Sebelius: Insurance Exchanges ‘On Track;’ Premiums Could Rise For Higher-Income Medicare Beneficiaries
News outlets covered HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' appearance Friday before the House Ways and Means Committee, which included questions about insurance exchanges, the cost of Medicare premiums and the health law's requirement that small businesses provide health plans or face penalties.
The Associated Press: Upper-Income Seniors' Medicare Hike
President Barack Obama's plan to raise Medicare premiums for upper-income seniors would create five new income brackets to squeeze more revenue for the government from the top tiers of retirees, the administration revealed Friday. First details of the plan emerged after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified to Congress on the president's budget .... Currently, single beneficiaries making more than $85,000 a year and couples earning more than $170,000 pay higher premiums. Obama's plan would raise the premiums themselves and also freeze adjustments for inflation until 1 in 4 Medicare recipients were paying the higher charges. Right now, the higher monthly charges hit only about 1 in 20 Medicare recipients (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/12).
The Hill: Sebelius: Exchanges Will Be Ready On Time, No Need For Backup Plan
The Health and Human Services Department will meet its central ObamaCare deadline and does not need a backup plan for delays, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Friday. Sebelius told the House Ways and Means Committee that a federally run insurance exchange will be up and running by Oct. 1. ... The federal government is operating all or part of the exchanges in 33 states — a massive logistical undertaking on a tight timeline (Baker, 4/12).
CQ HealthBeat: Insurance Exchanges Will be Ready by Deadline, Says Sebelius, Despite Funding Issue
[S]he didn’t elaborate on what would happen if Congress doesn’t meet the Obama administration’s request for an additional $1.5 billion in fiscal 2014 for a federally run exchange that is integral to the law. And although it seems highly unlikely that Republicans would be willing to approve the extra funds, House Ways and Means Committee members didn’t explicitly say Friday that they wouldn’t provide them (Attias, 4/12).
Politico Pro: Sebelius Confident Exchanges Will Be Ready This Fall
In a sharp exchange, Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, slammed HHS for missing some rollout deadlines and pressed Sebelius to promise that won’t happen again. ... “I can only tell you what I can tell you,” Sebelius replied. “We are on track to meet the Oct. 1 deadline. I can’t tell you what will happen in every step along the way." ... Sebelius said she’s looking at her “transfer authority” to fill in the funding gaps, using her discretion to tap various funding streams within the department (Cunningham, 4/12).
Related KHN story: HHS Seeking $1.5B In Funding To Run Federal Health Insurance Exchanges (Carey, 4/11).
Bloomberg Businessweek: Insurer Feedback Delays Small Business Health Plan
The U.S. delayed a feature of the Affordable Care Act that was intended to help small businesses because of concerns raised by insurers, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said today. Employees at small businesses were supposed to have a choice of health plans in a network of online insurance marketplaces, called exchanges, starting Oct. 1. Instead, their bosses will have to choose a single plan to cover their entire workforce (Wayne, 4/12).
The Washington Times: On Hill, Sebelius Faces GOP Doubts Over Health Law
The Republican majority also sounded the alarm over an employer mandate in the law that requires firms with 50 or more full-time employees to provide adequate health plans or face penalties. GOP members said employers in their districts are switching full-time employees to part-time status or declining to hire so they can stay below the 50-employee threshold. Mrs. Sebelius said the law will give small employers more leverage than ever in seeking adequate health plans through a large pool of choices on “Small Business Health Options Programs” (SHOP) exchanges. She [noted] ... similar fears about a clause in Massachusetts’ high-profile health reforms proved unfounded (Howell Jr., 4/12).
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.