Kaiser Health News Original Stories

5. Political Cartoon: 'Hold The Phone?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Hold The Phone?'" by Monte Wolverton, L.A. Daily News.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

REPUBLICANS WRESTLE WITH OBAMACARE NEXT STEPS

Repeal strategies
cause GOP hand-wringing...
What's their action plan?

If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.

Health Law Issues And Implementation

6. Much-Anticipated Court Decision Could Shape Obama's Legacy, Alter The Health Law's Impact

As the clock ticks down on the time remaining in this Supreme Court session, the justices still have rulings coming in a number of high-profile cases -- including King v. Burwell.

The New York Times: Supreme Court Ruling On Health Law Will Shape Obama’s Legacy
The night his administration’s Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, President Obama described the victory the way he hopes historians will: as a “stone firmly laid in the foundation of the American dream.” But Mr. Obama’s prospects for a legacy of expanding health care coverage in the United States for generations have never seemed as uncertain as they do today. The Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of the month on a critical provision of the Affordable Care Act — insurance subsidies for millions of Americans — and even Mr. Obama’s closest allies say that a decision to invalidate the subsidies would mean years of logistical and political chaos. (Shear, 6/23)

The Fiscal Times: 5 Ways Obamacare Could Change When The Supreme Court Rules
The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in the next week that could have serious consequences for millions of people who have received subsidized health coverage through the president’s health care law. The high-stakes case of King v. Burwell centers on whether language in the Affordable Care Act provides health care subsidies to people who signed up for coverage on the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov. (Ehley, 6/22)

CBS News: Is The Supreme Court About to Gut Obamacare?
The case the justices are mulling, King v. Burwell, poses a legal challenge to the tax credits offered to consumers in 34 states who bought health insurance through the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) federally run exchanges. About 6 million people in those states who used the government program to buy insurance could lose their subsidies if the High Court agrees that the law's wording -- "established by the state" -- limits federal assistance only to those states running their own exchanges. For opponents to Obamacare, meanwhile, the ruling likely represents the final chance to challenge the 2010 law. (Picchi, 6/23)

CNBC: 'State' Of Obamacare Could Change For Many Very Soon
If U.S. states had a Facebook setting for Obamacare status, it would say: "It's complicated." This month, that might change to: "It's very, very complicated." The catalyst would be a Supreme Court ruling that could—for the second time in less than two years—cause a dramatic shift in the differences between states in their uninsured rates and in the financial burden on hospitals and other medical providers from caring for the uninsured. (Mangan, 6/22)

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: The Supreme Court And The Art Of Saving The Best Opinions For Last
The Supreme Court sure knows how to put an eager audience on edge. ... As in prior years, it looks like the court is saving the best for last. Cases still outstanding include those dealing with the legality of Obama administration health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, same-sex marriage and EPA regulations on power plant emissions. ... Seven cases remain in total, and the court is scheduled to decide them no later than next week. ... Court watchers are also speculating on which justice may be writing the majority opinion in the blockbuster health-care case on the legality of insurance subsidies received by more than 6 million Americans. Three justices representing a range of ideological leanings haven’t written opinions from the session in which the health-care case was considered: Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Kendall, 6/22)

Los Angeles Times: Important Cases Still Pending Before The Supreme Court (And The Decisions So Far)
Another much-anticipated decision will be whether the Obama administration may continue to subsidize health insurance for low- and middle-income people who buy coverage in the 36 states that failed to establish an official insurance exchange of their own and instead use a federally run version. If the court rules against the Obama administration, about 8.6 million people could lose their subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. In all, the court will hand down more than two dozen decisions on matters invovling politics, civil rights, free speech and air pollution. Several of these cases have been pending for months, suggesting the justices have been sharply split. (Savage, 6/22)

The New York Times: Gay Marriage, Health Care Among Last 7 Supreme Court Cases
The right of same-sex couples to marry and the ability of low- and middle-income Americans to receive subsidies to help them afford insurance under the health care overhaul are the two biggest cases among the seven still to be decided by the Supreme Court. The justices will meet again Thursday to hand down more opinions and almost always finish their work by the end of June. (6/22)

Reuters: Supreme Court To Next Issue Rulings On Thursday, Friday
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday did not issue rulings in its two most closely watched cases -- gay marriage and a challenge to President Barack Obama's healthcare law -- and the justices will next release decisions on Thursday. With the rulings due by the end of the month, the court also scheduled sessions on Friday and next Monday to issue decisions. (6/23)

7. Consumers Await Court Decision That Could Threaten Their Coverage

If the Supreme Court strikes down the federal subsidies in states using the federal insurance marketplace, the financial assistance that has made insurance premiums more affordable could disappear for more than 6 million people.

The Philadelphia Inquirer: How A Court Ruling Could Create Health Care Chaos
Barbara Butler takes home $250 a week for driving a school bus with blind children to a Catholic day school part time. Her health insurance premiums are $517 a month. She pays 76 cents, and Washington picks up the rest. The Supreme Court is expected to rule within a week on whether that subsidy, a key part of President Obama's health-care law, is legal in 34 states. If it decides not, then the West Philadelphia resident's premiums would swell to half her income. (Sapatkin, 6/22)

The Columbus Dispatch: Losing Obamacare Subsidies Might Change Ohioans’ Insurance Choices
Kay Arthur moved to Dublin from West Virginia to become the full-time caregiver to her 91-year-old mother. After her husband’s death in October 2012, Arthur briefly retained health insurance through his employer. But when that coverage ended, a pre-existing health condition threw up hurdles to finding a new health plan. So she turned to the new federally run health-insurance marketplace and found a policy with a $2,500 deductible. A $182-per-month tax credit made her premium more affordable. Arthur, 63, is one of more than 161,000 Ohioans at risk of losing tax credits worth more than $41 million per month. Sometime in the next two weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court could strike down those subsidies flowing to 6.4 million people in Ohio and 33 other states that refused to establish their own marketplaces — known as exchanges. (Sutherly and Torry, 6/22)

8. Number Of Uninsured Dropped By 8.8M In Health Law's First Year, Official Survey Finds

That decline was reported by the CDC's National Health Interview Survey, which is considered to be the gold standard by researchers. Black Americans under the age of 65 made the biggest gains, with uninsured rates falling by nearly a third from 18.9 percent to 13.5 percent.

The New York Times: Fewer Poor Uninsured, Study Finds In Health Law
The share of poor Americans who were uninsured declined substantially in 2014, according to the first full year of federal data since the Affordable Care Act extended coverage to millions of Americans last year. The drop was largely in line with earlier findings by private polling companies such as Gallup, but was significant because of its source — the National Health Interview Survey, a long-running federal survey considered to be a gold standard by researchers. The findings are being released on Tuesday. (Taversnise, 6/23)

The Huffington Post: Obamacare's First Year Brought Health Insurance To Millions, Official Survey Says
Millions of people gained health insurance last year as Affordable Care Act benefits took effect, according to the first official accounting by the federal government. In 2014, 36 million U.S. residents, or 11.5 percent of the population, were uninsured on the day they were surveyed, a decline of 8.8 million people and 2.9 percentage points from the year before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health Interview Survey. The Affordable Care Act remains unpopular, and is besieged politically and legally. The Republican-controlled Congress continues efforts to unwind the law, GOP presidential hopefuls vow to shepherd its repeal and the Supreme Court is poised to rule on a lawsuit conceived by conservative and libertarian activists that would undo much of Obamacare's expansion of health coverage. (Young, 6/23)

Bloomberg: Uninsured Rate Falls To Lowest Since Obamacare Implementation
The share of working-age people without health insurance fell by more than 4 percentage points in 2014, the biggest drop since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began reporting the data in 1997. Last year, 16.3 percent of adults under age 65, or about 31.7 million people, lacked medical coverage, according to a CDC survey published Tuesday. That’s down from 20.4 percent a year earlier. (Burger, 6/23)

Meanwhile, The Philadelphia Inquirer polled a group of experts to find out how they approach the pros and cons of long-term care insurance -

The Philadelphia Inquirer: With Long-Term Care Coverage So Costly, What Do The Pros Do?
Only a dozen or so insurers still sell policies covering it, but one thing hasn't changed: Long-term care is still extraordinarily expensive. The median outlay for a private room in a nursing home was $240 a day ($87,600 a year) in 2014, more than twice the average household income of seniors. And consumers are reluctant to buy the insurance, according to a 2015 study by Wharton School professors Olivia Mitchell and Daniel Gottlieb. (Arvedlund, 6/22)

Capitol Hill Watch