Health Overhaul Politics Churn As Regulators Move Forward
Political and practical effects of the new health law are in the news.
Los Angeles Times: "Congress is shattering its longstanding reputation for being a gridlocked, lethargic, 'do-nothing' institution, instead compiling a record of landmark policy changes in healthcare, financial industry regulation, economic policy and more. But at the same time, Congress is suffering sky-high levels of public disapproval, signaling a big problem for Democrats as they head into the closing months of the midterm election campaign" (Hook, 6/2).
Meanwhile, the administration is busy working on implementing the sprawling new law, The Washington Post reports. "At the Department of Health and Human Services, the team charged with writing new health insurance rules has ditched the fridge and microwave in their break room so they can have more work space," for example. "[T]he gargantuan chore of putting the statute's more than 2,000 pages of provisions into practice is keeping Washington's policymakers and bureaucrats busier than ever." After Congress passed the legislation, one labor official recalls getting an email from a health department friend: "Roll up your sleeves, my friend. Now the hard work begins" (N.C. Aizenman, 6/3).
And, The Associated Press/Seattle Times reports that "An association charged with shaping a key insurance regulation as part of health care reform has told the Obama administration it needs some more time. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners said it will provide final recommendations on the rules behind minimum medical loss ratios, or MLRs, later this summer." Those rules require insurers to spend 80 to 85 percent of their revenue from premiums, depending on the type of plan, on medical costs, but defining what counts as a medical expense versus an administrative cost will fall on regulators (Murphy, 6/2).
The Nashville Tennessean: "Starting this year, some small employers hope to reap benefits from federal health reform through a tax credit worth up to 35 percent of what they spend to provide health insurance for employees." But, the credits may only be available to a small number of firms, limiting the number of employers that will begin offering coverage to workers because of the law (Ward, 6/3).
The Hill examined a new political flap: "The White House on Wednesday rushed to defend the healthcare reform law after conservatives seized on Congressional Budget Office comments warning about unsustainable health spending," and that the overhaul will not "substantially diminish" the rising national debt. White House budget chief Peter Orszag responded, "CBO estimates that the Act will reduce the deficit by more than $100 billion over the next ten years and more than $1 trillion in the ten years after that. That's more deficit reduction than has been enacted in over a decade." But, more needs to be done, he added (Pecquet, 6/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.