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Kaiser Health News Original Stories

6. Political Cartoon: 'Cross That Bridge When You Come To It?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Cross That Bridge When You Come To It?'" by Jeff Danziger.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Foreign-born doctors
A key to the health system —
Face uncertainty.

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Summaries Of The News:

Administration News

7. Trump Administration Tries To Calm Skittish Insurers With Stricter Health Law Rules

But advocates say the changes — including tighter open enrollment periods — may hurt consumers.

The New York Times: White House Proposes New Rules To Steady Insurance Markets Under Health Law
The proposed rules, backed by insurance companies, would tighten certain enrollment procedures and cut the health law’s open enrollment period in half, in hopes that a smaller but healthier consumer base will put the marketplaces on sounder financial footing and attract more insurance companies in states with limited choices. But part of the market’s problem stems from President Trump’s determination to repeal the health law while the White House and Congress struggle to find a politically acceptable replacement. Even as the Department of Health and Human Services worked to answer insurance company concerns, the Internal Revenue Service and Congress were taking steps that could add uncertainty to the jittery insurance economy. (Pear, 2/15)

The Associated Press: Trump Administration Ushers In Changes To Obama Health Law
For consumers, the proposed HHS rules mean tighter scrutiny of anyone trying to sign up for coverage outside of open enrollment by claiming a "special enrollment period" due to a change in life circumstances such as the birth of a child, marriage, or the loss of job-based insurance. Also, sign-up season will be 45 days, shortened from three months currently. (2/15)

NPR: Trump Administration Proposes Obamacare Changes To Stabilize Insurance Market
HHS will also require people who want to sign up for coverage during so-called special enrollment periods to first prove they qualify because of a life change like losing a job or getting divorced. "The overall effect of many of the policies here would actually, over time, I think, actually shrink enrollment, not grow enrollment," says Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University's Center on Health Insurance Reforms. (Kodjak, 2/15)

Bloomberg: Trump's Team Offers Obamacare Fixes While He Seeks Repeal 
“This proposal will take steps to stabilize the Marketplace, provide more flexibility to states and insurers, and give patients access to more coverage options,” said Patrick Conway, Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “They will help protect Americans enrolled in the individual and small group health insurance markets while future reforms are being debated.” (Tracer and Armstrong, 2/15)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Administration Rule Aims To Calm Insurers During Health-Law Limbo
While it addressed a number of insurers’ requests, industry executives said it didn’t resolve all their concerns and stopped short of answering some of the most important questions surrounding the future of the health law’s exchanges. Most of those major issues will likely involve action by Congress—including the fate of ACA subsidies that help low-income consumers pay for premiums and reduce their out-of-pocket costs for care. (Armour and Wilde Mathews, 2/15)

Kaiser Health News: New Rules Try To Shore Up Individual Health Insurance Market In 2018
“These are initial steps in advance of a broader effort to reverse the harmful effects of Obamacare, promote positive solutions to improve access to quality, affordable care and ensure we have a health system that best serves the needs of all Americans,” Tom Price, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services said in a Twitter message. But the new rule, which had been widely expected, was actually begun by the outgoing Obama administration. (Rovner, 2/15)

8. IRS Walks Back Individual Mandate Requirement To Ease ACA Burdens On Taxpayers

The Internal Revenue Service had previously announced that for the first time it was going to reject any 2016 tax forms that didn't have information filled out on whether the taxpayer had complied with the requirement to get coverage or risk fines. But following an executive order directing agencies to relax rules around the health law, that plan has been rolled back.