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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Political Cartoon: 'Please Hold'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Please Hold'" by Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

GOODNIGHT MOON

Hospitals focus
On optimizing sleep for
Their youngest patients.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law Issues And Implementation

5. UnitedHealth To Leave California's Obamacare Exchange

Although it's a key market, the decision will affect less than one-tenth of a percent of consumers on the exchange, a Covered California official says. UnitedHealth will also pull out of the Illinois exchange.

The Wall Street Journal: UnitedHealth To Exit Key ACA Market
UnitedHealth Group Inc. told brokers that it has filed paperwork to offer plans in just six states’ health-law marketplaces next year, providing the most complete picture so far of its previously announced widespread withdrawal. The biggest U.S. health insurer said in April that it would pull out of all but a handful of the 34 states where it was selling the Affordable Care Act exchange plans, in the wake of mounting losses in that business. Since then, the insurer’s 2017 exchange decisions have been emerging piecemeal as various state regulators disclosed that UnitedHealth wouldn’t be in their exchanges next year. (Wilde Mathews, 5/31)

California Healthline/Kaiser Health News: UnitedHealth To Exit California’s Obamacare Market
Critics of the Affordable Care Act have seized on the company’s exit, state by state, as further evidence the health-law insurance exchanges aren’t sustainable financially and that premiums will rise even higher for consumers. The Obama administration has countered that the number of health plans offering exchange policies has increased since the 2014 launch, and that it expects the individual market will continue to stabilize as adjustments are made. (Terhune, 5/31)

Los Angeles Times: UnitedHealth To Stop Selling Obamacare Coverage In California
United’s move will have almost no effect on Covered California, as the insurer has only about 1,200 members this year, accounting for less than one tenth of 1% of the marketplace’s 1.4 million consumers. United’s current customers will continue to have coverage through the end of this year. But they will have to select new coverage for 2017 during the open enrollment period this fall. “We will learn in July whether any new plans will join Covered California or if any of our existing plans will expand their coverage areas, as they did in 2016,” said Covered California spokesman James Scullary. (Levey, 5/31)

The Star Tribune: UnitedHealthcare To Drop California's Exchange
Minnetonka-based United currently competes on exchanges in 34 states, but it announced in April that it would sell coverage next year in just a handful because of financial losses. UnitedHealthcare is the nation's largest health insurer, but the company was new to California's exchange in January. (Snowbeck, 5/31)

6. House Republicans Voice Frustration Over HHS' Response To Health Law Subpoenas

Ways and Means Committee members say they have received only one heavily redacted page in response to their subpoenas over an initiative known as the Basic Health Program. In other news, the California Assembly has taken the next step toward allowing those living in the country illegally to buy health insurance from the state's exchange, and insurers in North Carolina are proposing big rate increases for 2017.

The Hill: GOP: Administration Ignoring ObamaCare Subpoenas
House Republicans say that the Obama administration is ignoring subpoenas for documents related to ObamaCare spending they call illegal. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tuesday calling on it to comply. (Sullivan, 5/31)

Morning Consult: Committee Leaders Push HHS To Respond To Subpoenas
The Basic Health Program is an option states can choose to launch aimed at helping low-income people who aren’t eligible for Medicaid afford health insurance. Congress has not appropriated funding for the program, although the Obama administration says the program is fully funded under the Affordable Care Act. The two say that HHS has produced one heavily-redacted document since the subpoena was issued. (McIntire, 5/31)

KQED: California Assembly OKs Asking Feds To Allow Undocumented Immigrants Access To Covered California
The California Assembly approved a bill on Tuesday that would permit undocumented immigrants access to Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace. ... Senate Bill 10 would direct California to ask the federal government for a waiver that would permit undocumented immigrants the option to buy insurance on Covered California — with their own money. It passed by a vote of 54-19. (Aliferis, 5/31)

The Charlotte Observer: NC Health Insurers Propose ACA Rate Increases For 2017
As the Affordable Care Act lurches toward its fourth year in 2017, health insurers in North Carolina are proposing another round of big rate increases to pay for insuring people who for years couldn’t get health coverage. In filings made public Tuesday, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina said it wants to raise rates by an average of 18.8 percent, and Aetna is looking to increase premiums by 24.5 percent on average. (Murawski, 5/31)

7. La. Begins Medicaid Expansion Enrollment With Federal Approval Of Novel Sign-Up Initiative

Louisiana becomes the 31st state to expand its Medicaid program under the federal health law. HHS officials have given approval to Louisiana's plan to use eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, to more quickly find and enroll people.

New Orleans Advocate: Louisiana Approved For First-In-The-Nation Medicaid Enrollment Plan
Louisiana is the 31st state in the country to embrace Medicaid expansion, one of the key provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act, but it’s the first state to receive approval from the federal government to link enrollment and eligibility to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps. “Surprisingly, no other state has done this,” said Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee. “We’re trying to be efficient in how we use state employees and state resources.” (Crisp, 5/31)

Morning Consult: HHS Aproves New Model For Louisiana Medicaid Expansion
Louisiana will be the first state to determine Medicaid eligibility using SNAP program information, using a process called a state plan amendment, HHS said Tuesday in a release announcing their approval. Tomorrow, the state will become the 31st state to begin enrolling people in a Medicaid expansion program. (McIntire, 5/31)

New Orleans Times-Picayune: John Bel Edwards To Visit New Orleans To Tout Medicaid Expansion
Gov. John Bel Edwards and Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Rebekah Gee will visit New Orleans on Wednesday (June 1) as part of an effort to promote the state's Medicaid expansion. The "Healthy Louisiana" tour, which draws its title from the renamed Bayou Health program, is aimed at getting information to people about what they need to do to sign up for Medicaid. (Litten, 5/31)

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