Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Dementia Also Takes Toll On Unpaid Caregivers, Study Shows

The research shows 77 percent of those with dementia receive routine help with household tasks or personal care such as bathing and dressing. Only 20 percent of the 33 million people without dementia received similar help. (Michelle Andrews, 10/16)

5. Political Cartoon: 'All Lawn And No Brains'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'All Lawn And No Brains'" by Hilary Price.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

WHO IS FOR, AGAINST THE CADILLAC TAX?

Stop Cadillac tax
Pols, business, and unions say.
Not economists.

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.

Health Law Issues And Implementation

6. Obama Administration Expects Small Health Law Enrollment Growth In Upcoming Open Season

Some news outlets called the forecast of a small increase in enrollment through the health law's insurance exchanges "pessimistic." Officials acknowledged that cost was a concern for some consumers searching for coverage.

The New York Times: Little Growth Predicted On Health Exchanges
In a surprisingly pessimistic forecast, the Obama administration predicted on Thursday that health insurance enrollment on the Affordable Care Act’s public marketplaces will only inch up from current coverage levels by the end of 2016. After an elaborate analysis of demographic data, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, said that 10 million people were expected to have marketplace coverage at the end of next year, up only about 100,000 from recent levels and millions short of earlier projections. She called that “a strong and realistic goal.” (Pear, 10/15)

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Administration Projects Slim Gain For Health-Law Enrollment In 2016
This third open-enrollment season had widely been expected to make the greatest gains after the first go-round was marred by technology problems, and the second unfolded as a major challenge to the law loomed in the Supreme Court. The new season also carries a big incentive for consumers to buy insurance: to avoid the heftiest financial penalty yet on their taxes for going without coverage. (Radnofsky and Armour, 10/15)

Kaiser Health News: HHS: Remaining Uninsured Worry About Costs Of Coverage
Department of Health and Human Services officials Thursday predicted that about an additional 1 million Americans would sign up for coverage under the federal health law next year and acknowledged that prospective enrollees are worried about the cost of health insurance, even with the law’s financial help. (Carey, 10/15)

Los Angeles Times: Obama Administration Sets Low Bar For Health Law Enrollment In 2016
That is only a small increase over 2015, when 9.1 million Americans are expected to have coverage through the marketplaces, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The 2016 target is also significantly lower than what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had predicted. Earlier this year, the budget office estimated 21 million people would get coverage through the marketplaces next year. (Levey, 10/15)

The Washington Post: White House Projects Marginal ACA Enrollment Growth In 2016
The anemic projection comes as the sprawling law is entering a new phase. Having survived the disastrous 2013 rollout of HealthCare.gov, the federal exchange’s online enrollment system, and weathered two Supreme Court challenges, the ACA has moved past critics’ early hopes that the law might quickly collapse. Proponents note that the statute has been responsible for the biggest gain in insurance coverage in decades. But questions linger over whether it can reach deep into the pockets of the nation’s most intractable uninsured populations and whether people who currently have health plans through the marketplaces will decide that the coverage is worth keeping. (Goldstein, 10/15)

USA Today: 10 Million — Not 20 Million — Should Have Obamacare Plans By 2017
More than 25% of those who are uninsured and eligible to buy plans on the federal and state health insurance exchanges are expected to select plans during the open enrollment that starts Nov. 1, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell said Thursday. The other 75% are "a little harder to reach," said Burwell. Those who don't have health insurance in 2016 will face a penalty of $695 per person on their taxes for the year. (O'Donnell, 10/15)

Politico: White House Lowballs Obamacare Target In An Election Year
As Obamacare’s third enrollment season unfolds against the backdrop of the 2016 presidential election, the administration announced a surprisingly low enrollment goal on Thursday — a target of 10 million people covered through the health law’s exchanges by the end of 2016, or a net increase of roughly 1 million. (Pradhan, 10/15)

The Associated Press: Is Obama's Health Overhaul Losing Steam?
Burwell called the new goal “strong and realistic.” An aide said the congressional numbers are based in part on assumptions that haven’t panned out, about employers dropping job-based plans for their workers, and about people with their own private coverage switching to HealthCare.gov. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/15)

Reuters: U.S. Government Sees 10 Million People With Obamacare Insurance By End '16
About 17.6 million people have gained insurance coverage through the exchanges and through the expansion of Medicaid plans for the poor since early 2014. The exchange-based plans are sold by private insurers including Aetna Inc, Anthem Inc and UnitedHealth Group Inc. More than 85 percent of individuals with these plans receive a government subsidy based on their income, aimed at making them more affordable. (Humer and Lambert, 10/15)

Bloomberg: U.S. Sets 2016 Obamacare Goal At 10M Amid Challenges
The affordability of health insurance has been brought up by both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates ahead of the 2016 election, and the administration’s success or failure in signing up people for coverage next year could heighten that debate. Enrollment for 2016 coverage on the exchanges starts on Nov. 1, about three months before voters in each party begin choosing their candidates in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. (Tracer, 10/15)

The Texas Tribune: Texans Wanted In New Round of Obamacare Signups
Two weeks before a new round of signups begins for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, federal officials have dampened projections about how many people will enter the marketplace this year, but say they are making a concentrated push to get uninsured Texans in particular to enroll. (Walters, 10/16)

7. Medicaid Spending Rises 14% As Health Law Expands Eligibility, Report Finds

Because the federal government covers the cost of expansion for the first several years, states that opted for the program are not yet feeling any pinch, according to the research from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The New York Times: Medicaid Costs Rise, But Some States Are Spared
Spending on Medicaid rose nearly 14 percent on average in the last fiscal year, a report has found, largely because of a tide of newly eligible enrollees in the 29 states that had expanded the program by then to cover millions more low-income adults. But for most of those states, the per-member, per-month cost of the new enrollees was not higher — in a few cases, in fact, it was lower — than expected, according to the report, released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. And almost all of the additional spending was covered by federal funds, which are paying the entire cost of expanding Medicaid through 2016 and at least 90 percent thereafter. (Goodnough, 10/15)

NPR: States That Declined To Expand Medicaid Face Higher Costs
The 22 states that didn't expand Medicaid eligibility as part of Obamacare last year saw their costs to provide health care to the poor rise twice as fast as states that extended benefits to more low-income residents. It's a counterintuitive twist for those states whose governors, most Republicans who opposed the Affordable Care Act, chose not to accept federal funds to extend Medicaid to more people. (Kodjak, 10/15)

The Associated Press: Big Growth In Medicaid Enrollees In Expansion States
States that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act saw enrollment increase on average by 18 percent during the first full year of expansion, according to a report released Thursday. That will soon have an effect on state budgets, with expansion states to pay a portion of costs to cover the new enrollees beginning in 2017. Currently, the federal government is covering the expanded population at 100 percent. States will eventually pay 10 percent of costs by 2020. (Cassidy, 10/15)

Kaiser Health News: Medicaid Spending Soars — Mostly In Expansion States
Most of the growth in Medicaid enrollment has been from people who became eligible under the health law and therefore totally paid for by the federal government. States that expanded the program saw their share of costs increase by 3.4 percent compared to nearly 7 percent in states that did not expand. Much of the growth in the non-expansion states was from increased enrollment among previously eligible parents and children. (Galewitz, 10/15)