Latest Morning Briefing Stories

In Aftermath Of Court Decision, Threat Of Political Headache For GOP Recedes As Fate Of Health Law Remains In Limbo

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Many questions remain following the appeals court’s decision to kick the case back down to a federal district judge, but the Affordable Care Act does remain intact for now. Meanwhile, Republicans get some political breathing room as they head into the 2020 elections because it’s unlikely the lawsuit will be in front of the Supreme Court anytime soon.

Biden And Sanders Clash Over Health Care, But For Most Part Topic Takes Back Seat In Last Debate Of 2019

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Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) exchange started out with some teasing, but escalated into shouting and interruptions as they touched on well-worn arguments about the status quo versus the costs of “Medicare for All.” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) jumped in to redirect Sanders’ anger toward congressional Republicans instead of his rival candidates. But overall, health care played a much smaller role at the final debate of the year as “Medicare for All” sinks in popularity.

Court Decision Offers Republicans Some Political Breathing Room Heading Into Contentious 2020

KHN Morning Briefing

It’s a widely believed that attacking the health law — and its popular provisions that protect preexisting conditions — proved to be a political vulnerability for Republicans during the 2018 elections. Because the case has been kicked back down to the lower courts, that means a final decision on the law’s fate might not come until after the 2020 election cycle.

Democrats Blast Court’s Health Law Decision As Industry Laments Continued Uncertainty In Marketplaces

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“Tonight’s ruling is a chilling threat to the 130 million Americans with preexisting conditions and every other family who depends on the lifesaving protections of the Affordable Care Act,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Meanwhile, insurers and other industry groups who have been living with turmoil for years over the fate of the law were concerned the decision only drags out the uncertainty. President Donald Trump heralded the ruling, vowing to protect the law’s popular provisions without giving details on how he would do so.

Health Industry Scores Big In Spending Bill, But Consumers Were Left In The Cold

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Congress’ decision to repeal three health law taxes was a huge win for the industry, but consumer protection issues — like surprise medical bills — were not included. Meanwhile, advocates hope that the data that might come from the gun violence funding included in the spending bill for the first time in decades will make a difference in swaying lawmakers in the future.

Judges Rule Individual Mandate Is Unconstitutional, But Kick Case Back To Lower Court For Review Of Severability

KHN Morning Briefing

In a long-awaited decision, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans agreed with Judge Reed O’Connor that the individual mandate can no longer be viewed as a tax, and thus the requirement to buy insurance is unconstitutional. But the judges dodged a hard decision on whether that meant the whole law has to fall, sending it back to the lower courts for a closer look at whether the provision can be severed.

The Good, The Bad And The Weird: A Deeper Look Into What Actually Made It Into Spending Deal–And What Was Cut

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The House passed the sweeping legislation on Tuesday, sending it to the Senate ahead of a Friday deadline for a government shutdown. The bill will, among other things, repeal three health law taxes in a win for insurers. Media outlets dive into the particulars of what’s included — like a tobacco age ban and money for wildfire safety — and what is not. Provisions in the latter category might act as a cautionary tale for progressive Democrats as they try to push ahead with “Medicare for All.”

Constraining Specialists From Billing Out-Of-Network Prices Would Lower Health Spending By $40B A Year

KHN Morning Briefing

Specialists like anesthesiologists have more power to negotiate higher in-network payments because they’re able to bill so much out-of-network. Limiting that power would have a significant effect on spending, a new study finds. Congress has been working to find a way to curb out-of-network surprise bills, but although they’ve made progress in recent weeks, nothing has passed yet.

Health Highlights In Congress’ $1.4 Trillion Spending Bill: Tobacco Age, ‘Cadillac Tax,’ Medical Research And More

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Lawmakers released details Monday of a bipartisan deal that would allocate $1.4 trillion in federal spending for the remainder of the fiscal year to avoid a shutdown. Among other health-related measures, it includes a provision raising the minimum purchasing age for tobacco to 21, which advocates say is a “good step” toward a “substantial reduction” in smoking among young people. Media outlets cover the ins and outs of the bills and the ways they touch on health care.

Democratic Voters In Iowa Worry About ‘The Little Guys’ Whose Jobs Might Be Affected By ‘Medicare For All’

KHN Morning Briefing

Although much of the rhetoric around “Medicare for All” focuses on taking aim at industry giants like hospitals, drugmakers and insurers, some voters in states like Iowa worry about how such a major change would affect their neighbors and friends who simply work in the field. In other news from the election trail: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) goes after South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s health plan; Andrew Yang reveals proposals on prescription drug prices and care for adults with disabilities and prescription; and more.

Despite Likely Dip In Enrollment Numbers, Health Law Marketplaces Showing Resiliency Amid Political Bickering

KHN Morning Briefing

The normal open enrollment season wrapped up on Sunday, and experts are expecting the numbers to fall short of last year’s total. But fears of a marketplace collapse are nowhere to be found. “There’s definitely been some erosion, but perhaps not the cratering that some predicted back when the Trump administration announced some of their policy changes affect the ACA,” said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor. In other health law news: advocates call for an extension because of website glitches; a federal appeals court decision is poised to drop any day now; what would happen if the ACA went away; and more.