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Colorado University to limit student work hours -- partly to ease health law coverage requirements

Colorado University to limit student work hours -- partly to ease health law coverage requirements

The University of Colorado at Boulder is limiting student employee hours to 25 a week during spring and fall semesters in response to Affordable Care Act provisions, and other CU campuses are doing the same. In a newsletter to students, CU-Boulder said the act -; which requires employers to provide health insurance to employees working 30 or more hours per week, or pay fines -; was the catalyst for the policy change but not the sole reason. "Not only does the policy support degree attainment as the student's primary focus, it will help assist the campus in achieving chancellor (Phil) DiStefano's initiative of increasing the six-year graduation rate," the newsletter said. [More]
ADHD increases major depression to bipolar disorder conversion

ADHD increases major depression to bipolar disorder conversion

Young people with major depression have an increased risk of conversion to bipolar disorder if they have comorbid attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, suggest findings from a longitudinal follow-up study. [More]
Viewpoints: Health law opposition not propelling GOP; keep politics out of the fight against Ebola

Viewpoints: Health law opposition not propelling GOP; keep politics out of the fight against Ebola

As recently as April, Obamacare was going to be the silver bullet for Republicans in this year's midterm elections. The leader of conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity said his plan was to make Obamacare "the No. 1 issue in the country." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declared that the law would be "a huge disaster in 2014" and the deciding factor in November. Well, that was then. Now, three weeks from Election Day, some GOP challengers trying to knock off Democratic incumbent senators have scaled back their anti-Obamacare ads in favor of new targets such as the economy and national security (10/13). [More]

Revamped HealthCare.gov will deal with a new round of complications

The Associated Press reports on how the updated website, which has been overhauled in anticipation of the upcoming second enrollment season, compares with last year's version. Meanwhile, investigations continue regarding Covered California's no-bid contracts. [More]

Medicaid expansion plans, debates continue to roil GOP officials, cause concern for hospital execs

News outlets offer updates regarding Medicaid expansion efforts in Indiana and Ohio. [More]

McConnell's mixed message on Kynect, the state's health exchange

During a debate last night with Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the state's online insurance marketplace could stay but the Affordable Care Act should be repealed. In addition, news outlets report on Senate races in Arkansas and South Dakota. [More]

In Md. gubernatorial debate, Democrat defends his role in botched health marketplace

Anthony Brown, the state's lieutenant governor who oversaw the development of the state's online insurance marketplace, acknowledges the technical problems but points to tens of thousands of Marylanders who now have health insurance. [More]

Health care costs and health law politics: How issues are shaking out in public opinion and policy strategies

A poll by The Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research explores American's thoughts about health insurance, peace of mind and whether the health law is keeping costs down. Meanwhile, Politico explores the GOP's chances for repeal. [More]
PhRMA launches new website to educate consumers about ABCs of health coverage

PhRMA launches new website to educate consumers about ABCs of health coverage

Today, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) launched Access Better Coverage.org, a new website designed to educate consumers about the ABCs of health coverage and access to prescription medicines. [More]
Group Health's HMO Medicare Advantage plan earns 5-Star rating from CMS

Group Health's HMO Medicare Advantage plan earns 5-Star rating from CMS

Group Health's HMO Medicare Advantage plan has earned the highest rating available from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Group Health is one of only 16 plans in the country to receive this rating for 2015. [More]
Viewpoints: Ebola myths; Sen. McCain's 'opportunistic alarmism'; Gov. Jindal on CDC's misspent resources

Viewpoints: Ebola myths; Sen. McCain's 'opportunistic alarmism'; Gov. Jindal on CDC's misspent resources

Hubris is the greatest danger in wealthy countries -; a sort of smug assumption that advanced technologies and emergency-preparedness plans guarantee that Ebola and other germs will not spread. It was hubris that left Toronto's top hospitals battling SARS in 2003, long after the virus was conquered in poorer Vietnam. It was hubris that led the World Health Assembly in 2013 to cut the WHO's outbreak-response budget in favor of more programs to treat cancer and heart disease. [More]
State highlights: Md., Minn. see small business health insurance rate changes; Texas sues AstraZeneca over Seroquel marketing

State highlights: Md., Minn. see small business health insurance rate changes; Texas sues AstraZeneca over Seroquel marketing

Some small businesses in Maryland will see a small drop in health insurance premiums next year, while others will pay as much as 11 percent more to cover their workers, according to rates released by state regulators Friday. The rates, which go into effect in January, only apply to small firms with up to 50 employees, and not to large or self-insured firms or individuals buying coverage on the state's health insurance exchange. Evergreen Health Cooperative sought no rate increase, and Aetna Health Inc. will raise rates only slightly, according to the rate information released by the Maryland Insurance Administration. Some UnitedHealthcare premiums will drop by about 2.5 percent (Cohn, 10/10). [More]
Issues on coverage: Steep Rx costs; federal plan eliminates 'transgender exclusion'

Issues on coverage: Steep Rx costs; federal plan eliminates 'transgender exclusion'

Even patients with insurance are finding that specialty drugs can quickly eat a hole in their wallets because insurers are often putting them in a special tier and demanding high consumer co-payments. Also, the State Department is getting rid of the "transgender exclusion" in it largest health plan, and some consumer advocates are suggesting that people getting coverage on the health marketplaces be allowed to get "wrap-around" plans through their employers. [More]

Obamacare premium increases likely in states with key Senate races

Politico reports that this could be bad news for Democrats who are running in Louisiana and Iowa -- both locations are experiencing double-digit rate hikes for individual health plans. In other news, Va. Senate candidate Ed Gillespie, a Republican, unveils a plan to replace the health law if it were to be repealed, and the New York Times take a close look at one Florida congressional contest. [More]
Medicare Advantage plans marked by shortcomings

Medicare Advantage plans marked by shortcomings

The New York Times reports that these problem areas include rejection of claims for medical services and limits on prescription drug coverage. News outlets also report on ACOs grades and Medicare Advantage rate shifts. [More]

Medicaid backlogs persist, raising concerns as enrollment season nears

The Wall Street Journal reports that hundreds of thousands of people still don't officially have the Medicaid coverage they signed up for. Some of them began the process in late 2013. In other Medicaid news, debate in Mississippi continues regarding whether the state should pursue the expansion of the health insurance program for low-income and disabled people. [More]
Research roundup: Older consumers' spending on health care; hospital leaders' views of reporting quality

Research roundup: Older consumers' spending on health care; hospital leaders' views of reporting quality

In 2011, households with at least one member between ages 50 and 64 spent 8 percent of their total budget on health items, compared with 19 percent for those age 85 or over. [More]

Preparing for the health law's second lap

With open enrollment fast approaching for the online insurance marketplaces, news outlets are examining the preparations that have been made in order to ensure a smoother process this time around. [More]
State highlights: Blue Cross Blue Shield dominant in Texas

State highlights: Blue Cross Blue Shield dominant in Texas

A selection of health policy stories from Texas, New Jersey, Connecticut, Georgia, Missouri and New Mexico. [More]
Viewpoints: Effects of health law; conquering Ebola

Viewpoints: Effects of health law; conquering Ebola

In case you don't follow me on Twitter, here it is: The Affordable Care Act has already helped slow the rate of growth in health-care costs across the board, putting more money in Americans' pockets and bringing down projected deficits even as millions more people sign up for health insurance and receive access to Medicaid. [More]