First Edition: July 25, 2014
Today's headlines include reports that the Obama administration is moving ahead in preparations for the health law's employer mandate.
The Wall Street Journal: Obama Administration Moves Ahead With Employer Insurance Forms
The Obama administration on Thursday released draft forms for employers and individuals to use when reporting their health coverage to the Internal Revenue Service starting next year despite calls for delaying the requirement. The Affordable Care Act requires most big employers to offer health benefits that are deemed affordable, or to pay fines starting at $2,000 per worker if they don't (Radnofsky, 7/24).
Politico: IRS Prepping For Obamacare Employer Mandate In 2015
The Obama administration signaled Thursday it’s not backing down from the controversial health law employer mandate that has been delayed twice and is the centerpiece of the House’s lawsuit against the president. The IRS posted drafts of the forms that employers will have to fill out to comply with the Obamacare requirement that employers provide health insurance to workers (Haberkorn and Snell, 7/24).
The Associated Press: Varying Health Premium Subsidies Worry Consumers
Government officials say Close — and other consumers who have received different subsidy amounts — probably made some mistake entering personal details such as income, age and even ZIP codes. The Associated Press interviewed insurance agents, health counselors and attorneys around the country who said they received varying subsidy amounts for the same consumers. As consumers wait for a resolution, some have decided to go without health insurance because of the uncertainty while others who went ahead with policies purchased through the exchanges worry they are going to owe the government money next tax season (7/24).
The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: The Drug That’s Forcing America’s Most Important – And Uncomfortable – Health-Care Debate
Expensive specialty drugs aren’t new to health care. But Sovaldi stands out because it is aimed at helping millions of Americans who carry hepatitis C, and a large share of those infected are low-income and qualify for government coverage. Its arrival also coincides with the aggressive expansion of Medicaid and private coverage under the Affordable Care Act, whose purpose was to extend health care to tens of millions Americans who previously couldn’t afford it (Millman, 7/24).
The Wall Street Journal: The Lawyer Who Helped Spark This Week's Affordable Care Act Rulings
Months after the Affordable Care Act became law, employment benefits lawyer Thomas Christina paced in his Greenville, S.C., office with its oil portrait of a greenhouse. He was reading the statute to learn its impact on clients. By his reading, the wording only allowed health insurance subsidies to be provided through state exchanges. It began to dawn on him that he'd stumbled on something big (Armour, 7/24).
The New York Times: Conservatives Hone Script To Light A Fire Over Abortion
It was not on the public schedule for the Republican National Committee’s spring meeting at the stately Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. But inside a conference room, a group of conservative women held a boot camp to strengthen an unlikely set of skills: how to talk about abortion (Peters, 7/24).
The Wall Street Journal: VA Talks At Impasse in Congress As Negotiators Feud Publicly
Congressional negotiations to address problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs devolved into a public feud on Thursday, amplifying concerns that lawmakers won't be able to complete legislation before leaving for their August break. The lead House and Senate negotiators criticized each other publicly while suggesting that the two chambers remain apart on legislation intended to respond to widespread mismanagement and long wait times at VA hospitals. While Rep. Jeff Miller (R., Fla.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said they still hope to overcome the impasse, both suggested it could be difficult with only a week left before lawmakers leave Washington for a five-week recess (Crittenden and Kesling, 7/24).
Politico: VA Reform Hits Stalemate
When revelations surfaced earlier this summer that the Department of Veterans Affairs provided poor health care to veterans — leading to some deaths — a genuine scandal erupted and Congress promised to impose big changes. But staring down the August recess, the effort to overhaul the agency is on the verge of collapse (Everett and French, 7/24).
Politico: House Panel Backs Obama Lawsuit
The lawsuit has deepened the tension and mistrust between House Republicans and the White House. Republicans say they’re simply holding the president accountable for circumventing Congress on a major policy change related to the implementation of Obamacare. Obama and congressional Democrats have dismissed the suit as little more than election year theater (French, 7/24).
ProPublica/NPR: When Federal Privacy Laws Protect Hospitals Instead Of Patients
In the name of patient privacy, a security guard at a hospital in Springfield, Mo., threatened a mother with jail for trying to take a photograph of her own son. In the name of patient privacy, a Daytona Beach, Fla., nursing home said it couldn't cooperate with police investigating allegations of a possible rape against one of its residents (Ornstein, 7/24).
NPR: For Better Treatment, Doctors And Patients Share The Decisions
Many of us get confused by claims of how much the risk of a heart attack, for example, might be reduced by taking medicine for it. And doctors can get confused, too. Just ask Karen Sepucha. She runs the Health Decisions Sciences Center at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital. A few years ago she surveyed primary care physicians, and asked how confident they were in their ability to talk about numbers and probabilities with patients (7/24).
The Associated Press: Doctor Fires Back At Pennsylvania Hospital Gunman
A doctor told police that a patient fatally shot a caseworker at their hospital complex before the doctor pulled out his own gun and exchanged fire with him and wounded him, a prosecutor said Thursday night. Dr. Lee Silverman, a psychiatrist, was grazed in the temple during the gunfight in his office with patient Richard Plotts, according to Delaware District Attorney Jack Whelan (7/24).
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