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The Hill
04/20/15
The fight over ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion escalated Monday, as Texas’s Republican governor backed a lawsuit from Florida fighting the expansion effort. Last week, Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott announced he would sue the Obama administration over what he calls an effort to force the state to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare. Texas’s Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday announced his support for the lawsuit. "When the federal government exceeds its constitutional authority, the States must take action,” Abbott said in a statement. “[I] commend Governor Rick Scott’s decision to take legal action to protect these important constitutional principles.” At issue is the Obama administration move to link Florida’s rejection of a Medicaid expansion to separate federal funding that helps hospitals in the state care for the uninsured.
The Hill
04/17/15
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) announced Thursday he is suing the Obama administration as part of an escalating dispute over whether the state will expand Medicaid under ObamaCare. “It is appalling that President Obama would cut off federal healthcare dollars to Florida in an effort to force our state further into ObamaCare,” Scott said in a statement Thursday announcing the lawsuit. Scott is objecting to the Obama administration linking the extension of separate federal money to help hospitals in the state care for the uninsured, known as the Low Income Pool (LIP), to the state’s decision on whether to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The Obama administration says the LIP funding will not be renewed in its current form after June. It says that the future of the program is "linked" to the decision to expand Medicaid, though it stops short of saying it is entirely dependent on it.
The Hill
04/17/15
It has been five years since the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare, was signed into law. The disastrous rollout of the federal marketplace website, Healthcare.gov, is well-known. According to a Bloomberg Government analysis released in September 2014, the cost of Healthcare.gov was more than $2 billion, more than twice the Obama administration's estimates. Appropriately, the federal marketplace has been a subject of numerous congressional hearings. But state-run websites have also squandered hundreds of millions of federal tax dollars. While the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been investigating some of the problems with state-run websites, much more can and should be done. Every House and Senate committee that oversees healthcare issues should carefully examine the roles played by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), state officials and contractors in the design and implementation of the websites.
Sparks Tribune
04/15/15
Thumbs Down, way down, to everyone responsible for the fiasco known as Nevada Health Link, the state exchange for purchasing health insurance online. As the deadline to file tax returns arrives tomorrow, we suspect plenty of taxpayers have discovered that Nevada Health Link and Xerox, hired to run the online system but since fired, created an accounting nightmare and cost some exchange customers a chunk of change. What’s worse, those responsible for this nightmare don’t appear to care one bit about the mess they created. In accordance with the Affordable Care Act, those who purchased insurance through the exchange in 2014 have to report on their tax returns what they paid for premiums and how much they received in tax credits or subsidies for that coverage. The figures are reported in a federal tax form known as a 1095-A. The form is prepared and distributed by the exchange.
SF Gate
04/13/15
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii officials are scrambling to provide information to the federal government to satisfy concerns about financial problems at the state's health exchange. All state-run insurance exchanges that are part of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act are supposed to be financially sustainable this year. But without an infusion of cash, the Hawaii Health Connector won't have enough money for its operations. The Legislature hasn't yet approved the organization's request to issue $28 million in bonds or loans. Without a solid path to sustainability in place, the federal government is telling the state it may have to eventually move some technology functions to a federal system, said Jeff Kissel, CEO of the Hawaii Health Connector. "This is a contingency that is being imposed on any state-based exchange that doesn't have a funded sustainability plan in play," Kissel said.
Reuters
03/31/15
(Reuters) - Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed a law on Monday that requires doctors to tell women that drug-induced abortions can be reversed and that blocks the purchase of insurance on the Obamacare health exchange that includes abortion coverage. The requirement that patients be told that the effects of abortion pills may be undone by using high doses of a hormone was the most hotly contested provision during legislative debate. Supporters said there was ample evidence the reversal was possible if acted upon quickly, although they provided no peer-reviewed studies in support of their position.
McKenna Long & Aldridge
03/30/15
Breaking with normal tradition, we’re going to open this week’s update with national trends before moving into updates at the federal and state levels. This week there was an interesting report from the Kaiser Family Foundation that estimated that 50 percent of households receiving financial assistance to purchase private health insurance on the Marketplaces will have to return a portion of that subsidy when they file their tax returns as part of the tax credit reconciliation process. Repayments will, in most cases, be deducted from an enrollee’s refund check and the Kaiser report estimates that the average repayment will be $794. Roughly seven percent of enrollees could owe a repayment of between $2,000 and $5,000 and two percent could have to repay more than $5,000. A slightly smaller percentage of households, 45 percent, are estimated to receive additional money with their tax refund because they received underpayments in tax credits, with the average refund estimated to be $773.
The Brookings Institute
03/24/15
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), like President Clinton’s health plan in the 1990s, made the mistake of trying to achieve coast-to-coast health care coverage with a system that essentially looks the same everywhere. That approach was always going to be a challenge. US health care is an enormous and complex economy in its own right. If the US health system were a separate national economy, for instance, it would be the fifth largest economy in the world – larger than the entire economy of France or of Britain. The idea that a single piece of legislation could successfully reorganize the world’s fifth largest economy was a fantasy, especially when the bill had to go through the congressional sausage-making machine. It’s true that the ACA gave Americans a choice of plan on federal or state-run exchanges. But the ACA still sought a template for insurance rules, benefits and other structural features that would be the same from Vermont to Texas and Florida to Alaska. That was unwise.
Kaiser Health News
11/23/14
"The latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that just prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment beginning this past Saturday, the uninsured remained largely unaware of its start, although about half of the uninsured expect to get health insurance in the next few months and seven in ten say that health insurance is something they need. Opinion on the law remains similar to past months – 46 percent say they have an unfavorable view of the law and 37 percent say they have a favorable view. Americans are divided as to what Congress should do next on the law – 29 percent say they support repealing the law entirely, 17 percent say they support scaling back what the law does, 20 percent support moving ahead with the law as is, and 22 percent feel that the law should be expanded. But like opinion on the law overall, partisans fall on opposite ends of the spectrum.

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