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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

3. Political Cartoon: 'Wishful Thinking?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Wishful Thinking?'" by Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Named for two midnights…
It was dicey. But changes
Now are in the works.

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.

Administration News

4. Obama's Health Law Victory Tour Goes To Tennessee

Fresh from a big Supreme Court win, President Barack Obama talked about the health law's achievements to date and expressed hope that some of the poisoned politics that have surrounded this sweeping overhaul will now be set aside to focus on improvements and refinements. One of his central messages had to do with Medicaid expansion.

The New York Times: Obama Takes Health Care Momentum Into G.O.P. Territory
Days after the Supreme Court delivered a victory for his health care law for the second time, President Obama flew into mostly Republican territory on Wednesday and began an aggressive push to get states that have resisted parts of the law to expand care to more of their poor residents. (Harris and Goodnough, 7/1)

Los Angeles Times: Put Aside Politics And Improve Healthcare, Obama Says
President Obama, fresh from a victory before the U.S. Supreme Court last week that preserved the Affordable Care Act, called for an end to the political fighting over the health law and for more effort to improve it. “This is about people. This is not about politics, it's not about Washington,” Obama said at a town-hall-style meeting at a Nashville elementary school. (Levey, 7/1)

The Associated Press: Obama: ‘Feeling Pretty Good’ About Health Care
Fresh off a Supreme Court victory, President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he’s “feeling pretty good” about the state of his health care law and pleaded for bipartisan cooperation on ways to make it work even better. Obama said he wants to refocus the debate on improving health care quality, expanding access and eliminating waste now that the high court has upheld a key element of the Affordable Care Act. (Superville, 7/1)

The Washington Post: Obama Takes Health-Care Victory Lap In Tennessee
The town hall meeting on health care came one week after the Supreme Court shot down a major challenge to the massive government program that would have denied health-care subsidies to millions of Americans participating in the program through a federal marketplace. ... In Nashville, Obama touted the 166,000 Tennesseans — and 16 million people across the country — who have health care because of the Affordable Care Act. Health-care inflation has been trending down, the president said. (Jaffe, 7/1)

Kaiser Health News: Obama Asks GOP To Work With Him To Improve Health Care
President Barack Obama called on Republicans Wednesday to find a bipartisan way to fix problems in the nation’s health care system rather than continue to fight over the health law. "Part of what I’m hoping is with the Supreme Court case now behind us what we can do is … focus on how we can make it even better because it’s not as if we’ve solved all the problems in our health care system," Obama said in remarks at an elementary school in Nashville, Tenn. "America still spends more on health care than any other advanced nation and our outcomes aren’t particularly better." (Carey, 7/1)

The Hill: President Takes Victory Lap On Supreme Court Obamacare Ruling
The president rattled off “a whole host” of benefits of the law, ranging from free preventative services such as mammograms to the ability of young people to stay on their parents insurance until they are 26. “You don’t always notice that until you need it,” he said of the benefits. He also made the case for the economics of the law, citing lower healthcare inflation. (Ferris, 7/1)

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Davy Crockett Presses Obama On Health Care
For a brief time on Wednesday, Davy Crockett became the face of President Barack Obama’s push to get more states to expand Medicaid. Mr. Crockett, who described himself as a fifth-generation great-grandson of Davy Crockett, the American folk hero, attended the president’s speech in Nashville, Tenn., and got the opportunity to ask a question. He expressed frustration about denials of his application for Social Security benefits. Mr. Obama promised to look into it. (Armour, 7/1)

Health Law Issues And Implementation

5. What's Next For The Health Law?

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell talks about educating Americans about the breadth of benefits in the health law, as well as advancing efforts to improve it. A top administration priority will be persuading more states to expand Medicaid.

Bloomberg: With Obamacare Here To Stay, U.S. Wants To Tout Its Benefits
After the Supreme Court declined to gut the law in a decision last week, there’s an opportunity to build on gains in health coverage and also rectify some missteps in the Affordable Care Act’s marketing, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the U.S. health secretary, told Bloomberg’s Al Hunt in an interview for PBS’s “Charlie Rose” program. “We as an administration haven’t done as much as we could to make sure people understand the breadth of the benefits,” she said. “The ACA became about a very narrow thing. Even narrower than the uninsured, it became about the marketplace. It is about so much more.” (Wayne, 7/1)

Marketplace: The Obamacare Sales Pitch
It’s been almost a week since the Supreme Court’s momentous ruling that further cements the Affordable Care Act as the law of the land, and Wednesday President Barack Obama flew to Nashville, Tennessee, to talk about health care. While some consider this a bit of a victory lap, the president’s choice of Tennessee suggests it’s much more of an overture. (Gorenstein, 7/1)

In addition, the health law's data release requirements could shape marketplace developments -

The Wall Street Journal: New Data Could Affect Health-Insurer Deals
The federal government’s release of new data on health-insurer payments under the Affordable Care Act is roiling the industry, including potentially affecting the timing of any deal for Humana Inc., as suitors pore over the detailed information disclosed late Tuesday. (Wilde Mathews and Mattioli, 7/1)

Modern Healthcare: ACA Risk-Adjustment Winners And Losers Shouldn't Be Surprised
Insurers are sizing up their reimbursements under CMS' reinsurance program and some plans appear to be off on their estimates. As part of the Affordable Care Act's plan to protect against adverse selection and protect insurers from excessive losses that could come from a disproportionate share of consumers with high medical costs, money is transferred between plans with relatively lower risk enrollees to plans with relatively higher risk enrollees. (Dickson, 7/1)

In other news on mergers and aquisitions -

The New York Times: Centene To Acquire Its Managed Care Rival Health Net For $6.8 Billion
The Centene Corporation, a managed health care company, said on Thursday that it had agreed to acquire its rival Health Net in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $6.8 billion, including the assumption of debt. The deal would combine two providers of managed care in the United States, creating a company with more than 10 million members and an estimated $37 billion in revenue this year, the companies said. It would also expand Centene’s scale and give it a larger market presence in the western United States.

And a new study shows that Massachusetts' residents filing for bankruptcy after that state's health reform law took effect had less medical debt -

The Wall Street Journal's Bankruptcy Beat: The Future Of Personal Bankruptcy In A Post-Obamacare World
In his 2014 study, Northeastern University law professor Daniel Austin dug into personal bankruptcy filings to figure out what happened after Massachusetts lawmakers made health insurance mandatory in 2005. His findings? Massachusetts residents who file for bankruptcy protection these days have way less medical debt compared to the rest of the country. The typical Massachusetts person or couple who filed in 2013 had $3,041 in medical debt, while people everywhere else had an average of $8,594 in medical debt. (Stech, 7/1)

6. Americans Approve Of The High Court's Health Law Decision, Poll Finds

Twice as many people surveyed support the Supreme Court's decision as are opposed to it, but divisions continue regarding overall views on the Affordable Care Act.

The Washington Post: Poll: 62 Percent Of Public Supports Supreme Court Ruling On Obamacare
Twice as many Americans support the Supreme Court’s decision last week to uphold a key provision of the health-care law as are opposed, according to a poll released Wednesday. When told that the court ruled to allow Americans to continue receiving subsidies to afford health insurance in all states, about 6 in 10 surveyed said they approve of the decision while about one-third disapprove, according to the latest tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Sun, 7/1)