In This Edition:

From Kaiser Health News:

Kaiser Health News Original Stories

2. Vaccines Are Not Just For Kids

California’s leading physician organization is heading a drive to convince adults they need their vaccinations, too. (Anna Gorman, 7/13)

3. Few Young Doctors Are Training To Care For U.S. Elderly

Only about half of geriatric fellowships for medical residents in the U.S. are filled each year. Some students blame overwhelming medical school debt, which grows with every extra year of training. (Kara Lofton, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, 7/13)

4. Political Cartoon: 'Every Little Bit Helps'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Every Little Bit Helps'" by Brian Crane.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


The public option.
Because ACA taxes
Are still just too low.

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

5. CMS Counters Attacks That Health Law Insurance Costs Are Too High For Consumers

The agency's report shows that when factoring in financial assistance from the government, the median deductible that consumers actually pay for Obamacare health plans is $850 this year. That's down $50 from the past year. Meanwhile, another co-op is shutting down.

NPR: HHS Report Says Obamacare Plans Are Cheaper Than They Look
Obamacare health plans have been getting a bad rap this year. Critics say the premiums are too high, the out-of-pocket costs are out of control, and the requirements and red tape are too thick. But now the Obama administration is pushing back. A study released Tuesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services argues that the cost-sharing isn't nearly as heavy as previous analyses have shown, because most consumers get subsidies that limit their deductibles and copayments. (Kodjak, 7/12)

Morning Consult: Obamacare Deductibles Have Decreased Thanks To Government Aid
The median deductible for an Obamacare exchange plan has decreased $50 from last year to $850, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Tuesday. The relatively modest deductibles for people who bought insurance on the exchanges is attributable to government financial assistance, a flashpoint for Republicans. (Owens, 7/12)

The Hill: Administration Defends Affordability Of ObamaCare Plans
Officials said that finding is a counterweight to anecdotal reports of people who have coverage, but struggle to afford to pay thousands of dollars in a deductible before their insurance kicks in. Pointing to high deductibles has been a leading Republican line of attack on the law. For example, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) last month said that ObamaCare enrollees are often “left with deductibles and copays so high that they can’t actually use the insurance.” The administration points out that about 60 percent of ObamaCare enrollees receive a form of financial assistance called a “cost-sharing reduction” that lowers the out of pocket costs they have to pay. (Sullivan, 7/12)

The Associated Press: Illinois Moves To Shut Down Failing Health Insurance Co-Op
An Illinois health insurance co-op with 49,000 policyholders in the state has become the latest casualty among a dwindling group of nonprofit alternative insurers set up under the Affordable Care Act. Illinois regulators took steps Tuesday to shut down Land of Lincoln Health, a 3-year-old startup that lost $90 million in 2015 and more than $17 million through May 31. (Johnson, 7/12)

Chicago Tribune: Illinois Seeks To Shut Down State Obamacare Insurer
Illinois moved Tuesday to take control of Land of Lincoln Health to begin an orderly shutdown of the insurance company, meaning about 49,000 people will lose their health coverage in the coming months. The state said it will allow policyholders to buy coverage from a different insurer before their Land of Lincoln plans are terminated, but it's unclear when the policies will lapse. ... The Department of Insurance said the decision was based on the startup company's deteriorating financial condition. Land of Lincoln is required to pay $31.8 million to other insurers under a complex formula in the Affordable Care Act, which aims to keep premiums stable by balancing risks among insurers. (Sachdev, 7/12)

In other news, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell talks about the health law's next steps and a look at how Obamacare hasn't been able to fix the problems with the mental health system in the U.S. —

Politico: Q&A: Sylvia Mathews Burwell On 6 More Months Of Health Care Fixes
Last summer, when the Supreme Court ruled on a major challenge to President Barack Obama’s marquee health care law, the name on the court case wasn’t Obama’s. The case was called King v. Burwell, and front and center — as she is in all attacks on Obamacare — was Sylvia Mathews Burwell. As HHS secretary, Burwell has become the most public face of Obamacare, its chief defender and the person driving the president’s final push for a health care legacy. With only six months left in the president’s term, Obama wants to use his remaining time in office to make medicine more efficient and less expensive, and Burwell is the point person to get that done. (Haberkorn, 7/13)

Politico: Obamacare And Mental Health: An Unfinished Story
America’s mental health system is having a breakdown. Suicide rates are at a record high; drug addiction is epidemic. There aren’t enough therapists, particularly not enough who accept insurance. And too often the most vulnerable and severely ill end up on the streets, or fill our prisons and jails. The Affordable Care Act was never meant to mend every crack in the system. It did zero in on the insurance side of reform — but there’s still a lot of heartbreak. (Ehley, 7/13)

6. Dems Signal Renewed Interest In Public Option, But Hospitals Want It Out Of Platform

Adding a public option to the insurance market has gained traction of late as both Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama have voiced support for it. But not everyone thinks it's a good idea.

Morning Consult: Senate Democrats Show Appetite For Public Option
Senate Democrats are optimistic that, should Hillary Clinton become president, adding a public health care option to the individual insurance market would fare better the second time around than it did in 2009. The public option has resurfaced as a topic of discussion in the health care industry after Clinton reaffirmed and strengthened her support for it over the weekend. President Obama then penned an article in JAMA on Monday, citing it as a way to improve competition on exchanges. Republicans are highly unlikely to support adding a government-run plan to individual insurance. (Owens, 7/12)

Bloomberg: Hospitals Decry Public Option In Democratic Platform
Hospital groups want the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee to remove calls for a public insurance option from the final version of the party's platform. In a letter sent July 8 to the committee, the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals said creating a public option with Medicare-like payments would reduce provider payments to hospitals. (Weixel, 7/12)

The Fiscal Times: Obama Opens The Back Door To A Single-Payer Nationalized Health Plan
Among the many bones the Obama administration had to throw to supporters of the health insurance industry in order to get their support for the Affordable Care Act, abandoning the idea of a “public option” on the health insurance exchanges -- a way for consumers to buy in to a Medicare-type program -- was among the biggest. For-profit insurance companies had no interest in trying to compete with the federal government on the open market, and the opposition to the idea was bipartisan. Even powerful Democrats in Congress promised to block any health care reform bill that expanded the federal government’s role in the health insurance sector beyond Medicare and Medicaid. (Garver, 7/12)

Meanwhile, KHN takes a look at what happened with that "Medicare for all" Bernie Sanders kept talking about —

Kaiser Health News: Democrats Unite, But What Happened To 'Medicare For All'?
After a raucous debate lasting nearly a year, the Democrats are united on health care. But that unity does not include a call for a single-payer “Medicare for all” health system. ... Sanders did win a few health care concessions in the negotiations leading to the endorsement. Clinton vowed to support more funding for community health centers and access to a “public option” government insurance plan, which she has supported in the past. But on Sanders’ top health priority — his “Medicare for All” plan — there was not a word. At the Democratic Platform Committee meeting over the weekend, an amendment to add a single-payer plan to the document was defeated. (Rovner, 7/13)

Capitol Hill Watch

7. Zika Battle Rages On As Republicans Dig In With Take-It-Or-Leave-It Stance

On Tuesday, Senate Republicans rejected a new Democratic proposal aimed at finding a middle ground in the battle over Zika funding.


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