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First Edition: August 19, 2014

First Edition: August 19, 2014

Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including stories about a how a hospital system's data was hacked, involving as many as 4.5 million patients' records. [More]
Viewpoints: Va. GOP's 'Medicaid charade'; Paul Ryan's health Rx for poverty; giving the sick unapproved drugs

Viewpoints: Va. GOP's 'Medicaid charade'; Paul Ryan's health Rx for poverty; giving the sick unapproved drugs

Virginia lawmakers will convene in a special session next month to address the question of expanding Medicaid and, more broadly, the fact that hundreds of thousands of poor and disabled people in the state have no health insurance coverage. Democrats and some moderate Republicans have advanced a variety of ideas to tackle that problem. Conservative Republicans, who control the legislature in Richmond, have rejected those solutions while proposing no alternative. Does the GOP intend for the special session to be anything more than a charade at taxpayers' expense? (8/15). [More]
State highlights: Calif. hospital bid draws scrutiny; hospital house calls

State highlights: Calif. hospital bid draws scrutiny; hospital house calls

Prime Healthcare Services Inc., a hospital chain that has come under fire for billing and patient privacy issues, is facing opposition over its potential acquisition of six California hospitals, including two medical centers in Los Angeles County. On Friday, hospital workers, union representatives and elected officials protested against Prime outside St. Vincent Medical Center near downtown Los Angeles, one of the six hospitals put up for sale this year by the Daughters of Charity Health System (Garland, 8/15). [More]
Why didn't your health insurance cover your bill?

Why didn't your health insurance cover your bill?

How many times have you gotten a medical bill for more than you were expecting? Chances are, it's happened before, and you're not the only one who's been shocked at the price tag on a service that your insurance should have covered. [More]
Implantable heart devices provide same substantial survival benefit, regardless of race

Implantable heart devices provide same substantial survival benefit, regardless of race

Racial and ethnic minorities who receive implantable devices to treat heart failure derive the same substantial survival benefit from these therapies as white patients, new UCLA-led research shows. [More]

Rocky rollout of ACA benefits for Oregon's developmentally disabled

Many developmentally disabled Oregonians qualify for more money to cover services at home under the Affordable Care Act, but families say there aren't enough providers to go around. Meanwhile, consumer advocacy groups in North Carolina look for people who qualify for Obamacare and don't know it. And Connecticut reports a 55 percent increase in the size of its individual insurance market. [More]

After rejection of increases, Conn. premiums set to decrease

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield's individual-market customers will, on average, see a slight decrease in their premiums next year under new rates approved by the Connecticut Insurance Department. Anthem, the state's largest insurer, initially requested approval to raise rates by an average of 12.5 percent. But the insurance department rejected the proposal and asked the company to resubmit its plan using different calculations. The result: An average premium decrease of 0.1 percent for Anthem customers (Becker, 8/15). [More]
First Edition: August 18, 2014

First Edition: August 18, 2014

Today's headlines stories about the pervasive nature of Medicare fraud and the difficulties involved in fighting it. [More]
State highlights: TB outbreak in Alabama prisons; court order could force Wash. hospitals to release many psychiatric patients

State highlights: TB outbreak in Alabama prisons; court order could force Wash. hospitals to release many psychiatric patients

Alabama's prison system, badly overcrowded and facing a lawsuit over medical treatment of inmates, is facing its worst outbreak of tuberculosis in five years, a health official said Thursday. Pam Barrett, director of tuberculosis control for the Alabama Department of Public Health, said medical officials have diagnosed nine active cases of the infectious respiratory disease in state prisons so far this year (8/14). [More]
VA begins discipline process for workers involved in health system waiting scandal

VA begins discipline process for workers involved in health system waiting scandal

The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to recommend action against six employees at veterans' medical facilities in Colorado and Wyoming. Meanwhile, news outlets report on questions about whether offering veterans the option of private care will address some of the VA health system's problems. [More]

Health law's next challenge: Maintaining enrollment momentum

The Huffington Post explores why the people who did not sign up for health coverage during the 2014 open enrollment period may be much harder to reach. News outlets also report on developments from Massachusetts regarding the state's online insurance marketplace. [More]
Viewpoints: Enrollment 'plummeting'?; Arkansas' 'boondoggle'; move Medicare to Obamacare exchanges

Viewpoints: Enrollment 'plummeting'?; Arkansas' 'boondoggle'; move Medicare to Obamacare exchanges

In the latest leg of their endless journey to find bad news about the Affordable Care Act, conservative analysts and websites have seized on some ambiguous figures to declare that enrollment is "plummeting," "shrinking," "sinking rapidly"--choose your headline. The most charitable interpretation of this claim is that it's based on extreme cherry-picking. The most accurate interpretation is that it's wrong (Michael Hiltzik, 8/13). [More]

The rush is on: Process immigrant paperwork to keep them insured

The Wall Street Journal reports on reaction to the Obama administration's announcement that coverage would be cut off for as many as 310,000 people if they don't prove they are citizens or legal residents by Sept. 5. Other news outlets offer local takes on the issue. [More]
State highlights: Mass. hospitals see 70% jump in mistakes; changes coming to Md.'s state employee health plan

State highlights: Mass. hospitals see 70% jump in mistakes; changes coming to Md.'s state employee health plan

Massachusetts acute-care hospitals reported 753 serious medical errors and other patient injuries last year, a 70 percent annual jump that health officials attributed mostly to expanded definitions of what constitutes medical harm. So-called serious reportable events in other types of hospitals, including those that provide psychiatric or rehabilitative care, rose 60 percent from 2012, to 206. [More]
Longer looks: A sugar cube pyramid; Obamacare's successes; the suicide checklist

Longer looks: A sugar cube pyramid; Obamacare's successes; the suicide checklist

Dean Angstadt, a 57-year-old, self-employed logger, said that the Affordable Care Act saved his life. ... Kathy Bentozi, a 58-year-old Pennsylvanian, is also thankful for Obamacare. ... Joshua Haymore, a 27-year-old Coloradan, could not get a specialist to see him for weeks last year ... Now that he has Medicaid, his prescriptions cost $3 and his health has improved significantly. Those are just three of thousands of good-news stories coming from the insurance expansion in the Affordable Care Act. ... But there is scant evidence that Americans have started to take notice, or care (Annie Lowrey, 8/13). [More]

Exchange roundup: Colorado market called 'very competitive'; California loses some plans

While some state marketplaces are adding insurance carriers -- and The Urban Institute calls Colorado's marketplace "very competitive" -- several plans will not be returning to Covered California. [More]
First Edition: August 14, 2014

First Edition: August 14, 2014

Today's headlines include a report about an uptick in VA referrals to private physicians. Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby reports: "Some hospitals in New York, Florida and Wisconsin are exploring ways to help individuals and families pay their share of the costs of government-subsidized policies purchased though the health law's marketplaces – at least partly to guarantee the hospitals get paid when the consumers seek care. [More]

Majority of customers are satisfied with MediCare International, shows survey

A recent survey of users of international private healthcare insurer MediCare International has reported that 95% of those surveyed were either very satisfied or satisfied with their overall service experience. [More]
State highlights: Fed. judge in Ore. rules health plan wrongly denied autism coverage; new rules could disrupt care for disabled Kansans

State highlights: Fed. judge in Ore. rules health plan wrongly denied autism coverage; new rules could disrupt care for disabled Kansans

In a potentially far-reaching opinion, a federal judge in Portland has ruled that Providence Health Plan wrongfully denied insurance coverage for groundbreaking autism therapy for two Portland boys. [More]

Unresolved citizenship, immigration status threaten health law coverage for 310,000 people

The federal government has mailed notification to the people in three dozen states. These people have until Sept. 5 to present green cards, citizenship documents or other information to prove their eligibility for health insurance purchased through the online insurance marketplace. [More]