KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: April 12, 2013

Today's headlines include reports about a new study measuring how the health law has expanded young adults access to care.  

Kaiser Health News: Is My Retiree Insurance Coverage Subject To The Health Law? (Video)
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews answers a reader's question about whether retiree health plans must comply with new rules under the ACA (4/12). Watch the video or read the transcript.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Wait For Obamacare Price Tags Could Be Months; Harkin Accuses Administration Of ‘Robbing Peter To Pay Paul’; Groups Seek To Fast-Track Efforts To Curb Costs, Boost Quality
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Jay Hancock reports on insurance rate disclosure: "Last week Vermont became the first state to provide a glimpse of how expensive individual health insurance might be under the Affordable Care Act. Proposed rates there, while of questionable relevance to the rest of the country because of the state’s unusual insurance market, showed little change from current prices and reassured health law supporters fearing headlines about 'sticker shock'" (Hancock, 4/12).

In addition, Jenny Gold reports on the latest plans for the health law's Prevention and Public Health Fund: "A Democratic senator chastised the White House Thursday for raiding the health law's Prevention and Public Health Fund to pay for a program to help the uninsured sign up for coverage in new insurance marketplaces. 'This is robbing Peter to pay Paul,' Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, told a senior official at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (Gold, 4/11).

Also on Capsules, Julie Appleby reports on a new set of recommendations regarding health costs and quality: "Five veteran health care leaders representing insurers, hospitals, employers and consumers on Thursday outlined an ambitious set of recommendations aimed at slowing rising costs, focused mainly on changing the way America pays for health care" (Appleby, 4/11). Check out what else is on the blog.

NPR: Ryan Says He's 'Cautiously Optimistic' On A Bipartisan Budget Deal
Speaking to NPR a day after President Obama unveiled a 2014 budget proposal that includes cuts to Social Security and Medicare, as well as tax increases and new investments in education and infrastructure, Ryan said he was encouraged by the broad outlines from the White House. "This is the first time in this presidency that I have seen a chance at a bipartisan budget agreement, so I am cautiously optimistic about that," Ryan said in the interview scheduled to be aired on Friday's Morning Edition (Neuman, 4/11).

Politico: Cost Of Exchanges Shoots Up
The Obama administration’s best guess of how much it will spend to subsidize insurance on Obamacare exchanges shot up substantially this year thanks in large part to the U.S. Supreme Court. But while the exchange costs rise, the Medicaid spending will probably be less than initially forecast as some states decline the expansion (Norman, 4/12).

The Washington Post’s WonkBlog: Obamacare Expanded Health Access. Now Supporters Want Another Bill To Tackle Costs.
Five health policy wonks walk into a room and start talking about how to bend the health-care cost curve — stop us if you've heard this one before. Plans to bend the health-care cost curve are pretty plentiful in the nation’s capital. Lots of think tanks and coalitions have plans to cut billions (even trillions) in health-care spending. The Partnership for Sustainable Health Care argues it's something different. The new alliance, which includes health plans, a hospital and consumer advocates, isn't looking to bring fresh ideas to the debate. It recognizes this city has no shortage of think tank proposals (Kliff, 4/11).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Young Adults On Parents' Health Plans Cost More
Young adults who stayed on their parents' insurance plans under a popular provision in the federal health law incurred slightly higher health costs than young adults who had their own coverage, largely because they used more care for mental health, substance abuse and pregnancy, new research suggests (Radnofsky, 4/11).

Politico: ACA Allows More Young Adults To Get Treatment On Mental Health, Pregnancy
Millions of young adults with newfound coverage through the health care law are using it to meet a gaping need for mental health care and substance abuse treatment — and access pregnancy care, too. A new study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute looks at the experience of one large national employer to get a feel for how the Affordable Care Act’s rule allowing young adults to stay on their parents' plans up to age 26 is having an impact. Approximately 3.1 million young people nationwide have found coverage through this provision (Smith, 4/12).

The Washington Post: Insurance Providers Debate Whether Federal Workers Should Have More Choices
Two leading health-insurance providers squared off during congressional testimony Thursday, debating whether the government should allow more plans to participate in the $47 billion health-benefits program for federal employees. At a hearing before the House subcommittee that oversees the federal workforce, United Healthcare urged lawmakers to allow regional and state preferred-provider organizations (PPOs) to join the health-benefit program, which covers about 8 million workers (Hicks, 4/11).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Ryan Urges Anti-Abortion Activists To Work With Those Who Support Abortion Rights
Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2012 and an abortion opponent, said Thursday that anti-abortion activists should try to build a broad coalition and find common ground with supporters of abortion rights as a way to advance their agenda (4/11).

NPR: Seniors In The South Are More Apt To Be Prescribed Risky Drugs
Health care types have spent years trying to make the point that seniors are being prescribed medications are unnecessary and dangerous. But the message hasn't really sunk in. More than 20 percent of people with Medicare Advantage coverage are taking at least one high-risk medication, a new study finds (Shute, 4/11).

The Wall Street Journals' Risk And Compliance Journal: HIPAA Compliance Burden Grows With New Rule
More than a million more companies will soon be forced to swallow the bitter medicine of health-information privacy enforcement, with potential penalties of up to $1.5 million apiece for violations.  Many of these companies are small and some experts say their cost of compliance could be onerous. "The clock started ticking effective March 26," said Michael Ebert, a partner with KPMG LLP, "That's the start of a six-month countdown to when entities that have protected health information, whether electronic, written or oral, need to meet an updated rule set" (Millman, 4/11).

The New York Times: Checks Find Unsafe Practices At Compounding Pharmacies
After a crash inspection program, federal regulators said Thursday that they had found numerous unsafe practices at about 30 compounding pharmacies, the same type of facility responsible for the tainted drug that caused a deadly meningitis outbreak last year (Pollack, 4/12).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: CNSI Official Says He Has No Idea Why $200 M Medicaid Contract Is Under Federal Investigation
A top official with the Maryland company whose nearly $200 million Medicaid contract with the state has been cancelled said the firm has never been contacted as part of an ongoing federal probe into the contract award (4/12).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Senators Appointed To Commission That Will Monitor Va. Medicaid Reforms
The last four voting members have been appointed to a state commission that will oversee Medicaid reform and expansion in Virginia. Senate Finance Committee chairman Walter Stosch on Thursday named Senators Emmett Hanger, John Watkins, Janet Howell and Louise Lucas to the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission. The 2013 General Assembly established the commission to monitor implementation of Medicaid reforms sought by Virginia as a condition for expanding the program to an additional 400,000 uninsured low-income Virginians (4/11).

Los Angeles Times: Judges Threaten Gov. Jerry Brown With Contempt Of Court
The order arrived amid escalating tension between Brown and the judges, who have handled a series of cases involving California prisons, and is a setback for the governor. In January, Brown declared the prison crisis over and launched a legal and public relations crusade to end court oversight of inmate healthcare, which has been in place since 2006, calling it unnecessarily costly and otherwise burdensome (Megerian, 4/11).

Los Angeles Times: LA Country Cites 16 'Maternity Hotel' Owners
Following a flurry of complaints, Los Angeles County inspectors have cited 16 "maternity hotel" owners for illegally operating boardinghouses in residential zones. The facilities, all in Rowland Heights or Hacienda Heights, will ultimately be shut down, county officials said. No major health or safety issues were found at the hotels, where women from Asia stay to give birth to U.S. citizen babies (Chang, 4/11).

Check out all of Kaiser Health News' e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.

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