KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Feds To Kick Off Campaign To Reach Uninsured In July

Politico reports that the Obama administration will begin a pitch to enroll the uninsured beginning in July. Other media outlets explore how the sequester won't interrupt the startup of the health law's new fees and taxes, and how Republicans hope to eliminate those through a tax overhaul.

Politico: Feds Plan Pitch To Uninsured
The Obama administration will begin reaching out to people who could get insurance through the health reform law this July, less than three months before they can sign up for new coverage. "If we get too much of a head start with beneficiaries about what they can expect in 2014, … but say that it's not available to you for six months or seven months, then folks tend to lose interest," Marilyn Tavenner, the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, told the Federation of American Hospitals at its Washington conference Tuesday (Haberkorn, 3/6).

Politico: Smokers Can Skirt Higher Premiums
Under the health law, insurers next year will be able to charge smokers up to 50 percent more than nonsmokers. Unless smokers don't tell the truth. Or if they enroll in a smoking-cessation program. ... “Ultimately, the determination of whether or not a person is a smoker … is up to the honor of that individual,” said Tom Harte, president-elect of the National Association of Health Underwriters. “That is a real threat to the validity of the tobacco rating" (Norman, 3/6).

The Hill: Sequester Won’t Interrupt Collection Of Taxes From 'ObamaCare'
Implementation of the taxes and fees from President Obama’s healthcare law is on track despite the cutbacks at the IRS from sequestration. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), enacted in 2010 and derided by Republicans as "ObamaCare," contains the broadest set of tax changes enacted in some two decades — more than 40 alterations in all, including penalties on people who choose not to purchase insurance (Becker and Baker, 3/6).

CQ HealthBeat: Boustany: Health Care Law Tax Changes To Be Wrapped In Tax Code Overhaul
As the Ways and Means Committee prepares to overhaul the tax code, repeals or changes to health law taxes will be included, the chairman of the panel’s oversight subcommittee said Tuesday. Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany Jr., R-La., said simplification of the tax code is a priority as Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., embarks on a tax code overhaul. The health care law “took us in a different direction,” Boustany said, speaking after a hearing at which he heard from a series of unhappy business owners and tax experts (Norman, 3/5).

In related news -

The Hill: Insurers Ready To Battle Medicare Cuts
The health insurance industry is beginning a ferocious lobbying offensive aimed at warding off major cuts to Medicare payments. Insurers are hoping to block a 2.2 percent cut in government payments to the privately administered Medicare plans known as Medicare Advantage (Baker, 3/6).

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