A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Federal Budget/Deficit"

Brady Questions HHS Authority To Put Forward Hospital Appeals Settlement

http://insidehealthpolicy.com/brady-questions-hhs-authority-put-forward-hospital-appeals-settlement
Tue, 2014-09-16
"House Ways & Means health subcommittee chair Kevin Brady (R-TX) questions HHS' authority to settle hospitals' appeals of denied inpatient claims and is urging HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell to retract what he views as an "ill thought" settlement process. Brady wants Burwell to work with lawmakers to come up with a different "fair, transparent and conclusive settlement process." Brady wrote to Burwell Tuesday (Sept. 16) that he is dismayed by HHS' reluctance to work with the committee on an equitable settlement process that is fully legal, adding that the "lack of engagement makes it challenging for the Congress to solve the current appeals problems and prevent similar problems in the future." CMS announced late last month (Aug. 29) that it will pay hospitals 68 percent of denied inpatient status claims in the appeals queue if hospitals take them out of the backlogged appeals process.

How states have gamed Medicaid for hundreds of millions of dollars

Josh Hicks, Washington Post
Mon, 2014-09-15
"States have developed various ways to avoid paying their fair share of Medicaid expenses over the years, in some cases costing the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars in extra funding for the program. The Department of Health and Human Services, which runs Medicaid through its Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), has known about the issue for more than a decade, but states still find ways to game the system. The agency’s inspector general this year listed the issue among 25 key problems the agency needs to address."

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.""

A GOP Senate could take on Obamacare — but not repeal it

Jennifer Haberkorn
Politico
Mon, 2014-09-15
"A Republican-controlled Senate cannot repeal Obamacare, no matter how fervently GOP candidates pledge to do so on the campaign trail this fall. But if they do win the majority, Senate Republicans could inflict deep and lasting damage to the president’s signature law. Republicans are quick to say they are not yet measuring the proverbial drapes. But they are taking the political measurements of repealing large parts of the health law, considering which pieces could be repealed with Democratic support, and how to leverage the annual appropriations and budget process to eliminate funding or large pieces of the law. Initial targets are likely to include the medical device tax, the individual and employer mandates, the 30-hour workweek to qualify for coverage, and spending on a preventive health fund that Republicans call a slush fund."

How Does Where You Work Affect Your Contraceptive Coverage?

Kaiser Health News
Fri, 2014-09-12
"The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires most private health insurance plans to provide coverage for a broad range of preventive services including Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved prescription contraceptives and services for women. Since the implementation of this provision in 2012, some nonprofit and for profit employers with religious objections to contraceptives have brought legal challenges to this rule. For many women today, their contraceptive coverage depends on their employer or when they purchased their individual insurance plan."

Obamacare Can’t Take Credit for Slower Health Spending Growth

Alyene Senger
The Daily Signal
Thu, 2014-09-11
"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 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."

House, Senate debate measures just to make points

The Associated Press
The Washington Post
Thu, 2014-09-11
"On both ends of the Capitol, the parties controlling Congress are happily showcasing futility. Less than two months before pivotal congressional elections, Republicans muscled legislation through the House Thursday letting insurers continue selling health coverage that falls short of standards required by President Barack Obama’s health care law. The measure passed on a 247-167 vote but is sure to die in the Democratic-run Senate, and the White House promised a veto in any event. Even so, the vote let Republicans highlight their repeated efforts to debilitate the health care law.

Healthcare Expert: Obamacare's 'Quiet Summer' is About to End in a Big Way

Guy Benson
Townhall.com
Wed, 2014-09-10
"Dan wrote up yesterday's Washington Post/ABC News poll, which was jammed with crooked numbers for President Obama. Most striking was the (30/55) majority deeming Obama's presidency "a failure," along with the prevailing opinion that he's divided the country, and his unsightly leadership score. The survey also included a dreadful (38/56) presidential approval rating on the implementation of Obamacare; support for the law itself was also underwater, with an outright majority opposed, despite this polling series' silly question wording that omits any mention of 'Obamacare' or the 'Affordable Care Act.' A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll produces similar findings, with support for the president's signature domestic accomplishment swamped by opposition. It's been this way for years, across hundreds of national surveys. One major reason for the enduring opposition is that the law has violated virtually every major promise erected in dishonest ideologues' sales pitch.

Healthcare Expert: Obamacare's 'Quiet Summer' is About to End in a Big Way

Guy Benson
Townhall.com
Wed, 2014-09-10
" Dan wrote up yesterday's Washington Post/ABC News poll, which was jammed with crooked numbers for President Obama. Most striking was the (30/55) majority deeming Obama's presidency "a failure," along with the prevailing opinion that he's divided the country, and his unsightly leadership score. The survey also included a dreadful (38/56) presidential approval rating on the implementation of Obamacare; support for the law itself was also underwater, with an outright majority opposed, despite this polling series' silly question wording that omits any mention of 'Obamacare' or the 'Affordable Care Act.' A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll produces similar findings, with support for the president's signature domestic accomplishment swamped by opposition. It's been this way for years, across hundreds of national surveys. One major reason for the enduring opposition is that the law has violated virtually every major promise erected in dishonest ideologues' sales pitch.

The Reality Behind the Latest Pro-Obamacare Spin

James C. Capretta
Weekly Standard
Wed, 2014-09-10
"Obamacare’s defenders are busy declaring victory again. Ezra Klein is touting a new survey of Obamacare benchmark premiums in some regions of the country as evidence that the law is defying the predictions of critics and working to cut costs rather than increase them. But, as Bob Laszewski notes, the truth about Obamacare implementation is far less rosy than the latest round of cheerleading would indicate. For starters, the federal and state websites remain largely a dysfunctional mess, although the media isn’t really covering the story anymore. The supposed “fix” that allowed millions of consumers to sign up with plans on the exchanges from December through April really wasn’t much of a fix after all. It was a workaround, allowing consumers to access large federal subsidies with minimal verification."

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