KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

First Edition: August 20, 2013

Today's headlines include reports about the continued efforts by the Obama administration and some states to raise awareness about the health law's new insurance options. 

Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: New Online Markets For Small Businesses May Offer Some Workers Greater Choices
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews writes: "The health care overhaul requires every state and the District of Columbia to establish a Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP exchange, to enable businesses with 50 or fewer workers to offer health insurance to their employees. These exchanges will function much like the online marketplaces for individual coverage that will open this fall, but with some key differences" (Andrews, 8/20). Read the column.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: HHS Offering Prizes For Videos Promoting Obamacare; Answering Your Questions About The Latest Obamacare Delays
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, KUHF's Carrie Feibel, working in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports on an HHS' push for videos promoting the health law: "The 'young invincibles' are what health policy wonks call healthy young adults (18-30) who don’t see being uninsured as a problem. But it is a problem, at least for the success of the Affordable Care Act. That’s why the Department of Health and Human Services is spending $30,000 on prizes for a national video contest, in a frank appeal to the YouTube generation" (Feibel, 8/20).

Also on Capsules, Kaiser Health News' Julie Appleby was on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal Monday morning taking questions about the latest Obamacare implementation delay — this one delaying a provision of the law that limits some consumers' out-of-pocket expenses for one year. Watch the video or check out what else is new on the blog.

The Washington Post's Wonk Blog: Why Obamacare Is Good For Young People
The key is that not everyone uses their health insurance at the same time, or with the same frequency. Sick people use it more than healthy people. The elderly use it more than the young. Women use it more than men. The trick to making any health-insurance system work is to attract enough healthy and young people into the insurance pool. Their low costs offset the care provided to elderly and unhealthy people, who drive costs up. This is the task that obsesses the Obama administration. It's also the task that has begun to obsess its opponents (Klein, 8/19).

Los Angeles Times: Paul Bunyan, Ox Sidekick Hired As Insurance Salesmen In Minnesota
Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, now has 10,000 reasons to get health insurance, too. At least that's the latest pitch from state officials launching a campaign to enroll about 1 million residents in healthcare coverage when its state-run insurance marketplace goes live Oct. 1. The state has enlisted Minnesotan folklore icons -- lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his trusty sidekick, Babe the Blue Ox -- as the face of its marketing campaign to promote MNSure, as the state's health exchange is known (Lopez, 8/19).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Hundreds Protest Medicaid Expansion At Virginia Capitol Rally
Hundreds of conservative activists expressed their opposition to Medicaid expansion at a state Capitol rally. The organization Americans for Prosperity sponsored the rally just before Monday's meeting of the state's Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission. The General Assembly established the commission earlier this year to monitor implementation of Medicaid reforms sought by Virginia as a condition for expanding the program to an additional 400,000 uninsured low-income residents under the federal health care reform law (8/19).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Va. Medicaid Panel Learns It's Not Alone In Expansion Dilemma, But Little Else At Meeting
The Virginia policymaking panel with its hand on the throttle and foot on the brake of Medicaid expansion learned Monday that theirs isn't the only Republican-led state still wrestling with the issue. In a three-hour meeting, the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission learned little not already known other than how other states are handling the issue (8/19).

The Washington Post's The Federal Diary: Postal Health Plan Would Save USPS Money, But Workers could Pay The Price
The controversial plan by the U.S. Postal Service to pull its staffers from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) probably would save USPS lots of money, but the cost would bring significant uncertainties for postal workers. That’s the finding of a report by the Government Accountability Office, which also indicated that many employees would have to pay more for care under a USPS health insurance program (Davidson, 8/19).

The Washington Post: Federal Workers To Be Surveyed About Benefits
The government soon will ask some federal employees what they think of their benefits, a survey that in the past has shown that they most highly value their retirement and health insurance programs and in general think those programs meet their needs and provide good value (Yoder, 8/20).

The Wall Street Journal’s The Informed Patient: More Hospitals Use Social Media to Gather Feedback from Patients' Families
The efforts are part of a larger movement to engage patients and families in care and enhance the hospital experience. The federal Medicare program is basing some hospital payments on patient satisfaction surveys, including questions about how responsive a hospital is to concerns. Similar surveys are being developed for pediatric hospitals (Landro, 8/19).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: To Make Waiting Lists For New Livers Fairer, Specialists Consider Redistricting
Where you live can affect your chances of getting a liver transplant, and your risk of dying while waiting. The nation's transplant network says it's time to make the system fairer — and it may take a cue from how politicians redraw voting maps. "Gerrymandering for the public good" is how Johns Hopkins University transplant surgeon Dr. Dorry Segev describes a proposal to change the map that governs how donated livers are distributed around the country (8/20).

The Wall Street Journal: Hospitals Heat Up As An Issue
Fixing New York's ailing hospitals has emerged as a sleeper issue in the race for mayor, with three of the leading campaigns scrambling Monday to demonstrate their commitment to keeping the institutions open (Grossman, 8/19).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: NY Posts Cardiac Surgery, Other Data On Web Site
New York health officials have begun posting online data about cardiac surgeries, hospitals and the doctors statewide who perform them, including their cases from 2008 to 2010 and mortality rates. Other information posted on the Health Data NY website includes environmental radiation surveys at various facilities and sites around New York. The measures of levels in the air, water, milk, fish, sediment and vegetation are used to determine normal levels and the effects from what people are doing (8/20).

The New York Times: Suicides Worry Experts At Big Jail In Capital
The four suicides in less than a year are a record for the 1,800-inmate detention facility, which has experienced eight suicides over all in the past decade. The increase, which mirrors a rise in suicides over the last 10 years in jails across the country, has mental health experts concerned about what they say is a lack of supervision. The deaths have also raised questions about the mental health provider at the jail, which is on the edge of Capitol Hill and only a few miles from the White House (Banco, 8/19).  

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