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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Political Cartoon: 'Doc Of All Trades'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Doc Of All Trades'" by Chris Browne.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Health plans … on or off
The marketplaces … there are
Big differences.

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Summaries Of The News:

Health Law Issues And Implementation

5. Dwindling Choices In Health Law Marketplace May Be Trickier Issue Than Spiking Premiums

Subsidies provide a safety net for most customers, but there's not a backup plan if insurers completely pulling out of the marketplace. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama paints a sunny picture of his signature law in the face of negative news about the premiums.

The Associated Press: Lack Of Choice In Health Insurance Markets A Growing Problem
Americans in the health insurance markets created by President Barack Obama's law will have less choice next year than any time since the program started, a new county-level analysis for The Associated Press has found. The analysis by AP and consulting firm Avalere Health found that about one-third of U.S. counties will have only one health marketplace insurer next year. That's more than 1,000 counties in 26 states — roughly double the number of counties in 2014, the first year of coverage through the program. (10/28)

The Hill: Obama: Most Will Be ‘Pleasantly Surprised’ By Health Plan Costs
President Obama said Thursday that most people will be “pleasantly surprised” by the cost of their health insurance plans this year despite the deluge of negative headlines about rising premiums. In a national call with healthcare groups and activists, the president painted a sunny outlook of ObamaCare as he sought to combat the tide of negative attention on his healthcare law this week. “The bottom line is most people are going to be pleasantly surprised by just how affordable their options are, if we can just get them to see for themselves,” Obama said, adding the vast majority of people would find plans that cost less than $75 per month with the help of tax credits. (Ferris, 10/27)

The Hill: White House Plans ObamaCare Push In Red States 
The White House is planning a major ObamaCare enrollment push in 11 states this fall, nearly all of which are led by GOP leaders who remain firmly opposed to the law. The administration is pouring resources into 15 cities in 11 states, including Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia, it announced Thursday. All but two of the states — Missouri and Pennsylvania — are led by Republican governors. In both of those states, however, Republicans are in control of both legislative chambers, which can constrain a governor’s office from actively promoting this year’s sign-up period. (Ferris, 10/27)

The Associated Press: Obama Says Health Consumers Need To Shop Around
President Barack Obama is telling workers and volunteers signing up customers for health insurance coverage that the enrollment season comes at a critical time in the Affordable Care Act's history. In a conference call, Obama is challenging workers to ensure the insurance program is in a position of strength when the next president comes into office. (10/27)

Reuters: Obama Rallies Obamacare Troops At 'Critical Time' For Program
President Barack Obama on Thursday urged more than 25,000 volunteers and advocates who dialed in to a White House conference call to pull out the stops to boost the number of people signing up for Obamacare health insurance plans. Obama warned it will be challenging to overcome the skepticism about the plans given an onslaught of headlines about surging premium prices, but he said the stakes are high. (Rampton, 10/27)

Meanwhile, an analysis looks at the difference between plans sold on and off the health law exchanges —

6. Governor Suggests Rebate Plan As Minn.'s Exchange Crisis Fans Political Tensions

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton proposes a state-funded rebate to help offset the spiking premiums facing the state's residents. Media outlets also report on developments in Maryland, Connecticut and California.

Pioneer Press: Dayton Offers Rebate Plan For MN Health Insurance Costs
Just one day after Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt said Dayton was “literally playing politics” over health care, Dayton said Republicans “are now trying to maximize their political advantages” by attacking the Affordable Care Act. The battle matters given the current divided control of the Legislature. Even if one party takes both chambers in the Nov. 8 election, the current body of lawmakers will remain in office for the remainder of the year — and all sides agree a solution can’t wait until January. (Montgomery, 10/27)

Politico Pro: Minnesota Governor Proposes 25 Percent Rebate To Cushion Rate Hikes 
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is proposing that the state fund a 25 percent rebate to blunt rate hikes for Obamacare customers who don't qualify for federal premium subsidies. Roughly 123,000 Minnesotans who are expected to purchase individual market coverage next year would qualify for the state assistance, according to a new fact sheet outlining the governor’s proposal. The rebate program would reduce average rate increases in Minnesota from 55 percent to 16 percent, Dayton's office said. (Pradhan, 10/27)

The Associated Press: Maryland Among Fairly Robust States In Health Reform Choices
Maryland consumers next year will have more choices than consumers in many other states in health insurance markets created by President Barack Obama’s 2014 health care overhaul, an analysis for The Associated Press shows. The county-by-county analysis by Avalere Health, a consulting and data-crunching company that has tracked the Affordable Care Act commonly known as Obamacare since its start, finds Maryland among nine states that will have three or more participating insurers in its counties. (Witte, 10/28)

The CT Mirror: As ACA Faces New Challenges, Fixes Not Assured
The Affordable Care Act is facing more challenges than at any time since its glitch-riddled initial enrollment period in 2013, and political prospects for returning it to better health are cloudy. Open enrollment will begin on Nov. 1, but many of those signing up will face higher premiums and fewer choices of plans and insurers. Those problems have re-energized GOP opposition to the ACA, creating a politically fraught climate in which to address the health care law’s challenges. In Connecticut, premium rate hikes for people buying insurance on the ACA’s exchange, Access Health CT, will rise nearly 25 percent on average. (Radelat, 10/28)

The Hour: As Open Enrollment Arrives For Health Insurance, Connecticut Rates All Over The Map 
As open enrollment season arrives for the large majority of Connecticut residents, many — though not all — will be presented with a menu of unappealing choices from their employers or health insurance carriers, in the form of escalating rates and deductibles or dwindling choices for health services. How large those changes will be depends to a large degree on the individual and they plan in which they are enrolled. As of Thursday, the Connecticut Insurance Department has approved health premium rate increases averaging out at 24.8 percent for individual plans and 12 percent for small group plans. (Soule, 10/27)

California Healthline: Reduce Your Obamacare Sticker Shock
The past few weeks have been scary ones for consumers with Obamacare health plans. As if open enrollment weren’t stressful enough, they’ve also been bombarded with headlines about 2017 rate hikes of 25 percent, 50 percent or even more. But there’s some hope for Californians. Our rate increases, while high by our standards, are generally lower than in other states. And if you’re willing to be flexible, most of you can limit your premium increases to no more than 5 percent. (Bazar, 10/28)

Meanwhile, a new report looks at the number of uninsured children under the health law —

Texas Tribune: Texas Continues To Struggle With Large Number Of Uninsu

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