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State highlights: Gubernatorial election outcomes will have big impact on health law's future

State highlights: Gubernatorial election outcomes will have big impact on health law's future

The deciding factor in the Senate races will be President Barack Obama's sagging approval numbers, he said, which are weighing down Democrats like Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana and Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas. ... Mr. McAuliffe pushed Virginia legislators to expand the state's Medicaid program as part of the Affordable Care Act last summer, but Republicans wouldn't have it (Bauerlein, 10/8). [More]
Medicare attack ads emerge in key Senate races

Medicare attack ads emerge in key Senate races

In recent weeks, Medicare has been an advertising topic in Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa and Louisiana. Meanwhile, New Hampshire's Senate candidates discussed a range of health care topics during their first debate. [More]
State highlights: Ohio Medicaid and senior annuities; Mich. extends Medicaid dental coverage for kids

State highlights: Ohio Medicaid and senior annuities; Mich. extends Medicaid dental coverage for kids

A war is being waged in Ohio over whether elderly couples with one person in a nursing home can buy an annuity to keep the other from going broke -- and still apply for public assistance. Elder-law attorneys say the state isn't following federal laws regarding Medicaid-compliant annuities, and that's hurting middle-class seniors who worked hard and saved for a rainy day. Several courts seem to agree, with one judge recently putting the state on notice that it could lose millions of dollars in federal funding if it doesn't change its ways (Pyle, 10/6). [More]
Will Supreme Court hear another health law challenge?

Will Supreme Court hear another health law challenge?

As the court begins its new term, the justices will be asked to consider another challenge to the Affordable Care Act about whether individuals can qualify for federal subsidies if they live in a state with a federal, rather than a state-run, insurance marketplace. [More]

Closures force Texas abortion center staff, patients to reassess options

The decision last week by a federal appeals court closed many of the remaining abortion clinics in Texas and left some women scrambling for services. [More]
Viewpoints: Health costs and income inequality; vital matters when approaching life's end

Viewpoints: Health costs and income inequality; vital matters when approaching life's end

Government data show that health costs are the biggest driver of income inequality in America today. Most employers pay workers a combination of wages and benefits, the most important of which is health coverage. Economic theory says that when employers' costs for benefits like health coverage rise, they will hold back on salary increases to keep total compensation costs in check. That's exactly what seems to have happened: Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that from June 2004 to June 2014 compensation increased by 28 percent while employer health-insurance costs rose by 51 percent. Consequently, average wages grew by just 24 percent (Mark J. Warshawsky and Andrew G. Biggs, 10/6). [More]
Democrats spotlight women's health issues

Democrats spotlight women's health issues

The issue is figuring prominently in races in Colorado and New Hampshire, where Democratic incumbents are highlighting their differences with Republican challengers. [More]
As new Obamacare enrollment period approaches, challenges loom

As new Obamacare enrollment period approaches, challenges loom

Officials hope to renew coverage for the 15 million people who signed up last year as well as expand the pool by another 10 million, but there are concerns about consumer costs and choices. [More]
Obama, health law star in campaign ads

Obama, health law star in campaign ads

The Center for Public Integrity says there have been more than 300,000 Obama-related ads this election cycle. Elsewhere, abortion figures prominently in Senate races such as Colorado's where Democrats look to push their differences with the GOP. [More]
Majority of remaining Texas abortion clinics likely to close after court ruling

Majority of remaining Texas abortion clinics likely to close after court ruling

A federal appeals court Thursday allowed Texas to immediately begin enforcing tough new abortion restrictions that will effectively close all but seven abortion facilities in America's second most-populous state. A panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans stayed a lower judge's ruling while it considers the overall constitutionality of key portions of Texas' sweeping 2013 abortion law, which Republican Gov. Rick Perry and other conservatives say is designed to protect women's health (10/2). [More]
Viewpoints: Another troubled website rollout; insurers fight consumer measures in Calif.

Viewpoints: Another troubled website rollout; insurers fight consumer measures in Calif.

If the federal government's new Open Payments website were a consumer product, it would be returned to the manufacturer for a full refund. Open Payments is the government's site for publishing payments made to doctors and teaching hospitals by drug and medical device manufacturers. It includes 4.4 million payments, worth $3.5 billion, to more than half a million doctors and almost 1,360 teaching hospitals (Charles Ornstein, 10/1). [More]
Study: Abortion restrictions lead to poorer health

Study: Abortion restrictions lead to poorer health

The study, however, was paid for by groups that support abortion rights. Elsewhere, California's Catholic Church leadership files a civil-rights complaint over making insurance plans cover abortion. [More]
Access to long-term contraception lowers teen pregnancy rates, study says

Access to long-term contraception lowers teen pregnancy rates, study says

The study counseled young women on the benefits of using long-lasting contraceptives like intrauterine devices and hormonal implants. [More]
Viewpoints: Mergers causing health costs to rise; reauthorize CHIP; Obamacare's influence on politics

Viewpoints: Mergers causing health costs to rise; reauthorize CHIP; Obamacare's influence on politics

Health care costs are going up, and there's a lot of debate about why. Is it the high cost of drugs or our aging population? [More]
Viewpoints: Shop around for health coverage; 'gaming' Obamacare; FDA and painkillers

Viewpoints: Shop around for health coverage; 'gaming' Obamacare; FDA and painkillers

My colleagues Margot Sanger-Katz and Amanda Cox wrote recently that shopping around for the best price can be crucial for people renewing their coverage on the health insurance exchanges this fall. [More]
State highlights: New Calif. health laws signed; Mass. judge considers partners deal

State highlights: New Calif. health laws signed; Mass. judge considers partners deal

A selection of health policy stories from California, Massachusetts, New York, the District of Columbia, Minnesota and Kansas. [More]

During first debate, Iowa Senate candidates Ernst and Braley clash on the health law

News outlets offer updates on how the Affordable Care Act is playing in Iowa, Arkansas and Minnesota races. [More]

Majority of Americans find the health law hard to understand, poll finds

An Associated Press-GfK poll finds that nearly 75 percent of Americans find the overhaul "difficult" and nearly half say it is "very hard" to understand. However, health care remains a key issue. In California, there's an effort, for instance, to target messages that include access to health care in outreach to the much-sought-after female voters. Meanwhile, efforts to undo the health law will remain high on the GOP to-do list if Republcans gain control of the Senate. [More]
Viewpoints: Hospitals helped by Medicaid expansion; why GOP candidates back OTC contraceptives

Viewpoints: Hospitals helped by Medicaid expansion; why GOP candidates back OTC contraceptives

Now the Department of Health and Human Services has issued a report showing that ... thanks to the Affordable Care Act, hospitals across the country will save $5.7 billion in uncompensated care costs in 2014. [More]
Viewpoints: 'Feud' over health care compact; humane end-of-life care

Viewpoints: 'Feud' over health care compact; humane end-of-life care

Never has an issue of The Best Times, Johnson County's monthly magazine for seniors, been so eagerly awaited. I know I've been on the edge of my seat. At first the draw was to read the article that had gotten some Kansas legislators so worked up that 11 of them stormed en masse into a meeting to berate the volunteer members of the Johnson County Commission on Aging for writing it. [More]
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