Jul 31, 2012
The Los Angeles Times reports on how the GOP is readying a push to scale back the health insurance program for the poor if it takes control of the White House and Congress next year. Meanwhile, the insurance industry is paying $1.1 billion in rebates to consumers under the health care law and eyeing congressional efforts to overhaul the tax code next year as its best chance to roll back a new health insurance tax.
Los Angeles Times: Medicaid Could Be Scaled Back Sharply Under GOP Plans
Nearly half a century after President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicaid into law, conservative critics of the massive government health insurance program for the poor are readying a new push to dramatically scale it back if Republicans control the White House and Congress next year (Levey, 7/30).
Reuters: Obama Administration States Will Join Medicaid Expansion
The Obama administration on Monday said it expects that U.S. states will eventually join its planned expansion of the Medicaid healthcare program as they evaluate the benefits of providing health coverage to more low-income people. U.S. Medicaid director Cindy Mann said states will likely spend the next several months analyzing the plan, which under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, would extend health coverage to about 16 million uninsured people based on new criteria that broadens eligibility to people with incomes of up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line (Morgan, 7/30).
The New York Times: Insurance Rebates Seen As Selling Point For Health Law
The law requires insurers to give out annual rebates by Aug. 1, starting this year, if less than 80 percent of the premium dollars they collect go toward medical care. For insurers covering large employers, the threshold is 85 percent. As a result, insurers will pay out $1.1 billion this year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, although most of it will not go to individuals. The average rebate will be $151 per household, with the highest in Vermont ($807 per family), Alaska ($622) and Alabama ($518). No rebates will be issued in New Mexico or Rhode Island, because insurers there met the 80/20 requirement (Goodnough, 7/30).
Los Angeles Times: In-Store Clinics Look To Be A Remedy For Healthcare Law Influx
If you thought it was hard getting a doctor’s appointment now, just wait until 30 million more Americans join the line. Nearly 3 in 4 California counties already lack a sufficient number of family physicians, and by 2020 the U.S. faces an estimated shortage of 40,000 primary-care doctors with no way to remedy that in just a few years (Terhune, 7/30).
Politico: Insurers Eye Tax Reform To Nix Fees
With GOP repeal efforts stalled out this year, health insurers are eyeing an expected effort to overhaul the nation’s Tax Code next year as their best shot to get rid of a tax they’ll have to pay under President Barack Obama’s health care law. Lobbyists for the health insurance industry are calling on lawmakers to make repeal of the “health insurance tax” a priority during those discussions, arguing that a rewrite of the Tax Code is the best time to re-examine the tax that is expected to help pay for health care reform (DoBias, 7/30).
CQ HealthBeat: Hash Elaborates On Exchange Effort At Bipartisan Policy Center
Michael Hash, the top Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services official in charge of implementing health insurance exchanges, elaborated on that effort Monday, telling a Washington, D.C., forum that within a few weeks virtually all states will be getting money to set up the new marketplaces. Hash addressed a meeting sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center on the health care law; the center also announced a new effort to control health care costs. Former Senate Majority Leader Democrat Tom Daschle, who co-chairs the Center along with former Senate Majority Leader Republican Bill Frist, called the new project “an urgent and absolutely essential endeavor” (Reichard, 7/30).
Also in the news –
CQ HealthBeat: Health Law Birth Control Coverage To Launch Wednesday As Legal Battle Continues
New attention was focused Monday on a federal rule requiring employers to provide free coverage for birth control in their employee health insurance policies following a federal court ruling that temporarily barred enforcement of the rule for a business in Colorado. Religious leaders who back the rule warned that a preliminary injunction that a federal district judge granted on Friday may be applied to other pending lawsuits and the leaders said that women’s rights to use contraceptives should not be restricted (Norman, 7/30).