In This Edition:
From Kaiser Health News:
Drug prices rise for a variety of reasons but opportunities for the government to control them is limited. (Julie Rovner, 9/16)
Some dental clinics in California are expanding their hours to meet demand, but can an already stressed system satisfy the needs of children who haven’t seen a dentist in years? (Ana B. Ibarra, 9/16)
The problem, known as balance billing, happens when patients are treated by an out-of-network professional at an in-network facility. Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the legislation. (Stephanie O'Neill, KPCC, 9/16)
Research on patients with testicular cancer and others fighting a brain malignancy finds that people who are privately insured are more likely to be diagnosed earlier and survive longer. (Michelle Andrews, 9/16)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'So Fancy'" by Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
'TIS THE SEASON?
And flu shot campaigns as well...
Which is too early?
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:
The president met with insurers this week to press them to continue to support the effort, and the administration is preparing for a rocky opening of the fall enrollment period because of concerns about rising premiums and limited choices. Nonetheless, on one key measure the law is a marked success: the drop in the number of people without insurance.
Politico: Obama Steps In To Save Obamacare
Deep into the final year of his presidency, Barack Obama is working behind the scenes to secure Obamacare’s legacy, struggling to bolster a program whose ultimate success or failure will likely be determined by his successor. With no lifeline coming from the divided Congress, Obama and his administration are redoubling their pleas for insurers to shore up the federal health care law and pushing uninsured Americans — especially younger ones — to sign up for coverage. The administration is nervously preparing for its final Obamacare open-enrollment season just a week before Election Day, amid a cascade of headlines about rising premiums, fleeing insurers and narrowing insurance options. (Demko, 9/16)
The Associated Press: Behind Health Law's 'Growing Pains,' More Serious Problems?
President Barack Obama told insurers this week his health care overhaul has had some growing pains. But with premiums rising and marquee insurers bailing, could the real diagnosis be "failure to thrive?" The medical term refers to when patients, often youngsters but also adults, fail to achieve or maintain proper weight. This is the fourth election cycle in which the Affordable Care Act has been in play, struggling for political traction and a healthy level of acceptance from a divided public. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 9/15)
The New York Times: By One Measure, Health Care Law Is A Record Success
Included among the many uplifting economic numbers released by the Census Bureau on Tuesday was a remarkable one about health insurance in the United States: Only 9.1 percent of Americans do not have coverage, the lowest level ever recorded by the agency. ... So does that mean the Affordable Care Act is solving the puzzle of getting people covered, a major goal of the law? It certainly looks that way. About 18 million more people have coverage now than did in 2013. But the new numbers also highlight where the law is not working well — and how difficult it will be to drop the uninsured rate much lower. (Abelson and Sanger-Katz, 9/15)
Cleveland Plain Dealer: Republicans Want Change In Obamacare: Rates Rising, Insurers Leaving
Obamacare is a mess, crammed down the throats of Americans by Democrats in Congress. Premiums are soaring and insurers are backing out, cutting consumer choice. The next Congress must repeal and replace it. These were the primary messages in a U.S. Senate committee hearing today that was scheduled by, and dominated by, Republicans. ... A partisan imbalance in a congressional hearing doesn't mean the critics are wrong or right about the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But the hearing offered a preview of what's to come in 2017 – both for insurance and for politics, depending on which political party controls the White House and Congress. (Koff, 9/15)
The Hill: Senate Dems Unveil New Public Option Push For ObamaCare
Senate Democrats and liberal groups are unveiling a new push to add a public option on ObamaCare on Thursday. The effort is led by senators including Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), on track to be the next Democratic leader, and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who galvanized liberals in his presidential campaign with a push to go even further and set up a “Medicare for all” system. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) is spearheading the effort. (Sullivan, 9/15)
Sandy Praeger says, "There are some things that could be done if we could get Congress to be willing to come to the table to try to solve problems.” Meanwhile, another insurer is going on the marketplace in Maricopa County, Arizona, and Oregon settles a lawsuit related to problems initially getting its marketplace running.
Kansas Health Institute: Praeger Says Problems Driving Insurance Companies From ACA Marketplace Are Fixable
Former Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger says members of Congress should set aside partisan differences and fix problems with the Affordable Care Act. Failing to do so, she warned, could hasten consideration of a single-payer system. Praeger, a Republican who crossed party lines while in office to support the ACA, says the problems that are causing some insurance companies to pull out of the online health insurance marketplace are fixable. (McLean, 9/15)
Arizona Republic: New 'Obamacare' Insurer Comes To Maricopa County As Another Exits
Missouri-based Centene Corp. is seeking regulatory approval to sell ACA marketplace health insurance in Maricopa and Pima counties next year. Cigna would join the effort as a medical provider for Centene's insurance plans in Maricopa County, but Cigna now says that it doesn't expect to offer its own marketplace insurance in Maricopa County. (Alltucker, 9/15)
The Associated Press: Oregon Settles Lawsuit For Botched Health Care Rollout
Oregon settled with a California software giant in a lawsuit that accused Oracle America Inc. of collecting tens of millions of dollars to create a state health care exchange website that didn't work. The state initially asked for more than $6 billion in punitive damages when it filed the lawsuit in 2014 against the Redwood Shores, California company, but Oregon ultimately accepted a package that included $35 million in cash payments and software licensing agreements and technical support with an estimated upfront worth of $60 million. (Flaccus, 9/15)
The law called for employers to provide "reasonable" time and private space for new mothers to express breast milk, but there are loopholes. Some Pennsylvania lawmakers would like to find a way for the state to buttress the provisions. Also, the effort to get young adults to buy insurance and to use the health care system is still stumbling.
The Philadelphia Inquirer: Laws To Help Working Moms Who Breastfeed Still Meet Resistance
Under the guidelines of 2010's Affordable Care Act, employers must provide employees who need to express breast milk a "reasonable" amount of time and a private space that is not a bathroom. As [Ruth] Rodriguez's case shows, the mere existence of a law doesn't mean conditions change immediately, but it does give workers the option to contact the Department of Labor for help. The ACA guidelines, however, largely exclude salaried employees and management. So Philadelphia lawmakers in 2014 passed similar guidelines to cover all people working in the city. (Pompilio, 9/15)
The Philadelphia Inquirer: Doctors, Dentists Seek New Ways To Reach Millennial Patients
According to the 2015 Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults report, only 55 percent of Americans ages 18 to 25 visited a doctor's office in 2009 and only 34 percent visited a dentist. There are lots of reasons: feeling invincible, difficulty navigating the health care system, concerns about costs and co-pays, and the inconvenience of making an appointment and seeing a doctor or dentist. Under the [health law], everyone who can afford it is legally obligated to get health insurance or pay a penalty. One of the main reasons some major insurers have cited for leaving the exchanges is the lack of young, healthy people signing up, leaving the exchanges full of older and less healthy people who cost more to cover. (Akman, 9/16)
Republicans may be ready to relent on the Planned Parenthood provision at the center of the impasse over the bill, but this week alone has highlighted the sharp divide in Congress as the election draws closer.