KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: May 10, 2013

Todya's headlines include reports about efforts by the Obama administration to boost health exchange enrollment.  

Kaiser Health News: Colorado Exchange Board Spars Over Federal Funding
Colorado Public Radio's Eric Whitney, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "Here's the question making the rounds in Colorado: Is the state asking for enough start-up money from the federal government for its online health insurance marketplace? Consumer advocates are worried the answer is 'no.' Statehouse Republicans, on the other hand, think it’s asking for far too much. Colorado exchange CEO Patty Fontneau is playing Goldilocks, saying the $125 million federal grant request she wants to send to Washington is just right" (Whitney, 5/10). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Community Health Centers Get $150 Million To Boost Exchange Enrollment; Boehner Says GOP Will Not Make Nominations For Medicare Cost Control Panel; Four States That Snubbed Health Law Gaining Jobs From It
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Jenny Gold reports on a boost in community health center funding: "Once upon a time, there were the navigators, then the in-person assisters, and the certified application counselors. Now, add community health centers to the list of individuals and organizations available to help consumers sign up for the new health insurance marketplaces scheduled to open Oct. 1. On Thursday, the Obama administration pledged $150 million to help community health centers provide in-person enrollment assistance to uninsured patients" (Gold, 5/9).

Also on the blog, Mary Agnes Carey writes about the latest on the GOP and IPAB: "Note to the Obama administration: Don't wait by the phone for those GOP nominations to the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel created in the health law to make recommendations to Congress on how to control Medicare costs. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, made it clear Thursday that neither he nor Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would be sending in any names for consideration" (Carey, 5/9).

In addition, Phil Galewitz reports on how four states that chose not to pursue a key parts of the health law are still gaining jobs from the overhaul: "Four states that have snubbed the federal health law by defaulting to the federal government to build new online insurance marketplaces and not agreeing to expand Medicaid are getting new jobs at call centers that will help consumers understand their new coverage options this fall" (Galewitz, 5/10). Check out what else is on the blog.

Los Angeles Times: Obama Administration Moves To Get More Enrolled In Health Insurance
The Obama administration announced Thursday that it would provide millions of dollars to community health centers to help them enroll Americans in health insurance programs next year under the president's health law. The move comes as the administration faces growing pressure from Democrats and other supporters of the 2010 Affordable Care Act to show how it will get Americans into health plans, a key goal of the landmark legislation (Levey, 5/9).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Health Centers Get $150 Million To Help The Uninsured Navigate New Coverage Options
The money addresses concerns from Congress and advocacy groups that many consumers will have a hard time navigating the health coverage options available to them next year as a mix of government programs and tax credits for private insurance kicks in (5/9).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Launches New Effort To Sell Health Care As Law's Main Components Near Implementation
President Barack Obama is launching a new effort to rally the public around his hotly disputed health care law, a strategy aimed at shoring up key components of the sweeping federal overhaul and staving off yet another challenge from Republicans. The president will specifically target women and young people, groups that backed him overwhelmingly during his presidential campaigns. During a Mother's Day-themed event at the White House on Friday, Obama will promote the benefits of the law for women, including free cancer screenings and contraceptives, and ask moms to urge their uninsured adult children to sign up for the health insurance "exchanges" that open this fall (5/10).

USA Today: U.S. Says It's On Tract To Make Health Exchanges Work
The federal government has met its deadlines, tested its system and collected insurance plan information critical to rolling out the 2010 health care law, White House and other federal officials say, despite the rumors of train wrecks, delays and bare-bones health care exchanges rocking Washington (Kennedy, 5/9).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Maryland To Allow Health Exchange Information Requests, Confidential, Financial Info Protected
Maryland will make information related to its health benefit exchange available through public information requests. But the state’s Public Information Act does prevent disclosure of confidential commercial or financial information. Rebecca Pearce, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, says information that could cause substantial harm to the competitive position of the contractor would not be subject to the state’s public information laws (5/9).

Politico: Weeg: 'Beg, Borrow, Steal' For Exchanges
Can a state actually build an Obamacare health insurance exchange in six months? Idaho’s about to find out — with a little help from the feds. The newly formed Idaho exchange board and the federal exchange office have been talking about ways the state can remain in control of its exchange while borrowing pieces of the federal exchange's infrastructure. As interim Chairman Stephen Weeg puts it, Idaho is looking to "beg, borrow and steal" its way to the Oct. 1 start of open enrollment (Millman, 5/10).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Entitlement Programs Thrive Amid Gridlock, Shifting Money From Younger Generations To Older
With Congress increasingly unable to resolve budget disputes, federal programs on automatic pilot are consuming ever larger amounts of government resources. The trend helps older Americans, who receive the bulk of Social Security and Medicare benefits, at the expense of younger people. This generational shift draws modest public debate. But it alarms some policy advocates, who say the United States is reducing vital investments in the future (5/10).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: GOP Leaders Say They Won’t Name Candidates to Health Care Advisory Board
House and Senate Republican leaders told President Barack Obama Thursday that they will refuse to nominate candidates to serve on an advisory board that is to play a role in holding down Medicare costs under the new health care act (5/9).

Politico: John Boehner: Health Care Law Repeal Vote Is For New Lawmakers
House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that next week’s vote to repeal the health reform law is being held to provide new lawmakers a chance to vote on it. “We’ve got 70 new members who have not had an opportunity to vote on the president’s health care law,” Boehner said. “Frankly they’ve been asking for an opportunity to vote on it” (Haberkorn, 5/9).

The Washington Post: Sen. Grassley: ‘Political Intelligence’ Firms Need More Transparency, Disclosure
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who has been leading an inquiry into “political intelligence” firms, said this week that he is not seeking to dismantle such firms or vilify the actions of Capitol Hill staffers who have communicated with them. These firms hire armies of consultants to scour Washington for bits of information on federal actions that could influence the financial markets, and then sell the information to Wall Street investors. The industry was thrust into the spotlight in April, when a Washington brokerage called Height Securities revealed a key Medicare funding decision to its clients before the administration formally announced it, triggering a surge in health-care stocks (Hamburger and ElBoghdady, 5/9).

Politico: Senate FDA Oversight Bill Has Bipartisan Backing
A Senate panel continued to build the case Thursday for giving the Food and Drug Administration broad authority to crack down on compounding pharmacies like the one behind the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak, pledging to pass a bill before Memorial Day (Norman, 5/10).

The Washington Post: Do No Harm: Who Should Bear The Costs Of Retired NFL Players’ Medical Bills?
Who should bear the costs of football-related medical problems that arise years after retirement? This question is at the heart of Williams’s case — and scores of others like it. The average NFL player’s career lasts just 3.3 seasons. Studies show that one in four retirees will need a joint replacement, they suffer arthritis at five times the rate of their peers and are four times as likely to suffer neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or ALS (Jenkins and Maese, 5/9).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Florida Senate President’s Former Hospice Company Sued By Feds For Alleged Medicare Fraud
Department of Justice is suing the hospice company founded by Florida’s Senate president, accusing it of submitting tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent Medicare claims for more than a decade, including while Don Gaetz was vice chairman of the board (5/9). 

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