KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Consumer-Directed Health Plans Surge, Get Boost From Health Law

The concept is also central to Republican-backed market-based reforms. Also in the news, media outlets analyze what's a stake as the Supreme Court considers challenges to the health law, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reiterates the administration's confidence that the law will be upheld. 

Reuters: Consumer-Directed U.S. Health Insurance Surges
There may not be a consensus in the nation's capital on how to control the cost of health care, but businesses and their employees are not sitting around waiting for clarity. They are voting with their wallets for one approach that's already available: Account-based health insurance plans, which offer lower premiums in exchange for high deductibles. Consumer-directed health insurance is a cornerstone of Republican-backed market-oriented health reform solutions. It will also be offered as an option to shoppers in the public health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), if the law isn't struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June (Miller, 4/19).

Palm Beach Post: Health Mandate's Affordable Care Act: What's At Stake
The intense debate over whether the U.S. should oblige all citizens to have health insurance has been accompanied in recent days by another spirited squabble: Just whose idea was it in the first place? When it comes to the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, which the Supreme Court is expected to rule on in June, no one claims original ownership (Lantigua, 4/19). 

Modern Healthcare: Sebelius: Focus Is On Reform Implementation
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reiterated the administration's position that it does not have a contingency plan ready should the U.S. Supreme Court rule this summer that the 2010 healthcare-reform law is unconstitutional. "We're confident that the law is constitutional and we are moving forward with implementation," Sebelius said after her keynote address at the Atlantic's Health Care Forum in Washington (Zigmond, 4/19).

But the buzz surrounding the high court examination of the law has focused attention on the makeup of the court -- both in terms of the presidential campaign and the public's questions about what kinds of health coverage the justices enjoy -

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Analysis: A Romney Pick For Top U.S. Court? Frontrunners Emerge
As a candidate, Romney has pledged to nominate judges in the mold of the Supreme Court's four most conservative justices, and he has said the court should overrule Roe v. Wade, the 1973 opinion that said women have a right to an abortion. … Paul Clement, who served as U.S. solicitor general under President George W. Bush and is now a lawyer in private practice, is the favorite of many conservatives. Clement argued last month for the Supreme Court to strike down Obama's 2010 healthcare law (Ingram, 4/19).

NewsHour: Just Ask: What Health Benefits Do The Supreme Court Justices Receive?
Rob Rabie has some health care advice for the Supreme Court, straight from St. Johns, Ariz. "Perhaps the justices would better appreciate the problem if they were to forego their health insurance plans for a year or so and just pay the medical bills out of pocket like many Americans," he said. "I am sure they could all afford it, but I suspect sticker shock would be rampant." The idea that nine justices with access to "generous" health care insurance will be deciding the fate of the entire health reform law makes Rabie nervous (Kane, 4/19)?

Meanwhile, news outlets also report on how states are handling the uncertainties involved in implementing the health law as they wait for the Supreme Court's decision, as well as a health law program that is popular at the state level and how the federal government is poised to lend a hand -

Politico Pro: Post-SCOTUS Special Sessions Look Unlikely
If the Supreme Court upholds the health reform law this summer, states could be forced into a moment-of-truth situation: Do they set up a health insurance exchange, or do they let the feds come in and run theirs? The problem is that most legislatures will be long gone by the time the Supreme Court will have an answer. That leaves special sessions as their main option for sorting out the exchange question — but state lawmakers and those working with these states aren’t hopeful about the chances of calling them in the aftermath of the court's ruling (Millman, 4/20).

CQ HealthBeat: A Health Law Program States Actually Like? Yes, In The Case Of Duals Demo
The deep disdain expressed by many state officials for "Obamacare" doesn't extend to everything in the health care law — witness their response to a program to test the widespread use of managed care for the so-called dual-eligible population. Melanie Bella, the head of a new office created by the law to improve care for people eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, said Thursday that 28 states want to take part in the managed care demonstration. It's expected to start in January and enroll up to two million duals (Reichard, 4/19).

CQ HealthBeat: Sebelius: HHS Ready To Lend A Hand To States 'When' Health Law Is Upheld
While Republican state leaders are declaring that they won't implement the health care law pending a U.S. Supreme Court decision, top Health and Human Services officials insisted on Thursday they remain utterly confident the Obama administration's landmark overhaul will be upheld. In fact, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the agency is planning for an onslaught of requests from states that will be in a hurry to set up their health benefits exchanges and will need federal assistance if the law is found constitutional (Norman, 4/19).

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