KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Views On Health Law: Taking On The Little Sisters Is A ‘Political Loser’; Rubio Calls For End To Insurers’ ‘Bailout’

USA Today: Obamacare Overreach Tramples Little Sisters: Our View
When the Obama administration picked a fight with Catholics and other religious groups over free birth control coverage for employees, sooner or later it was bound to end up doing battle with a group like the Little Sisters of the Poor. And sure enough, the administration is now stuck arguing that it is justified in compelling nuns who care for the elderly poor to assist in offering health insurance that they say conflicts with their religious beliefs. Talk about a political loser (1/12).

USA Today: Freedom Of Religion Untrampled: Opposing View
The Obama administration has struck the right balance between religious liberty and the right to affordable health care with the Affordable Care Act's birth control benefit. It includes an expansive religious exemption, allowing approximately 350,000 churches and houses of worship to refuse to provide this benefit to their employees. Exempting this number of organizations from providing a health care benefit is nearly unheard of (Cecile Richards, 1/12).

The New York Times: Enemies Of The Poor
The most important current policy development in America is the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Most Republican-controlled states are, however, refusing to implement a key part of the act, the expansion of Medicaid, thereby denying health coverage to almost five million low-income Americans. ... Well, Republicans weren't always like this. In fact, all of our major antipoverty programs -- Medicaid, food stamps, the earned-income tax credit -- used to have bipartisan support. And maybe someday moderation will return to the G.O.P. For now, however, Republicans are in a deep sense enemies of America's poor (Paul Krugman, 1/12).

Fox News: Sebelius, Congress Should Take ObamaCare Bailout Off The Table
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is in Tampa today, Monday, January 13, for an Obamacare outreach event, and she owes Floridians an answer. Why should taxpayers have to bail out health insurance companies in the increasingly likely event that Obamacare leaves them with financial losses? The answer should be simple. Whatever larger differences we have about Obamacare, we should completely eliminate any chance of a taxpayer-funded bailout for health insurers (Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., 1/13).

The Washington Post: Maryland's Costly Health Care Blunder
There's now a preliminary price tag on Maryland’s failure to roll out a functional health-insurance Web site: $5 million to $10 million. That's an estimate of how much it will cost the state to offer emergency health coverage to people who couldn't sign up on Maryland's online Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace before Jan. 1. Extending last-minute coverage to these people is the right thing to do. But it's not a substitute for a working Web site, nor for holding the state's leaders to account (1/11).

The Washington Post: Va.'s New Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe Maneuvers To Cast GOP As 'Party Of No'
The GOP is determined to draw the line against accepting about $2 billion a year in federal money under President Obama’s health care law to extend insurance to about 400,000 low-income Virginians. McAuliffe is equally determined to push the issue, partly because it was a core promise of his campaign. He has told associates that this position is "in the marrow of my bones," and added, "You don't always win, but you sure better fight." Although Obama's health reforms are generally unpopular now, the governor has powerful allies. The state's chambers of commerce and hospitals favor Medicaid expansion, because they don't want to turn away money there for the asking (Robert McCartney, 1/11).

The Richmond Times-Dispatch: Regional Health Care: Disrupt The Pace Of Innovation
This month marked the launch of the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Change is coming across the country in the way health insurance is offered, along with new coverage for the previously uninsured. What will it mean for the Richmond region? Richmond’s Future has been investigating that question for more than a year to recommend steps that the region should be taking now in order to participate successfully in these health care changes (Louis Rossiter and Tonya Mallory, 1/12).

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