First Edition: August 6, 2013
Today's headlines include reports about the readiness of the health law's insurance online marketplaces for the Oct. 1 enrollment kick-off date.
Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: Many Consumers With High-Deductible Plans Are Concerned About Health Law Changes
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews reports: "In 2014, plans sold on the individual and small group markets will have to meet new standards for coverage and cost sharing, among other things. In addition to covering 10 so-called essential health benefits and covering many preventive care services at no cost, plans must pay at least 60 percent of allowed medical expenses, and cap annual out-of-pocket spending at $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families" (Andrews, 8/6). Read the column.
Kaiser Health News: Cascading Hospital Closures Loom Over Brooklyn
WNYC's Fred Mogul, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "Brooklyn, New York, home to hipsters, an NBA team and a seemingly unlimited supply of new ultra-chic boutiques and restaurants, seems to be increasingly inhospitable to hospitals. Despite the efforts of community activists, elected officials, and blue-ribbon panels, Brooklyn is close to losing two large and historic hospitals, and others might not be far behind" (Mogul, 8/5). Read the story.
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Consumers Can Take First Step To Enrolling In New Insurance Options Today; Making Sense Of Premium Rates In Insurance Marketplaces
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Phil Galewitz reports on how consumers can begin enrolling in new insurance marketplaces: "Consumers in most states can start the process of enrolling in Obamacare today — but they won't be able to compare health insurance prices or buy coverage in the new federally run insurance online marketplaces until Oct. 1, administration officials said Monday" (Galewitz, 8/5).
Also on the blog, watch video of KHN Reporter Phil Galewitz on C-SPAN's Washington Journal Monday where he talked about health insurance rates in states' health law marketplaces. KHN reporters will be returning to C-SPAN's Washington Journal each Monday throughout the summer (8/5). Checkout what else is on the blog.
The Wall Street Journal: Preparations For Health Exchanges On Tight Schedule
Opening day for the new health-insurance marketplaces is two months away, but efforts to recruit and train workers to help people enroll are barely off the ground in many states. With time running short before enrollment kicks off Oct. 1, the Obama administration last week cut back on training requirements for these "navigators." Officials were concerned there might not be enough time to do more-extensive training before the health-insurance exchanges open (Schatz, 8/5).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Admin: Consumers Can Now Set Up Personal Health Accounts – No Details Yet On Premiums
You can now open your own personal "Obamacare" account — but you'll have to wait awhile before you can actually use it to pick a health insurance plan. Just eight weeks before the Oct. 1 launch of open enrollment under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law, administration officials announced Monday that the Affordable Care Act is a step closer to reality for millions of uninsured Americans (8/5).
USA Today: HHS Starts Features To Help Consumers Learn Insurance
About 7 million Americans are estimated to start buying health insurance as part of the new law, but a new survey shows they don't understand the basics of how health insurance works or is provided (Kennedy, 8/5).
The Washington Post’s Wonk Blog: HHS Shielding Obamacare Outreach From Sequester Cuts
The health insurance marketplaces launch eight weeks from Tuesday, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius would like you to know that her agency is "on target and ready to flip the switch on October 1." … Sebelius spent about a half-hour earlier Monday answering a wide range of questions from reporters, mostly on the launch of the marketplaces, whether her department would be ready and what to expect in coming weeks (Kliff, 8/5).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Delaying Health Care Law's Employer Mandate Provides Fodder For Immigration Bill Opponents
For many House conservatives, President Barack Obama's decision to delay a central provision of his health care law has emerged as a major arguing point — not against that law but in opposition to immigration legislation. In the weeks since the announcement that employers won't have to provide health insurance for another year, complaints have increased among House Republicans that they can't trust the Obama administration to implement any law they pass. That includes strict requirements for immigrants, tighter border security and genuine workplace hiring enforcement (8/6).
The New York Times: Senator Amplifies Her Voice To Referee Fiscal Showdown
Ms. Mikulski, who legislates with two parts accommodation and one part coercion, now finds herself at the center of a spending brawl on Capitol Hill. At 77, she is the longest serving woman in Congress, the first female leader of its most august committee and the fulcrum in a fiscal fight that will dominate Washington this fall. … Before voting against a recent amendment that would have reduced federal subsidies for people buying health insurance, she explained her no vote for several minutes, citing what she imagined her father would say: "Barb keep fighting, you've got the gavel, use it. But at the same time let me and other guys like me buy that health insurance." Her values as a spender stem, said several members, from her social activism, Roman Catholic faith and shameless Maryland boosting. She will talk for hours about the need to protect the National Institutes of Health, both because it is in her home state and because of her interest in health care (Steinhauer, 8/5).
The Wall Street Journal's Risk & Compliance Journal: Electronic Medical Records Go Largely Unused: Survey
Most hospitals have implemented electronic medical records, but only 24% of consumers are making use of them, a new study shows. Hospital CIOs are working on ways to boost adoption of EMRs, which have been tied to improvements in health care, as well as billions of dollars in federal incentive payments. About 80% of hospitals make EMRs available, but the new report from researchers ... shows this is one area where consumers are reluctant to enter the digital age (Boulton, 8/5).
The Washington Post: Cuccinelli, McAuliffe Address Mental Health
Ken Cuccinelli II touted tax cuts and preschool vouchers while Terry McAuliffe embraced Medicaid expansion Monday night as the candidates for Virginia governor laid out different visions for improving mental health in Virginia. The rivals to succeed Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) appeared at a candidate forum for mental-health advocates and families affected by mental illness. Sponsored by a coalition of mental health organizations, the event drew several hundred people to an auditorium at Collegiate School in suburban Richmond (Vozzella, 8/5).
The Wall Street Journal: House Probes Cuomo Role In Audit Delay
A U.S. congressional oversight committee has opened an investigation into whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office interfered with a Medicaid audit of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, the nation's largest nonprofit home-health company. The audit under scrutiny is one of the most intensive and time-consuming ever conducted by the state's Office of the Medicaid Inspector General, a state agency that supervises financial inspections of New York's $56 billion-a-year Medicaid program, according to two people familiar with the audit (Gershman, 8/5).
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