Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Judge Strikes Down Federal Health Law

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U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, ruling on a suit brought by opponents of the Affordable Care Act, says that the law was invalidated when Congress dropped the tax penalty for not having coverage. Advocates for the law say they will appeal the decision.

‘I Hate To Panic, But …’: Advocates Eye Tomorrow’s Health Law Enrollment Deadline With Trepidation As Numbers Lag

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Some experts, however, say that it’s still too soon to say that fewer sign-ups this year mean fewer people will have insurance coverage in 2019. The unemployment rate fell from 4.1 percent to 3.7 percent over the course of 2018, and it’s also hard to know how many people aren’t showing up on enrollment tallies because they are just sticking with the plan they have.

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.

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.

Wisconsin Lawmakers Vote To Enact Medicaid Work Requirements In Lame-Duck Session

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The state lawmakers passed an extensive package of bills as they seek to rack up wins before Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul take up their positions in a few weeks. Meanwhile, in Kansas, Gov.-elect Laura Kelly, a Democrat, says she wants to roll back a work requirement and other cash assistance rules for government aid.

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.

Conservative Group Projects That Adding Medicaid Work Requirements Will Increase Beneficiaries’ Lifetime Earnings

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The group argued that expanding Medicaid to low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act has had the unintended consequence of causing healthy, single adults to leave the labor force or reduce their work hours to keep or qualify for Medicaid benefits. Meanwhile, a left-leaning think tank warns that millions of children could lose health insurance because of the “public charge” policy.

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.”

Ruling Expected In Case Over Insurer Coverage Limits On Mental Health Care Services

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The impact of the ruling in the consolidated cases of Wit v. United Behavioral Health and Alexander v. United Behavioral Health could ripple across the country as many providers and patients say that, despite laws requiring insurers to cover behavioral care on parity with care for physical conditions, they often encounter significant problems getting carriers to pay for needed treatment.

New Guidelines Would Grant States Flexibility To Use Health Law Subsidies On Plans That Don’t Meet ACA’s Requirements

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Under the examples outlined by CMS Administrator Seema Verma, a state could create an entirely new subsidy program, basing aid on age, rather than income, or set income limits higher or lower than the federal requirements. But uncertainty about the validity of the guidance may mean few states will be interested in the new flexibility offered by CMS, because any state looking to implement the ideas could be sued even if the CMS approved its 1332 waiver.

Baltimore Files First-In-Nation Suit Against Trump’s ‘Public Charge’ Policy, Citing Chilling Effect Its Had On City’s Immigrants

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Because of the policy that expands the definition of public charge to immigrants receiving government aid, legal residents have stopped using school programs, food subsidies, housing vouchers and health clinics for which they are eligible, the city’s lawsuit says. It hurts Baltimore’s mission to welcome immigrants and increases long-term expenses as Baltimore deals with a sicker and less-educated community, according to officials.

Medicare ‘Buy-In’ Proposal — A Toned Down Alternative To Single-Payer — Gains Momentum With Moderate House Democrats

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Under the proposal, anyone aged 50 to 64 who buys insurance through the health-care exchanges would be eligible to buy in to Medicare. While some Democrats are eager to work on the plan, others from the left-wing of the party view it as too incremental. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill: Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wants to work on a bipartisan fix to shore up the health law, a spat between lawmakers endangers chances of two health measures getting passed this year, and Democrats shift focus from health message with eye on 2020.