KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Clock Is Ticking For Insurance Exchange Implementation

Roll Call: Health Exchanges: Can They Be Ready By 2014?
The idea of a health insurance exchange as laid out in President Barack Obama’s signature law seems straightforward: an online marketplace where people will shop for private health insurance, like buying an airline ticket or a hotel room. But making sure exchanges in every state are ready for business by the law’s deadline of 2014 has been anything but easy given the legal, technical and political questions surrounding them (Norman, 12/18).

Politico Pro: Utah Exchange The Next ACA Test
Utah says it wants to run its own health insurance exchange. HHS says it wants Utah to run its own exchange. If it were only that simple. Utah says it doesn’t want to do much to alter its existing exchange, which it started for small businesses before President Barack Obama’s health care law was enacted in 2010. Gov. Gary Herbert’s administration says it’s ready to add individual coverage, but not much else. So, Utah has become a test of just how much flexibility the Obama administration is willing to give to states (Millman, 12/19).

CQ HealthBeat: Patients Groups Lobby HHS To Allow Coverage Of More Than One Drug Per Class
With a week left to go before the comment deadline on three major rules, a coalition of 151 groups sent a letter Tuesday urging the administration to improve protections for patients in the health benefit exchanges due to open in 2014. The essential health benefits rule is one of three proposed regulations, along with proposals on insurance market rules and wellness, that was released on Nov. 26 with a 30-day comment period. The essential health benefits rule outlines the kinds of coverage that plans will have to offer in order to be sold in the exchanges (Adams, 12/18).

Other aspects of the health law were also in the news --

The Wall Street Journal: Cleveland Clinic Diagnoses Health-Care Act
Just over a year from now, the Affordable Care Act is set to unleash enormous change in the health-care sector, and Cleveland Clinic Chief Executive Delos "Toby" Cosgrove is preparing his institution by expanding its reach and striving to make caregivers more cost-conscious. ...  Cleveland Clinic is also striking deals with employers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to send workers to there for complex procedures, moves that lock in patients for high-end surgeries. The new federal provisions—which include cutbacks to Medicare payments and the creation of new health-insurance marketplaces for consumers—will test institutions like Cleveland Clinic (Mathews, 12/18).

Modern Healthcare: PCORI Awards Over $40 Million For Comparative Effectiveness Research
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute announced it is awarding more than $40 million over three years to its first round of comparative-effectiveness research projects. The 25 winning projects, chosen from among a field of more than 500 applicants, cover a broad range of topics, such as rehabilitation care for stroke patients, palliative care in nursing homes, dementia care and healthcare disparities among patients with depression. Winning institutions include the Portland-based Oregon Community Health Information Network, the University of Rochester (N.Y.), the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and Seattle-based Group Health Cooperative (McKinney, 12/18).

The Hill: GOP Rep. Says HHS May Be Trying To Evade Record-Keeping Laws
Whistleblowers have accused the Obama administration of using instant-messaging software to evade federal record-keeping rules, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) said Tuesday. Boustany, who chairs the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, said the accusations pertain to officials in the Health and Human Services Department who are tasked with implementing parts of President Obama's signature healthcare law (Baker, 12/18).


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