A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Medicare"

PolitiFact: Medicare, that favorite campaign attack line

Tampa Bay Times Politifact
Mon, 2014-09-15
"When it comes to claims about Medicare, some political talking points just never die. In Iowa and Virginia, Republicans have accused Democrats of cutting Medicare to pay for Obamacare. In Florida, a Republican was slammed for ending the Medicare "guarantee." Other Medicare-related attacks have been deployed in Arkansas and Kentucky Senate races. The point of all the attacks is to convince midterm voters that one side or the other won't protect the program. Take this one, used in a recent ad aired by the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the hotly contested Iowa Senate race between Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley and Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst: "Bruce Braley voted to cut $700 billion from Medicare to support Obamacare," the ad says. "That's just not fair. We paid in. We paid for it. That should be there for us.""

Obamacare Can’t Take Credit for Slower Health Spending Growth

Alyene Senger
Daily Signal
Fri, 2014-09-12
"Some of Obamacare’s big supporters say the new law has already contributed to decreases in the rate of growth of health spending. But a new report from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of the Actuary says the rate slowed because of a slow economic recovery, increased cost-sharing for those enrolled in private plans and sequestration. Indeed, the report does not even mention Obamacare when assessing the situation. “The recent period is marked by a four-year historically low rate of health spending growth, which is primarily attributable to the sluggish economic recovery and constrained state and local government budgets following the 2007-09 recession,” the report states."

With Medicaid expansion blocked, McAuliffe unveils modest plan to insure more Virginians

Laura Vozzella and Jenna Portnoy, The Washington Post
Wed, 2014-09-10
"RICHMOND — Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who vowed in June to defy the Republican-controlled legislature and expand healthcare to 400,000 uninsured Virginians, unveiled a much more modest plan Monday after being thwarted by federal rules and a last-minute change to state budget language. McAuliffe outlined measures to provide health insurance to as many as 25,000 Virginians, just a fraction of those he had hoped to cover by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The biggest change, covering 20,000 people with severe mental illness, will need funding approval from the General Assembly to continue past the current fiscal year. McAuliffe also offered proposals to improve care for people already in Medicaid and boost outreach efforts to those who qualify but are not enrolled."

Rural Enrollment Presents Continuing Health Law Challenges

Shefali Luthra
Kaiser Health News
Mon, 2014-09-08
"Americans living in rural areas will be a key target as states and nonprofit groups strategize how to enroll more people in health law insurance plans this fall. Though millions of people signed up for private insurance or Medicaid in the first year of the Affordable Care Act, millions of others did not. Many live in rural areas where people “face more barriers,” said Laurie Martin, a RAND Corp. senior policy researcher. Brock Slabach, a senior vice president at the National Rural Health Association, said “the feds are particularly concerned about this.” Distance is one problem: Residents have to travel farther to get face-to-face assistance from the so-called navigators and assisters hired to help consumers figure out the process.

McAuliffe to announce health care plans Today

The Associated Press
Mon, 2014-09-08
"RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is set to unveil his plan to increase health care coverage for the state’s poor. The Democratic governor will speak publicly Monday on his plans for health care expansion. The governor unsuccessfully tried to persuade Republican lawmakers to expand Medicaid during this year’s legislative session. The impasse led to a protracted stalemate over the state budget that ended with a GOP victory."

Former Medicaid recipients get special enrollment period for federal exchange

Scott Bauer
The Associated Press
Sat, 2014-09-06
"MADISON, Wis. -- Nearly 26,000 adults who lost Medicaid coverage through Wisconsin's BadgerCare Plus program after being kicked off earlier this year will have more time to sign up for private subsidized insurance, the federal government announced Thursday. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it was establishing a special enrollment period through Nov. 2 for those people to sign up under the federal exchange created under the health overhaul law. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services estimates that about 25,800 out of 63,000 adults who lost that coverage had yet to sign up for subsidized insurance plans under the federal law. They lost coverage after Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature tightened income eligibility for the state's Medicaid coverage from 200 percent of poverty to 100 percent. That made the income cutoff for coverage $11,670 for an individual and $23,850 for a family of four."

CMS offers to pay part of contested inpatient claims

Anne Zieger, Healthcare Dive
Thu, 2014-09-04
"Dive Brief: •In an effort to reduce the backlog of contested Medicare claims, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has offered to pay hospitals 68% of what they say they are owed for short-term inpatient stays. •The system of hearings on challenged claims has been on hold since December, when the HHS Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals temporarily suspended most new requests for administrative law judge hearings on payment denials by recovery audit contractors. •Hospitals will have 60 days to decide whether to accept CMS' offer, which does not apply to any short-term hospital admission that occurred after October 1, 2013."

Maine Rolls Back Health Coverage Even As Many States Expand It

Roni Caryn Rabin
Kaiser Health News
Thu, 2014-09-04
"NORTHPORT, Maine – By the time Laura Tasheiko discovered the lump in her left breast, it was larger than a grape. Tasheiko, 61, an artist who makes a living selling oil paintings of Maine’s snowy woods, lighthouses and rocky coastline, was terrified: She had no health insurance and little cash to spare. Laura Tasheiko, 61, sits in her home in Northport, Maine (Photo by Joel Page for USA TODAY). But that was nearly six years ago, and the state Medicaid program was generous then. Tasheiko was eligible because of her modest income, and MaineCare, as it is called, paid for all of her treatment, including the surgery, an $18,000 drug to treat nerve damage that made it impossible to hold a paintbrush, physical therapy and continuing checkups. But while much of America saw an expansion of coverage this year, low-income Maine residents like Tasheiko lost benefits. On Jan.

Ky. GOP House leaders target federal health care

Bruce Schreiner
Associated Press
Wed, 2014-09-03
"Republicans vying to wrest the Kentucky House from Democratic control for the first time in nearly a century promised Tuesday to try to repeal the state's Medicaid expansion and rein in other parts of the federal health care overhaul. House Republican leaders made stops in western Kentucky as part of a multi-day tour to promote their legislative agenda, called the "Handshake with Kentucky." They said they would push for legislation prohibiting mandatory participation in a workplace union and for a revamped state tax code and creation of medical expert panels to review proposed medical malpractice claims before they could be pursued in court. "If the people of Kentucky entrust us with the majority, we are committing to immediately begin debate with the intention of passing each of these pieces of legislation," House GOP Floor Leader Jeff Hoover said. State Democratic Party Chairman Dan Logsdon called them "warmed over" ideas repackaged to get Republicans to the polls. "It's not lea

Gov. Herbert pushing for Medicaid work requirement tossed from Pennsylvania plan

Lisa Riley Roche, Deseret News
Wed, 2014-09-03
"Utah Gov. Gary Herbert isn't backing down from insisting on a work requirement in his Healthy Utah alternative to Medicaid expansion, even though Pennsylvania's governor dropped the same mandate to win federal approval. "We're always keeping an eye on what's happening in other states that are in a similar situation. That said, we're not always reactive," Herbert spokesman Marty Carpenter said Tuesday. "It's still a very important element of the deal to the governor." Last week, the Obama administration announced it had signed off on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's plan to use the money available under the Affordable Care Act to provide health care coverage to low-income uninsured residents. Corbett's Healthy PA plan is close to what fellow Republican Herbert has proposed, except that the Pennsylvania governor dropped a requirement that able-bodied recipients look for a job."

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