First Edition: August 22, 2013
Today's headlines include news reports about how summer politics are shaking out around the health law's implementation.
Kaiser Health News: States Use Out-Of-The-Box Approaches To Raise Awareness Of Health Exchanges
Kaiser Health News staff writer Kelsey Miller reports: "Catchy jingles? Splashy videos? Multi-million-dollar public education campaigns? For the 16 states and the District of Columbia that have opted to run their own online health insurance marketplaces, these are among the tools being used to make sure residents know the exchanges will be open for business Oct. 1. … Here's an alphabetical list of state exchanges and a sampling of their strategies, ranging from clever advertising to unique health exchange names" (Miller, 8/21). Check out the list.
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Brokers Associated With More, Cheaper Health Coverage, Study Says
Now on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Jay Hancock reports: "Health insurance agents, feeling threatened by the Affordable Care Act, will welcome research from the University of Minnesota that supports their longstanding argument that agents and brokers make insurance shopping easier and cheaper" (Hancock, 8/22). Check out what else is on the blog.
Politico: The Swing States Of Obamacare
Three states could have an outsize role in the success — or failure — of Obamacare. California, Florida and Texas are home to more than one-third of the nation's 46 million uninsured people. If the White House and its allies can't convince large chunks of the uninsured in those three states to enroll in the Affordable Care Act's new insurance exchanges, the administration could have a very hard time reaching its enrollment goals (Haberkorn, 8/21).
The New York Times: U.P.S. To End Health Benefits For Spouses Of Some Workers
United Parcel Service has told its white-collar employees that it will stop providing health care coverage to their spouses who can obtain coverage through their own employers, joining an increasing number of companies that are restricting or eliminating spousal health benefits. … In explaining its move — which was first reported by Kaiser Health News and USA Today — U.P.S. told employees, "Since the Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide affordable coverage, we believe your spouse should be covered by their own employer — just as U.P.S. has a responsibility to offer coverage to you, our employee" (Greenhouse, 8/21).
The Wall Street Journal: UPS To End Health Benefits For Some Working Spouses Of Employees
The Atlanta-based package delivery giant said in an internal memo to employees last month that rising costs for coverage of chronic and other health conditions, "combined with the costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, have made it increasingly difficult to continue providing the same level of health care benefits to our employees at an affordable cost." The change will affect about 15,000 spouses, UPS said—slightly fewer than half of the 33,000 spouses who are covered today under its health plan for nonunionized workers (Martin, Morris and Thurm, 8/21).
Politico: Bobby Jindal Withdraws Request For Obamacare Funds
Gov. Bobby Jindal, a fierce Obamacare critic, pursued funds from an under-the-radar program in the health law until this week, when his administration reversed course, citing cumbersome federal rules. Health aides to the Louisiana governor began eyeing the program – a long-term care reform effort called Community First Choice – last year and went as far as submitting a formal application to CMS (Cheney, 8/21).
Politico: The Great Democrat Hope: Government Shutdown
As it stands now, the midterm is shaping up as a stale, status-quo election — with Democrats calling their counterparts right-wing extremists, Republicans attacking their rivals over Obamacare and neither side making much headway. That's good for Republicans, since the party out of power in the White House almost inevitably picks up House seats in the sixth year of the presidency. Heavily-gerrymandered districts provide the GOP an extra layer of protection (Isenstadt, 8/22).
USA Today: Report: More Doctors Accepting Medicare Patients
The number of physicians accepting new Medicare patients rose by one-third between 2007 and 2011 and is now higher than the number of physicians accepting new private insurance patients, according to a Department of Health and Human Services report obtained by USA TODAY. In 2007, about 925,000 doctors billed Medicare for their services. In 2011, that number had risen to 1.25 million, according to the report by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (Kennedy, 8/22).
USA Today: Hospital Circumcisions Down 10% Over Three Decades
During the 32-year span, the percentage fell from 64.5% to 58.3%, finds the analysis by the National Center for Health Statistics. It was highest in 1981 at 64.9%, and lowest in 2007 at 55.4%. Numbers do not include circumcisions outside hospitals for religious or other reasons, says study co-author Maria Owings (Healy, 8/22).
Los Angeles Times: Few California Voters Know Much About Healthcare Overhaul, Poll Shows
A large majority of California voters know very little or nothing at all about the state's new health insurance marketplace less than six weeks before enrollment starts, according to a new poll (Terhune, 8/21).
The Washington Post: Chartered Health Plan Settles With District
The District of Columbia has reached a settlement with a health-care company that was once the city’s largest contractor and whose former owner is at the center of a federal investigation into political corruption (Weiner, 8/21).
The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: NY Surgeon Must Pay $388,000 In Medicaid Fraud
A respected New York spine surgeon is being ordered to pay the government almost $400,000 to settle charges he overbilled Medicare. Federal Justice Department officials said Wednesday that Richard S. Obedian inflated reimbursements by using incorrect billing codes (8/21).
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