Insurers Object To Charity Helping Poor Buy Health Coverage

The charity, A Better LA, said it would sign up 50 low-income Californians for Obamacare plans, but insurers protested that such help could skew insurance pools toward sicker people, The Wall Street Journal reports. Other media outlets explore the increase in challenges to the tax breaks traditionally given to nonprofit hospitals and Medicare's release of data rating hospitals on hip and knee replacement surgeries.

The Wall Street Journal: Insurers Fight Hospitals' Paying Premiums
A charity's plan to help people pay for coverage through new health-care exchanges has put it at the center of a high-stakes fight between the insurance and hospital industries that could pose a challenge to the economic underpinnings of President Barack Obama's health law. A Better LA, a decade-old Los Angeles nonprofit, said last week it was signing up 50 low-income people for health plans in California's health-insurance marketplace. The charity, which said it has the blessing of the state agency overseeing the marketplace, will pay $50 to $100 a month to cover the share of the people's premiums not already financed by federal subsidies (Radnofsky and Weaver, 12/16).

The New York Times: Benefits Questioned In Tax Breaks For Nonprofit Hospitals
The billions of dollars in tax breaks granted to the nation’s nonprofit hospitals are being challenged by regulators and politicians as cities still reeling from the recession watch cash-rich medical centers expand (Rosenthal, 12/16).

Kaiser Health News: Medicare Identifies 97 Best And 95 Worst Hospitals For Hip And Knee Replacements
Medicare has begun tracking the outcomes of hip and knee replacement surgeries, identifying 95 hospitals where elderly patients were more likely to suffer significant setbacks. The government also named 97 hospitals where patients tended to have the smoothest recoveries. The analysis, which was released last week, is the latest part of the government’s push to improve quality at the nation’s hospitals instead of simply paying Medicare patients’ bills (Rau, 12/17).

Meanwhile, a health policy expert calls for a 'Manhattan Project' to help providers transition to new payment models that reward quality --

Medpage Today: 'Road Map' Needed For Switch To Accountable Care
Policymakers need to launch a "Manhattan Project" to help health care providers transition to accountable care organizations (ACOs) and other alternative payment models, a health policy expert said. Although hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare providers understand the need to move away from fee-for-service, many are unsure of how to do it, are unable to do it, or are trying to figure out how best to do it, Len Nichols, PhD, director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., said here (Pittman, 12/16).

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