KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

States, Companies And Officials Worry Over Health Law Implementation

The medical device industry and other companies are concerned about how the health law's tax and compliance provisions are affecting their bottom lines and are strategizing new ways forward to avoid the monetary hit.

CQ HealthBeat: Device Companies Strategize About How To Eliminate Tax
For medical device companies, New Year's Day will probably not be a day to celebrate. That's when a 2.3 percent tax on their products goes into effect, unless the industry can convince the Senate to go along with House-passed legislation to repeal it. Device manufacturers are doing all they can to convince senators to get on board with a repeal of the tax, which was created by the 2010 health care law. They note that the final rule for the tax has not been published yet. Even if the rule is released soon, manufacturers say the short time left before the levy takes effect will make it difficult for companies, especially those without an in-house tax adviser, to comply (Adams, 10/11).

The Hill: Conservative Think Tank Says Health Law Compliance Has Cost $27 Billion
New regulations under President Obama have cost states and private companies more than $27 billion, the conservative American Action Forum said in a new analysis. The think tank, led by former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, said the equivalent of 18,000 workers nationwide will be devoted to complying with the new law. About $20 billion in new compliance costs fall to private businesses, according to the AAF paper, and another $7.2 billion fell to state governments. States must undertake new initiatives such as planning for an insurance exchange, while the total for private employers includes healthcare requirements such as calorie labeling on restaurant menus (Baker, 10/10).

State leaders against the health law are also sounding off as Mississippi's and Kansas's governors lambast the law --

The Associated Press: Gov. Phil Bryant Believes Obamacare Is Hurting State's Economy
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant says the 2010 federal health care overhaul is slowing Mississippi's economy because business owners are confused about how much it will cost them to meet demands of the law. Bryant's comments came after he spoke to more than 200 business people who were at Mississippi College for a conference about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Bryant repeated his opposition to expanding Medicaid to people at 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which the U.S. Supreme Court said is optional under the law (Pettus, 10/10).

Politico Pro: States Prep For Quick Post-Election Call On Exchanges
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says he won’t lift a finger to implement the Affordable Care Act before the election — and then he’ll have just a little more than a week to decide if his state should take part in one of the law’s biggest pieces. The state insurance department, though, isn’t waiting around that long to start preparing. The office of Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, a Republican who favors the ACA’s exchanges, has been planning an exchange for years and is working away on an exchange “blueprint,” an application states must file with HHS next month if they want to manage at least part of its health insurance exchange (Millman, 10/10).

Stateline: Accountable Care Explained: An Experiment In State Health Policy
The Affordable Care Act and state fiscal pressures have spawned an array of new Medicaid cost containment and quality improvement schemes. Among the most ambitious is a health care delivery system whose components are called accountable care organizations (ACOs). The phrase "accountable care organization" was coined in 2006 at Dartmouth University Medical School and then adopted by an advisory board to Medicare, the federal health plan for seniors. The idea -- that health care providers could be enticed to join forces to provide better care at lower costs, while taking financial responsibility for the health outcomes of their patients -- gained prominence during the 2009 congressional debate that led to passage of the federal health law (Vestal, 10/11).

Also, Atlanta's Catholic leadership has filed another lawsuit against the health law's birth control mandate and KHN looks at the law's coverage for immigrants --

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Archdiocese Files Suit Over Birth Control Mandate
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta has joined dozens of other religious institutions to have filed lawsuits seeking to overturn the so-called birth control mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The archdiocese's suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, said the institution seeks to vindicate one of the country's most fundamental freedoms -- the right to practice one's religion without governmental interference. The government is trying to penalize all Catholic entities that refuse to pay for or facilitate access to abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception, the suit said (Rankin, 10/10).

Finally, a look at how immigrants' health coverage fares under the law -  

Kaiser Health News: FAQ: The Health Law Coverage For Immigrants
The U.S. is home to more than 21 million immigrants who are not citizens, and for many of them, health coverage is a concern. That is partly because so many of these immigrants, both those who came here legally and those who do not have permission to live in the United States, work in lower wage jobs that don’t include health coverage (Appleby, 10/11).

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