A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "States"

Blue Cross mistakenly notifies 42,000 NC customers of incorrect rate increases

John Murawski and Ann Doss Helms, Raleigh News and Observer
Fri, 2014-10-31
"Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the state’s largest health insurer, said Thursday that about 42,000 customers around the state received insurance renewal letters with incorrect rates, some showing cost increases of more than 100 percent. The Chapel Hill company has been flooded with calls since Wednesday from irate customers who began receiving their renewal notices this week. Blue Cross officials soon realized the insurance rates were incorrectly transferred from the company’s database to the computer-generated renewal notices."

Obamacare May Mean High Drug Costs For Floridians With HIV

Nicholas Nehemas, Miami Herald
Fri, 2014-10-31
"When Tony Smith lost his job as a corporate paralegal two years ago, a state program stepped in to help him keep his health insurance — and the expensive drugs his life had depended on since his 2008 HIV diagnosis. Now Smith, 42, of Coral Springs, has been told he must sign up for coverage on Florida’s federally run insurance exchange or the state will stop helping him pay his premiums. “The landscape of healthcare has changed, and with the passage of the Affordable Care Act we have the opportunity to access and enroll in cost-effective health plans,” an official at the AIDS Insurance Continuation Program wrote in a letter to Smith and other AICP beneficiaries. But it is not clear that ACA insurance plans will be cheaper — or even affordable — for those with HIV and AIDS, according to patient advocates."

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."

Gov. Haslam: Little progress in Medicaid expansion plans

David Boucher, The Tennesseean
Thu, 2014-10-30
"Plans to find a way to expand Medicaid eligibility for Tennessee residents aren’t moving as quickly as expected, Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday morning. The governor said he continues to work with federal health officials to find a solution that will work, but it’s taking longer than he had hoped. “I would have hoped we would have made more progress by now, after the meeting we had up there five or six weeks ago,” Haslam said Tuesday morning after speaking at an education conference in Nashville."

Landrieu sticks to support for Obama's health law

Melinda Deslatte, Associated Press
Wed, 2014-10-29
"BATON ROUGE, La. — U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu has doubled down on her support for the federal health care law even as polls show the revamp remains unpopular in Louisiana and a new Republican attack ad launched Tuesday hits the Democratic incumbent again for her vote. The 30-second TV commercial by national conservative group Crossroads GPS, co-founded by GOP operative Karl Rove, says Landrieu's vote for President Barack Obama's signature initiative was a betrayal of Louisiana."

US sues NYC over Medicaid claims worth millions

The Associated Press
Wed, 2014-10-29
"NEW YORK — The federal government has sued New York City, saying it ripped off Medicaid for millions of dollars by submitting tens of thousands of false claims. A civil lawsuit seeking unspecified damages was filed Monday in Manhattan federal court. The lawsuit says the city and a computer company used computer programs to dodge a requirement that Medicaid be billed only after private insurance coverage is exhausted. The lawsuit says false diagnosis codes were submitted to Medicaid."

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."

Speculation swirls around what happens if federal subsidies go away

Lisa Schnecker, Modern Health Care
Wed, 2014-10-29
"New language in contracts between the CMS and insurers operating on HealthCare.gov is grabbing attention, with some calling it an admission by the government that it might lose upcoming court battles dealing with insurance subsidies on the health portal and others saying the new wording is just a practical precaution. The new language appears to allow insurers to stop offering their plans should federal premium subsidies disappear. A number of cases regarding the legality of the subsidies in states without their own exchanges are now working their way through the courts. The language says, “CMS acknowledges that (the insurer) has developed its products for the (federal exchange) based on the assumption that (advance payments of the premium tax credit) and (cost-sharing reductions) will be available to qualifying enrollees.

Who Says Obamacare Isn't A Major Factor in Midterms

Byron York
Townhall
Wed, 2014-10-29
"Some Democrats and their advocates in the press believe Obamacare, a year into implementation, is no longer much of a factor in the midterm elections. But no one has told Republican candidates, who are still pounding away at the Affordable Care Act on the stump. And no one has told voters, especially those in states with closely contested Senate races, who regularly place it among the top issues of the campaign. In Arkansas, Republican challenger Tom Cotton is pulling ahead of incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor partly on the strength of a relentless focus on Obamacare. Cotton's newest ad attacks Pryor over the law, as did two of Cotton's four previous ads."

Obamacare remains top issue in Georgia insurance commissioner’s race

By Nicholas Fouriezos, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Mon, 2014-10-27
"As Georgia’s insurance commissioner, Republican Ralph Hudgens rarely hesitated to voice his criticism of the health care law known as Obamacare. The incumbent continued that mantra Sunday even while caught in a political crossfire from his two lesser-known opponents. “I’ve said it’s going to limit choices, limit the number of doctors, and that premiums are going to increase,” Hudgens said Sunday at an Atlanta Press Club debate. “Those statements have been well legitimized by what has happened.” But some of his other statements put a bulls-eye on Hudgens."

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