First Edition: January 28, 2014
Today's headlines include the findings of a new poll, which sets the scene for tonight's State of the Union Address by President Barack Obama.
Kaiser Health News: Readers Ask How Divorce, Student Status Will Affect Marketplace Applications
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews continues to have questions from readers about buying coverage on the state health insurance marketplaces as the open enrollment period continues (Andrews, 1/28). Read he responses.
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: GOP Senators’ New Health Overhaul Plan Would Tax Some Workers’ Benefits
Now on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Mary Agnes Carey reports: “A health care overhaul plan released Monday by three Senate Republicans may reveal how the party will handle the issue for the 2014 elections and beyond. Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Richard Burr of North Carolina unveiled a legislative framework that would scrap much of the 2010 health law, replacing those provisions with ones the lawmakers say will increase consumer choice and reduce health care costs” (Carey, 1/28). Check out what else is on the blog.
The New York Times: Obama’s Puzzle: Economy Rarely Better, Approval Rarely Worse
Mr. Obama and his speechwriter could not phrase it better, or simpler. Yet taking credit is complicated, given the clear evidence in national polls that most Americans are not in a mood to give him any. Mr. Obama’s ratings for his handling of the economy, never high since his first months in office, slipped throughout 2013 in national polls. As he began this year, nearly six in 10 Americans disapproved, nearly matching his lowest marks in 2011, a year of repeated and damaging fiscal fights with the new Republican House majority. Advisers said the decline was a reflection of Mr. Obama’s diminished standing more broadly after months of public attention to issues that have dominated news coverage: the administration’s bungled introduction of the website for the insurance marketplaces created by his signature Affordable Care Act, and the controversy over intelligence gathering by the National Security Agency (Calmes, 1/27).
The Wall Street Journal: Poll Finds Americans Anxious Over Future, Obama's Performance
Mr. Obama's congressional address may offer him the best chance of the year "to try to achieve a reset with a focus on the economy after last year's glitches with Obamacare," said Fred Yang, a Democratic pollster who helped conduct the survey. Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster who also helped craft the poll, said Mr. Obama's personal standing has taken such a hit over the past year that "re-establishing his approval rating will be very difficult" (King Jr. and O’Connor, 1/28).
The Washington Post’s The Fact Checker: Obama’s 2013 State Of The Union Proposals: What Flopped And What Succeeded
Every president announces a slew of initiatives in his State of the Union address. Here, in order of delivery, is a summary of the key proposals, pledges or priorities announced by President Obama a year ago — and what happened to them. In general, Obama’s success rate has been relatively poor since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 2011. In 2013, Obama had only four wins out of 23 proposals checked. … Obama: “On Medicare, I’m prepared to enact reforms that will achieve the same amount of health-care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission.” No action has been taken. The two sides did not even begin a negotiation on reductions on entitlements, which was fine with many Democrats (Kessler, 1/28).
USA Today: Obamacare Increases Incomes Of Poorest, Study Finds
The Affordable Care Act will "significantly" increase the incomes of Americans who fall in the bottom one-fifth of the income levels, while slightly decreasing — by .8% — the incomes of senior citizens, a new study finds. Those in the bottom one-fifth will see income measurements rise 6%; those in the bottom one-tenth will see an increase of more than 7%, according to researchers at the Brookings Institution, a non-partisan think tank (Kennedy, 1/27).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: House Set To Vote On Health Exchange Bill
The Maryland House of Delegates is on track to vote for a measure to provide health insurance to people who tried to enroll on the state’s online health exchange but couldn’t get through due to computer problems. The House is scheduled to vote on Tuesday (1/28).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Health Exchange Website For Businesses Delayed
Maryland’s health exchange board approved a plan Monday to allow eligible small businesses to begin offering employees small group health plans and to access federal tax credits in April, but the state is pushing back the launch of a website for the program until Jan. 1, 2015. The delay puts Maryland’s Small Business Health Options Program Exchange on the same timeline as the federal government. It was initially set to open in October, but was delayed until January to fix technical problems. Still, state officials said certified plans and access to tax credits worth up to 50 percent of the employer’s contribution toward employee premium costs, will be available directly through carriers, third party administrators and brokers starting on April 1 (1/27).
The Washington Post: Va. House Members Say No To Medicaid Expansion
Senior members of Virginia’s House of Delegates declared Monday that eligibility for Medi¬caid will not be expanded this year, hardening their opposition to one of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s top priorities for the legislative session. “I believe Medicaid expansion is not going to happen this year,” House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) said (Lars, 1/27).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Va. Republicans Call For Medicaid Audit
Republican lawmakers are proposing a new audit of the state’s Medicaid program, which Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants to expand. GOP leaders reiterated their stance at a Capitol news conference Monday that they don’t think Medicaid is going to expand this year (1/27).
NPR: Key Senate Republicans Offer Their Plan To Replace Obamacare
Republicans have offered a wide array of proposals to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act since it became law in 2010. But few have come with the pedigree of the plan just unveiled by a trio of senior Senate Republicans. The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment Act, or CARE for short, is a proposal being floated by Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Tom Coburn, R-Okla. (Rovner, 1/27).
The Wall Street Journal: 3 GOP Senators Propose Obamacare Alternative
Three Republican senators are floating an alternative to the Affordable Care Act in what they hope will be the basis of a GOP plan to replace the health law so many vehemently oppose. Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma say their blueprint – which you can see here – is intended to start a debate among their colleagues about the kind of health policy they can agree on (Radnofsky, 1/27).
The Washington Post’s WonkBlog: Republicans Have An Obamacare Replacement. Economists Will Love It, Real People Won’t.
One leg is expanding access to coverage. Obamacare does this by ending medical underwriting -- the part of the individual market where, prior to 2014, health plans used individuals' pre-existing conditions to set the price of the premium they pay. Under Obamacare, insurance companies cannot use medical histories to set prices.The Republican proposal would do this in a more limited way: It would end pre-existing conditions limitations for those who remain continuously insured. That means if you lost your job and health insurance, and immediately purchased a plan on the individual market, your insurance company could not use your medical history to set prices. If your coverage did lapse, however, there would be the possibility of facing underwriting fees when purchasing an individual plan. The second leg is a policy to encourage people to get coverage -- if you don't have that, only sick people will sign up (Kliff, 1/27).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: 3 Republicans Back Health Care Alternative
Three Senate Republicans on Monday proposed repealing the nation’s controversial health care law in favor of a replacement that eliminates most of the government coverage mandates it imposed and offers tax breaks to help the lower-income obtain coverage. The supporters of the proposal, Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Richard Burr of North Carolina, said in a written statement that their goal was to “reduce health care costs and increase access to affordable, high quality care” (1/27).
NPR: Stricter Autism Criteria Unlikely To Reduce Services For Kids
The clinical definition for when a child has some form of autism has been tightened. And these narrower criteria for autism spectrum disorder probably will reduce the number of kids who meet the new standard. But researchers say the changes, which were rolled out last May, are likely to have a bigger effect on government statistics than on the care of the nation's children (Hamilton, 1/27).
The New York Times: Mayor And Governor Teaming Up To Save Brooklyn Hospitals
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, at odds over how to pay for prekindergarten, showed a unified front on Monday on helping distressed Brooklyn hospitals and said that without immediate federal support, “there will be closures.” The mayor and the governor seemed to be escalating a dispute with the Obama administration over who was responsible for the fate of floundering hospitals like Interfaith Medical Center and Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn (Hartocollis, 1/27).
The Wall Street Journal’s Metropolis: Cuomo, de Blasio Push Plan To Save Brooklyn Health-Care
Once at odds over the fate of Brooklyn’s hospitals, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo were unified on Monday in calling for the federal government to help save the borough’s health-care system. At their first joint press event since Mr. de Blasio was inaugurated, the leaders called on the federal government to approve a $10 billion Medicaid waiver that would help the state improve its outpatient care services and rely less on pricier hospital-based care (Kusisto, 1/27).
NPR: More Cities Mandate Paid Sick Leave
This month, Rhode Island became the third state to offer workers paid family leave. That's time off to care for a new baby or a loved one. Portland, Oregon, and Jersey City, New Jersey, are the latest in a small wave of cities mandating paid sick leave (Ludden, 1/28).
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