Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Expanding Medicare Is All The Rage For Candidates Right Now, But What Kind Of Coverage Does It Really Offer?

KHN Morning Briefing

“Medicare for All” plans have become something of a litmus test among progressive voters, but a look at how Medicare currently operates–and the treatments it does and does not cover–reveals the pitfalls that await if a proposal like that is ever passed. Meanwhile, candidates get tripped up by private insurers’ role in a new health system. And while many are painting the picture of a health system in crisis, the numbers provide a more nuanced reality.

Kamala Harris Unveils Health Plan That Would Expand Medicare But Keep Private Insurers In The Fold

KHN Morning Briefing

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a 2020 presidential hopeful, splits the difference between the plans from rivals Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden. Her plan would give consumers a choice of joining a government plan modeled on Medicare or choosing from insurance policies modeled on those in Medicare Advantage, and would be run by private insurers rather than the government. “If they want to play by our rules, they can be in the system. If not, they have to get out,” Harris said of the insurance companies. Her shifting position on whether they would be included in her health plan has brought her criticism in the past.

Federal Judge Rules ‘Undeniable’ Benefits Of Expanding Short-Term Plans Outweigh ‘Minimal’ Negative Impact

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The Trump administration issued a regulation last year allowing short-term health care plans to last up to 12 months instead of three. The plans don’t have to adhere to the health law’s strict regulations, so critics blast them as being “junk insurance.” U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, however, ruled that the plans aims to “minimize the harm and expense” for individuals who might otherwise decide not to purchase insurance because of high premiums.

Democrats’ Fault Lines Over Health Care Reveal Deeper Philosophical Differences That Go Beyond One Issue

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Health care is one of the dividing issues for the crowded 2020 Democratic field, but the candidates’ stances on the issue underscore how different their philosophies can be. Meanwhile, those candidates who support “Medicare for All” are still grappling with the issue of how to pay for it. And The New York Times fact checks President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on the Democrats’ plans.

Biden, Sanders Duke It Out Over Health Care In Public Scuffle That Highlights Party Tensions Over High-Profile Issue

KHN Morning Briefing

Presidential hopefuls Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden would take separate paths on how to address health care, with Sanders going for an overhaul approach and Biden favoring building on what exists. The two philosophies have come to divide a crowded pack of Democrats as the election season starts kicking into gear, and in the past few days Sanders and Biden have been publicly swiping at each other over the issue. Meanwhile, governors are particularly worried about candidates’ rhetoric about getting rid of private insurers.

‘Cadillac Tax,’ Once A Key Provision Of Health Law, Dealt Near-Certain Death Blow By Unlikely Foe: Democrats

KHN Morning Briefing

The “Cadillac tax,” which never went into effect, was intended to help control costs by putting a brake on the value of health insurance plans and avoid having insurers and employers shifting more costs to policyholders. Its implementation has been delayed for years, and House Democrats voted to repeal it once and for all. It still needs to go to the Senate, but in all likelihood the upper chamber will eagerly follow suit, as Republicans didn’t like the provision.

‘If You Like Your Plan … You Can Keep It’: Biden’s Blast-From-The-Past Promise Highlights Pros, Pitfalls Of His Health Strategy

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Former Vice President Joe Biden made a similar vow to voters at an AARP/Des Moines Register forum that then-President Barack Obama made as he was touting the health law. The echo from years past highlights Biden’s strategy of building upon the system already in place that has only grown in popularity in recent years. But it could put him out of step with the mood of the party. “Politically, Biden is trapped by his old job,” said Scott Jennings, an appointee in former President George W. Bush’s administration.

Affordable Care Act 2.0: Biden Unveils Plan To Expand Health Law, Sharpening Dividing Line Between Candidates

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Former Vice President Joe Biden rolled out his health plan Monday morning following a weekend of trading jabs over “Medicare for All” with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Biden’s plan would include the creation of a public option as well as the elimination of the existing cap on health care tax credits to make coverage more affordable. The proposal solidifies Biden’s stance as one the health law’s biggest defenders in a race where health care has become a dividing topic between the candidates.

Trump’s Ambitious Order Aims To Revolutionize ‘Stagnant’ Kidney Care System With Focus On Cost, Care And Donors

KHN Morning Briefing

The wide-ranging executive order includes proposals to increase accessibility for at-home treatments, encourage kidney donations to address shortages, launch a public awareness campaign, develop artificial kidneys and more. President Donald Trump touted the plan as a “a first, second and third step” toward improving kidney care for Americans.

Judges’ Blunt Questions Hint At Skepticism Over Health Law: ‘If You No Longer Have The Tax, Why Isn’t It Unconstitutional?’

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During closely watched oral arguments over the constitutionality of the health law, a federal appeals court voiced skepticism that a central feature of the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, though it appeared to struggle with whether that meant the legislation should be struck down in its entirety. Media outlets take readers inside the courtroom for the play-by-play. Meanwhile, what will happen if the law is struck down? The potential headaches go beyond the big headlines about loss of coverage to calorie information on menus, lactation rooms, and more.

New Hampshire Pumps Brakes On Medicaid Work Requirements After 17,000 Found To Be Non-Compliant In First Month

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Gov. Chris Sununu is delaying the penalties tied into the legislation for 120 days as the state continues its outreach efforts to make people aware of the requirements. “Making sure we get this right is just absolutely paramount,” said Sununu. “So the idea of giving ourselves another 120 days to move forward on this and get the implementation where we need it to be, it’s not just fair to the system, but it’s fair to those individuals.” New Hampshire is just the latest state to struggle with the implementation of the work requirements.

Health Law On Trial (Again): How A Long-Shot Case Grew Legs And Now Looms As An ACA Threat And 2020 Election Issue

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Many legal experts across the political spectrum are dubious about the fate of the latest court case challenging the constitutionality of the health law. But should the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules against the ACA following oral arguments today, that all but guarantees it will end up in front of the Supreme Court — with its decision coming right before the 2020 elections. In the last election cycle, protecting the health law proved a winning issue for Democrats.

If United States Provided Health Care To Undocumented Immigrants It Would Be An Outlier Even Among Progressive Countries

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Countries with government-run, universal health care often still place tough restrictions on providing that care for immigrants in the country illegally. Yet the idea is a popular one among the 2020 Democratic candidates. The New York Times looks at what would be involved in implementing the policy. In other news from the campaign trail: former Vice President Joe Biden promises to bring back the individual mandate if he’s elected, the complexities of “Medicare for All” continue to divide candidates and more.

Health Law’s Momentous Day In Court: Tuesday’s Hearing Could Catapult ACA Debate Toward Supreme Court

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit will hear oral arguments on Tuesday in the high-profile lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health law. The issue is on a likely path toward the Supreme Court, which would put it center stage in the 2020 elections. Although Republicans have adamantly pushed to overturn the law, that position did not prove successful for them in the most recent election cycle.