Next Stage Of Health Law Triggers Concern, Confusion


Obamacare Protest at Supreme Court

Obamacare Protest at Supreme Court (Photo credit: southerntabitha)

News outlets report on the confusion that continues to surround
the health law, especially as key provisions are about to take effect.
Meanwhile, officials and activists strategize about how to educate
consumers about their options.

Georgia Health News: Concern, Confusion Over The Next Stage Of Reform

In six months, Jimmy Rowalt will no longer have health insurance. For
the past two and a half years, the 25-year-old Athens resident has
worked at Highwire Lounge without worrying about the job’s lack of
health benefits. Now he’s a manager there, working 45 to 55 hours a
week. A rule allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ health
insurance policies until age 26 was one of the first provisions of the
Affordable Care Act to go into effect, in September 2010. … Rowalt’s
options will be meager after his October birthday, when he will be
dropped by his parents’ insurance company (Murphy, 4/22).

CT Mirror: Strategizing On Helping The Uninsured With Health Care Reform

As the country gears up to launch the Affordable Health Act, one of the
most difficult tasks will be to sell it to uninsured people who may have
never heard of the word “co-pay” or know what a primary care physician
is. That was the message of Alta Lash, a Connecticut community organizer
who was one of several speakers from across the nation at a daylong
roundtable discussion Monday on how to promote health equity through
“Obamacare.” The event attracted about 200 policymakers, social workers,
physicians and researchers to the Mark Twain House in Hartford for a
discussion of how to eliminate health disparities through the expanded
coverage that will take effect in January (Merritt, 4/22).

CNN Money: Millions Eligible For Obamacare Subsidies, But Most Don’t Know It

Nearly 26 million Americans could be eligible for health insurance
subsidies next year, but most don’t know it. That’s because relatively
few people are familiar with provisions in the Affordable Care Act, aka
“Obamacare,” that will provide tax credits to low- and middle-income
consumers to help them purchase health coverage through state-run
insurance exchanges (Luhby, 4/23).

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.

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Exchange Planning Takes Hold In States — Each With Different Flavor


A CNN poll conducted in March of 2010Citation ...

A CNN poll conducted in March of 2010Citation needed, days after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law found nearly 3 in 5 Americans were opposed to the legislationClarify. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Health Reform, States, Politics, Marketplace, Insurance

Aug 28, 2012

Vermont, the District of Columbia and Connecticut are among those planning health law-mandated marketplaces where consumers and small businesses can buy insurance — each with its own twist.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Vermont Goes For Gold (Silver, Bronze And Platinum, Too)
Vermont is the only state in the nation on a path to a single payer health system. That could take a while, though. And in the meantime, the state has to set up an insurance exchange to comply with the Affordable Care Act (Kinzel, 8/27).

Politico Pro: D.C. Exchange Setting Unique Path
As states look to Washington for direction on their health insurance exchanges, this much is clear: the exchange taking root in Washington itself is setting a pretty unique path. Outside of Vermont, which is pursuing a single-payer system, D.C.’s exchange is shaping up to be one of the most progressive ones in the country. And that’s spooking some businesses and insurers, which say the exchange would choke off competition in favor of propping up an unproven marketplace. Recommendations touted by D.C. exchange advisers and city officials would send all of the District’s small businesses into the exchange, expand the definition of small businesses, and merge risk pools for the small group and individual markets. D.C. insurance officials insist that putting all of the small businesses in the exchange is the only way to ensure it can survive (Millman, 8/28).

The Associated Press: Conn. Moving Ahead With New Health Care Exchange
Connecticut officials are pushing ahead with plans to set up a new health insurance exchange by next fall. The federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services this week awarded the state a $107 million grant (8/27).

Meanwhile, in other news related to the health law’s implementation —

Kaiser Health News: Feds Push Maryland To Think Big On Health Cost Control
If quiet negotiations between policymakers and industry bear fruit, Maryland could join the short list of states attempting to go far beyond the Affordable Care Act in improving health and limiting spending (Hancock, 8/28). Read the story.

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.

States Consider Names, Logistics For Health Insurance Exchanges


English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Prot...

English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Marketplace, Insurance, Health Reform, Politics, Medicaid

Aug 27, 2012

California officials ponder how to brand the new marketplaces to create consumer buzz, while Connecticut officials move ahead with plans to launch next year.

Los Angeles Times: California’s Health Exchange Considers A Fruity New Name
Want to buy health insurance from an avocado? California thinks you might. Officials at the California Health Benefit Exchange, knowing their new online marketplace for medical insurance is a mouthful, are considering some new brand names to generate buzz with millions of consumers. “Avocado: A uniquely California approach to affordable health care” was one possibility presented at a board meeting Thursday (Terhune, 8/24).

The Associated Press: Conn. Moving Ahead With New Health Care Exchange
Connecticut officials are pushing ahead with plans to set up the new health insurance exchange, a marketplace where individuals and businesses can find affordable coverage, by next fall. The federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services this week awarded the state a $107 million grant. It was the latest allotment from the federal government as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law. To date, the state has now received a total of $116 million (8/25).

In other health law news, a study shows Florida stands to leave a dollar on the table for every dime it saves from not expanding Medicaid —

The Associated Press: Florida Economists Reduce Health Care Estimates
State economists have reduced their estimates of what it would cost Florida to expand Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul. Gov. Rick Scott, an Affordable Care Act opponent, is against the expansion. It eventually would extend Medicaid coverage to about 900,000 more Floridians. While the overall numbers released Friday are lower, they still show Florida would lose about a dollar in federal funding for every dime of state savings from turning down the expanded program (8/24).

And some Connecticut health insurance rates are being driven higher by higher costs, not the health law —

The Connecticut Mirror: Connecticut Health Insurance Rate Increases Driven By Rising Costs, Not The Affordable Care Act, Filings Show
The double-digit rate increases recently granted to one and sought by two other large Connecticut health insurers are due mostly to increasing medical costs and only minimally to the impact of the Affordable Care Act, filings by the companies show. Aetna Health Inc. recently won approval for a 12.6 percent increase in its small group health insurance following its request for 14 percent — just under a new 15-percent threshold that would have triggered a public hearing (Merritt, 8/27).

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.

San Francisco To Require Employers Pay More For Employee Health Care


English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Prot...

English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Insurance, Marketplace, States

Aug 23, 2012

Employers in San Francisco with more than 100 employees will have to contribute more to their employees’ health care starting in 2013.

Modern Healthcare/Crain’s Business Insurance: San Francisco Ups Employer’s Health Care Spending Requirement For 2013
Employers with workers in San Francisco will have to pay more next year to comply with the city’s health care spending law. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2013, employers with 100 or more employees in San Francisco will be required to spend $2.33 per hour per covered employee on health care, up from $2.20 in 2012, city officials announced this week (Geisel, 8/22).

Elsewhere, three major insurers in Connecticut are asking for rate increases of 13-14 percent for small business coverage —

CT Mirror: Three Major Insurers Seek Up To 14 Percent Rate Hike For Small Business Coverage
In recent weeks, Aetna, ConnectiCare and Anthem all have requested rate hikes of 13 to 14 percent for small-business coverage. That’s just below the 15 percent threshold that could trigger a public hearing on the proposed increases. The requests have some health care advocates questioning whether increases are still too high. Insurance companies say the hikes reflect the cost of mandated federal benefits required by the Affordable Care Act (Merritt, 8/22).

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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.

Medicaid News: Challenge To Fla. Managed Care Rule; N.Y. Wants Permission To Invest Savings


Topics: Insurance, Medicaid, States

Aug 07, 2012

Florida is seeking to move seniors on Medicaid into a managed care program but one company questions part of the regulations on plans.

Health News Florida: Medicaid Plan To Challenge State
Florida’s effort to steer elderly Medicaid patients into managed care is running into its first significant hurdle. A newly formed managed-care plan late last week told state officials that it is ready to challenge the initial contract the state is drawing up as part of a move to hold down the cost of providing long-term care under the state’s safety-net program. Aetna Better Health gave notice on Thursday to the state Agency for Health Care Administration that it intends to challenge the contract’s requirement that managed-care companies provide as many as three references (Jordan Sexton, 8/6).

Meanwhile, in other Medicaid news –

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: NY Seeks Waiver To Invest Medicaid Savings
State health officials say they have applied for a waiver that would enable them to use $10 billion of federal savings from Medicaid changes for other state initiatives meant to improve primary health care for poorer New Yorkers (8/7).

Kansas Health Institute News: Kansas Refiles Section 1115 Waiver Request
Kansas officials today said they resubmitted to federal authorities their request for a Section 1115 Medicaid waiver. The waiver is needed to implement Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to remake the state Medicaid program as KanCare. The application was first submitted in April but then withdrawn to allow for additional input from Native American tribal governments (8/6).

CT Mirror: Malloy Gets Implied OK To Pursue Restrictions On Health Benefits For The Poor
Two state legislative panels will give Gov. Dannel P. Malloy the green light to eliminate Medicaid benefits for more than 13,000 of Connecticut’s poorest residents — but they will do so without a vote. … [Aug. 18 is] the deadline they face to block an administration application for federal approval to tighten eligibility in the Medicaid for Low-Income Adults program, known as LIA (Phaneuf, 8/6).

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.

Health Law’s Insurance Rebates, Exchanges And Mandates Continue To Draw Headlines


Topics: Politics, Health Reform, Insurance, Marketplace, Women’s Health

Jul 30, 2012

News outlets report on a variety of health law implementation policies, including state-level action.

NPR: Affordable Care Act‘s Insurance Rebates In The Mail
Robert Siegel talks with Julie Rovner about an immediate effect of the new health care law — rebate checks — how they vary, and why some insurers owe Americans money (Rovner and Siegel, 7/27).

CQ HealthBeat: On Exchanges: This Summer The Policy Community Is Sweating Implementation Details
It was not everything they wanted to know about health insurance exchanges, but it was a lot. With deadlines looming, audience members at a standing-room-only Capitol Hill forum Friday peppered federal and state officials with dozens of questions about the nitty gritty of creating the new insurance marketplaces. And they got answers. For example, it now appears that a proposed rule for the “essential health benefits” that must be offered by plans sold in exchanges will come out in August (Reichard, 7/27).

The Washington Post: Health Insurance Mandate Faces Huge Resistance In Oklahoma
The Supreme Court may have declared that the government can order Americans to get health insurance, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to sign up. Nowhere is that more evident than Oklahoma, a conservative state with an independent streak and a disdain for the strong arm of government. The state cannot even get residents to comply with car insurance laws; roughly a quarter of the drivers here lack it, one of the highest rates in the country (Somashekhar, 7/29).

Arizona Republic:  Health-Care Act To Have Tax Impact
Several key tax rules are scheduled to change in 2013, especially for higher-income individuals.  Republicans are still trying to overturn the law, and that could happen based on what transpires in the November election. But if nothing changes, here’s what to expect in terms of the health-related tax impact, with focus on items that apply to individuals rather than businesses (Wiles, 7/28)

CT MirrorConnecticut’s Health Exchange Board Determines Basic Coverage
Connecticut’s health insurance exchange board has selected a mandatory benefit plan that many state residents will choose for coverage that is more generous than the federal Affordable Care Act requires.  The plan will offer abortion services, although people receiving federal help to buy health insurance will have to pay for pregnancy termination coverage out of pocket.  That plan would be the minimum health insurance companies will be able to offer when the largest phase of the Affordable Care Act is implemented in 2014.  The exchange board members decided to model the “benchmark” plan on a ConnectiCare HMO that provides coverage for thousands of state residents (Radelat, 7/27).

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.