KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: July 1, 2010

Today's health policy headlines highlight news about the launch of a government health insurance web site and the start of the high-risk health insurance pools mandated in the health reform law.

Governors To Congress: Restore Extra Medicaid Funds
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jenny Gold caught up with Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, after a Washington press conference to discuss the current enhanced federal share of Medicaid funds set to expire at the end of the year and the devastating impact on state budgets that Congress' failure to provide additional federal Medicaid assistance could have (Kaiser Health News).

Online Health Insurance Broker That Once Feared Overhaul Now Sees New Opportunities
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: "EHealthInsurance, a large online health insurance broker, had once feared that its business might be imperiled by the health care overhaul. But today, the company is looking to profit from the law" (Kaiser Health News).

Government Website Helps Compare Insurance Plans
The government has launched -- a new one-stop service mandated by the health care law. The idea is to help people find and compare health insurance plans (NPR).

Obama Administration Unveils Government Health-Care Web Site
Maybe you are a 21-year-old woman who has just graduated from college in Ohio and haven't found a job yet. Or you are a 49-year-old unemployed man with high blood pressure who lives in West Virginia. How would you know what insurance options you have under the new health-care law? (The Washington Post).

'High-Risk' Pool Medical Insurance Program Set To Begin
The Obama administration and some state governments will begin accepting applications Thursday for new insurance programs designed to cover people who have been denied insurance because they have preexisting medical conditions (Los Angeles Times).

Premiums For New 'High Risk' Pool Could Be Steep
President Barack Obama's new health coverage for uninsured people with health problems won't be cheap - monthly premiums as high as $900, administration officials said Wednesday (The Associated Press).

High-Risk Insurance Pools Launched
Health and Human Services officials said they might shift funding among states if a new $5 billion program to cover the uninsured runs out more quickly in some states than in others (The Wall Street Journal).

Tanning Salons Burned By New Health Law
It's the first controversial element of the new health law to take effect: Starting Thursday, people who partake of indoor tanning services will pay a 10 percent tax to help underwrite the costs of the rest of the new law (NPR).

Federal Tan Tax Burns Some Badly But Keeps Everybody In The Dark
When Jeanne Chamberlain turns up at work Thursday, she's going to have to grapple with America's first federal tax on tanning services, a 10% levy designed to help pay for Congress's health-care overhaul (The Wall Street Journal).

States Seek Financial Help As New Fiscal Year Begins
State governments desperately need money. Congress is in no mood to spend it. And the reckoning will begin Thursday, when the new fiscal year will start for most states (The Washington Post).

CBO Tells Obama Deficit Panel That Forecast Remains Bleak
President Obama's overhaul of the health-care system has done little to improve the nation's fiscal outlook, and his pledge to extend an array of tax cuts for the middle class would only make things worse, congressional budget analysts said Wednesday (The Washington Post).

Deficit Panel Stresses Spending Cuts
While praising Democrats' recent health-care overhaul for expanding access to services, Mr. Bowles also emphasized the need to find significant savings in federal health spending and other entitlement programs. If not, he added, "it will just consume the budget" (The Wall Street Journal).

Anthem Blue Cross Again Seeks Rate Hikes For Californians
Embattled health insurer Anthem Blue Cross is reviving its plan to raise rates for tens of thousands of California policyholders, some of whom could see their premiums rise as much as 20% (Los Angeles Times).

WellPoint Scales Back Rate Increases Sought In California
Health insurer WellPoint Inc. is backing off its plan to increase prices by as much as 39% for individuals in California, instead seeking rates for this year that it said would result in a $100 million loss for the company there (The Wall Street Journal).

Economy Hurts Government Aid For HIV Drugs
The weak economy is crippling the government program that provides life-sustaining antiretroviral drugs to people with H.I.V. or AIDS who cannot afford them. Nearly 1,800 have been relegated to rapidly expanding waiting lists that less than three years ago had dwindled to zero (The New York Times).

Reframing The Abortion Debate: Focus On Fetus
More than 350 bills have been introduced in state legislatures this year to restrict abortion. At least two dozen new laws have passed. In many states, the fierce debate over abortion now centers directly on the fetus (NPR).

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