“President Obama’s healthcare reform law will be under attack on every conceivable front next year. Its first life-or-death experience lies in the hands of the Supreme Court, which could potentially strike down the Affordable Care Act as early as June… Legislation to remove the long-term-care CLASS Act could get through the Senate after the administration declared the program isn’t sustainable. And a House bill to repeal the law’s independent payment advisory board, one of the few provisions to control costs, has at least 12 Democratic co-sponsors.”

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“The Supreme Court will begin on March 26 with one hour of arguments on whether it can reach a decision on the reform law before 2014. There is a possibility that a separate federal law will prevent the courts from ruling until the law’s individual mandate has taken effect. On March 27, the justices will hear two hours of arguments on the core question of whether the mandate is unconstitutional. And on March 28, the court will hear arguments on two issues: how much, if any, of the law’s other provisions can be upheld if the mandate is unconstitutional, and whether the health law’s Medicaid expansion is constitutional.”

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“With many states unwilling or unable to get insurance exchanges operational by the health law deadline of Jan. 1, 2014, pressure is growing on the federal government to do the job for them.
But health care experts are starting to ask whether the fallback federal exchange called for in the 2010 health law will be operational by the deadline in states that will not have their own exchanges ready.”

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“2011 was supposed to be a bad year for President Obama’s health care law, with House Republicans taking aim and federal lawsuits snaking their way through the judiciary. And although the House of Representatives has had limited success in dismantling the overhaul, key portions began to unravel all by themselves.
Here’s a look at the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s year in review.”

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“The Indoor Tanning Association, an industry group, claims that 14 percent of tanning salons in Minnesota have gone out of business since 2009, a decline from 477 to 419. The group blames the additional burden of a 10 percent tax placed on salons starting July 1, 2010, as part of the health care reform law. The industry continues to press Congress for repeal, saying women-owned businesses are being disproportionately affected and that the tax is being unfairly applied because many health clubs don’t have to pay.”

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“A small business health insurer broker testified today that Obamacare’s Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) regulations has cut his revenues, forced many of his competitors out of business, and may end the small business insurance broker industry entirely… Obamacare is regulating these small businesses out of existence by defining the commission they earn in as administrative overhead the purpose of calculating an insurance companies MLR. Obamacare mandates that insurers in the individual and small group market must spend 80% of their premium dollars on medical costs, not overhead.”

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“If you want to get an understanding of how the health reform law works, both in theory and practice, it would be a good idea to take a look at the process called ‘rate review.’ The idea is that health insurance premiums can be restrained by forcing health insurance companies to explain ‘unreasonable’ premium increases to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to the state authorities, and on their web sites.”

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“Doctors’ feelings about the health-care overhaul law passed last year are about as mixed as their patients’, research released today shows…
Many of the 501 physicians surveyed indicated that they had sour feelings about specific aspects of the law.
Around three-fourths of the doctors worried about physician shortages and longer wait times as more people get health coverage, and also that emergency rooms would become overwhelmed. And 90% thought they would be paid less by insurance companies as a result of the law.”

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“The healthcare law’s program for early retirees is an example of the law’s broader flaws, House Republicans charged Wednesday. Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee criticized the way the Obama administration handled the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (EERP). The Health and Human Services Department announced last week that nearly all of the EERP’s $5 billion budget had been spent and the program would shut down at the end of the year.”

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“Beginning September 1, 2011, health insurers must
submit requests to state or federal reviewers if they
wish to increase insurance rates by 10 percent or more.
This “rate review” process is required by Section 2794
of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA), which was
added to Section 1003 of the Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Pub. L. 111-148…
The goal of this mandate is to reduce health care costs
by addressing the asymmetry of information in the
health insurance market between consumers, providers
and industry actors. However, despite the stated goals
of the mandate, it fails to ultimately address the
underlying issues accelerating health care costs.”

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