do well to pay heed to an important experiment south of the Potomac. In Congress the debate centers on who pays for health care and how costs can be shifted to someone else — a zero-sum game. At Inova Health System, the dominant health-care provider in Northern Virginia, the focus is on improving peoples’ health at lower cost by practicing medicine differently. If Inova is successful, everyone wins. (James A, Bacon, 2/25)

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