A project of the Galen Institute
Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press
Mon, 2014-08-25
"Taxes? Who wants to think about taxes around Labor Day? But if you count on your tax refund and you're one of the millions getting tax credits to help pay health insurance premiums under President Barack Obama's law, it's not too early. Here's why: If your income for 2014 is going to be higher than you estimated when you applied for health insurance, then complex connections between the health law and taxes can reduce or even eliminate your tax refund next year. Maybe you're collecting more commissions in an improving economy. Or your spouse got a better job. It could trigger an unwelcome surprise. The danger is that as your income grows, you don't qualify for as much of a tax credit.
Jonathan J. Cooper, The Associated Press
Mon, 2014-08-25
"The state of Oregon filed a lawsuit Friday against Oracle America Inc. and several of its executives over the technology company's role in creating the troubled website for the state's online health insurance exchange. The lawsuit, filed in Marion County Circuit Court in Salem, alleges that Oracle officials lied, breached contracts and engaged in "a pattern of racketeering activity." Oracle was the largest technology contractor working on Oregon's health insurance enrollment website, known as Cover Oregon. The public website was never launched, forcing the state to hire hundreds of workers to process paper applications by hand. The website's failure became a political problem to Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, who is running for re-election. A related project to modernize functions for social services also was scrapped. The state paid Oracle $240 million for both projects."
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."

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