The Health Law's Future: Prose On Politics And Policies

Politico reports on how the elections of 2012 will dictate the future of the health law. Also, other news outlets report on states' efforts to figure out what to do if the individual mandate is struck down, the essential benefits package, the development of health exchanges and where things stand with accountable care organizations. 

Politico: Health Care Reform's Fate To Be Determined By 2012
The supporters aren't panicking — but they're paying attention. "The prospects of the Affordable Care Act hinge totally on the 2012 elections," said Ron Pollack, executive director of the health care consumer group Families USA. "If President Obama is reelected — and I'm fairly confident he will be, but that's for others to judge — then the Affordable Care Act is going to move forward, pure and simple" (Nather, 10/8).

Politico Pro: States Look For Post-Mandate Options
A group of progressive state lawmakers from across the country is considering what can be done to encourage residents to buy insurance if the federal health reform law's individual mandate is struck by the Supreme Court. ... Those measures could run the range from state-based individual mandates — like the one in Massachusetts — to incentives for people to buy insurance on their own (Haberkorn, 10/10).

Kaiser Health News: Florida Readies Its Own Health Insurance Exchange
Florida's version aims to give small businesses – those with 50 or fewer employees – an online tool where they can easily shop for health plans offered in their county. The idea, backers say, is to entice employers who otherwise wouldn’t bother to offer coverage (Galewitz, 10/9).

Modern Healthcare: The Bare Essentials
For all its complexities, the Institute of Medicine's report to HHS on essential health benefits last week is based on a simple premise: Find what works already and improve on it over time. Now a task that's by no means simple falls to HHS, which will develop the proposed and final rules that outline what an essential health benefits package must include and exclude for the sake of making the plans affordable. Those choices are certain to draw new battle lines among providers, insurers, the Obama administration and lawmakers (Zigmond, 10/10).

CQ HealthBeat: Rising Health Care Costs Complicate Task Of Writing Essential Health Benefits
Concern over rising health costs lies at the heart of the struggle over defining what health benefits will be considered essential once the health care law fully goes into effect. ... federal Health and Human Services officials face the daunting task of fashioning an essential benefits package that will be comprehensive yet budget-conscious (Norman, 10/7).

Politico Pro: Why Moving On Delivery Reforms Is Difficult
The reasons [Michigan's Henry Ford Health System] dropped out from the administration’s Pioneer program reflect the challenges facing hospitals that are choosing between multiplying payment reform initiatives. In short, it had better options — or, at least, more predictable ones — than the ACO program. ... two things are making it hard for hospitals to move forward: the uncertainty about which new payment experiments are going to pan out, and the unpredictable rollout of federal initiatives (Feder, 10/10).

Earlier, related KHN story:'Poster Boys' Take A Pass On Pioneer ACO Program (Gold, 9/14)

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.