KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Scalia’s ‘Boost’ To Obamacare; California Small Biz And Insurance Exchange

Bloomberg: Scalia Gives Obamacare A Big Boost 
[L]ast week, a divided court decided Arlington v. FCC, an important victory for Barack Obama’s administration that will long define the relationship between federal agencies and federal courts. ... In a powerful and convincing opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court’s majority ruled that even when the agency is deciding on the scope of its own authority, it has the power to interpret ambiguities in the law. ... The court’s ruling, which involved the Federal Communications Commission’s defense of its rules governing siting applications for wireless facilities, is an important win for all future presidents, ... It also strengthens the hand of agencies carrying out Obama’s health care law and financial reform (Cass R. Sunstein, 5/29).

Los Angeles Times: A Hidden Tax In Obamacare
The central provisions of the Affordable Care Act require younger and healthier Americans to buy insurance policies that will, in essence, subsidize the healthcare of older and sicker Americans. But one of Obamacare's hidden taxes — a new limit on contributions to health flexible spending accounts, or FSAs — will hit older and chronically ill individuals hardest. Starting this year, the health care law imposes a $2,500 annual cap on an individual's contribution to an FSA that is part of an employer's "cafeteria" benefits plan (Tom Miller, 5/31).

Bloomberg: To Reduce Health Care’s Costs, Destroy Its Jobs
Is health care America's economic savior or scourge? The answer, strangely, might be both. In the short term, growth within the health care sector provides a boost to a weak economy. But the same rise will eventually be more trouble than help (Evan Soltas, 5/30).

Tampa Bay Times: Vindictive Health Care Bill Targets Consumers
The federal health care reform law has withstood a court challenge and a presidential election, but the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature is still battling it. A bill that would allow health insurers to charge whatever they want, no matter how unreasonable, and blame the Affordable Care Act is on Gov. Rick Scott's desk. Its transparent intent is to infuriate Floridians over increases in health insurance costs and misdirect their anger toward the federal law. Scott should veto this vindictive and partisan bill (5/29).

Sacramento Bee: Rollout Of State Health Exchanges Tops Expectations
Californians can breathe a sigh of relief over a crucial first step in implementing health care reform. State officials last week unveiled the health plans and premium rates that will be available under the California health exchange. ... Where the exchange should really have a positive impact is for those who are self-employed, who are early in their careers and move from job to job or who want to start a business but have been stuck in "job-lock" to retain health benefits. The coverage seems well worth peace of mind – and is the responsible thing to do instead of shifting costs to others. Now the big task is getting the word out (5/31).

California Healthline: How Do California Small Business Owners Feel About ACA?
How about in California, where the state's new health insurance exchange -- Covered California -- is scheduled next month to announce insurers and premium prices in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchange? We asked stakeholders to assess the mood of small business owners In California. We got responses from: [Michael Lujan, Betsy Imholz, David Chase, Ken Jacobs, Micah Weinberg, Bob Graboyes]  (5/30).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Questioning The Role Of Medicine In Good Health
We are approaching a decision between one approach that leads to a mass, socialized system administered by the state and corporate oligarchs. The other way lives in the microcosm and is the path of the self-actualized individual assuming personal responsibility for his health and its costs. ... at an intuitive level most of us realize the institutional pill is addictive and leads to learned helplessness. When it comes to health care, we really do pay for it with our lives (Francis Miller, 5/30).

Bloomberg: U.S. Doctors Shouldn't Have To Beg For TB Drugs 
I am a tuberculosis doctor. My patients and I inhabit a world of TB medications, diagnostic technology and public-health investigations. Together we have celebrated many triumphs over this deadly, but curable, disease. The problem we are now facing, however, is so threatening that it will take a concerted national effort to prevail. I am talking about the shortage of tuberculosis drugs. Last December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that U.S. supplies of isoniazid, the most important drug in the treatment of TB, were critically low (Dr. Charity Thoman, 5/31).

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