KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Employers, Small Businesses Bristle Over Health Law

The Wall Street Journal reports on the fee that many employers will pay for each person that they insure next year while KHN details a possible "loophole" for small businesses. And, on Capitol Hill, a GOP bill is being advanced that would require insurance companies to disclose their health law tax burden and how it impacts premiums to consumers, and Senate Democrats press Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to speed up the health law's implementation.

The Wall Street Journal: Employers Blast Fees From New Health Law
Employers are bracing for a little-noticed fee in the federal health care law that will charge them $63 for each person they insure next year, one of the clearest cost increases companies face when the law takes full effect. Companies and other plan providers will together pay $25 billion over three years to create a fund for insurance companies to offset the cost of covering people with high medical bills (Adamy, 3/14).

Kaiser Health News: Small Businesses Pursue Health Law 'Loophole'
NorthBay Adventure is the kind of small business that could be expected to buy medical insurance for workers under sweeping health-act rules taking effect in 2014. But executive director George Comfort says that's not likely to happen. Instead, NorthBay became self-insured last year, paying most of its workers' health costs directly, a practice more typical of large employers. The decision to self-insure was about free choice, savings and what’s best for his company, Comfort says. But others see it as a threat to the Affordable Care Act. As more small employers like NorthBay avoid the health act's requirements through self-coverage, small-business marketplaces intended to cover millions of Americans could break down and become unaffordable, they say (Hancock, 3/15).

The Hill: GOP Bill Slams Health Care Reform Taxes
A new GOP bill would require health insurance companies to describe their tax burden under health care reform to consumers in annual statements. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), a critic of the Affordable Care Act, said the measure would inform patients about the law's "nearly trillion dollars in taxes" and how they might affect premiums (Viebeck, 3/14).

The Hill: Dems Press Sebelius To Speed Up Obama Health Law Implementation
Senate Democrats raised concerns about the implementation of President Obama's signature health care law during closed-door meetings this week with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Sebelius met Thursday morning with the Senate Finance Committee, following a series of one-on-one meetings with committee members on Wednesday (Baker, 3/14).

And in more news from Oklahoma --

The Associated Press: Okla. House OKs Attempt To 'Nullify' Health Law
The Oklahoma House moved Wednesday to declare the federal health care law "null and void" in the state, approving a bill over the objection of Democrats who argued it was nothing more than a political statement. The House voted 72-20 for the bill by Republican Rep. Mike Ritze, a Broken Arrow physician and a fierce opponent of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which he frequently refers to as "Obamacare" (Murphy, 3/15).

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