“Within days of the Republican Party regaining control of the Senate, a host of policy issues has quickly risen to the top of Washington’s priorities list: trade, corporate tax reform, the Keystone pipeline. And then there’s the medical device tax.
The tax, passed as part of the Affordable Care Act, plays a marginal role in the health-care overhaul, but the push to repeal it has attracted millions of dollars of lobbying, as well as high-profile supporters on the Hill, from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).”
“For businesses across Michigan and the country, the Obama administration’s one-year reprieve from financial penalties under the national health care law is nearing an end, forcing some employers to chose between buying coverage for employees or paying fines.
At the same time, some small businesses that already offer health insurance are facing big price hikes next year as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan — the largest carrier in the state — has stopped allowing businesses to renew policies that aren’t compliant with the Affordable Care Act. In their place it is offering more comprehensive, but pricier, insurance policies.”
“The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear the most serious challenge to the Affordable Care Act since the justices found it constitutional more than two years ago: a lawsuit targeting the federal subsidies that help millions of Americans buy health insurance.
More than 4 million people receive the subsidies, which the Obama administration contends are essential to the act by making insurance more affordable for low- and middle-income families.”
“Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is planning to make ObamaCare a priority in his first weeks as leader of the Senate, vowing a sustained effort to dismantle the law piece-by-piece.
McConnell said the GOP will tackle unpopular aspects of the law such as the individual mandate, the medical device tax and the 30-hour workweek requiring employers to provide insurance.”
“There is nothing more time consuming and expensive for a patient than undergoing extra tests or procedures during a trip to the emergency room, doctor’s office or urgent care center.
Often a physician will know exactly what a patient’s diagnosis is but will order an x-ray, CT scan, blood work or MRI to reaffirm his clinical judgment. The common rationale is to back up his opinion in case there is a lawsuit.”
“The Obama administration plans to close a loophole in the Affordable Care Act that allows large companies to refuse to cover in-patient hospital stays in any of their health insurance plans, according to an official involved in the internal discussions.
The official requested anonymity until the announcement is made because “the guidance that will be issued is not finalized.””
“Healthcare stakeholders and the public likely will have to wait at least another week—if not longer—to find out whether the U.S. Supreme Court will hear King v. Burwell, a case with the potential to severely disrupt implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The justices were scheduled last Friday to discuss whether to hear the case, but on Monday morning it was announced that they took no action. Shortly after that announcement, the court’s website showed that the justices had scheduled another private discussion about the case, which is called relisting.”
“Health insurers increasingly are building and staffing bricks-and-mortar retail centers to potentially expand their membership base and, most importantly for now, enhance their brand image with the public.
The retail approach represents a major pivot in insurer tactics to grow their books of business brought on by changes in how consumers get insurance thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
“Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the state’s largest health insurer, said Thursday that about 42,000 customers around the state received insurance renewal letters with incorrect rates, some showing cost increases of more than 100 percent.
The Chapel Hill company has been flooded with calls since Wednesday from irate customers who began receiving their renewal notices this week. Blue Cross officials soon realized the insurance rates were incorrectly transferred from the company’s database to the computer-generated renewal notices.”
“Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, the law has been an often potent and divisive political issue, and has sparked an unprecedented amount of political and campaign advertising, particularly from candidates and groups that oppose the law. According to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG), no other federal program or policy has resulted in the kind of advertising the ACA has caused, namely the combination of new insurance “product” advertising and sustained political advertising across multiple election cycles.”