A project of the Galen Institute
The Associated Press
Mon, 2014-08-25
"Health insurance companies in California may not refuse to cover the cost of abortions, state insurance officials have ruled in a reversal of policy stemming from the decision by two Catholic universities to drop elective abortions from their employee health plans. Although the federal Affordable Care Act does not compel employers to provide workers with health insurance that includes abortion coverage, the director of California's Department of Managed Health Care said in a letter to seven insurance companies on Friday that the state Constitution and a 1975 state law prohibits them from selling group plans that exclude the procedure. The law in question requires such plans to encompass all "medically necessary" care. "Abortion is a basic health care service," department director Michelle Rouillard wrote in the letter.
Michelle Andrews, Kaiser Health News
Sat, 2014-08-23
"How much leeway do employers and insurers have in deciding whether they’ll cover contraceptives without charge and in determining which methods make the cut? Not much, as it turns out, but that hasn’t stopped some from trying. Kaiser Health News readers still write in regularly about this. In one of those messages recently, a woman said her insurer denied free coverage for the NuvaRing. This small plastic device, which is inserted into the vagina, works for three weeks at a time by releasing hormones similar to those used by birth control pills. She said her insurer told her she would be responsible for her contraceptive expenses unless she chooses an oral generic birth control pill.
Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico
Sat, 2014-08-23
"Thirty-four House Democrats bucked their party to vote against Obamacare when it passed in 2010. Today, only four of those lawmakers are still in office and running for reelection this fall. The dramatic downsize underscores not only how consequential the health care law vote was but how quickly moderate Democrats have been eliminated on Capitol Hill. Even those who opposed the law had trouble surviving the highly partisan atmosphere it helped to create. With the divide only more pronounced in 2014, the final four are trying to avoid a similar fate. Obamacare remains a volatile issue, and all still tout their “no” vote. Yet their vulnerability also reflects a more daunting and long-lasting problem for lawmakers who would occupy the middle ground. “I don’t think you can just look at the Affordable Care Act — you have to look at the broader picture,” said Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota. “You just don’t have many people like myself left.
Gordon Wittenmyer, Chicago Sun-Times
Sat, 2014-08-23
"Thanks a lot, Obama. Add the Affordable Care Act – or, specifically, the big-business Cubs’ response to it – to the causes behind Tuesday night’s tarp fiasco and rare successful protest by the San Francisco Giants. The staffing issues that hamstrung the grounds crew Tuesday during a mad dash with the tarp under a sudden rainstorm were created in part by a wide-ranging reorganization last winter of game-day personnel, job descriptions and work limits designed to keep the seasonal workers – including much of the grounds crew – under 130 hours per month, according to numerous sources with direct knowledge. That’s the full-time worker definition under “Obamacare,” which requires employer-provided healthcare benefits for “big businesses” such as a major league team. Cheap,” said one of three high-ranking officials from other organizations the Sun-Times contacted Thursday – all of whom fall below the Cubs on Forbes’ annual revenues list."
Matt Sepic, Minnesota Public Radio
Sat, 2014-08-23
"A clinic in Minneapolis that provides medical care to thousands of uninsured and underinsured people is closing its doors next week, in large part because more people are obtaining health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and seeking care elsewhere. When the Neighborhood Involvement Program shuts down Aug. 29, the 3,000 patients that visit its Uptown clinic will be without a medical provider. But its dental and mental health clinics, as well as its senior and youth programs, will continue operating in Uptown. But managers of the NIP Community Medical Clinic say many people still need the low-cost care and customer service they provide. Medical bills at the clinic on Hennepin Avenue are as easy to understand as a restaurant check, with a price list like a menu: $10 for a strep test, for example, and $80 for a basic doctor visit. If a patient's monthly income is less than $1,900 dollars, those fees drop considerably."
Benjamin Goad, The Hill
Fri, 2014-08-22
"The Obama administration is moving forward with regulations meant to enable certain businesses and charities to steer clear of the Affordable Care Act’s so-called birth control mandate, while ensuring free contraception coverage for women under the law. The action amounts to an administrative workaround in response to a slew of legal challenges from groups citing religious objections to portions of the mandate. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that closely held religious companies cannot be compelled to offer their employees certain forms of birth control. Under the proposal, the government would step in and cover the law’s contraception requirements in instances where employers announce their religious objections in writing. The organizations would not have to play any direct role in providing for contraceptive coverage to which they object, according to a final interim rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid."
Ferdous Al-Faruque, The Hill
Thu, 2014-08-21
"Almost 7 million people can sign up for health plans under ObamaCare even before the new enrollment period begins in November, according to an advocacy group. Enroll America, an ObamaCare enrollment group with close ties to the White House, said Wednesday that millions of adults are eligible to sign up for insurance before Nov. 15 because they have moved, gotten married, had children, lost insurance or become American citizens."
Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
Thu, 2014-08-21
"A new poll shows 69% of California voters back Proposition 45, a November ballot measure giving the insurance commissioner the power to stop excessive health-insurance rate increases.. The Field Poll released Wednesday indicates broad support statewide for Proposition 45 ahead of what's expected to be a costly and contentious battle between consumer groups and health insurers. Overall, 69% of registered voters said they favored the health-rate regulation measure while 16% opposed it and 15% were undecided heading into the Nov. 4 election. The poll found that a majority of registered Democrats and Republicans in the state supported Proposition 45. Among Democrats, 75% of those surveyed offered support while 58% of Republicans also favored it."
Brianna Ehley, Fiscal Times
Wed, 2014-08-20
"he Internal Revenue Service is struggling to collect a new tax that’s critical to financing the president’s health care law – and auditors say the IRS’s flawed collecting process is allowing it to raise only three-quarters or so of the revenue that was originally expected.A new report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) flags the enforcement of the medical device excise tax, one of a handful of new taxes imposed under the Affordable Care Act.Related: Obamacare’s Next Challenge: IRS VerificationThe Affordable Care Act’s excise tax – equal to 2.3 percent of the sales price of medical devices – took effect in January and is estimated to bring in about $20 billion through 2019, the Joint Committee on Taxation has said.Auditors say the IRS had originally estimated that the tax would bring in about $1.2 billion in the second and third quarters of 2013 – but it’s only received $913.4 million."
Jenna Johnson, Washington Post
Wed, 2014-08-20
"Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration is confident that its rapid rebuilding of the state’s health insurance Web site is progressing as planned and will be ready before the next enrollment period begins in November. The state’s first attempt at launching a site was riddled with technical problems that made it much more difficult for residents to sign up for health insurance made possible by the Affordable Care Act. Maryland is now rebuilding the site using technology developed by Connecticut. The fix is estimated to cost at least $40 million, if not much more."

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