KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Sebelius On Making The Health Law Work

Key to achieving that goal, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, are navigators who will help educate the public about the health law's options. The security of information on the exchanges continues to draw headlines, and so does an emerging fracas involving a possible linkage between the health law's coverage to voter registration.

USA Today: Sebelius: Focus On How To Make Health Care Law Work
The fight over the future of the 2010 health care law has moved from repeal, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday, to how to make it work in time for the opening of health care exchanges Oct. 1. In an interview with USA TODAY, Sebelius said the navigators and HHS will protect the privacy of those who use the exchanges to buy insurance and to protect against fraud (Kennedy, 8/15).

Tampa Bay Times: Sebelius Awards Obamacare Funding, Expresses Concern For Florida Consumers
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Florida lawmakers' decision to suspend the state's power over health insurance rates leaves consumers at the mercy of the market. ... While Republican legislators have said they are looking out for consumers by refusing to go along with certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act, Sebelius said their actions suggest otherwise. "They're basically just saying, 'We're not going to look at these rates,' " she said. The federal health care law, opposed by most Republican legislators, assumed states would continue to take a lead role in setting insurance rates. Florida legislators, however, suspended that authority for two years, saying federal officials could do it since they were already planning the online insurance exchange. But the federal government says it lacks legal authority to deny rate increases in the states. Sebelius said she knows of no other state that took such a step (Tillman, 8/15).

Stateline: Obamacare And Voting Rights Clash Over Health Exchanges
Two of the fiercest political disputes between Washington and the states could soon come together in legal fights that involve tying the new federal health care overhaul to voter registration. Every state is preparing to open a health insurance exchange by Oct. 1. Whether these new agencies will offer voter registration as well as health care information is emerging as a potential fault line that could further divide states from one another and from Washington (Grovum, 8/16).

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Olens Questions Security Of Information On Exchange
Georgia’s Sam Olens and attorneys general in 12 other states say the federal government is not doing enough to protect the medical and financial information of people who will apply for health insurance on government exchanges set to open Oct. 1 (Markiewicz and Williams, 8/15).

Meanwhile, the Obama administration continues to court small business -

The Washington Post: Obama Administration Outlines Five Ways Health Care Law Benefits Small Businesses
The Obama administration is ramping up its efforts to sell the health care law to small business owners, with the start of enrollment now only six weeks away. In a new entry on the White House blog, Ari Matusiak, the administration’s director of private sector engagement, has outlined five ways the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, will “provides benefits and opportunities to small businesses that will help increase access to affordable coverage options” (Harrison, 8/15).

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