First Edition: August 20, 2010
Today's headlines include articles on health insurance for college students, new plans to overhaul the government's bioterror and flu preparations, changes in store for health care for the homeless and a look at the new high risk insurance plans.
Colleges Say New Health Law May Imperil Student Policies
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby reports on confusion about how the new health law affects college health plans. "Colleges and universities say some rules in the new health law could keep them from offering low-cost, limited benefit student insurance policies - and they're seeking federal authority to continue offering them. Among other things, the colleges want clarification that they won't have to offer the policies to non-students" (Kaiser Health News).
Baltimore Homeless Program Expects Boost From Medicaid Expansion
Kaiser Health News staff writers Mary Agnes Carey and Andrew Villegas, writing in collaboration with The Washington Post, reports on the new health law's effects on the homeless. "Tianne Hill dreads getting mail at the city shelter on Guilford Avenue where she lives. She knows it often includes medical bills she can't pay. ... Like many other homeless people, Hill is uninsured and ineligible for Medicaid, the state-federal program that covers millions of other poor Americans. But that will change beginning in 2014, when Medicaid greatly expands under the new health care law to include adults without children, who generally have been excluded" (Kaiser Health News).
New Plans For Uninsured Off To Slow Start
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports on a slow start for the new new federally subsidized program for uninsured people with health problems. The program "was touted by the Obama administration as an early benefit of the new health overhaul law. It began last month in 30 states with the expectation that many thousands of uninsured people would apply for the opportunity to get comprehensive coverage regardless of their health status. But that hasn't been the case" (Kaiser Health News).
Sebelius To Governors: Extra Medicaid Money Comes With A String Attached
Kaiser Health News staff writer Andrew Villegas reports that the Obama administration is forcing the hands of some governors, particularly those Republicans who have been vocal about their distaste for additional deficit spending. "In this political climate, if you want help, you have to ask for it. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this week sent a letter to all of America's governors telling them that if they want to continue receiving the enhanced Medicaid funds that Congress approved last week that they have to ask for the money" (Kaiser Health News).
Dems Retreat On Health Care Cost Pitch
Key White House allies are dramatically shifting their attempts to defend health care legislation, abandoning claims that it will reduce costs and deficit, and instead stressing a promise to "improve it." The messaging shift was circulated Thursday afternoon on a conference call and PowerPoint presentation organized by FamiliesUSA - one of the central groups in the push for the initial legislation. ... The confidential presentation ... suggests that Democrats are acknowledging the failure of their predictions that the health care legislation would grow more popular after its passage, as its benefits became clear and rhetoric cooled. Instead, the presentation is designed to win over a skeptical public, and to defend the legislation - and in particular the individual mandate - from a push for repeal. (Politico).
Government To Overhaul Bioterror And Pandemic Flu Plans
Acknowledging that the development of medical countermeasures against bioterrorism threats and pandemic flu is lagging, federal authorities Thursday announced a $1.9-billion makeover of the system for identifying and manufacturing drugs and vaccines for public health emergencies. The overhaul includes refinements to manufacturing aimed at shaving weeks off the time it takes to produce pandemic flu vaccine, and a series of steps aimed at more quickly spotting promising scientific discoveries and getting them to market (The Los Angeles Times).
Administration Unveils New Strategy To Prepare For Biological Threats
The Obama administration on Thursday announced an overhaul of the federal government's strategy for preparing for natural and man-made public health emergencies (The Hill).
Trade Group Sues Over Calif. Rules That Prevent Insurers From Dropping Some Policyholders
A trade group is suing California's insurance regulator to halt new, stiffer rules aimed at the illegal practice of dropping policyholders after they become ill with an expensive ailment (The Associated Press).
Hospital Bribe Alleged
Alexander Everest told aspiring doctors abroad that he could help them climb the mountain of medical training they needed to practice on their own-for a fee. His company, Elite American Health Systems, "connects the world's most gifted healers with the medical centers and patients who need them," according to its website. But in his zeal to make those connections for four residency-training candidates at Harlem Hospital, Mr. Everest went too far, Manhattan prosecutors allege (The Wall Street Journal).
More Disabled Workers File Discrimination Claims In 2009
More people with disabilities filed charges of discrimination against their employers last year than at any other time in the 20-year history of the Americans with Disabilities Act (USA Today).
A Lesson In Health Insurance For College Students
Unless your soon-to-be-roommate mentioned on Facebook that she has a mysterious and potentially contagious rash, you probably haven't given much thought to what you'll do for health insurance when you start college this fall. But choosing health insurance coverage could be one of the most important decisions you'll make (USA Today).
Worried Democrats Courting Elderly Voters As Midterm Elections Near
The effort exposes a deeper problem Democrats face this fall: They have struggled to maintain support among seniors in recent years, even as they have racked up large margins among young adults. Voters older than 65 were the one age group that did not back Barack Obama in 2008, and their disenchantment has only grown since he took office -- especially after his health-care overhaul was passed this year (The Washington Post).
Blue Cross: Some Will Get Big Rate Hikes
North Carolina's largest health insurer plans to hit some members with sharp rate increases again next year, blaming changes from the health overhaul and rising medical costs.BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina asked state regulators Thursday for permission to increase rates an average of 6.97 percent for its 300,000 individual members in the state. That's the lowest proposed annual increase since 2007, and about 28,000 people will see rate decreases, including women in their early 20s. But rates for some children, men and older members will increase as much as 30 percent or more (Charlotte Observer).
Sign up to receive this list of First Edition headlines via e-mail. Check out all of Kaiser Health News' e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.