The Nuts And Bolts Of Reform’s New PoliciesThe New York Times: "In a new report, the Congressional Research Service says the law may have significant unintended consequences for the 'personal health insurance coverage' of senators, representatives and their staff members." Lawmakers agreed to depart from their existing health plans in order to join new health insurance exchanges, something they have made available to many of their constituents. But, while the exchanges don't start up until 2014, the law is silent on when lawmakers must ditch their current benefits. They may lose access to their existing coverage before their alternatives are in place (Pear, 4/12).
Kaiser Health News: "As baby boomers edge into their 60s, many wonder how they will get care, if they're unable to care for themselves. Jim Firman [the CEO of the National Council on Aging] says the answer lies in the Community Living Assistance Service and Supports (CLASS) Act a section of the new health law that would establish a federal insurance program for long-term care" (Girshman, 4/13).
The New York Times, in a separate story: The new health law promotes wellness such as health diets and preventive care at the same time it promises to stop insurers from charging more for people with preexisting conditions. "While advocates for people with chronic ailments like diabetes, cancer and heart disease say they welcome initiatives that enable employees to incorporate exercise or weight counseling into their workday, they warn that tying premium discounts to achieving certain health standards" something the health law allows firms to do for the first time "will inevitably shift costs to less healthy employees" (Rabin, 4/12).
Los Angeles Times: "Public outrage over double-digit rate hikes for health insurance may have helped push President Obama's healthcare overhaul across the finish line, but the new law does not give regulators the power to block similar increases in the future." While some Democrats are pushing separate legislation to allow the government to block insurers increases, the health law would only allow them to demand an explanation for hike from the insurance firms (Levey, 4/13).
The (N.J.) Star-Ledger: "Buried deep within the health care reform legislation - Page 759 to be exact - is a provision that represents a quiet victory for the biotechnology industry." A new "tax credit initiative, which is capped at $1 billion for a two-year period, is intended to help some of the smallest drugmakers pay the salaries of scientists, continue expensive research and retain workers in their efforts to help develop new medicines. To be eligible, companies cannot have more than 250 employees" (Todd, 4/13). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.