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Feds vow improved, but not perfect, HealthCare.gov

Officials running the federal health insurance website hope to resolve glitches before open enrollment begins Nov. 15, but warn consumers not to expect a seamless experience. Meanwhile, the unusually low enrollment in Obamacare plans in Iowa and South Dakota stemmed from one insurer's business decisions. [More]
GOP candidates explore middle move ahead of election

GOP candidates explore middle move ahead of election

Democrats, in the meantime, try a new tactic -- talking up their commitment to Social Security and Medicare. Elsewhere, Sens. Kay Hagan and Mark Warner face campaign fights centering largely on the health law. [More]
State policies fail to provide sufficient two-generation supports to families with young children

State policies fail to provide sufficient two-generation supports to families with young children

Recent two-generation approaches to reducing poverty that help children and their parents are receiving increasing attention from researchers, advocates, and foundations. [More]
Viewpoints: Ezekiel Emanuel's choice of an age to die; new enrollment numbers still confusing

Viewpoints: Ezekiel Emanuel's choice of an age to die; new enrollment numbers still confusing

Seventy-five. That's how long I want to live: 75 years. This preference drives my daughters crazy. It drives my brothers crazy. My loving friends think I am crazy. They think that I can't mean what I say; that I haven't thought clearly about this, because there is so much in the world to see and do. To convince me of my errors, they enumerate the myriad people I know who are over 75 and doing quite well. They are certain that as I get closer to 75, I will push the desired age back to 80, then 85, maybe even 90. I am sure of my position. [More]
Guidelines recommending routine prostate cancer screening for elderly men have minimal effect

Guidelines recommending routine prostate cancer screening for elderly men have minimal effect

The effect of guidelines recommending that elderly men should not be routinely screened for prostate cancer "has been minimal at best," according to a new study led by researchers at Henry Ford Hospital. [More]
State highlights: Calif. readies new checks on foster kid psych meds; Kan. employment support for those with mental illness

State highlights: Calif. readies new checks on foster kid psych meds; Kan. employment support for those with mental illness

In a significant step toward curbing the overuse of psychiatric drugs in California's foster care system, doctors will soon be required to get extra authorization to prescribe antipsychotics, a new safeguard to protect some of the state's most overmedicated children. Beginning Oct. 1, a state pharmacist must verify the "medical necessity" of each antipsychotic prescription before the medications can be given to children who are 17 and younger and covered by Medi-Cal, the state's health program for the poor that also includes foster children (De Sa, 9/18). [More]
Research roundup: Home health nurses' workloads; readmissions at the VA; SHOP choices

Research roundup: Home health nurses' workloads; readmissions at the VA; SHOP choices

In anticipation of next year's premium announcements and given some information already made public, concerns have surfaced about the potential for double-digit percent increases in nongroup and small-group health insurance premiums. This analysis shows that, although average annual increases in small-group premiums over the past 13 years averaged roughly 5.5 percent, double-digit average premium increases are common for states and large metropolitan areas. [More]
Obama administration: 7.3 million who picked health exchange plans paid their premiums

Obama administration: 7.3 million who picked health exchange plans paid their premiums

That number, which reflects the tally of people who obtained insurance via the health law, fell slightly from the estimated 8 million mark that was released in the spring. It means that at least 700,000 consumers who initially signed up for a health plan let it go. [More]
Health law, Medicare remain hot topics in campaign commercials

Health law, Medicare remain hot topics in campaign commercials

Politico reports that, although the health law and other related issues may not be the flashpoints they were in other recent election years, they still have muscle on the campaign trail. [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]
State highlights: Los Angeles' new mental health program; N.C. considers Medicaid expansion; N.Y. nurses push for more staff

State highlights: Los Angeles' new mental health program; N.C. considers Medicaid expansion; N.Y. nurses push for more staff

The $756,000 initiative marks one of the county's most significant attempts to find a better way to treat people who have mental illness and wind up in the criminal justice system by offering them transitional housing, medical treatment and job-hunting help. Officials say the pilot program will start in Van Nuys and initially help 50 people at a time, but it is expected to spread throughout the county and could accommodate up to 1,000 people at once (Gerber, 9/17). [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]

Medi-Cal patients, advocates sue Calif. over application wait

The lawsuit alleges that hundreds of thousands of people are going without health care as a result. [More]
Health law's ripple effects on hospitals, schools, uninsured

Health law's ripple effects on hospitals, schools, uninsured

The Kansas City Star reports that some uninsured patients fall through the cracks as hospitals cut back on charity care to persuade people to sign up for coverage. Some schools, meanwhile, are turning to private substitutes to avoid having to pay for their health coverage next year. In Colorado, Denver Health is back in the black, partly due to a dramatic decrease in uninsured patients. [More]

Competition among health exchange plans controlling prices, says Humana exec

President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare law will begin enrolling customers for 2015 benefits in mid-November. Now in its second year, Obamacare is attracting health insurers to offer plans in more states after over 8 million people enrolled for coverage in 2014. The country's largest insurer, UnitedHealth Group Inc, sold Obamacare plans in only a few states in 2014. [More]

Census shows health insurance coverage winners, losers

Among the 25 biggest cities, uninsured rates last year ranged from almost 25 percent in Miami and 23 percent in Houston to just more than 4 percent in Boston and 7.5 percent in Pittsburgh, according to Census data. [More]

Many see health law coverage as affordable, survey finds

That's most true among low-income consumers who receive subsidies to help pay their premiums, according to the Commonwealth Fund survey. [More]

NCQA awards Commendable Accreditation to Centene's Florida subsidiary, Sunshine Health

Centene Corporation today announced that its wholly-owned Florida subsidiary, Sunshine Health, was elevated to Commendable Accreditation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for its Medical Managed Assistance and Child Welfare programs. [More]
Viewpoints: Election victory could bring difficult decisions for GOP; Burwell 'presses reset'

Viewpoints: Election victory could bring difficult decisions for GOP; Burwell 'presses reset'

But if the GOP controls both the Senate and the House, its members will be under pressure to govern. At least in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to move major legislation, they'll even have an incentive to compromise .… But that won't be easy. [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]