First Edition: November 15, 2012

Published on November 15, 2012 at 8:09 AM · No Comments

Today's headlines include the latest details on states' decisions about pursuing health exchanges as well as other political and policy developments.

Kaiser Health News: States Count Down To Decisions On Health Exchanges
Kaiser Health News staff writers Phil Galewitz and Alvin Tran report: "With a federal deadline looming Friday, 10 states remain undecided about whether to build state-based online insurance markets designed to help millions of people buy health coverage starting next October" (Galewitz and Tran, 11/14). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Computer Issues May Hamper Online Markets
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Appleby reports: "New online insurance markets set to begin selling health coverage to consumers next October may be hampered by delays in launching a key computer program, according to state consultants and insurance regulators. State regulators learned late last week that an electronic system most insurers will use to submit their policies for state and federal approvals won't be ready for testing next month, as originally planned. The lag is being blamed on the wait for several regulations from the Obama administration, which are needed to update the software" (Appleby, 11/14). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Hospitals, Home Health Care Services Lobby Against Cuts; Progressive Group Recommends $385 Billion In Health Cuts; Employer Health Costs Rise 4 Percent, Lowest Boost Since 1997
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Mary Agnes Carey reports on health industry lobbying related to the deficit deal: "As lawmakers and President Barack Obama discuss possible changes to federal entitlement programs as part of a larger deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, expect provider groups to make their case loud and clear: Don't cut us" (Carey, 11/15).

In addition, Phil Galewitz reports on a budget deficit cutting plan advanced by the Center for American Progress: "Hospitals, drug companies, nursing homes and health plans would lose billions in Medicare funding over the next decade under a budget deficit cutting plan recommended by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank which has close ties to President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton" (Galewitz, 11/14).

Also on Capsules, Jay Hancock reports on employer health costs: "Furnishing new evidence of slower growth in health costs, consulting firm Mercer said Wednesday that employers spent 4.1 percent more on health benefits this year than in 2011. It was the smallest increase in 15 years" (Hancock, 11/14). Check out what else is on the blog

The Wall Street Journal: At President's Meeting With Executives, Some Push, Pull And Give
President Barack Obama's meeting with top chief executives Wednesday included a frank exchange about the White House's chilly relationship with business executives and firm support for tackling the country's fiscal problems, several people familiar with the gathering said. … He also communicated to the chief executives, in a tone several described as persuasive, that he was committed to substantive changes in Medicare and other entitlement programs, which make up a large portion of federal spending and are projected to grow quickly in the next few decades as more Americans retire (Paletta and Linebaugh, 11/14).

Politico: Senate Liberals To Obama: 'Don't Buckle' On Cliff
Liberal Democrats in the Senate are warning President Barack Obama not to cave on taxes and entitlements in deficit talks set to begin this week, a move that could complicate efforts by the White House to win the backing of GOP leaders. West Virginia's Jay Rockefeller and Tom Harkin of Iowa are circulating a letter among their Democratic colleagues that calls on the president to stand firm on revenue, entitlement programs and spending cuts. They're hoping to get as many as 30 Senate Democrats to sign on, Rockefeller said (Sloan and Raju, 11/14).

The New York Times: Health Law Has States Feeling Tense Over Deadline
The days since President Obama won re-election have been marked by tension and angst in Republican-led states like Iowa, where Gov. Terry Branstad has waited until the last minute to decide whether to create a crucial tool for people to get medical coverage under Mr. Obama's health care law (Goodnough and Cooper, 11/14).

Los Angeles Times: Republican Governors Want More Time To Implement Healthcare Law
In a letter to the president Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, the current and incoming chairmen of the Republican Governors Assn., said governors do not have enough information to assess whether they should operate their own insurance exchanges in 2014 or leave the job to the federal government (Levey, 11/14).

The Washington Post: Medicaid Personal-Care Programs Are Targets For Fraud, Investigators Say
Lax requirements for both caregivers and patients, along with poor state and federal oversight, have made the rapidly growing Medicaid personal-care programs an increasingly lucrative target for fraud, according to a federal report scheduled for release Thursday (Eaton, 11/14).

The New York Times' The Caucus: Romney Blames Loss On Obama's 'Gifts' To Minorities And Young Voters
Saying that he and his team still felt "troubled" by his loss to President Obama, Mitt Romney on Wednesday attributed his defeat in part to what he called big policy "gifts" that the president had bestowed on loyal Democratic constituencies, including young voters, African-Americans and Hispanics. … The president's health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics (Parker, 11/14).

Los Angeles Times: Romney Attributes Loss To 'Gifts' Obama Gave Minorities
Romney's frank analysis echoed his secretly taped comments at a May fundraiser, where he told a small group of donors that 47% of the electorate was unlikely to vote for him because they paid no income taxes and were dependent on government. It followed his running mate Paul D. Ryan's assertion that Obama's win stemmed from turnout among "urban" voters. … Young voters, Romney said, were motivated by the administration's plan for partial forgiveness of college loan interest, the extension of health coverage for students up to age 26 on their parents' insurance plans and free contraception coverage under Obama's healthcare plan, which he credited with ushering greater numbers of college-age women into Obama's coalition (Reston, 11/14).

The Washington Post: Romney: Obama's Gift Giving Led To Loss
Mitt Romney is blaming his loss in the presidential election on "Obamacare" and other "gifts" he says President Obama handed out to African Americans, Hispanics and other core supporters, according to news reports Wednesday. The defeated Republican candidate told donors in a conference call that Obama targeted those demographics, along with young voters and women, through programs such as health-care reform and "amnesty" for children of illegal immigrants, according to articles posted online by the New York Times and Los Angeles Times (Markon and Tumulty, 11/14).

Los Angeles Times: More Employers Embrace High-Deductible Health Plans To Pare Costs
With open enrollment for benefits in full swing, U.S. workers are seeing more high-deductible health plans from cost-conscious employers. A new report finds that 36% of large employers offered consumer-directed, high-deductible health plans in 2012, up from 14% five years ago. Enrollment in those plans has risen to 16% of all covered employees, compared with 5% in 2007, according to benefits consultant Mercer (Terhune, 11/14).

The Wall Street Journal: After Divorce, Many Women Lose Health Insurance
Shedding light on the issues of divorce and health care, a new University of Michigan study estimates that 65,000 American women become uninsured each year as a result of marital dissolution. Indeed, among married women who had health insurance and then divorced, 17 percent were uninsured six months later. There was also a big shift among divorced women from private insurance to public insurance, such as Medicaid. After divorce an estimated 115,000 women each year lose private coverage, the study reported, but many are bailed out by government programs (Akst, 11/14).

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