KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoint: GOP’s Repeal Bill Could Be A Test-Run; Another Side Effect Of High Deductibles

A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.

Health Affairs: Obama Vetoes ACA Repeal, And Other Health Reform Developments
On January 8, 2016, President Obama to the surprise of no one vetoed HR 3762, the budget reconciliation act that sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act. ... It was clear from the outset that the legislation would be vetoed. The Republicans in the Senate, however, got a chance to vote for repeal. They also got, for future reference, an opportunity to see what provisions of a potential repeal bill the Senate parliamentarian would approve as appropriate for a reconciliation bill. If the Republicans succeed in electing a president this knowledge may prove quite valuable. What the Republicans did not do was put forward a strategy for replacing the ACA had their repeal strategy succeeded. (Timothy Jost, 1/9)

The New York Times: Governors Get Smarter On Medicaid
Republican and Democratic governors in several states that have refused to expand their Medicaid programs are now seeking to do so, but will need approval from Republican-dominated legislatures. Even if they are not moved by humanitarian concerns to improve health care for their poorest citizens, recalcitrant legislators should at least see the folly of rejecting extremely generous matching funds. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost for newly eligible enrollees in 2016 and 95 percent in 2017, phasing down to 90 percent in 2020 and subsequent years. (1/11)

Modern Healthcare: What's Behind The Out-Of-Pocket Cost Problem
A decade ago, most middle-class Americans felt pretty good about their health insurance, and politically supported extending coverage to the uninsured. Now, more than a quarter of those folks are paying $1,000 or more before their coverage kicks in. They aren't likely to be politically supportive of calls to increase subsidies to people in exchange-based plans to cover their out-of-pocket costs. High-deductible plans are not an effective means of promoting high-quality healthcare. When people have more skin in the game, they cut back on utilization. But studies show they are just as likely to cut back on necessary care as on unnecessary or overly expensive drugs, tests and procedures. Price transparency still isn't a major factor in the marketplace. (Merrill Goozner, 1/9)

Modern Healthcare: Some Iowa Voters Yearn For More Substantive Healthcare Proposals From Candidates
The famed pediatric neurosurgeon said not a word in his campaign speech [in Cedar Rapids, Iowa] Thursday about what he would do on healthcare policy if he's elected president. In contrast, the former president had a lot to say during his talk the same day in this eastern Iowa city about what his wife would do on healthcare if she's elected to the White House. Members of both their audiences said they wanted to hear more from the candidates on healthcare as they troop through Iowa in the lead-up to the Feb. 1 Iowa presidential caucuses. (Harris Meyer, 1/8)

Forbes: This Supreme Court Case Threatens To Sink Price Transparency
You could be forgiven for not hearing about Liberty Mutual v. Gobeille, a case on the Supreme Court’s docket this term. ... Gobeille has nothing to do with some of the more exciting issues of the day. But what the court decides in Gobeille could spell the end of state efforts to inject long-overdue price transparency in health care pricing, potentially affecting millions of Americans. The legal question in Gobeille is simple: does the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) pre-empt state efforts on health care transparency. (Yevgeniy Feyman, 1/11)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Patients Need To Know Options On Palliative Care
This year, more physicians will be doing advanced care planning. If you have Medicare, your doctor will now be reimbursed for an appointment to discuss the type of life you want when ill. Palliative care may be part of that conversation. This is medical care that aims to relieve patients of the symptoms, pain, and stresses of advanced illness -- whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life and relieve suffering for both patient and family. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in an advanced illness, and curative treatment doesn't have to stop. (Perry Farmer and Barbara Ebling, 1/11)

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