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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]
Longer looks: ACOs and job shifts; abortion's racial gap; having a stroke at 33

Longer looks: ACOs and job shifts; abortion's racial gap; having a stroke at 33

It is now nearly a year since the roll-out of Obamacare. The launch was a shambles, and Obamacare is a totem for every American who hates big government. Republicans will deride it, yet again, in the mid-term elections. Obamacare is indeed costly and overcomplicated. Yet it is not to blame for America's health mess, and it could just contain the beginnings of a partial solution to it. But that will only happen if politicians treat health care like a patient: first, diagnose the disease, then examine whether Barack Obama's treatment helped, and then ask what will make the patient better (9/20). [More]

Californians divided over health law, according to survey

The Affordable Care Act continues to divide Californians, who remain skeptical four years after its passage despite the state's relatively smooth launch in which more than 1.2 million people enrolled in health insurance coverage. [More]
State highlights: Medicaid bankruptcy ruling could save some nursing homes; high HIV rates in Southern states

State highlights: Medicaid bankruptcy ruling could save some nursing homes; high HIV rates in Southern states

A federal judge's recent ruling blocking Medicaid officials from cutting off a struggling nursing home could help troubled health care facilities survive using bankruptcy, according to restructuring professionals. [More]
Viewpoints: Many beneficiaries of health law don't vote; reboot for healthcare.gov

Viewpoints: Many beneficiaries of health law don't vote; reboot for healthcare.gov

For starters, my strong hunch from my own reporting in the region over the past couple years-;including several trips to Kentucky for a new book on McConnell-;is that the Democrats' biggest problem in Appalachia and the Upland South is not that the people who are benefitting from Obamacare or would stand to benefit from it if their states fully implemented the law are voting against their own interests, for Republicans. [More]
Longer looks: Lithium in the water; controlling cancer; recovering from brain injury

Longer looks: Lithium in the water; controlling cancer; recovering from brain injury

There are many kinds of cancer, but treatments have typically combatted them in one way only: by attempting to destroy the cancerous cells. Surgery aims to remove the entire growth from the body; chemotherapy drugs are toxic to the cancer cells; radiation generates toxic molecules that break up the cancer cells' DNA and proteins, causing their demise. [More]
State highlights: Report: Hospitals ill-prepared for Sandy; Iowa Supreme Court lets teleabortion go on while it decides

State highlights: Report: Hospitals ill-prepared for Sandy; Iowa Supreme Court lets teleabortion go on while it decides

When Superstorm Sandy slammed into the Northeast nearly two years ago, hospitals found themselves dealing with surges in patients, lost power supplies and employees who couldn't get to work -- problems that a new federal report finds they were not prepared to handle (Mulvihill, 9/17). [More]

GAO: Many insurers flout health law's abortion rule

A report by the Government Accountability Office found many examples of insurance plans not complying with the health law's requirement that they separately itemize a charge for coverage of elective abortion on enrollees' bills. The agreement that no federal funds go to pay for elective abortions was the basis of a political compromise that allowed the health law to pass in 2010. [More]