First Edition: February 12, 2014
Today's headlines include reports about President Barack Obama's comments yesterday on his administration's decision to decision to give mid-sized businesses more time to comply with the health law's employer mandate.
Kaiser Health News: Telemedicine Bolsters ICU Care In Rural Maryland Hospitals
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with The Baltimore Sun, writes: “A critical care doctor 125 miles away was monitoring the patient’s health via voice, video and high-speed data lines constantly streaming information about vital signs, medications, test results and X-rays, a telemedicine service known as Maryland eCare. The physician quickly verified that the patient had the deadly infection and arranged immediate transfer to another hospital with a surgeon who could remove the infected tissue” (Rubin, 2/12). Read the story.
Kaiser Health News: Questions And Answers On The Latest ACA Delay
Kaiser Health News staff writers Jay Hancock, Julie Appleby and Mary Agnes Carey report: “On Monday the Obama administration announced another delay in rolling out the Affordable Care Act, weakening the requirement to offer coverage next year for large employers and postponing it for smaller ones. Here’s what it means” (Hancock, Appleby and Carey, 2/11). Read the story.
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Doesn’t Want Health Law To Punish
President Barack Obama says he’s giving mid-size businesses more time to comply with his health care law because the goal is not to punish anyone. Obama says the companies are trying to get right with the law and provide insurance for their employees. But they need more time to meet their responsibility (2/11).
Los Angeles Times: Obama Says Latest Delay Is ‘Smoothing Out’ Shift To New Health Law
President Obama said Tuesday the latest delay in implementing his healthcare law is an example of “smoothing out this transition” for a small group of midsize businesses struggling to meet the requirement that they provide health insurance to their employees (Hennessey, 2/11).
Politico: Obama: Employer-Based Health Insurance System Not Going Anywhere
President Barack Obama on Tuesday described the latest delay in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act as a way of “smoothing out” the transition to the law and said he doesn’t see the employer-based health insurance system disappearing any time soon. “The goal is to make sure folks are healthy and have decent health care, so this was an example of administratively making sure we are smoothing out this transition giving people the opportunity to get right with the law but recognizing there are going to be circumstances people try to do the right thing and it may take time,” Obama said at a wide-ranging joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande (Epstein, 2/11).
The Wall Street Journal: Some Small Firms See Little Relief In Latest Health-Law Delay
Small and midsize businesses stand to benefit the most from the latest delay in the health law's employer insurance requirement. But farm co-owner Laura Pedersen doesn't plan to take advantage of it. The Seneca Castle, N.Y., proprietor of a produce and grain farm last year rearranged her employees' schedules and workloads to keep the farm's full-time staff below 50 workers. Her goal was to avoid having to start providing insurance or pay a penalty in 2015 under the Affordable Care Act (Needleman and Colvin, 2/11).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Health Care Tweak: Big Companies Get Wiggle Room
Big retail stores, hotels, restaurants and other companies with lots of low-wage and part-time workers are among the main beneficiaries of the Obama administration’s latest tweak to health care rules. Companies with 100 or more workers will be able to avoid the biggest of two potential employer penalties in the Affordable Care Act by offering coverage to 70 percent of their full-timers (2/12).
The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Top White House Aide Defends Health Law Delay
A top White House aide defended the Obama administration’s latest decision to delay a part of the Affordable Care Act’s implementation, saying Tuesday that policy makers were trying to create a “smoother transition” for businesses. Gene Sperling, director of the White House’s National Economic Council, also blasted Republicans for criticizing the administration’s decision Monday to give many small businesses additional time to comply with parts of the law (Paletta, 2/11).
The New York Times: Creators Still In Demand On Health Care Website
After denigrating the work of CGI and replacing it as the largest contractor on the federal health care website, the Obama administration is negotiating with the company to extend its work on the project for a few months. And the new prime contractor, Accenture, is trying to recruit and hire CGI employees to work under its supervision. The transition between the two companies has interrupted work on the “back end” of the computer system needed to pay insurers, people involved in the project said Tuesday (Pear and Austen, 2/11).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Md. Lawmaker Wants Probe Of Exchange Procurement
A Maryland lawmaker on Tuesday renewed a call for an investigation into the state’s defective health care exchange with a focus on the procurement process of the exchange’s board, which has approved multimillion dollar contracts (2/11).
Los Angeles Times: Vaccination Exemptions Still On States’ Legislative Agendas
Eighteen state legislatures, including California's, have considered exemptions to immunization mandates in the last several years — and the issue remains a topic of debate, researchers said Tuesday. Most of the bills introduced in those 18 states sought to expand the exemptions available to school immunization requirements, but none of those bills passed, researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. (MacVean, 2/11).
The Washington Post: Va. Legislators Push Flurry Of Bills At Session’s Halfway Point
Virginia’s General Assembly plowed through hundreds of bills Tuesday, reaching broad consensus on ethics, school testing and mental health reforms while also picking new partisan fights and bracing for a Medicaid battle that will test Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s ability to work across the aisle. Racing against a deadline to get bills out of one chamber and into the other, legislators put the final touches on measures aimed at limiting gifts to public officials, reducing standardized tests in public schools and improving the handling of psychiatric emergencies — all priorities that enjoy bipartisan support (Vozzella, Laris and Weiner, 2/11).
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