KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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The Problem With Trying To Cover Those 24M People: It Costs A Lot Of Money

And that creates a tricky political problem for Republicans. In other news on the American Health Care Act, insurers project that premiums could jump by as much as 20 percent in 2018, a look at health savings accounts, the Cadillac tax and more.

Modern Healthcare: GOP Faces Major Hurdles In Reducing Repeal Bill's Coverage Losses
Efforts by Senate Republicans to reduce the number of Americans who would lose coverage under the GOP healthcare reform bill face some stark political arithmetic: Restoring coverage for many or most of the 24 million people projected to lose it would cost lots of money conservatives don't want to spend. On top of that, a higher price tag for the bill could jeopardize its ability to meet the Senate's strict budget reconciliation rules, through which Republicans hope to avoid a Democratic filibuster and pass the bill on a strictly party-line vote. Bills passed through reconciliation cannot raise the federal deficit more than 10 years out. (Meyer, 3/16)

The Wall Street Journal: Insurers See Health-Care Premiums Increasing Significantly In 2018
Republicans seeking to overhaul the Affordable Care Act face growing signs that there could be big increases in premiums for individual plans next year, which poses a challenge as the lawmakers try to rally support for the replacement legislation. According to a nonpartisan report released by the Congressional Budget Office on Monday, the House Republicans’ bill, known as the American Health Care Act, could raise premiums by 15% to 20% for individual plans in 2018, compared with rates without the bill. (Wilde Mathews, 3/16)

CQ Magazine: The GOP's Planned Health Savings Account Expansion Is A Gift To The Rich
The House GOP’s Obamacare repeal bill would dramatically expand health savings accounts, the tax shelter created in a 2003 law that established a new Medicare drug benefit. But the expansion Republicans now envision — lifting the annual maximum family contribution from $6,750 currently to $13,100 — would benefit very few people. A 2016 study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a trade group of major companies that offer benefits to their workers, found that in 2015 only 45 percent of people who had a health savings account contributed to it, though some of their employers put in money for them. The group estimated that 20-22 million people were enrolled in the high deductible health insurance plans that qualify them to start a health savings account, a number that is rising. (Zeller, 3/20)

Stat: Obamacare Replacement Could Hike Insurance Costs For Some Seniors
Just shy of Medicare eligibility, [Erika] Snyder is part of the age 50 to 64 demographic that would face much higher insurance costs under the GOP plan, known as the American Health Care Act. The law would eliminate Obamacare subsidies that 3 million Americans in that age bracket currently rely on to purchase insurance. It would also allow insurers to charge older people up to 5 times as much as younger Americans for individual policies, while providing an age-based tax credit that experts say would fall far short of covering these additional costs. (Ross, 3/17)

WBUR: Why The Republican Health Care Plan Delays, Not Repeals, The 'Cadillac Tax' 
The House Republican plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act would delay, not repeal, the so-called "Cadillac tax" on the most expensive job-based health insurance plans. The news came as a disappointment to some in the Republican rank and file, as well as labor union members, who fought for years against the 40 percent excise tax, which is currently scheduled to begin in 2020 and would be pushed off until 2025 under the latest proposal. (Chakrabarti, 3/16)

Politico Pro: How Will Congress Repeal And Replace Its Own Obamacare?
Obamacare required members of Congress to enroll in the law’s health insurance plans. But so far, Republicans aren’t planning to require lawmakers to participate in the new insurance market they’re proposing.In fact, no one really knows where lawmakers are going to have to get their health insurance under repeal. (Haberkorn, 3/16)

Miami Herald: Older Floridians To Pay More Under GOP Health Proposal
Older Floridians with health insurance through the Affordable Care Act will pay higher premiums under the Republican replacement proposal, called the American Health Care Act, than they do now under the current law also known as Obamacare, according to an analysis released Thursday by AARP. The AARP analysis found that an estimated 450,000 Floridians between 50 and 64 would face higher premiums under the AHCA — more than any other state. (Chang, 3/16)

Orlando Sentinel: AARP Says Trumpcare Cuts, 'Age Tax' Will Hit Florida Hardest 
Calling Florida “ground zero” for the impact of the GOP’s proposed health care plan, the AARP warned Thursday that more than 450,000 of the state’s residents age 50 to 64 would pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars more each year for coverage. The nonpartisan advocacy organization also said Florida would be the nation’s hardest hit by the plan’s so-called “age tax” — which allows insurance companies to charge older policyholders up to five times as much as younger ones. (Santich, 3/16)

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