KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Obama Goes To Wisconsin To Tout Its Health Law Successes

Wisconsin is the only state that used the Affordable Care Act to expand its Medicaid coverage even though state officials rejected hundreds of millions of federal dollars available for this purpose. Meanwhile, CQ Healthbeat reports that the Obama administration is contemplating changes to risk management programs for insurers that participate in the health law's exchanges. Also, Bloomberg details how startup Oscar Health Insurance Corp. is struggling in these new markets.

The New York Times: Obama Heads To Wisconsin To Promote Successes Of Affordable Care Act
On Thursday, President Obama will visit Wisconsin, the only state that used the Affordable Care Act to expand its Medicaid program while declining the hundreds of millions of dollars the federal government offered to pay for that expansion. Mr. Obama’s trip is intended to be a reward for Milwaukee, which won a nationwide competition called Healthy Communities by enrolling an estimated 38,376 people in private health insurance under the health care law. That was an estimated 75 percent of previously uninsured residents who were eligible, a rate higher than that of any other city. (Harris, 3/3)

The Associated Press: Obama Will Cite Health Insurance Gains In Visit To Milwaukee
President Barack Obama will visit Milwaukee Thursday to highlight how his signature health insurance overhaul has helped millions of Americans gain coverage. The number of uninsured has dropped from about 44.8 million in 2013, the year before the health care law's big coverage expansion, to about 28.8 million, according to the latest estimates. Meanwhile, critics argue that the law's mandates have increased coverage costs unnecessarily. (3/2)

CQ Healthbeat: CMS Mulls Changes To Risk Adjustment Program For Insurers
The Obama administration is mulling future changes to risk management programs for insurers participating in the insurance exchanges created by the 2010 health law. The issue represents one of the loose ends for the administration after making most of its last major stamps on the exchanges, considered one of President Obama’s key domestic achievements. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Monday unveiled a final rule on the operations of the government health insurance marketplaces for 2017. About 12.7 million people are expected to be covered this year by insurance plans purchased through the exchanges, according to CMS. Through the so-called benefit and payment parameters rule for next year, CMS sought to get insurers to give their customers more notice when a doctor or other provider of care leaves their preferred networks and to offer guidance on standardizing cost structures. (Young, 3/2)

Bloomberg: Startup Oscar Posts $105 Million Obamacare Loss in 2015
Startup Oscar Health Insurance Corp. lost $105.2 million in its New York and New Jersey businesses last year, a sign that insurers of all sizes are struggling in the new markets created by President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul. The losses, $92.4 million in New York and $12.8 million in New Jersey, were disclosed by Oscar in filings with state regulators. Chief Executive Officer Mario Schlosser said some of Oscar’s losses stem from the cost of starting a new health insurer. Others are tied to the same problems befalling bigger health plans: costlier customers and a shortfall in a key government program. (Tracer, 3/2)

In other health law news —

Modern Healthcare: State Medicaid Agencies Seek Permanent Repeal Of The ACA Insurance Tax
State Medicaid agencies say Congress' decision to suspend the Affordable Care Act's tax on health insurers for one year is a good first step, but they are pushing for its permanent repeal. While most private health insurance plans have had to pay the tax themselves, states that contract with Medicaid managed-care plans have had to cover the premium tax to ensure that the health plans receive actuarially sound rates. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia contract with Medicaid managed-care plans. (Dickson, 3/2)

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