A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Quality/Access"

Federal judge blocks new HHS workaround for birth-control coverage

Lisa Schencker, Modern Healthcare
Thu, 2014-10-30
"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."

Nearly 1/4 of doctors may opt out of Obamacare exchanges in 2015

Jazz Shaw
Hot Air
Thu, 2014-10-30
"Do you suppose any of the 2014 candidates will find time in the closing week to talk about Obamacare again, in the midst of all the other slow rolling disasters? (Aside from the occasional Root and Branch repeal call, that is.) If they do, they might want to mention a new study from the Medical Group Management Association which has some rather depressing figures in terms of medical services availability next year for participants. Barbara Boland has the story. Over 214,000 doctors won’t participate in the new plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA,) analysis of a new survey by Medical Group Management Association shows. That number of 214,524, estimated by American Action Forum, is through May 2014, but appears to be growing due to plans that force doctors to take on burdensome costs.

Want To Fix The "Doc Fix"? Experiment!

Yevgeniy Feyman
Forbes
Thu, 2014-10-30
"For health policy wonks, the end of the year isn’t just the holiday season. With the falling temperatures will come a renewed “doc fix” debate, as Congress deliberates on ways to avoid a scheduled double-digit (24 percent last year) cut in Medicare’s physician payments. And avoid it they will. As health economist Austin Frakt put bluntly: “Good luck getting physicians to keep Medicare patients if the payments are suddenly cut 24 percent.”"

This Democratic 'reform' would make Obamacare more expensive. Bad idea.

Michael Hiltzik
Los Angeles Times
Thu, 2014-10-30
"A caucus of seven nervous Democratic senators, led by Mark Begich of Alaska, has been pushing a plan to "reform" the Affordable Care Act by allowing insurers to offer an even skimpier insurance plan than the skimpiest permitted now. . The idea of their "Expanded Consumer Choice Act" is to create a new "copper" tier of health plan permitted in the individual and small-business markets under the ACA. The copper tier would undercut the current tiers of health plans by covering only 50% of expected health costs. Under the current law, the stingiest "bronze" tier covers 60% of costs."

House subpoenas former HealthCare.gov official

Julian Hattem, The Hill
Thu, 2014-10-30
"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."

The Un-Affordable Care Act

Ashley Pratte
Townhall
Wed, 2014-10-29
"Remember Obama’s now “infamous” line, “If you like your healthcare, you can keep it?” If it only had been true, because many Americans—especially our nation’s young people are suffering as a result of the President’s signature legislation. President Obama told us that the average American would see their health insurance premiums lowered; yet the opposite is true. A recent study shows that health insurance premiums have drastically skyrocketed among 23-year-olds, especially males who have seen a 78 percent price increase. Women have seen close to a 45 percent increase."

Choosing a Health Plan Is Hard, Even for a Health Economist

Austin Frakt
NY Times
Wed, 2014-10-29
"A confession: I am a health economist, and I cannot rationally select a health plan. I buy health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, or F.E.H.B.P., which is very similar to the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges. Like the exchanges, the federal employee program runs an online marketplace with a choice of plans, which vary by region."

Some doctors wary of taking insurance exchange patients

Jayne O'Donnell
USA Today
Wed, 2014-10-29
"Now that many people finally have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges, some are running into a new problem: They can't find a doctor who will take them as patients. Because these exchange plans often have lower reimbursement rates, some doctors are limiting how many new patients they take with these policies, physician groups and other experts say."

Soft launch for O-Care's business exchange

Elise Viebeck, The Hill
Wed, 2014-10-29
"Businesses in five states received early access Monday to select features at ObamaCare's online health insurance marketplace for small employers. The soft launch for the SHOP system is an effort by federal health officials to troubleshoot any problems at the exchange before Nov. 15, when it will open to all states that did not elect to build their marketplaces. Small businesses in New Jersey, Delaware, Illinois, Ohio and Missouri can establish accounts, complete an application, receive a determination of eligibility and upload an employee roster, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said. In November, employers will also be able to browse plans and pricing."

Casting light on a simpler pricing system

Merrill Goozner, Modern Healthcare
Wed, 2014-10-29
"Remember the excitement surrounding Castlight Health's initial public offering? Last March, the San Francisco startup's stock price soared when investors bought into the idea that online price transparency would transform the healthcare marketplace. Castlight's business plan calls for offering software through insurers and employers that allows people to comparison shop for healthcare services. With employers rapidly moving their workers into high-deductible plans, patients looking to lower their out-of-pocket expenses could use Castlight to find low-cost providers."

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