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Kaiser Health Policy News Index: August-September 2014

The latest Kaiser Health Policy News Index finds that attention to health policy stories in August took a back seat to breaking national news such as the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, international events in the West Bank, Syria and Ukraine and a global health story, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The only U.S. health policy news story that garnered a significant amount of public attention this month was the passage of a bill in Congress to overhaul the Veterans Affairs health system.

Medicaid Expansion in Indiana

This fact sheet summarizes key elements of Indiana’s Section 1115 Medicaid expansion waiver, HIP 2.0.

In Employer Health Insurance Costs, Stability Is the New Normal

In his latest column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman looks at the sharply slower growth in premiums for employer health benefits and what it might mean for the future of employer-sponsored coverage.

 In Employer Health Insurance Costs, Stability Is The New Normal

In his latest column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman looks at the sharply slower growth in premiums for employer health benefits and what it might mean for the future of employer-sponsored coverage. All previous columns by Drew Altman are available online.

Connecting Consumers to Coverage: Lessons Learned from Assisters for Successful Outreach and Enrollment

This brief highlights the experiences of Navigators and other Marketplace consumer assistance programs under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in conducting outreach and providing enrollment assistance during the ACA’s first open enrollment period. It provides insight into the outreach and enrollment strategies the assisters developed and identifies the keys to successfully overcoming the challenges of the first year. These insights are based on findings from focus groups with assisters in four cities: Miami, Florida; Houston, Texas; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Cleveland, Ohio.

Low-Wage Workers Feel the Pinch on Health Insurance

In this column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman explores how low-wage firms and their workers are faring in the employer-based health insurance market and how the Affordable Care Act may influence future trends.

Potential Supreme Court Decision: Who Will Bear the Coverage “Burdens?”

The Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision by the end of June, 2014 on the cases brought forth by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, two for profit corporations challenging the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirement. The plaintiffs contend that the requirement that they include coverage for certain contraceptive services (emergency contraceptive pills and intrauterine devices) in the insurance plans “substantially burdens” both the corporation’s and the owners’ religious rights. During the arguments, several of the justices discussed the extent to which the corporations did or not did not have a choice in offering coverage to their workers. In this brief, we explore some of the factors influencing coverage decisions and possible consequences for women and employers given possible Supreme Court decision options: either upholding the contraceptive coverage requirement, or in favor of Hobby Lobby.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.