Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Disability Advocates Fight Assisted Suicide Measures

Disability rights advocates are speaking up in opposition to a bill currently being considered by California legislators that would allow terminally ill patients to get prescriptions to end their lives. Their opposition stems from worries that if it becomes law, depression and incorrect prognoses may lead people with serious disabilities to end their lives prematurely. (Anna Gorman, 6/29)

Coverage And Access

6. Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Likely To Impact Employer-Provided Health Benefits

Last week's ruling is expected to boost employer-sponsored health coverage for same-sex partners, but could also lead to new questions.

The New York Times: Fate Of Domestic Partner Benefits In Question After Marriage Ruling
Sandra Haggard, a 71-year-old professor, has been in a committed relationship with her partner, Lynne Lamstein, for more than two decades. They never had plans to marry — nor do they now — even though same-sex marriage has been declared a constitutional right. But ever since same-sex marriage became legalized two years ago in Maine, where the couple lives part of the year, Ms. Haggard said she has had a niggling worry that her employer, the University of Maine, might eliminate domestic partner health coverage for Ms. Lamstein, 66, a freelance writer. Ms. Lamstein uses Ms. Haggard’s plan because Medicare does not cover a medication that she needs. (Bernard, 6/28)

Modern Healthcare: Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Puts Health Benefits In Spotlight
The landmark U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 decision Friday granting all same-sex couples the right to marry throughout the country is significant for civil rights, but it also will likely change the health insurance landscape. Now that same-sex marriage is legal in every state, more employees will add their same-sex partners to their health plans. But it's also likely that a number of employers will soon drop their domestic partnership benefits and instead require employees to marry if they want to extend coverage to their partners. (Schencker and Herman, 6/26)

Politico Pro: Gay Marriage Ruling Has Health Coverage Implications
The Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage nationwide will force major changes in states’ Medicaid programs as well as affect the Obamacare exchanges. With the court’s landmark 5-4 ruling on Friday, a state’s Medicaid program must now recognize same-sex couples who are married when they apply for eligibility, regardless of where they got married. (Pradhan, 6/26)

Texas Tribune: Benefits Should Follow Same-Sex Marriages
Public employers including Texas agencies, universities and schools may now be required to extend benefits to spouses of married gay employees in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling Friday that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. (Ura, 6/26)

The Detroit Free Press: Gay Marriage Ruling Will Impact Michigan Employers
From family leave policies to survivor benefits, legalized same-sex marriage will affect how Michigan employers offer health care and workplace benefits to workers. Yet the full financial and legal ramifications of Friday's U.S. Supreme Court decision on businesses are not yet known. (Reindl and Witsil, 6/27)

Health Law Issues And Implementation

7. In Wake Of Supreme Court's Health Law Decision, Burwell Says There's Still 'Work To Do'

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said that the ruling was an emotional one, but also that it's time to look ahead and build on the ACA momentum.

The Washington Post: Top Obamacare Official Says She Wept For Joy After Supreme Court Victory
Burwell also knew that the initial media reports could be wrong, recalling what happened the last time the court ruled on a challenge to the law. “Are we sure?” she asked her staff. She took a moment to lean over a staff member’s shoulder to read the decision on a laptop as staff members double-checked the opinion, according to an official in the room. The mood in the room was joyful but also relieved. Some staff members cried. (Sun, 6/27)

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Burwell Describes ‘Emotional’ Moment Awaiting Supreme Court Health Ruling
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said she had had a “very emotional” Thursday morning awaiting a decision in the case brought against her over the Obama administration’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act health law. Ms. Burwell — the Burwell of King v. Burwell — said she was one of the tens of thousands who had tuned in to the SCOTUSBlog website to see if a decision would come down on her case Thursday, and was, at the same time, reading a memo from staff — distractedly, she confessed. (Radnofsky, 6/26)

Reuters: Top Obamacare Official Looks Ahead After Supreme Court Ruling
The U.S. official overseeing Obamacare said on Friday she has not seen any indication that states will back away from running their own health insurance marketplaces now that the Supreme Court has validated the federal insurance exchange. Sylvia Burwell, secretary of Health and Human Services, also said she expected enrollment in both the state and federal health insurance exchanges established under the 2010 Affordable Care Act -- called Obamacare -- to decline from 10.2 million currently to 9.1 million by the end of 2015. That was the number her department had originally set as a goal for 2015. (Cornwell, 6/26)

Politico Pro: After Court Ruling, Burwell Looks To Build ACA momentum
Like much of Washington’s health policy scene, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell was logged into SCOTUSBlog on Thursday morning. Sitting in her office in HHS’s mammoth headquarters, she was trying to multitask: reviewing a memo while following the live blog of Supreme Court opinions, just in case the King v. Burwell decision came down. (Haberkorn, 6/26)

8. High Court Ruling May Encourage More States To Join Healthcare.gov

Many of the dozen states operating exchanges under the Affordable Care Act are encountering financial strains and, in some cases, technical problems, which might make the federal exchange or creating regional operations more attractive.

The Wall Street Journal: States Eye Health Exchange Options
The Supreme Court ruling upholding subsidies on the federal health-insurance exchange may prompt state-run exchanges to forge regional networks or use the federal marketplace. Many of the dozen states operating exchanges under the Affordable Care Act are encountering financial strains, and could join the three dozen states already using the federal marketplace, HealthCare.gov. Some policy experts say it’s possible most of those states will eventually do just that, creating a largely national exchange program. (Armour, 6/26)

Marketplace: What Will Happen To State-Run Insurance Exchanges?
The Supreme Court upheld a key part of the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, enabling health insurance subsidies to all qualifying Americans. The ruling firmly establishes the legality of Obamacare, but quite a few states had already moved forward in creating their own insurance exchanges. ... Levitt says now that the health care law is here to stay, those states may want to think about letting Healthcare.gov take over. (Allington, 6/26)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Health Insurance Customers Are Holding On To Their ACA Plans
Many people opposed to the ACA foresaw situations like [M.L.] Simone's leading to the law's eventual downfall. Anti-ACA pundits predicted people would enroll and never even make their first payments or would stop paying when they found the premiums unaffordable. But that is not what appears to be happening - either to Simone or to marketplace enrollees nationwide. (Calandra, 6/28)

9. Critics Of Obamacare Recalibrate After High Court Decision

The Supreme Court has proven a dead end for those using legal arguments to blow up the law, despite pending lawsuits focused on smaller-bore issues. But political efforts to repeal the law through Congress continue -- although those are unlikely to surmount a presidential veto unless Republicans win the White House.

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Law Foes Recalibrate Approach
Many opponents of the health law are putting away their legal wrecking balls and reaching for chisels. Thomas Miller, one of the strategists behind the Supreme Court case that aimed to strike down subsidies on the federal exchange, said he thought he would be celebrating now. But after Thursday’s decision upholding the subsidies, he is setting up meetings to discuss narrower attacks on the Affordable Care Act. (Armour, 6/26)