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From Kaiser Health News:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

3. Political Cartoon: 'High-Five'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'High-Five'" by John Deering.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

SENATE SPENDING PANEL SAYS NO TO ‘SHIP’

Medicare program
That decodes intracacies
Nixed in committee.

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

4. How Oscar Health's Struggles Became A Case Study In The Age Of Obamacare

Startup companies like Oscar were initially attracted by the potential of millions of new customers added to the individual market by the health law. But the reality has been messier.

The New York Times: Struggling For Profit Selling Health Insurance In State Marketplaces
Oscar Health was going to be a new kind of insurance company. Started in 2012, just in time to offer plans to people buying insurance under the new federal health care law, the business promised to use technology to push less costly care and more consumer-friendly coverage. “We’re trying to build something that’s going to turn the industry on its head,” Joshua Kushner, one of the company’s founders, said in 2014, as Oscar began to enroll its first customers. These days, though, Oscar is more of a case study in how brutally tough it is to keep a business above water in the state marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act. (Abelson, 6/19)

Bloomberg: Startup Health Insurer Oscar Wants To Be Your Doctor, Too
Startup Oscar Insurance Corp. wants to be more than just a health insurer. The company is laying the groundwork to start a health center in New York where its members can see primary-care doctors, according to a job listing on Oscar’s website. The insurer is seeking a doctor to lead the project, with the job beginning in September. Running a clinic would be Oscar’s latest effort to adjust its strategy as it confronts massive losses on sales of Obamacare policies. The company already has been narrowing its network of doctors and hospitals in New York, and the clinic could give it more control over the care its members receive. (Tracer, 6/17)

In other health law news, reaching out to immigrants who are in the country legally is proving to be an uphill battle, exiting solicitor general Donald Verrilli talks about what some call his "train wreck victory" and premiums in Oregon are going up again —

The Associated Press: Seasonal Farmworkers Face Uphill Battle For Health Insurance
Seasonal agricultural workers were just finishing a meal after a long day of planting sweet potato seeds when Julie Pittman pulled up to their camp. Pittman, a paralegal with the Farmworker Unit of Legal Aid of North Carolina, worked to get their attention. The health care law that passed in 2010 requires you to have health insurance, she said, speaking in Spanish. If you don't get it, she said, you could be fined. "Cuánto cuesta?" asked a worker, wanting to know the cost. In the United States legally through the H-2A visa program, these farmworkers, like most American citizens and legal residents, must be insured. But reaching them is an uphill battle. (Cancino, 6/20)

NBC News: Top Obama Lawyer: Obamacare Fight Over, Muslim Ban Unlikely
When Don Verrilli wins at the Supreme Court, he wins big. In his five years as the top lawyer representing the United States, Verrilli won cases on marriage equality, immigration law and the legality of President Barack Obama's health care law -- twice. He has also lost in big ways. (Melber, 6/17)

The Oregonian: Oregon Health Insurance Rates To Jump Again In 2017
After a brutal two years in which they lost a collective $253.3 million, Oregon's health insurers are again seeking double-digit price hikes in 2017. As tentatively approved by state regulators, All ten companies offering individual health policies will raise rates in 2017, from 9.8 percent for Health Net Health Plan of Oregon to 17.9 percent for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon to 29.3 percent for Moda Health Plan. (Manning, 6/17)

5. Louisiana May Be First Deep South State To Expand Medicaid, But Other Health Issues Loom

Louisiana policymakers, providers and insurers face challenges in redesigning a largely out-of-date health care delivery system, Modern Healthcare reports. Also, medical organizations have taken up the fight to expand Medicaid in Virginia, and South Dakota's governor is preparing to lobby lawmakers to accept his proposal.

Modern Healthcare: Medicaid Expansion Hits Deep South
Louisiana is the 31st state—and the first in the Deep South—to extend Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act to adults with incomes up to 138% of poverty. The expansion, fully supported by the federal government through this year, will be partly paid for in future years by fees levied on Louisiana hospitals, estimated at $27 million in the first year and $120 million by year five. ... Enacting the expansion may have been the easy part. Now Louisiana policymakers, providers and health plans face major challenges in redesigning a largely out-of-date healthcare delivery system that still relies heavily on fee-for-service payment, and in improving health behaviors in one of the nation's poorest and sickest states. (Meyer, 6/18)

Richmond Times-Dispatch: As Cancer Group Pushes For Expansion, Researchers Find Medicaid Boosts Local Economies
Just as new research highlights the economic advantages of expanding Medicaid, medical organizations have entered the fight for expansion, arguing that, for many, it could be a matter of life and death. Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, recently sent letters to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, and Sen. Stephen D. Newman, R-Lynchburg, the president pro tem of his chamber. In the letters, Hansen offers to help identify a way in which Virginia can become the 32nd state in the U.S. to accept federal funds and expand coverage to uninsured Virginians, an effort that has been thwarted by the General Assembly. (Demeria, 6/19)

Campaign 2016

6. Public Option Could Let Clinton Tap Into Sanders Supporters' Health Care Enthusiasm

Under the options, states would be able to set up their own insurance plans that compete against private industry. By embracing the idea, Hillary Clinton may be able to woo some of those who are enchanted by Bernie Sanders' more ambitious "Medicare For All" plan. Meanwhile, The Washington Post checks Clinton's facts on CHIP and analysts examine her health care policies.

The Associated Press: For Dems, A Stepping Stone To Common Ground On Health Care
Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for all" plan seems even less likely now that he's all but out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but there's a way that he and Hillary Clinton could still find common ground on government-sponsored health care. It's a "public option" for states to set up their own insurance plans that compete against private industry. Sanders helped to pass the federal legislation that would allow it, and Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, says if elected she'd work with interested governors to implement it. (Alonso-Zaldivar and Gram, 6/20)

The Washington Post's Fact Checker: Clinton’s Claim Of Working With Democrats And Republicans To Create A Child Health Program
[A] new ad features a 1998 clip of Hillary Clinton speaking about the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) signed into law by her husband, then-President Bill Clinton. The ad is an interesting example of how images and words can be assembled to present an image of leadership, while giving a misleading impression about what exactly happened. ... Given the facts about CHIP and the reporting at the time, you could assemble a somewhat less favorable account about Clinton’s role in creating CHIP. The ad is correct that about 8 million low-income children receive health care through the program. But it’s questionable that she played a key leadership role to creating CHIP. (Kessler, 6/20)

Morning Consult: Clinton’s Health Policies Show Consumer Bent, Analysts Say
Hillary Clinton’s health plans show a willingness to take on industry groups to shift costs away from consumers, health care experts on both the right and the left agree. They also say that the Affordable Care Act laid the foundation for Clinton’s consumer-centered proposals. Everything becomes simpler after that major health overhaul. ... Clinton’s general support of the Obama administration’s Medicare drug reimbursement plan may be her most controversial policy stance, and it has real implications should she become president. (Many of her other policy ideas would require Congress’s support, which is far from guaranteed should Republicans retain control of either the House or the Senate.) (Owens, 6/20)

Marketplace

7. Competition Concerns Over Anthem-Cigna Merger Still Driving Antitrust Regulators

The Wall Street Journal reports on discussions at a June meeting when Justice Department officials voiced skepticism to company representatives over Anthem’s $48 billion proposed acquisition of Cigna.

The Wall Street Journal: Antitrust Regulators Concerned About An Anthem-Cigna Merger
U.S. antitrust regulators have privately expressed concerns about Anthem Inc.’s $48 billion proposed acquisition of Cigna Corp., and are skeptical that the health insurers can offer concessions that would fully preserve competition in the industry, according to people familiar with the matter. Company representatives met June 10 in Washington with Justice Department staffers and representatives of more than a dozen state attorneys general, the people said. At the meeting, government officials outlined their worries about combining two of the nation’s top health insurers, the people said. (Hoffman, Kendall and Wilde Mathews, 6/19)


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