First Edition: August 13, 2014
Today's headlines include reports that more than 300,000 people who obtained new insurance through the health law could lose it if they do not provide proof by Sept. 5 that their immigration or citizenship status makes them eligible for it.
Kaiser Health News: More Employers Limit Health Plan Networks But Seek To Preserve Quality, Says Adviser
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey talks with Dr. Robert Galvin, chief executive officer of Equity Healthcare, where he works with executives of nearly 50 companies that purchase health coverage for 300,000 people. Galvin says the 2010 Affordable Care Act has made employers more engaged in health benefits while encouraging their workers to be savvier health care consumers (Carey, 8/13). Read the interview.
The New York Times: Over 300,000 Must Prove Eligibility Or Lose Health Care
More than 300,000 people who bought subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act could lose it next month if they do not provide proof that they are living in the United States legally, the Obama administration said Tuesday (Goodnough, 8/12).
The Washington Post: Administration Warns Some Could Lose Health-Care Coverage On Federal Exchange
Federal health officials are warning hundreds of thousands of people who have bought health plans through the federal insurance exchange that their coverage will be cut off unless they quickly provide proof that their citizenship or immigration status makes them eligible to be insured through the new marketplace. The warnings, in letters being mailed this week to 310,000 people in the three dozen states that rely on the exchange, give the recipients until Sept. 5 to send copies of green cards, citizenship documents or other information showing that they qualify for the coverage. If they miss the deadline, their coverage will end on Sept. 30 (Goldstein, 8/12).
The Associated Press: Deadline To Clear Up Health Law Eligibility Near
The clock is ticking for hundreds of thousands of people who have unresolved issues affecting their coverage under the new health care law. The Obama administration said Tuesday that letters are going out to about 310,000 people whose citizenship or immigration details don’t match what the government has on file. These consumers need to send in their documentation by Sept. 5. Otherwise their coverage will end Sept. 30 (8/13).
The Wall Street Journal: Health Coverage To End Without Proof Of Citizenship Or Legal Residency
The Obama administration moved Tuesday to cut off health insurance for up to 310,000 people who signed up through the HealthCare.gov system unless they can provide documents in the next few weeks showing they are U.S. citizens or legal residents. Those individuals have until Sept. 5 to send in additional information that could confirm they are in the U.S. legally, a condition of using the online insurance exchanges to obtain coverage (Radnofsky, 8/12).
Politico: Immigration Status May Cost People Obamacare Coverage
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is sending letters this week to 310,000 people whose citizenship or immigration status is in question, saying they must send documents by Sept. 5 or they will lose their coverage at the end of that month. The individuals receiving those warning notices are a portion of the almost 1 million people with citizenship or immigration “data-matching” errors that CMS has been working to resolve since May, according to a release Tuesday (Norman, 8/12).
The Washington Post: States Spent Nearly $31 Billion On Employee Health Insurance Last Year
States paid nearly $31 billion to insure their employees last year, according to a new Pew Charitable Trusts study. The study offers a window into what is one of the largest sources of state health care spending, second only to Medicaid spending. On average, states spent $808 in premium payments per employee per month, Pew finds. But that number varied widely by state — in part due to factors policymakers can control, and in part to those they cannot (Chokshi, 8/12).
The Associated Press: US Budget Deficit Running 24.2 Percent Below 2013
CBO projects the deficit will fall to $469 billion in 2015 before starting to rise again, topping $1 trillion annually starting in 2023. Spending on the government’s major benefit programs, including Social Security and Medicare, will drive those increases as more baby boomers retire (8/12).
The Associated Press: Health Insurer Wellpoint Changes Name To Anthem
CEO Joseph Swedish says in a statement: “We believe it is important to call ourselves by the name that people know best — Anthem.” The name change comes as consumers increasingly shop for their own health benefits, in part due to the health care overhaul. The Indianapolis-based company operates plans in 14 states and primarily does business as Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield (8/12).
The Wall Street Journal: WellPoint Changes Its Name To Anthem
The change is the latest move by a health insurer aimed at promoting a more consumer-focused identity, as the industry sells more coverage directly to individuals rather than its traditional commercial audience of business owners and human-resource executives. The shift is occurring under the federal health law, which created insurance marketplaces in each state. Also, some employers are having their workers select coverage on similar exchanges operated by private companies (Wild Mathews, 8/12).
The Washington Post: Robin Williams’s Death Shows The Power Of Depression And The Impulsiveness Of Suicide
Many suicides are the result of undiagnosed or untreated depression, often masked by self-medicating behaviors such as alcohol and drug use. Though we don’t yet know the exact circumstances of Williams’s death, we do know that he long battled addictions to cocaine and alcohol and, according to his publicist, was struggling with “severe depression.” But unlike many people, Williams had the resources and the motivation to seek treatment, at least for his addictions. According to this report, he had undergone rehab at the famed Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center in Minnesota two months ago, and had sought treatment in 2006 when he began drinking again after 20 years of sobriety. How, then, do we explain the death of someone who appeared to recognize the danger he faced and was trying to address it? (Bernstein, Sun and Somashekhar, 8/12).
The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: A Better Understanding Of Mental Illness Hasn’t Reduced The Stigma Around It
The tragic news of Robin Williams's death by apparent suicide on Monday has again reignited a larger conversation about the need to eliminate the social stigma still surrounding depression and mental illness. It's a conversation that seems to keep resurfacing around tragic incidents over the past couple of years, so it's worth asking whether the stigma is at all getting smaller. Unfortunately, there aren't very many rigorous polls capturing American attitudes toward diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. There are some signs of changing attitudes, though (Millman, 8/12).
Los Angeles Times: WHO OKs Use Of Experimental Drugs For Ebola Patients In West Africa
A World Health Organization panel advised Tuesday that it was ethical to use experimental, non-approved drugs to combat the Ebola virus in West Africa, and that five such treatments were being considered for “compassionate use” (Morin and Frayer, 8/12).
USA Today: U.N. Endorses Use Of Untested Ebola Medicines
The endorsement from the U.N.'s health care agency came after two American health care workers were treated with an experimental Ebola drug. Officials warned, however, that the improvement they showed may not have been directly related to the drugs. WHO says 1,013 people have died since March in the outbreak, the vast majority of them in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Officials estimate that Ebola kills about half of those afflicted with the disease (Bacon and Weintraub, 8/12).
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