KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Law Policy Issues: Abortion And Maternity Coverage Raising GOP Concerns

News organizations look at a variety of policy issues that affect the health law.

NPR: Which Plans Cover Abortion? No Answers On
As if the rollout of the federal health law didn't have enough problems, abortion is back in the spotlight. How the various health plans in the exchanges would or would not pay for abortion was one of the very last issues settled before the bill was passed in 2010. Now abortion's invisibility on the federal website has some people pretty upset (Rovner, 11/1).

The Washington Post: Does Obama's Health-Care Law Make Men Pay For Maternity Care? Breaking Down The Facts.
It was one of the lighter moments in a House hearing Wednesday in which Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified about the government's problem-ridden health insurance exchange. Rep. Renee L. Ellmers (R-N.C.) said the health-care law was forcing many Americans to pay for benefits they would never need, such as maternity coverage. "To the best of your knowledge, has a man ever delivered a baby?" Ellmers asked. The back-and-forth focused attention on a key part of the law: Starting next year, individual plans must provide a minimum package of essential benefits — including maternity care — to everyone (10/31).

NPR: For The Young And Healthy, Health Insurance Is A Hard Sell
Getting young, healthy people to sign up for health insurance is seen as critical to the success of the Affordable Care Act. It's precisely those people who will help offset the cost of the older, sicker ones. But while cheap health insurance and subsidies based on income are intended to make the program appealing to the young, what if they haven't even heard of the health care law? Or don't want to buy even an inexpensive policy? (Glinton, 11/1).

The Washington Post's The Fact Checker: Obama's Claim That The Massachusetts Enrollment Experience Is Relevant To Obamacare
The president traveled to Boston this week to tout his troubled health care law, to the very spot where his erstwhile rival, former governor Mitt Romney (R), has signed into law his own universal health care law with an individual mandate. He cited the experience in Massachusetts to point out that enrollment in Massachusetts started off slowly and increased substantially just before key deadlines. The administration has not released enrollment numbers, but presumably it is preparing Americans for relatively low numbers at first. But is this really a case of apples and apples—or apples and oranges? (Kessler, 11/1).

CBS News: Despite Major Obamacare Problems, A "Death Spiral" Is Unlikely
The government will have to fix to hold up the new marketplace, but there are other elements in the law that will prevent the "death spiral" from kicking in. The system of subsidies for consumers on the market, along with mechanisms like "reinsurance" and "risk corridors" designed to stabilize the market, should keep premiums from spiraling out of control (Condon, 11/1).

Fox News: One Insurer On The Exchange: What Does That Mean For Prices?
Creating a competitive marketplace with multiple insurance providers for consumers to choose from was an often-touted benefit of the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges, but for some residents, that pool of competition is a lonely one provider. Many insurance offerings are done by region, says Cynthia Cox from the Kaiser Family Foundation, and there are different ways to measure the number of insurers in each state. Some states, like Texas she says, have the same insurer offering individual and multi-state plans from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (Rogers, 10/31).

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