KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Enforcement Of Health Law Mandate A ‘Crucial Test’ For IRS

The Washington Post reports that enforcing the requirement that almost all Americans have health insurance represents the biggest boost in the agency's responsibilities in decades. A USA Today story looks at how the analysis of large data sets, such as medication usage or hospital readmissions, is being driven by industry trends as well as the health law, and is enabling providers and policymakers to make smarter decisions.

The Washington Post: For Beleaguered IRS, A Crucial Test Still Awaits After Troubled Rollout Of Health-Care Law
The success of the Affordable Care Act could ultimately turn on the performance of an agency that has so far eluded the public spotlight amid the program’s tumultuous rollout. Whether the new law can be enforced will be up to the Internal Revenue Service, an already beleaguered agency charged under the act with carrying out nearly four dozen new tasks in what represents the biggest increase in its responsibilities in decades. None is more crucial than enforcing the requirement that all citizens secure health insurance or pay a penalty (Hamburger and Kliff, 11/24).

USA Today: Analysis Of Huge Data Sets Will Reshape Health Care
Insurers will soon reassess how they predict costs; patients will let doctors know what medications won't work with their particular genomes; and researchers will look at hospital records in real time to determine the cheapest, most effective ways to treat patients — all because of developments in what is known as big data. Driven by industry trends and the Affordable Care Act, the analysis of large sets of data, such as medication usage or hospital readmissions, has enabled health care providers and policymakers to make smarter decisions and predict future trends (Kennedy, 11/24).

Kaiser Health News: Health Law Enrollment Efforts For Asian Americans Face Challenges Of Language Diversity, Cultural Differences
But there is no easy prescription for reaching such a diverse group. Health care workers and advocates must consider dozens of languages and dialects — from Bengali to Tagalog — when communicating with the approximately 3 million Asian Americans who have trouble speaking and understanding English. In addition, their religions, cultures and socioeconomic status add complexity to the challenge of developing educational campaigns (Rao, 11/24).

CNN: CNN Analysis: No Obamacare Subsidy For Some Low-Income Americans
One of the basic tenets of Obamacare is that the government will help lower-income Americans -- anyone making less than about $45,900 a year -- pay for the health insurance everyone is now mandated to have. But a CNN analysis shows that in the largest city in nearly every state, many low-income younger Americans won't get any subsidy at all. Administration officials said the reason so many Americans won't receive a subsidy is that the cost of insurance is lower than the government initially expected (Aigner-Treworgy, 11/23).

Other media outlets look at how states are responding to the White House's recommendation to extend canceled insurance policies in the individual market -

Fox News: States Rejecting Obama's 'Fix' Shows Plan Will Have Little Impact On Improving ObamaCare
Connecticut is the most recent state to reject President Obama's plan to "fix" his signature health-care law after millions of Americas received policy cancellation notices -- a trend that suggests the president's proposed solution will have little impact on the issue. At least eight others states -- California, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington -- have rejected the president’s Nov. 14 proposal that insurance companies offer plans that don’t comply with ObamaCare requirements for at least a year. Connecticut decided Friday (11/23).

The Oregonian: Nine Oregon Health  Insurers Opt To Renew Cancelled Individual Policies
Nine insurance companies will extend individual health policies that were supposed to be cancelled at year end, though the range of the extensions differed, Oregon officials said today. PacificSource Health Plans and Moda Health Plan Inc. will grant three-month extensions to individuals whose insurance policies were to be cancelled Dec. 31 because they didn't meet federal health reform requirements. The others - covering about 60 percent of the individual market - will extend such policies through all of 2014, the Oregon Insurance Division said (Hunsberger, 11/22).

The Star Tribune: Health Beat: Weighing Impact Of Obamacare’s Broken Promise
President Obama’s “you-can-keep-your-plan” promise has undermined public confidence in Obamacare, polls show, because it turned out to be a promise he couldn’t keep. But while Obama’s promise was off, the impact has been exaggerated — especially in states like Minnesota — according to a new analysis by Families USA, an advocacy group that favors the new law (Olson, 11/23).

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