First Edition: June 11, 2012
Today's headlines feature reports that UnitedHealthcare plans to honor some health law provisions regardless of what the Supreme Court decides.
Kaiser Health News: UnitedHealthcare's Post-SCOTUS Promise: We'll Keep Many Popular Features
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby reports: "One of the nation's largest insurers said early Monday it would continue to follow some of the rules in the federal health law that are already in effect, including keeping young adults up to age 26 on their parents' plans and ending lifetime dollar limits, no matter how the Supreme Court rules. UnitedHealthcare, which covers about 26 million people in plans that could be affected by such rules, is the first insurer to make public such a promise. The Supreme Court justices are expected to rule sometime this month and could uphold the law, remove parts of it or reject the entire legislation" (Appleby, 6/11). Read the story.
Kaiser Health News: Stake High For Consumers And Industry As Court Weighs Health Law
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jordan Rau, working in collaboration with USA Today, reports: "Since the health care law passed two years ago, government, states, insurers, doctors and hospitals have been building a complex scaffolding to extend insurance to 30 million more Americans" (Rau, 6/10). Read the story.
Kaiser Health News: Vladeck: Death Will Increase If SCOTUS Strikes Health Law Down (Video)
Bruce Vladeck, who ran Medicare and Medicaid for four years under President Clinton, forecasts "chaos" in the health care delivery system and increased deaths if the Supreme Court strikes down the health law. Killing the law would "save a fortune" for the government, but at the expense of "gutting Medicaid," says Vladeck, who is now a senior advisor for Nexera, a New York hospital consulting firm. This interview is part of KHN's video series "Supreme Uncertainty: What's Next After The Court Rules," which solicits views from public officials and policy experts about the upcoming Supreme Court ruling on the health law and its implications for the future of health care (6/10). Watch the video.
Kaiser Health News: Health Insurance Exchanges In Many States Held Up By Uncertainty About Supreme Court
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, and working in collaboration with The Washington Post, J. Duncan Moore writes: "Illinois might seem the least likely place for the health law to get sidelined. It's a state with a Democratic governor and solid Democratic majorities in both houses of the legislature. It's also the political base of President Barack Obama, who championed the legislation in the face of furious opposition" (Moore, 6/10). Read the story.
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: 'Health Reform Bracketology' Offers Roadmap to ACA's Future
Now on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Marilyn Werber Serafini reports: "When is the Supreme Court like the NCAA? When health care consultant Mike Leavitt works up an interactive PDF bracket to lay out many of the possible scenarios that could result from the upcoming Supreme Court decision on the health law, combined with the outcome of November elections" (Werber Serafini, 6/8). Check out what else is on the blog.
Kaiser Health News also tracked weekend health policy news coverage, including reports about the 2009 health law negotiations between the White House and the drug industry (6/9).
NPR: Health Care Decision Hinges On A Crucial Clause
All of Washington is breathlessly awaiting the Supreme Court's imminent decision on the Obama health care overhaul. Rumors circulate almost daily that the decision is ready for release. As usual, those rumors are perpetrated by people who know nothing, but the decision is expected by the end of this month. The near hysteria is partially about politics: Congressional Republicans hate the bill, and some see President Obama's chance at a second term hinged to the fate of the law. But constitutional scholars know there is much more at stake here than an individual election. Just how much is illustrated by the legal history of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution (Totenberg, 6/11).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Tax Increase If Health Law Is Overturned? It's Possible For Some Families With Young Adults
It sounds like a silver lining. Even if the Supreme Court overturns President Barack Obama's health care law, employers can keep offering popular coverage for the young adult children of their workers. But here's the catch: The parents' taxes would go up (6/11).
The New York Times: Health Law Ruling Won't Alter Plans By Insurer
The UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation's largest health insurers, announced Sunday night that it planned to continue offering some of the popular consumer protections required by the federal health care law, even if the Supreme Court declares the entire law unconstitutional later this month (Abelson, 6/11).
Los Angeles Times: UnitedHealth To Honor Some Of Healthcare Law Regardless Of Ruling
Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on the federal healthcare law, the nation's largest health insurer said it would continue to honor some of the law's more popular provisions, including preventive screenings at no cost and the elimination of lifetime limits on medical care (Terhune, 6/11).
The Washington Post: Largest Health Insurer To Keep Key Parts Of Law Regardless Of Court Ruling
Officials at UnitedHealthcare will announce Monday that whatever the outcome of the court decision — expected this month — the company will continue to provide customers preventive health-care services without co-payments or other out-of-pocket charges, allow parents to keep adult children up to age 26 on their plans, and maintain the more streamlined appeals process required by the law (Aizenman, 6/11).
Reuters/Chicago Tribune: UnitedHealth To Keep Provisions, Regardless Of Court Ruling
UnitedHealth Group Inc, the largest U.S. health insurer by market value, said it would maintain the health coverage protections included in President Barack Obama's healthcare law regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on the legislation. The Supreme Court is expected to decide later this month whether to strike down all or portions of the law, Obama's signature domestic policy achievement that was passed in 2010 (Krauskopf, 6/10).
The Wall Street Journal: UnitedHealth To Keep Some Health-Law Provisions
The nation's biggest insurer, which covers 26,445 privately insured people, said it would continue to allow young people to stay on their parents' plans until the age of 26. The company said it also would retain a number of other health-plan features mandated by the law, including a ban on lifetime maximums on most benefit payouts, as well as a promise that policies can generally only be rescinded in cases where a consumer was deliberately misleading in an application (Mathews, 6/11).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: UnitedHealth Will Keep Health Care Overhaul Provisions Regardless Of Supreme Court Ruling
The nation's largest health insurer said Monday that it will still cover preventive care like immunizations without charging a co-payment, which is the fee usually paid at the doctor's office, and it will continue other popular, initial provisions of the law (6/11).
The New York Times: Hospitals Aren't Waiting For Verdict On Health Care Law
It was the first Monday in June, counting down to a United States Supreme Court decision that could transform the landscape of American health care. But like hospitals across the country, Maimonides is not waiting around for the verdict. Win, lose or draw in court, administrators said, the policies driving the federal health care law are already embedded in big cuts and new payment formulas that hospitals ignore at their peril. And even if the law is repealed after the next election, the economic pressure to care differently for more people at lower cost is irreversible (Berstein, 6/10).
Politico: With Health Exchanges, A State's Size Matters
A lot of states will find out later this year if they’re going to have to depend on the Department of Health and Human Services to start up their health insurance exchange. Delaware won’t have to wait that long. The small mid-Atlantic state already knows it needs to partner with HHS to build its exchange — not because it has been dragging its feet or because its lawmakers oppose the national health law (Millman, 6/10).
The New York Times: Push For A Fiscal Pact Picks Up Speed, And Power
The hunt for a way to avert a crisis appears to be quickening — and, significantly, it now includes the people who might be able to make it happen. Senators who have been working fruitlessly on a budget deal since 2010, as the so-called Gang of Eight, say their efforts will get nowhere without help from Congressional leaders, especially the committee chairmen with the expertise to draft legislation. Those people are starting to come on board (Weisman, 6/10).
Los Angeles Times: Anthem Blue Cross President Pam Kehaly Has Healthy Outlook
Pam Kehaly, 51, is president of Anthem Blue Cross in California, the state's largest for-profit health insurer and a unit of WellPoint Inc. The executive said she wrestles with how to control rising medical costs and find ways to keep coverage affordable for millions of employers and consumers (Terhune, 6/10).
Los Angeles Times: Molina Healthcare Investors Experience Whiplash
Investors in Molina Healthcare Inc. took a wild ride this week. Shares of the Long Beach-based health insurer plunged 31% Thursday after it withdrew its full-year profit forecast because of sharply higher costs in its Texas business (Terhune, 6/8).
The Wall Street Journal: Union Fund Gets Another Albany Assist
The troubled insurance fund for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East's personal-care workers will get a $70 million government bailout this year under a deal struck in Albany, the second taxpayer assist in less than a year for the powerful union's employee benefits fund (Gershman, 6/10).
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