What is this? ‘The Weekender’ is a weekly round-up to spotlight what you might have missed on BirdDog and why a few headlines from elsewhere matter for Tennessee.
The TennCare work requirement bill isn’t just about work — it spotlights how lawmakers are bolstering the dependence on jobs for health care access
1. States Extend Medicaid For Birth Control, Cutting Costs — And Future Enrollment
Phil Galewitz and Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News
Why this is interesting: Texas is angling for federal approval on a family planning program that offers birth control as part of its Medicaid program in order to reduce costs in the future through contraception.
As Kaiser reports, about half of the U.S. states have family planning programs, some with evidence of cost savings. While Tennessee does not have such a program, its neighbors to the east and south do.
Mississippi received a 10-year extension for its program from the Trump administration. It’s also a non-expansion state that is trying to get a work requirement approved by federal officials.
The Tennessee legislature is pushing for TennCare to negotiate a work requirement despite concerns over cost and a lack of guidance on whether a plan in a non-expansion state would get federal approval.
2. How a Norwegian comment section turned chaos into order—with a simple quiz
Sam Machkovech, ArsTechnica
Why this is interesting: If you’ve ever read the comments section on any article, then this approach should make sense.
Excerpt: ”It was a basic idea,” NRKbeta developer Ståle Grut told a South By Southwest crowd on Tuesday. “Readers had to prove they read a story before they were able to comment on it.
The NiemanLab dug into early results of the quiz, which indicated people were using it to test their comprehension of the article rather than the key to commenting: “On average, there is a lot more attempts — both correct and wrong — than actual comments.”
3. Indy Q+A: Former U.S. Health and Human Services secretary (Kathleen Sebelius) talks past, present, future of Obamacare
Megan Messerly, The Nevada Independent
Why this is worth a read: The Affordable Care Act, which turned 8 on March 23, is still subject to partisan debate although millions of Americans and more than 230,000 Tennesseans use it to buy health insurance.
The Q&A with Kathleen Sebelius touches upon association plans (Tennessee’s Farm Bureau Health Plans made national headlines for this) and super nerdy, but important topics, including reinsurance and cost-sharing reductions.
The individual insurance market is nearing the season when insurers have to declare whether they intend to sell health insurance. That process precedes filings by insurers requesting premiums for 2019. Senators Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, are trying to gather support for some reforms to “stabilize individual market premiums.”
Tennessee is one of nearly two dozen Republican-led states suing the federal government to overturn the ACA.
Bonus!: The Nevada Independent, started in 2017, is a non-profit, non-partisan news organization. I met Megan Messerly, who wrote this story, in D.C. as Kaiser Foundation media fellows. Check her out: @meganmesserly.
4. ‘Flippy,’ the fast food robot, temporarily decommissioned for being too slow
Peter Holley and Marwa Eltagouri, The Washington Post
Why this is worth a read: Beyond the novelty of a patty-flipping bot — which generated so much hype that ‘Flippy’ had to be temporarily benched because it couldn’t keep up with demand — the presence of robots and automation in the workplace is only going to increase.
The Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development estimated half of the jobs in the state in 2015, or 1.4 million, were at risk of automation.
I’m fascinated by this phenomenon and potential disruption so expect to see more about the impact on education, training and the workforce.