Promising to build on the Affordable Care Act, a coalition of influential interest groups announced a new legislative push Thursday for a patchwork of measures that aim to make healthcare in California cheaper and more accessible.
Advocates touted a slate of proposals, including expanding Medi-Cal access to adults without legal status and increasing subsidies to those buying insurance on the Covered California exchange, as priorities for this legislative session.
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After spending most of 2017 defending the Affordable Care Act from GOP attacks, a growing number of Democrats believe the law’s reliance on private insurance markets won’t be enough and the party should focus instead on expanding popular government programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
The emerging strategy — which is gaining traction among liberal policy experts, activists and Democratic politicians — is less sweeping than the “single-payer” government-run system that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) made a cornerstone of his 2016 presidential campaign.
These Democrats see the expansion of existing public programs as a more pragmatic and politically viable way to help Americans struggling with rising costs and correct the shortcomings of the 2010 law, often called Obamacare.
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Whether it was bracing for a possible repeal of Obamacare or pondering an ambitious single-payer program that would overhaul how California provided medical care to its residents, the issue of healthcare kept politicians and policy wonks busy in 2017.
That’s not likely to let up in 2018.
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Despite President Trump’s mixed messages, key senators unveiled their bipartisan plan Thursday to stabilize health insurance markets, drawing widespread support.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Health committee, and the top Democrat on the panel, and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington jointly announced 22 bipartisan co-sponsors to their effort, more than typical for a bill.
Alexander noted that Trump, too, continued to encourage him to push forward. The president called the senator twice Wednesday, even after speaking critically of the plan.
“I want to thank him for his encouragement,” Alexander said.
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Given by a drop-off in enrollment after President Trump took office, total sign-ups for Obamacare health plans fell this year for the first time, a new report released by the Trump administration Wednesday indicates.
A total of 12.2 million Americans enrolled in a plan through one of the healthcare law’s marketplaces during the 2017 open enrollment period, according to the report, which provides a final tally of this year’s signups.
The 2017 final figure, which updates a preliminary report released last month, was down from 12.7 million in 2016.
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Under pressure to stabilize wobbly insurance markets nationwide, the Obama administration is making a new push to sign up Americans for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, aiming to increase enrollment by about 1 million in 2017. With insurers canceling health plans or raising premiums by double digits in many parts of the country, that represents only modest enrollment growth over 2016.
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Banning resident Jim Bailey and his wife went in recently for their annual physicals. They came away with hundreds of dollars in charges for co-pays and tests.
Bailey, 78, told me that he feels duped.
“The Affordable Care Act dictates that all annual physicals be provided at no cost to the policyholders — no deductibles or co-pays,” he said. “But that wasn’t the case with us.”
Nor will it be the case with anyone else — even though many Americans believe otherwise.
“There’s nothing in the ACA that guarantees a free checkup,” said Bradley Herring, an associate professor of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins University. “It’s surprising how many people think it’s part of the law.”
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The Affordable Care Act continues to provide an opportunity for religious zealots to complain that someone, somewhere, might be doing something of which they disapprove. Another such case advancing through the courts is that of Missouri State Rep. Paul Wieland and his wife, Teresa, who assert that Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate tramples on their family’s religious rights even if they don’t make use of it.
St. Louis Federal Judge Jean Constance Hamilton thinks they may have a point. On Thursday she denied the government’s motion to throw out the case on summary judgment. Merely requiring individuals to buy an insurance policy that provides contraception could infringe on their religious conscience, she ruled in clearing the case for trial.
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The Journal of the American Medical Assn. recently published a very unusual article: a scientific study authored by a sitting president of the United States. That’s never happened before.
In a sense, it’s cool that President Obama cares enough about science to want to publish a paper in one of the world’s leading medical journals. But JAMA has set a bad precedent. The article, on healthcare reform in the United States, is problematic not only in its content but in the threat it poses to the integrity of scientific publishing.
It would be difficult, if not impossible, to find another paper in any scientific journal in which a politician was allowed to subjectively analyze his own policy and declare it a success. This is a textbook definition of conflict of interest.
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Most Americans enrolled in health plans through the Affordable Care Act are happy with their coverage. But consumers are increasingly concerned about their monthly premiums and deductibles, reflecting rising anxiety among all Americans about their medical and insurance bills, a new national survey found.
Nearly 6 in 10 working-age Americans who have a health plan through one of the marketplaces created by the law said they are satisfied with their monthly premiums, and just over half say they are satisfied with their deductibles.
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