Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Industry Wants The Delay Of Health Law Taxes To Be Tucked Into Year-End Funding Deal, But Dems Are Resistant

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“You always want to take advantage of the moment, and I think we’re in the moment,” said Scott Whitaker, CEO of AdvaMed, a lobbying group for medical device companies. Meanwhile, Republican governors are joining the push to get Congress to delay the three taxes — medical device tax, health insurance tax, and tax on high-cost “Cadillac” health plans — as well.

On Capitol Hill: Medicare For All; Lowering Health Care Costs; Maternal Mortality Rates; And More

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Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the expected incoming House Ways and Means chairman, signaled his willingness to hold hearings on “Medicare for all,” a popular priority for many progressive lawmakers in the party. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, health care costs are in the spotlight, as well as a bill aimed at reversing the country’s maternal mortality rates.

Millions Of Americans Are Eligible For Free Coverage Through Health Law Plans, Study Finds

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Part of the reason so many people are eligible for plans under which they would pay $0 in premiums is because President Donald Trump eliminated key health law payments last year. This had the unintended effect of increasing financial assistance to many Americans. Meanwhile, although the enrollment numbers have been dragging this year, the federal health law site did experience a surge after former President Barack Obama encouraged people to sign up.

Obama Strikes Serious Tone As He Implores People To Sign Up For Health Law Coverage Before Deadline

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“No jump shots. No ferns. No memes. Not this time. I’m going to give it to you straight: If you need health insurance for 2019, the deadline to get covered is December 15,” tweeted former President Barack Obama, who in the past has taken more light-hearted approaches. “Pass this on — you just might save a life.” Enrollment news comes out of Maryland and Georgia, as well.

Health Industry Groups: Congress Must Act To Protect Patients From Surprise Medical Billing

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“When doctors, hospitals or care specialists choose not to participate in networks, or if they do not meet the standards for inclusion in a network, they charge whatever rates they like,” wrote the groups, which include powerful lobbyists like the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the National Business Group on Health, and the Consumers Union. “The consequence is millions of consumers receiving surprise, unexpected medical bills that can often break the bank.”

Deep-Pocketed Health Industry Lobbies Ready To Throw Weight Behind Dems Who Don’t Back ‘Medicare For All’

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There’s a brewing rift in the Democratic party between progressives who campaigned on “Medicare for all” and those who want to stabilize and improve upon the health law. The hospital, insurance and pharmaceutical industry are getting ready for the upcoming battle. Meanwhile, state attorneys general, emboldened by election wins, look to shore up their defense of the health law in courts.

Health Spending Growth Slows For Second Year In A Row

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Although the nation spent $3.5 trillion on health last year, federal economists found that the increase in health expenses did not exceed the growth in the overall economy.

Medicaid Officials Allow N.H. To Implement The Latest Work Requirement For Some Beneficiaries

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The federal waiver requires many adults who have joined Medicaid through the health law’s expansion to report at least 100 hours per month of work, job training, education or volunteer activities. The requirement in other states has been 80 hours. In Florida, some advocates are concerned about a change to the look-back period that applies to coverage for new Medicaid members.

Sen. Manchin Presses Trump To Support Senate Compromise To Help Stabilize ACA Markets

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Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) last year reached an agreement aimed at reducing Affordable Care Act premiums, but the deal faltered amid a dispute over restrictions on funding going to abortions. Manchin, a moderate Democrat, wants to revive the deal. Also, officials in Minnesota are concerned that the Trump administration may change a funding formula for a reinsurance program that has helped reduce premiums there.

Incoming Democrats Amped Up To Leverage Their Victories At The Ballot Box Into Victories In Congress

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“It’s a confluence of things. It’s about the committees that we’ll be appointed to. It’s about the values- and issues-based caucuses that we’ll serve on,” said Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) Some of their top issues will be gun control and health care. Meanwhile, the Pro-Choice Caucus is ready to stretch its wings with the Democrats now in power.

Health Care, Gun Control, And Other Legislation Should Be Prioritized Over Trump Investigations, Incoming Dems Say

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The message was delivered in a letter that 46 House freshmen to the Democratic leadership team. Their request for a bipartisan focus on legislation is one of several. Others include holding monthly meetings between top leaders and freshmen and more committee hearings held outside of Washington. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump, in a nod to the new power structure in Congress, has begun reaching out to Democrats.

Ocasio-Cortez Flips ‘Death Panel’ Rhetoric, Arguing That They Already Exist In Private Marketplace

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The idea that “death panels” will decide when people on Medicare should be cut off from live-saving services has often been used against Democrats, but this weekend Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) countered that that principle already exists in the current health care system. “They are companies + boards saying you’re on your own bc they won’t cover a critical procedure or medicine,” she tweeted. Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez also expressed frustration that Congress can offer cheap health care benefits to its own members yet “would deny other people affordability that they themselves enjoy.”