KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: GOP Willing To Move To Default If They Can’t Cripple Health Law; It’s Time To Figure Out If Workplace Wellness Programs Work

The New York Times: The Annual Republican Crisis
This year, as has been the case so often in the past, their target is President Obama's health care reform law. If it is not repealed or defunded or delayed or otherwise left bleeding in the public square, they will not pass a spending bill needed to keep the government open past Sept. 30. And if that doesn't cripple the health law (which it won't), they will resort to the far more serious threat of default, refusing to raise the nation's debt ceiling, no matter the catastrophe that would cause (9/14).

The Washington Post: Young Adults Can't Afford To Tune Out Obamacare Insurance Requirement
Thanks to the ACA, commonly referred to as Obamacare, you may now be able to get insurance or continue to be covered under a parent's plan up to the age of 26. And this coverage is available even if you're married, not living at home, attending school or are financially independent. Starting next year, young adults up to 26 can stay on their parents' employer plan even if they have another offer of coverage through an employer (Michelle Singletary, 9/14). The Latest Anti-Obamacare Tactic: Keep People From Knowing About It
Even the best initiative in the world can't do any good if no one knows about it. That, apparently, is the thinking of Obamacare's opponents. They have begun aiming their attacks on navigators, the people whose job it is to inform the public about how to gain coverage through the new insurance exchanges (Robert I. Field, 9/16).

Bloomberg: Georgia's Dangerous War Against Obamacare
Open enrollment in the new state health-insurance marketplaces begins in a matter of days. With less than three weeks to go before the Oct. 1 start date, Georgia's Republican governor and insurance commissioner are doing everything in their power to make it hard to attract people to Georgia’s exchange. And the state's big health insurers have been chipping in with well-timed donations. ... In a speech last month, Ralph Hudgens, Georgia's insurance commissioner, reassured an audience of Republican Party faithful that he's solving the "problem" of Obamacare in Georgia by doing "everything in our power to be an obstructionist" (Ford Vox, 9/13).

Forbes: Why Obamacare Shouldn't Force Poor Seniors Into Medicaid
Finding better ways to serve the needs of these "dually eligible" Americans has been a bi-partisan goal that's eluded successive administrations. Whenever the issue was broached, one of the questions was whether these Americans would end up in Medicare or Medicaid — and which program would better serve their needs. The Obama Administration is betting heavily on states to take control of these patients. The states, in turn, are looking to their Medicaid systems (Scott Gottlieb, 9/16).

New Orleans Times-Picayune: Medicaid Expansion Could Help Thousands Of Uninsured Louisiana Residents
The letter drive, which was organized by the Jeremiah Group, is not the first to attempt to change the governor's mind. There was a rally on the Capitol steps during the spring legislative session. Two former secretaries of the Department of Health and Hospitals called on Gov. Jindal to do the right thing and take the almost $16 billion in new Medicaid money for Louisiana. And yet, in one of the poorest and unhealthiest states in the union, Gov. Jindal has held firm to his rejection of the money that could help thousands of residents. That is truly a shame (9/15).

Detroit Free Press: Time To Stop Fighting Affordable Care Act And Move On
The debate in the state Capitol over Medicaid expansion was as close to political hand-to-hand combat as you can get. It likely left many feeling battered and bruised, but the outcome is the right one. Now, it is crucial for health care providers and community groups to step up and take responsibility for encouraging Michiganders to take advantage of the new options available to them (Ora H. Pescovitz, 9/16).

The Washington Post’s Post Partisan: Obamacare, The Debt Ceiling And GOP Insanity
A statistic in the latest Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll drives me nuts. It's 44 percent. Here’s the question: "Do you think Congress should or should not raise the debt ceiling? If you don’t know enough to have an opinion, please just say so." The 44 percent who said the nation's borrowing limit should not be raised should have responded "I don't know" — because then they’d be telling the truth (Jonathan Capehart, 9/16).

San Jose Mercury News: Obamacare: California Can Use The ACA To Improve Its Economy And People's Lives
Many states and localities have already done this. For example, Philadelphia launched a program to auto-enroll eligible health care beneficiaries in food stamps, increasing enrollment among seniors by 23 percent in the first year. While California has been a national leader in the implementation of the ACA, we have taken only baby steps to integrate our health care and public benefit programs (Ann O'Leary and Jeffrey Selbin, 9/13).

Los Angeles Times: Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work?
Would you be willing to share with your employer how much you eat, drink, smoke or exercise? And would you be willing to make lifestyle changes in return for a break on the cost of your health insurance? The University of Minnesota offered such discounts to its workers. Actions such as completing a health questionnaire, biking to campus or setting personal fitness goals earned insurance discounts beginning at $300. Nearly 6,000 employees accepted the bargain. But do such programs have the intended effect of healthier employees and lower healthcare costs? As more businesses embrace health incentives, these questions are becoming more urgent (Rahul K. Parikh, 9/15).

And on another subject --

The New York Times: A Step To Curb Painkiller Abuses
Consumers will be less apt to overdose on prescription painkillers — but still less safe than they should be — under new labeling rules announced by the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday for a class of drugs known as opioid analgesics (9/13).

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