First Edition: February 20, 2014
Today's headlines include reports about Medicaid expansion challenges in Virginia and Arkansas.
Kaiser Health News: Dental Services Are Coming Back For California's Low-Income Adults
Kaiser Health News staff writer Daniela Hernandez, working in collaboration with the San Jose Mercury-News, reports: "Across the state, many low-income California adults lack dental insurance or access to dental care, threatening their overall health, self-esteem and employability. Many end up with infected gums, decayed teeth and other complications that must be treated in emergency rooms -- at considerable cost to the government" (Hernandez, 2/20). Read the story.
Kaiser Health News: Insurance, Not Injuries, May Determine Who Goes To Trauma Centers
Kaiser Health News staff writer Sarah Varney reports: "It’s called ‘patient dumping’ – when hospitals transfer patients without insurance to public hospitals. But a new study from Stanford University has turned dumping on its head. It finds that hospitals are less likely to transfer critically injured patients to trauma centers if they have health insurance"” (Varney, 2/19). Read the story.
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Biden: Health Care Sign-Ups May Fall Short Of Goal
Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that it would be a good start for the federal health care law if 5 million to 6 million people sign up by the end of March, an acknowledgement that enrollments might fall significantly short of the Obama administration’s unofficial target of 7 million (2/19).
The New York Times Magazine: How Obamacare Could Unlock Job Opportunities
In a sense, Obamacare amounts to a massive transfer of risk. Under the old system, if you quit your job and couldn’t get health insurance, you courted financial ruin every time you did something as mundane as riding your bike or playing pickup basketball. Now that risk is distributed to everyone who buys health insurance (including the government). Free of the massive financial risk of being alive, unemployed Americans can more easily take on risks associated with doing what they want to do (Dewan, 2/20).
The Washington Post’s The Fact Checker: A Hard-Hitting Anti-Obamacare Ad Makes A Claim That Doesn’t Add Up
This emotional and gut-wrenching attack ad should be every Democrat’s worst nightmare, combining references to President Obama’s 4-Pinocchio promise (PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year”) with a raw account of a woman who says she suffered because of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. But do the facts match the emotions? (Kessler, 2/20).
The New York Times: California Health Insurance Enrollments Rise, But Hispanics Still Lag
With six weeks left in the open enrollment period for insurance under President Obama’s health care law, more than 828,000 Californians have signed up for private coverage through the state’s online health care exchange, state officials announced Wednesday (Lovett, 2/19).
Los Angeles Times: More Latinos Enrolling In Covered California Health Plans
More Latinos are signing up for Obamacare coverage in California after a slow start, and the state is spending millions of dollars more on Spanish-language ads ahead of next month's enrollment deadline. The Covered California insurance exchange said Wednesday that 828,638 people overall have enrolled in private health plans through mid-February, and an additional 1 million Californians have been deemed eligible for an expansion of Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program (Terhune and Karlamangla, 2/19).
The Washington Post: Poll: Majority In Maryland Back Health Reform, Want To Stick With State Online Exchange
If President Obama is weary of complaints about his struggling health-care law, he might want to spend even more time in the reliably blue state of Maryland. Fifty-five percent of state residents back the federal health-care reform effort, according to a new Washington Post poll, with more than one-third of Marylanders saying they “strongly support” it. Nationally, opinion is much more mixed (Johnson and Craighill, 2/19).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Health Exchange Woes Come Before Md. Board
A Denver-based company will be paid up to $2 million more to help address one of the problems resulting from computer glitches with the state’s health care exchange. The Maryland Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved the modification to the contract with Policy Studies Inc. It is needed for broker services to help Medicaid-eligible residents who applied through the health exchange to choose a managed care organization (2/19).
The Washington Post: Expanded Medicaid Will Be Subject Of Forced Vote By Republicans In Va. House
House Republicans will force a vote Thursday on whether to expand Medicaid, briefly plucking the contentious issue out of a massive state budget bill in a move meant to show overwhelming GOP opposition to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s top legislative goal. The House will subject the expansion plan to an up-or-down floor vote — something the measure would not ordinarily get since it is part of the two-year, $96 billion state spending plan (Vozzella and Laris, 2/19).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: House To Vote On Senate Medicaid Plan
Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates are set to vote against a proposal to accept federal Medicaid funding. A largely symbolic full floor vote is scheduled for Thursday. Republican leaders said they wanted to show they are united in opposition to a proposal by the Democratically controlled Senate to expand publicly funded health insurance coverage for low-income Virginians (2/20).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Ark. Legislators Vote Down Medicaid Bill Again
Arkansas legislators have defeated for a second day in a row a compromise plan to expand Medicaid by purchasing private insurance, leaving the state’s health program for poor residents in jeopardy (2/19).
The Wall Street Journal’s CFO Journal: Companies Eye Exchanges For Health Plans: Report
Most U.S. employers will continue to sponsor health benefits for their employees over the next few years, but the way that benefits are provided may begin to shift for many workers, according to a report. A third of employers plan to provide health benefits to their active employees through a private health exchange in the next three to five years, according to the report by Aon Hewitt, the consulting unit of Aon PLC, an insurance broker based in London (Kapur, 2/19).
The Wall Street Journal: Grassley Scolds HHS Over Health Law Guidance
The issue: As the Journal reported in December, some hospitals want to be able to pay premiums on behalf of some people so it can guarantee they have coverage if they turn up looking for treatment. Insurers say this move would be a conflict of interest for hospitals and could threaten the economic underpinnings of the law because it would likely lead to more sick people getting enrolled (Radnofsky, 2/19).
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