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Congressional Clock Is Ticking On Efforts To Shore Up Obamacare Insurance Markets

KHN Morning Briefing

Though some senators say they are cautiously optimistic, it is not yet clear if lawmakers will be able to reach agreement before a self-imposed mid-September deadline. Meanwhile, the outcome of the trial of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) could have a serious impact on the Senate’s balance of power and the outcome of major legislative battles, such as efforts to either repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or to fix it. News outlets also report on specific health policy positions of various senators and KHN’s weekly “What The Health?” podcast reports on all the Capitol Hill health-policy goings on.

UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley Steps Down

KHN Morning Briefing

The insurer’s current president David Wichmann will take over the position while Hemsley, who has been with the health plan since 1997, will move into a newly created role as executive chairman of the board of directors.

Questions About Congressional Rules Could Complicate Further Repeal Efforts

KHN Morning Briefing

Politico Pro reports that the Senate parliamentarian is looking into whether Republicans can continue to debate the replacement of the federal health law using fast-track procedures set up under the 2017 budget after the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. In other news, Sen. Johnny Isakson talks about health issues and a look at how women view the health care debate.

Three N.H. Insurers Confirm Their Intent To Stay In The Obamacare Exchange

KHN Morning Briefing

The companies — Anthem, Harvard Pilgrim and Ambetter by NH Healthy Families — will offer plans on the health exchange for 2018. But the continuing uncertainty regarding federal health law action led regulators in nearby Massachusetts to delay the approval of individual and small business insurance rates that are set to take effect Jan. 1. News outlets also report on rate hikes and turmoil in Iowa and Georgia.

Trump Poised To End Contraception Requirement For Employee Health Benefits

KHN Morning Briefing

President Donald Trump is expected to issue a regulation allowing employers with religious objections to omit coverage for contraception from their workers’ insurance plans. In other Trump administration news: the Department of Health and Human Services names 14 people to its mental health panel; the cancellation of several payment reforms is complicating efforts by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to promote value-based care; and the National Parks Service lifts a ban on selling plastic water bottles in the parks.

After Hemming And Hawing, White House Says It Will Make August Payments To Insurers

KHN Morning Briefing

These payments, known as cost-sharing reductions, are paid to health plans to offset the costs of providing coverage to low-income consumers. The decision, which drew criticism from some congressional conservatives, signals, for now, that the administration has decided against triggering a collapse of the health law’s individual market. This step could create a window of time and opportunity for Congress to pass some fixes to stabilize the markets.

Nevada’s Insurance ‘Bare Market’ Now Appears Covered

KHN Morning Briefing

The health insurer Centene Corp. decided to expand its reach in Nevada, offering health plans in rural counties that were at risk of having no options next year. The step is viewed as a victory for Obamacare supporters.