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CPBJ Blog Extras

Change takes ... change

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Let's start with a quick recap. In recent weeks, we've seen the following:

• A delay (of sorts) of the employer mandate.

• Reports that the administration may let policyholders keep non-compliant coverage for as long as an additional three years.

• News that the administration has quietly tweaked the Marketplace to provide additional flexibility for consumers.

• Information to the effect that "regulators proposed a tougher review process for the doctors and hospitals in plans to be sold next year through healthcare.gov, a shift that could force insurers to expand those networks."

I would categorize these all broadly as intended to make Obamacare softer — to smooth the transition, even to lessen the contrast between pre and post. They didn't just start; these are merely the most recent examples of a course the administration has been following for months now. Obdurate it apparently is not, at least on some points. That's the positive way to look at it.

The negative way is that with each successive change, Obamacare looks and feels more like an experiment. And, perhaps more importantly, it raises the question of why, given that the big change is their goal, they keep blunting all the smaller ones that will effect it.

And, on that note, I read "The Inevitability of Disruption in Health Reform" with interest and said "YES" in my head when I got to this, which echoed through the whole thing: "It is not possible to reform our health insurance arrangements without somehow disrupting existing arrangements."

How hard can that be to understand?

• • •

Title a story "Former Hospital CFO Charged with Health Care Fraud," and I'll click on it. Throw in a sentence like the following, and I'll go so far as to disseminate it to my myriad followers.

"As more and more federal dollars are made available to providers to adopt Electronic Health Record systems, our office is expecting to see more cases like this one."

• • •

I like stories that answer persistent questions, as this one did.

"In Pennsylvania, Highmark Inc. and Independence Blue Cross said 12 percent and 16 percent of their respective enrollees never made a payment. That's nearly 8,900 people out of their combined enrollment of 64,600 through the end of December."

• • •

In news that I suspect shocks exactly no one, "ICD-10 costs higher than previously estimated, AMA report finds." Also, the AMA still has not given up the fight.

• • •

This, however, classified as a shock to me, if only a mild one: "CCHIT, the nation's largest EHR certification/testing vendor, recently announced that it is getting out of the business."

• • •

Finally, I'm a little surprised that 48 economists thought Halbig v. Sebelius — the case to decide whether subsidies can be offered on exchanges not directly established by states — important enough to merit filing this friend-of-the-court brief.

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer covers Lancaster County, nonprofits, education and health care. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at heathers@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @StaufferCPBJ.

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