Kaiser Health News Original Stories

4. Political Cartoon: 'Not Paranoia If They're Really Laughing?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Not Paranoia If They're Really Laughing?'" by Roy Delgado.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


ACA struggle:
Two more co-ops have to close
Were they co-opted?

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

5. Judge Turns Down Administration's Request For Appeal On House GOP Lawsuit

Federal Judge Rosemary M. Collyer denies the request in a case hinging on whether the House is allowed to sue the administration. The House brought the lawsuit after the government set up health insurance subsidies that Republicans said were not authorized by Congress.

The New York Times: Judge Denies Obama Administration Quick Appeal In House Suit Against Health Care Law
Speaker John A. Boehner may be having trouble with conservative House Republicans, but he is on a bit of a roll in the federal lawsuit brought against the Obama administration over the new health care law. Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of Federal District Court on Monday denied the Obama administration’s request for an immediate appeal of her ruling that the House had the standing to sue the administration. The House says the law includes billions of dollars for new health insurance subsidies that were never authorized by Congress. (Hulse, 10/20)

The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog: Obama Administration Loses Bid For Early Review Of House GOP Lawsuit
A federal judge has rejected a request by the Obama administration for permission to immediately appeal last month’s ruling that allowed House Republicans to pursue their lawsuit against the 2010 health-care law. Last month U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer allowed House Republicans to proceed with parts of their Obamacare lawsuit, ruling that the House has legal standing to bring claims alleging the Obama administration overstepped its bounds in how it’s paying for portions of the health law. In doing so, the judge rejected the Obama administration’s argument that the court should not referee such a dispute between the legislative and executive branches. (Gershman, 10/19)

The Associated Press: Judge: No Quick Appeal In House Lawsuit Over Health Care Law
House Republicans called Monday's ruling a victory. "It's another important step toward holding the president accountable for his unconstitutional actions," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a written statement. The Obama administration has said the courts should not get involved in a political dispute between the executive and legislative branches, arguing that judges have never done so. White House spokeswoman Katie Hill said the GOP lawsuit was a "taxpayer-funded political stunt" and expressed disappointment with Monday's ruling. (Fram, 10/19)

The Hill: Judge Refuses To Let House ObamaCare Suit Move To Another Court
The district court judge, Rosemary Collyer, a Republican appointee of President George W. Bush, last month gave the House GOP a big win by ruling that their lawsuit against the administration could move forward. ... Collyer wrote that a ruling on the substance of the case would not take much more time — “a matter of months” — and that the appeals court “will be best served by reviewing a complete record” on both the standing issue and the substance of the case. (Sullivan, 10/19)

CNN: Judge Denies Obama Administration Request In House Obamacare Case
At issue in the case is the so-called "cost sharing" provisions that require insurance companies offering health plans through the law to reduce the out-of-pocket costs for policy holders who qualify. The government offsets the added costs to insurance companies by reimbursing them, but the lawmakers say that Congress did not properly approve the money for those reimbursements. (de Vogue, 10/19)

CBS News: GOP Obamacare Lawsuit Given New Life
The House argues that Congress never specifically approved spending that money, and in fact denied the administration's request for it. The Obama administration insists it is instead relying on previously allocated money that it is allowed to use. (10/19)

6. Bugs In Healthcare.gov Upgrades Still Being Fixed; Some Features May Be Delayed

With open enrollment two weeks away, federal officials race to finalize improvements to the government's health insurance website. Meanwhile, many employers are reporting that few of their low-income employees are taking advantage of offered health insurance, due primarily to cost.

The Associated Press: Potential Delay On Some Upgrades To Gov't Insurance Website
With sign-up season starting in less than two weeks, the Obama administration indicated on Monday that some long-awaited upgrades to the government's health insurance website could take more time before they're customer-ready. At issue is a new doctor look-up tool for HealthCare.gov, as well as another feature that would allow consumers to find out whether a particular health plan covers their prescription drugs. Up to now, digging out that information has required additional steps. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/20)

The New York Times: Many Low-Income Workers Say ‘No’ To Health Insurance
When Billy Sewell began offering health insurance this year to 600 service workers at the Golden Corral restaurants that he owns, he wondered nervously how many would buy it. Adding hundreds of employees to his plan would cost him more than $1 million — a hit he wasn’t sure his low-margin business could afford. His actual costs, though, turned out to be far smaller than he had feared. So far, only two people have signed up. (Cowley, 10/19)

The Wall Street Journal: Luxury Health Benefits For Top Corporate Bosses On The Wane
For years executives at Brocade Communications Systems Inc. were treated to a full day of physical exams and assessments in the high-end, spa-like setting of Stanford University’s executive medicine program at a cost of several thousands of dollars per executive. But the firm ended the perk in 2013, in an effort to eliminate inequalities in its employee benefits package and avoid taxes and penalties associated with the Affordable Care Act. (Chasan, 10/19)

More health law headlines come from Maryland, Kansas and Kentucky -

The Baltimore Sun: Health Exchange Looks To Enroll 150,000 In Private Plans In 2016
The state's online marketplace for the uninsured estimates 150,000 will enroll in private health plans in 2016, up from 115,000 this year, though the marketing budget is down and it might be a tougher sell. "It's a semi-aggressive number, but it's what we're shooting for," said Andrew Ratner, the exchange's director of marketing and strategic initiatives, during the last exchange board meeting before open enrollment, which runs from Nov.1 to Jan. 31. (Cohn, 10/19)

The Kansas Health Institute News Service: Health Insurer Withdraws From Kansas Marketplace
A major provider of health insurance in Kansas is pulling out of the Affordable Care Act marketplace. Two companies under the Aetna corporate umbrella — Coventry Health & Life Insurance Co. and Coventry Health Care of Kansas Inc. — are withdrawing from the marketplace just two weeks before the Nov. 1 start of the next open enrollment period. Coventry merged with Aetna in 2013. (McLean, 10/19)

The Associated Press: More Than 16,000 Children Got Health Insurance After New Law
An analysis of health insurance data shows more than 16,000 Kentucky children obtained health insurance during the first year of the Affordable Care Act. The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and the State Health Access Data Assistance Center say the Kentucky's uninsured rate among children dropped 4.3 percent during the first year of the federal Affordable Care Act. Their analysis revealed more than 10 percent of the private insurance plans purchased on the state health exchange were for children. (10/19)

7. Money Short, Colorado Health Insurance Cooperative To Shut Down

The move to begin ceasing operations comes after an unsuccessful eleventh-hour appeal to get permission to sell 2016 insurance policies. The Colorado Division of Insurance says the insurer doesn't meet the state's capital reserve requirements.

The Denver Post: Colorado HealthOP Out Of Options, Will Begin Shutting Down
Troubled nonprofit insurer Colorado HealthOP on Monday sued for the right to continue selling policies in 2016 as it explored solutions to its financial problems. But at the eleventh hour — and after a closed-door court hearing from which reporters were removed — the low-cost insurer said it will begin shutting down. HealthOP filed a request in Denver District Court seeking to reverse a decision by state regulators to remove the co-op from Connect for Health Colorado, the state health-insurance exchange. (Wallace, 10/19)

The Associated Press: Colorado Health Insurer Unsuccessfully Challenges Closure
Colorado's largest nonprofit health insurer went down swinging Monday, trying but failing to challenge a state decision to close it because of precarious finances. Colorado HealthOP, a nonprofit insurer set up under the federal health care law, unsuccessfully challenged the decision in a closed-door, two-hour hearing. (Wyatt, 10/20)