KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Key House Republican Seeks New Rules On Reclaiming Health Law Subsidy Overpayments

The proposal by Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, is part of his effort to get an annual budget. In addition, Republicans are questioning the administration overpayments to insurers. Also on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans are raising questions about how the insurance co-ops were regulated.

The Associated Press: Top Republican Unveils $98B In Cuts To Social Programs
A senior House Republican on Thursday reprised a proposal to cut child tax credits for immigrants working in the U.S. illegally. Powerful Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, also wants tougher rules to reclaim overpayments of health insurance tax subsidies under the new health care law as part of package to cut spending by $98 billion over 10 years. The move is part of an effort designed to help GOP leaders make progress in passing the House's annual budget blueprint. (Taylor, 3/10)

The Hill: GOP: ObamaCare Payments Break The Law
Republicans are putting heightened scrutiny on ObamaCare payments that they argue break the law. They say the administration is violating the Affordable Care Act by prioritizing payments to insurers over payments to the U.S. Treasury, and have grilled Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell about the matter at recent hearings. ... At issue is ObamaCare’s reinsurance program, which is designed to protect insurers against high costs for sicker enrollees in the early years of the law. Under the program, the government collects money from insurers and then gives it to plans with high-cost enrollees. (Sullivan, 3/10)

The Hill: ObamaCare Official: Troubled Co-Op Should Have Been Closed Sooner
A top ObamaCare official acknowledged Thursday that a troubled nonprofit “co-op” insurer set up under the health law should have been shut down sooner. The co-op, called CoOportunity, operated in Iowa and Nebraska and was shut down by regulators in January 2015 because of financial problems. Andy Slavitt, the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said at a Senate hearing Thursday that the insurer should have been shut down before beginning the 2015 coverage year. (Sullivan, 3/10)

The Washington Post: $1.2 Billion In Loans To ACA Health Insurance Co-Ops May Be A Loss, Report Warns
The new report says the Department of Health and Human Services was told early by its outside financial consultant that the 12 co-ops’ business plans and financial forecasts were inadequate, incomplete or based on unsupported assumptions — and yet officials approved loans anyway. After that, the report says, HHS failed to monitor the co-ops’ status despite being aware of their “severe financial distress,” continued to disburse loans and allowed them to list anticipated payments through the ACA risk-balancing program as assets even after getting “credible warnings that those payments would not materialize.” (Levine and Goldstein, 3/10)

And on health law news from the states —

NPR: Split Views On Health Overhaul In Ohio
Adults in Ohio are divided when it comes to whether they believe the Affordable Care Act has been good or bad for them. And while most rate their own health care positively, far more Ohioans rate the state's overall health care system as fair or poor than rate it as excellent. Those are some of the findings in a series of recent polls by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (Tribble, 3/11)

WBUR: Mass. Small Business Owners Dropping Health Coverage That’s Become Unaffordable
Ryan Cook wanted to help. The office manager at his small Raynham real estate office needed health insurance; her husband had lost his job and with it, the family’s coverage. So Cook looked into adding the woman and her family to his self-employed plan. “And I was seeing prices at about $1,800 a month. That cost was ridiculous, quite frankly,” said Cook, president of FCRG, Inc. (Bebinger, 3/11)

Reuters: Oracle Sues HHS To Compel Probe Of Oregon Exchange Failure
Software company Oracle America Inc has filed a lawsuit seeking to compel the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to investigate Oregon's shutdown of its planned healthcare exchange in 2014. The state blamed Oracle for the failure of the exchange, which was never launched. Oracle's lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, is also seeking an order requiring HHS to direct Oregon to dismiss a lawsuit it filed against Oracle in an Oregon state court. (3/10)

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