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3. Political Cartoon: 'Not Everyone's A Fan'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Not Everyone's A Fan'" by Dan Piraro.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


They still leave things out …
Health plan fine print can affect
Women’s coverage.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law Issues And Implementation

4. Aetna To Leave All But 4 ACA Markets In Latest Blow To Health Law

The move also means that at least one Arizona county is at risk of having no insurers offering exchange plans in 2017.

The New York Times: Aetna To Pull Back From Public Health Care Exchanges
In a blow to President Obama’s health care law, Aetna, one of the nation’s major insurers, said Monday that it would sharply reduce its participation in the law’s public marketplaces next year. Aetna said it would no longer offer individual insurance products on the exchanges in about two-thirds of the 778 counties where it now provides such coverage. The company will maintain a presence on exchanges in Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska and Virginia, it said. (Pear, 8/16)

Reuters: Aetna Pulls Back On Obamacare Health Insurance Plans In 2017
Aetna Inc, the No. 3 U.S. health insurer, on Monday said that due to persistent financial losses on Obamacare plans, it will sell individual insurance on the government-run online marketplaces in only four states next year, down from the current 15 states. Aetna's decision follows similar moves from UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Humana Inc., which have cited similar concerns about financial losses on these exchanges created under President Barack Obama's national healthcare reform law. (Humer, 8/15)

Politico: Aetna Pulling Out Of Most Obamacare Markets
Aetna cited unsustainable losses as the primary reason for trimming its Obamacare participation. The number of counties where it sells exchange plans will drop from 778 to 242. “Providing affordable, high-quality health care options to consumers is not possible without a balanced risk pool,” Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said in a statement. “Fifty-five percent of our individual on-exchange membership is new in 2016, and in the second quarter we saw individuals in need of high-cost care represent an even larger share of our on-exchange population.” (Demko, 8/15)

The Wall Street Journal: Aetna To Drop Some Affordable Care Act Markets
Aetna’s move will sharpen concerns about competitive options in the exchanges—and it puts at least one county, Pinal in Arizona, at risk of having no insurers offering exchange plans in 2017, a circumstance that would present a major challenge to the basic mechanics of the ACA. ... Stephen Briggs, a spokesman for Arizona’s state insurance regulator, said the state currently has no insurers that have filed to offer exchange plans in Pinal, a county in the Phoenix area.“It’s a concern for us,” he said, but the regulator doesn’t “have any legal leverage to compel anyone to offer a plan.” (Wilde Mathews, 8/15)

Bloomberg: Aetna To Quit Most Obamacare Markets, Joining Major Rivals 
Next year will be the law’s fourth of providing coverage under the new markets. Aetna’s decision doesn’t affect people covered by the company this year, but when they look for 2017 coverage, they’ll need to pick a new insurer. The decision raises the prospect that some consumers will only have one insurer to choose from when they buy 2017 coverage. (Tracer, 8/15)

CNN Money: Aetna To Pull Out Of Most Obamacare Exchanges
Aetna, which had 838,000 exchange customers at the end of June, said its policyholders are turning out to be sicker and costlier than expected. The company, along with its peers, has criticized the federal program designed to mitigate those risks. (Luhby, 8/15)

The Hill: Aetna Pulling Back From ObamaCare In Blow To Health Law 
The Obama administration argued the move is not a sign that the ObamaCare marketplaces are in trouble. “Aetna’s decision to alter its Marketplace participation does not change the fundamental fact that the Health Insurance Marketplace will continue to bring quality coverage to millions of Americans next year and every year after that,” said the administration’s ObamaCare marketplace CEO, Kevin Counihan. (Sullivan, 8/15)

5. Doctor Embarks On ACA 'Listening Tour,' Finds Outpouring Of Resentment, Bitterness

Dr. Paul Gordon is biking across the country to hear from Americans what they think of the health law. At first he was surprised and upset about the lack of understanding and empathy he witnessed. But then he became inspired to be the person who changed their minds.

Los Angeles Times: A Doctor Bikes Across The Country To Ask Americans About Obamacare. This Is How He Ended Up Feeling Hopeful
On sabbatical from the University of Arizona, [Dr. Paul Gordon] set off in the spring on a cross-country bicycling trip and “listening tour” from Washington, D.C., to Seattle, talking along the way to Americans about the controversial health law that President Obama signed six years ago. Much of what Gordon uncovered was as unsettling as the current presidential campaign. Americans raged at the government, at the healthcare system, at fellow citizens who’d gained coverage through Obamacare. The outpouring of resentment and apparent lack of empathy disturbed Gordon at first. “Not a lot of generosity of spirit,” he noted glumly over the phone early in his trip. (Levey, 8/16)

In other health law news —

Politico Pro: CareFirst Defends Huge Maryland Rate Hikes
CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield says it needs huge rate hikes next year to make up for nearly $300 million in losses in the individual market during its first three years of competing on Maryland’s Obamacare exchange. CareFirst CEO Chet Burrell made the case for increasing rates on his company's PPO plans by 36.6 percent and its HMO plans by 27.8 percent during a public hearing today before the Maryland Insurance Administration. (Demko, 8/15)

California Healthline: When It’s Time To Split Up The Family
Under the new rules, Covered California enrollees who receive tax credits — currently about 90 percent of them — will be able to select different plans for different members of the family in the online health insurance application. Tax credits will be distributed proportionally among the different plans.Previously, the online application only allowed those who were not eligible for tax credits to choose multiple plans within a family. (Bazar, 8/15)

Capitol Hill Watch

6. Candidates Latch On To Zika Funding Battle As Flashpoint For Campaigns

Meanwhile, a Texas resident who went to Miami becomes the first case linked to travel within the continental U.S., the Lone Star state makes it easier for women on Medicaid to get mosquito repellent and The Washington Post talks with the NIH's Anthony Fauci about the virus.

Roll Call: Zika Spending Stalemate In Congress Spills Over Into Campaigns
Debate over how a divided Congress should respond to the Zika virus moved from Washington to the campaign trail in the first half of the summer recess, ranging from the presidential campaign to House contests. While it's not clear yet that fear of the mosquito-borne virus will prove to be a major issue that moves votes, Zika certainly has emerged as a flash point in Florida, the ground zero for infections in the continental U.S. (Shutt, 8/15)

The Associated Press: Texas Resident’s Zika Case Linked To Miami Travel
Health officials say a Texas resident who recently traveled to an area of Miami where local Zika transmission occurred has tested positive for the virus. The Texas Department of State Health Services said Monday that it’s the first Texas case to be linked to travel within the continental U.S. Health officials linked the case to Miami travel after investigating factors such as travel dates and when symptoms appeared. (8/15)

NBC News: Zika Spreads From Florida To Texas
Zika's now spreading from state to state in the U.S.. Health officials in Texas said Monday a resident there caught Zika in Florida and brought it home. It doesn't mean Zika's an epidemic just yet, but it does show just how easily the virus can spread once enough people in an area are infected. "This is the first Texas case to be linked to travel within the continental United States. The case will be classified as 'travel-associated' and is being investigated for more details," the Texas health department said in a statement. (Fox, 8/15)