Today's headlines include a range of stories regarding the future of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations as well as reports about the strategies that might now be used by health law opponents.
Kaiser Health News: Minnesota Facing Bigger Bill For State's Health Insurance Exchange
Minnesota Public Radio News' Elizabeth Stawicki, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "Minnesota's state health insurance exchange will cost $54 million in 2015 to operate, according to the Gov. Mark Dayton administration. The cost comes in at greater than earlier estimates of $30 to $40 million. The state would not have to find the money until 2015, when the state exchanges are required to be financially self-sustaining" (Stawicki, 11/25). Read the story.
Kaiser Health News: How To Handle Extra Costs Not Covered By Medicare (Video)
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews answers a question about an unexpected bill a reader received after paying out-of-pocket for medical services not covered by Medicare (11/15). Watch the video.
Kaiser Health News tracked weekend health policy headlines, including reports about the latest news on Medicare changes and the fiscal cliff.
The Wall Street Journal: Talks Over Fiscal Cliff Stay Stuck In Low Gear
Congressional leaders return to Washington this week facing the prospect that talks with the White House over the country's budget impasse have barely progressed, a reminder of the philosophical divisions that remain despite both sides' early professions of optimism. … Inconclusive talks among high-level aides have done more to define the differences between the two parties than bridge them, according to people in both parties. Republican leaders have agreed to boost tax revenue by capping deductions rather than raising rates. And senior Democrats have agreed to modest changes to programs such as Medicare. Each side has resisted ceding too much ground and views their adversaries' concessions as inadequate (Hook and Paletta, 11/25).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Influence Game: Fiscal Compromise Is Fine, Groups Say, Provided Members Don't Share The Pain
A big coalition of business groups says there must be give-and-take in the negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" of massive tax increases and spending cuts. But raising tax rates -; a White House priority -; is out of the question, the group adds. … And there's no ambiguity in the views of the top lobbying arm for retirees. "AARP to Washington: No cuts to Medicare and Social Security in last-minute budget deal" the group's Web site declares. … So much for the notion of shared sacrifice as Congress and the White House face a Dec. 31 deadline to craft a far-reaching deficit-reduction plan (11/26).
The New York Times: Trying To Turn Voters Into Tax Allies
When Tea Party activists swamped town hall-style meetings about health care in the summer of 2009, President Obama's army of campaign volunteers largely stayed away, seemingly less interested in fighting for legislation than they had been in electing the nation's first African-American president. Now, Mr. Obama is seizing a second chance to keep his election-year supporters animated (Shear, 11/25).
Politico: Back To The Drawing Board For Obamacare Foes
President Barack Obama's reelection has ensured that Obamacare is the "law of the land," as House Speaker John Boehner declared, and it's forcing Republicans on Capitol Hill to rethink their years-long opposition to the health care reform law. The election has forced Republicans to acknowledge a harsh truth: The president's signature law won't be repealed in the next four years. By then, millions of Americans will be getting tax subsidies -; and those will be really hard to take away (Haberkorn, 11/26).
Politico: Time's Short, But Obamacare Foes Press On In Court
The window is closing for those who want to bulldoze President Barack Obama's health law in court. "It's going to become increasingly difficult because courts are much less willing to overturn something that's already entrenched," said Randy Barnett, the Georgetown University law professor who helped construct the Supreme Court argument against the law earlier this year (Cheney, 11/26).
The Wall Street Journal: New, Higher Hurdle to Deduct Care
Starting next year, taxpayers will only be able to deduct medical expenses that exceed 10% of their adjusted gross income. For years that threshold has stood at an already formidable 7.5% of income. (People age 65 and older can keep using the old threshold through 2016.) The change affects taxpayers who itemize deductions on Schedule A of the 1040 form instead of taking the standard deduction (Geer, 11/25).
The Wall Street Journal: Women Face Higher Costs
Shopping for long-term-care insurance is about to get even trickier for families-;and potentially costlier. Until now, insurers have charged the same premiums regardless of gender for the policies, which help pay for future nursing-home, assisted-living and home care. But beginning early next year, Genworth Financial, the country's largest long-term-care insurer, plans to start charging women applying for coverage as much as 40% more than men (Greene, 11/23).
The Washington Post: As Drug Industry's Influence Over Research Grows, So Does The Potential For Bias
[S]ince about the mid-1980s, research funding by pharmaceutical firms has exceeded what the National Institutes of Health spends. ... The billions that the drug companies invest in such experiments help fund the world's quest for cures. But their aim is not just public health. That money is also part of a high-risk quest for profits, and over the past decade corporate interference has repeatedly muddled the nation's drug science, sometimes with potentially lethal consequences (Whoriskey, 11/24).
The Associated Press/Washington Post: Four-Year Fight For Family Health Coverage Leads Lesbian Couple To Supreme Court's Door
Like a lot of newlyweds, Karen Golinski was eager to enjoy the financial fruits of marriage. Within weeks of her wedding, she applied to add her spouse to her employer-sponsored health care plan, a move that would save the couple thousands of dollars a year. Her ordinarily routine request still is being debated more than four years later, and by the likes of former attorneys general, a slew of senators, the Obama administration and possibly this week, the U.S. Supreme Court (11/26).
The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Disabled Parents Face Bias, Loss Of Kids: Report
Millions of Americans with disabilities have gained innumerable rights and opportunities since Congress passed landmark legislation on their behalf in 1990. And yet advocates say barriers and bias still abound when it comes to one basic human right: To be a parent. A Kansas City, Mo., couple had their daughter taken into custody by the state two days after her birth because both parents were blind. A Chicago mother, because she is quadriplegic, endured an 18-month legal battle to keep custody of her young son. A California woman paid an advance fee to an adoption agency, then was told she might be unfit to adopt because she has cerebral palsy (11/26).
Los Angeles Times: Health Insurer Sued Over Disclosure Of Exclusions
A health insurer owned by two Wall Street giants is headed to trial next week over claims it misled a San Bernardino County couple into buying a policy that left them with more than $140,000 in unpaid medical bills from cancer treatment. Norman and Kathleen Carter of Yucaipa are battling their insurance company, even as Kathleen continues to fight abdominal cancer (Terhune, 11/24).
The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Medicaid Hits Budget
The larger-than-expected demand for Medicaid health coverage for needy adults, a contributor to Connecticut's latest budget shortfall, is being felt across the state, according to a review of Department of Social Services statistical reports. Average monthly caseloads in cities and towns during the last three years show the state's three largest cities have the greatest jump in numbers of residents seeking coverage under Medicaid for Low Income Adults or LIA (11/23).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.