Nicholas Nehemas, Miami Herald
"When Tony Smith lost his job as a corporate paralegal two years ago, a state program stepped in to help him keep his health insurance — and the expensive drugs his life had depended on since his 2008 HIV diagnosis.
Now Smith, 42, of Coral Springs, has been told he must sign up for coverage on Florida’s federally run insurance exchange or the state will stop helping him pay his premiums.
“The landscape of healthcare has changed, and with the passage of the Affordable Care Act we have the opportunity to access and enroll in cost-effective health plans,” an official at the AIDS Insurance Continuation Program wrote in a letter to Smith and other AICP beneficiaries.
But it is not clear that ACA insurance plans will be cheaper — or even affordable — for those with HIV and AIDS, according to patient advocates."
John Murawski and Ann Doss Helms, Raleigh News and Observer
"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."
The Associated Press
"Call it drugs for the departed: A quirky bureaucratic rule led Medicare’s prescription drug program to pay for costly medications even after the patients were dead.
That head-scratching policy is now getting a second look.
A report released Friday by the Health and Human Services Department’s inspector general said the Medicare rule allows payment for prescriptions filled up to 32 days after a patient’s death — at odds with the program’s basic principles, not to mention common sense."
David Boucher, The Tennesseean
"Plans to find a way to expand Medicaid eligibility for Tennessee residents aren’t moving as quickly as expected, Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday morning.
The governor said he continues to work with federal health officials to find a solution that will work, but it’s taking longer than he had hoped.
“I would have hoped we would have made more progress by now, after the meeting we had up there five or six weeks ago,” Haslam said Tuesday morning after speaking at an education conference in Nashville."
Julian Hattem, The Hill
"The House Science Committee has issued a subpoena for former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park over his role in developing HealthCare.gov.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued the subpoena for the Obama administration’s former top tech advisor, demanding that he testify about his oversight of the ObamaCare website, including its security protocols.
The subpoena comes after Park’s previous refusals to testify and his recent cancellation of a meeting with House lawmakers after it became clear that the briefing would be public, the committee said."
Kelly Gilblom and Caroline Chen, Bloomberg
"U.S. small businesses are dropping health insurance for their workers, as Obamacare lets them send employees to new marketplaces where they can often get subsidies from the government to buy coverage.
WellPoint Inc. (WLP)’s small business insurance products lost 300,000 people this year, the company said today. Business owners are dropping coverage they previously bought through WellPoint and other insurers, and instead sending employees to shop for it on the government exchanges created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare."
Greg Stohr, Bloomberg
"The fate of President Barack Obama’s health-care law is again in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Two years after upholding the law by a single vote, the justices are weighing whether to hear a Republican-backed appeal that would block people in 36 states from getting tax subsidies to buy insurance. The justices are scheduled to discuss the matter tomorrow, with an announcement coming as soon as Nov. 3.
The tax credits have implications well beyond the 4.6 million people who receive them in those states. A high court decision against the administration would have ripple effects, undercutting other parts of the Affordable Care Act and potentially destabilizing insurance markets across the nation."
Lisa Schencker, Modern Healthcare
"A federal judge in Florida on Tuesday jumped into the latest round in the legal wrangling over a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provision involving birth-control coverage and how it applies to religious institutions.
U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. temporarily blocked the federal government from enforcing on a Roman Catholic college a new workaround HHS had developed on the thorny issue."
Niels Lesniewski, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans won’t be able to repeal Obamacare anytime soon.
Tempering the expectations of conservatives a week before the elections that could install him as the first Republican majority leader in eight years, the Kentucky Republican said in a Fox News interview Tuesday that a repeal of the health care law simply wasn’t in the cards for now."
Ben Howe, The Daily Signal
"Get ready to be inundated with a fresh round of Obamacare propaganda. President Obama’s health care law will be back in the news next month when open enrollment begins Nov. 15. The government is already gearing up to recruit more enrollees.
But based on what we know already, the Affordable Care Act isn’t panning out exactly as expected. That’s because the vast majority—an estimated 71 percent—of people who gained coverage under Obamacare between January and June did so by qualifying under Medicaid’s loosened eligibility requirements."