In This Edition:

From Kaiser Health News:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

1. Sharing Your Doctor With A Group

With “shared appointments,” patients can get more time with less-harried providers, enjoy mutual support and see better outcomes. But the approach has its skeptics. (Anna Gorman, 5/9)

2. Political Cartoon: 'Deep Water'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Deep Water'" by Dave Coverly, Speed Bump.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

FUNDING TO FIGHT AN OUTBREAK

Zika dollars now!
Not sure how we will spend them.
But we will indeed.

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.

Summaries Of The News:

Health Law Issues And Implementation

3. Federal Officials To Change Health Law's Rules For Special Sign-Ups

The changes are an effort to stop some people from trying to game the system by signing up for insurance only when they need coverage, a practice that can be very costly for insurers. Officials also announced some options to help the health law's insurance co-ops.

The Hill: Administration Tightens ObamaCare Sign-Up Rules
The Obama administration on Friday announced changes to ObamaCare sign-up rules that are intended to cut down on people gaming the system and address a complaint from insurance companies that they say is causing them to lose money. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it is tightening the rules for enrolling in one of ObamaCare’s extra sign-up periods. The extra periods allow people to sign up for insurance outside of the regular enrollment period if they move. The change announced Friday requires that people have coverage at some point in the preceding 60 days, which is intended to prevent people from moving for the sole purpose of becoming eligible to sign up for health insurance. (Sullivan, 5/6)

Modern Healthcare: CMS Provides Lifeline To Co-Ops, Pares Down Special Enrollment Events
The CMS unveiled an interim final rule late Friday that could help the Affordable Care Act's struggling co-op plans. The rule also responds to insurers' complaints that people are abusing special enrollments in the exchanges. The CMS tightened the use of special enrollments, specifically making the rules around moving to a new home more restrictive to avoid any gaming of the system. Co-ops also can seek outside funding from investors to build up their capital, something that was outlawed previously. The policies go into effect May 11, and the CMS will accept comments on the rule through July 5. (Herman and Dickson, 5/6)

The Associated Press: Feds Propose Limits On Special Sign-Ups For Obama Health Law
The Obama administration says it's moving to limit special sign-up periods under the president's health care law after insurers complained of abuses. Under a policy change proposed Friday, people who try to get coverage after moving to a different community will have to show they were insured at their previous address at least some of the time during the previous 60 days. (5/6)

Also, a candidate in Wyoming is campaigning on the health law —

4. Alaska House To Press Ahead With Suit Challenging Governor's Expansion Of Medicaid

A state judge dismissed the suit earlier this year, but Republican leaders in the House say they are going to appeal. News outlets also report on Medicaid expansion developments in Utah, Wyoming and Louisiana.

The Associated Press: Alaska House Pursuing Appeal Of Medicaid Suit Decision
The Alaska House has given notice that it plans to keep fighting Gov. Bill Walker's authority to expand Medicaid on his own, drawing criticism from minority Democrats who oppose continuing the legal battle. Lawmakers faced a deadline for whether to appeal a judge's decision dismissing a lawsuit initially filed last summer by the Legislative Council, which is made up of House and Senate members. Attorneys representing the council filed a notice of appeal on behalf of the House on Thursday and said they planned to seek an order substituting the House for the Legislative Council in the litigation. (Bohrer, 5/7)

Alaska Dispatch News: House Appeals Medicaid Expansion Lawsuit
“Given the magnitude of the issues our state is currently facing, we find this very disappointing,” Walker wrote in an email. The Legislative Council, on behalf of the full Legislature, sued Walker’s administration in August to stop him from unilaterally expanding the health care program for low-income Alaskans. The case was dismissed in Superior Court in March. Thursday's move bypasses a vote by the full House and Senate, which would have been necessary to continue the appeal by the Legislative Council. (Andrews, 5/6)

Alaska Public Media: Alaska House To Continue Legal Challenge To Medicaid Expansion
Democratic lawmakers say the House leadership doesn’t have the authority to act on their own in pursuing the appeal. Democrats point to an opinion by the Legislature’s nonpartisan Director of Legal Services, Doug Gardner. Gardner informed Senator Gary Stevens in March that both houses of the Legislature would have to vote to pursue an appeal. Those votes never occurred. (Kitchenman, 5/6)

KUTV (Salt Lake City): Medicaid Expansion Divides Governors Race
When it comes to expanding Medicaid, all three Utah candidates for governor have very different views. Democrat Mike Weinholtz wants full expansion, Republican challenger Jonathan Johnson wants to keep medicaid the way it is, and Governor Gary Herbert is in the middle. (Decker, 5/8)

Billings (Mt.) Gazette: Mead Says A Special Session Unlikely, Medicaid Expansion Could Have Helped Miners, Drillers
Some of Wyoming’s unemployed energy workers would now be eligible for health coverage if the state had expanded Medicaid to low-income Wyomingites, Gov. Matt Mead said. “As you see these coal miners being laid off, people in oil and gas being laid off, there’s no question some of those people would have been eligible had we expanded Medicaid,” Mead said Thursday evening in Casper. “We’re trying to do our best to find them jobs. But jobs are part of it, health care is part of it. And so I think the state missed an opportunity last time on Medicaid expansion.” (Hancock, 5/9)

New Orleans Times Picayune: Louisiana To Use Food Stamp Data For Medicaid Expansion
Department of Health and Hospitals officials are "highly confident" they'll receive federal approval to use data from food stamp applications to qualify people for Medicaid, the first state in the country to use such a method through what's known as a state plan amendment. Six other states use a similar approach, but they applied through a much longer process known as a waiver. Louisiana will become the first state to use the quicker state plan amendment method. (Litten, 5/6)

Coverage And Access

5. Arizona Reverses Course, Reinstates Health Insurance Program For Low-Income Kids

It was the only state in the country not participating in the federal Children's Health Insurance Program. The program, called KidsCare in Arizona, was attached to a separate bill after it had been left out of the budget approved last week.

The New York Times: Arizona Restores Health Program For Children Of Working Poor
A health care program for children of the working poor that had been left out of the budget approved by the Arizona Legislature this week was resuscitated on Friday, after Democrats and moderate Republicans agreed to attach it to a bill expanding disabled students’ eligibility for school vouchers. After blocking a previous stand-alone bill authorizing the program last month, the Senate president, Andy Biggs, allowed the amended measure to come to a vote on Friday. The House of Representatives had already passed it 38 to 21 late Thursday. (Santos, 5/6)

Reuters: Arizona Joins Rest Of U.S. In Adding Health Insurance Program For Children
Arizona opted out of the federal Children's Health Insurance Program in 2010 over cost concerns as it grappled with a budget crunch. The program aims to help working families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid health care coverage for the poor, but who cannot afford private health insurance. To qualify for KidsCare, as it's known in Arizona, a family of four must earn between $33,000 and $49,000 annually. It is estimated to serve about 30,000 children in Arizona. (Schwartz, 5/6)

Marketplace

6. Deal With Anthem May Close In 2017, Cigna Says

Initially, Cigna's acquisition by Anthem was expected to close in 2016 but it may take longer due to regulatory intricacies.

Reuters: Cigna Says Anthem Deal Could Close In 2017; Anthem Sticks To 2016
Health insurer Cigna Corp, which announced plans to be bought by larger Anthem Inc 10 months ago, on Friday said the deal may close in 2017 rather than 2016 due to the complexity of the regulatory process, according to a fili
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