First Edition: September 16, 2013

Published on September 16, 2013 at 8:03 AM · No Comments

Today's headlines include reports about new polling indicating that the health law still faces an uphill climb.  

Kaiser Health News: States Balk At Terminating Medicaid Contracts Even When There's Fraud Or Poor Patient Care
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with The Washington Post, Jenni Bergal writes: "In Florida, a national managed care company's former top executives were convicted in a scheme to rip off Medicaid. In Illinois, a state official concluded two Medicaid plans were providing 'abysmal' care. In Ohio, a nonprofit paid millions to settle civil fraud allegations that it failed to screen special needs children and faked data. Despite these problems, state health agencies in these - and other states - continued to contract with the plans to provide services to patients on Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor and disabled. Health care experts say that's because states are reluctant to drop Medicaid plans out of fear of leaving patients in a bind" (Bergal, 9/15). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: The Overlooked Obamacare Sales Force: Hospitals
Kaiser Health News staff writer Jay Hancock, working in collaboration with The Washington Post, reports: "As community groups, brokers and insurers prepare to recruit members for medical plans that go on sale in October under the health law, nobody has a bigger financial stake in their success than hospitals. And few may work harder to sign consumers up for the Obamacare insurance marketplaces than hospitals themselves" (Hancock, 9/13). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Local Uninsured Programs Face Uncertain Times As Obamacare Ramps Up
Kaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz, working in collaboration with McClatchy, reports: "Jennifer Webb works the deli counter at Publix supermarket and has thyroid problems. Her boyfriend, William May, is an artist recovering from colon cancer. The couple has relied on a county program that provides health coverage to the working poor. But their 'security blanket,' as Webb calls the Alachua County CHOICES program, is being taken away at the end of December. As new coverage provisions take effect Jan. 1 under the health law, local programs that offered barebones care to the uninsured are in flux – and with them, the lives of thousands who depend on them" (Galewitz, 9/13). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Individuals With Medical Conditions Will Not Pay A Penalty On Premiums (Video)
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews helps you navigate the new insurance marketplaces that are scheduled to launch on Oct. 1. In today's video, she answers a question about premium penalties (9/15). Watch the video or watch the other videos in this series.

Kaiser Health News: Long-Term Care Panel Releases Recommendations But Fails To Offer Plan To Help Pay For Services
Reporting for Kaiser Health News, Susan Jaffe writes: "A commission created by Congress to address the country's surging need for long-term health care released recommendations Friday but did not reach a consensus on how to pay for these often expensive services" (Jaffe, 9/13). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Gov. Corbett To Propose Big Changes to Pennsylvania Medicaid
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Amy Worden, Angela Couloumbis, and Harold Brubaker, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News, reports: "Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett will announce his plan Monday to expand health coverage for the poor by using public dollars to finance commercial insurance for 500,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians" (Worden, Couloumbis and Brubaker, 9/15). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News also tracked weekend health policy headlines, including reports about the Obama administration's response to labor union's health law request (9/15) and President Barack Obama's comments about efforts to defund the overhaul (9/15).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Law Faces Skepticism
New poll results show the depth of the Obama administration's challenge on the eve of the rollout of the federal health law's core provisions, as many Americans say they don't understand the law and don't think it will help them. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that even those lacking health insurance, who are supposed to be the law's biggest beneficiaries, generally believe it wouldn't do them much good (Radnofsky, 9/16).

USA Today: USA Today/Pew Poll: Health Care Law Faces Difficult Future
Republican lawmakers have failed in dozens of attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but a new USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll shows just how difficult they have made it for President Obama's signature legislative achievement to succeed. As the health care exchanges at the heart of the law open for enrollment in two weeks, the public's views of it are as negative as they have ever been, and disapproval of the president's handling of health care has hit a new high (Page, 9/16).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Company Returns $800K 'Navigator' Grant As Obstacles To Implement Affordable Care Act Mount
A company that has for decades helped people enroll in Medicaid says it won't be able to sign up people for insurance under the new Affordable Care Act because there is too much scrutiny over a so-called navigator program. According to an email obtained by The Associated Press, Cardon Outreach's chief legal officer Charles Kable told the federal government it was returning more than $800,000 in federal grant money. The funds were supposed to be used to hire people in four states help explain the intricacies of health insurance to millions of people who aren't covered (9/15).

The Wall Street Journal: Kentucky Officials Promote Health Law Where Skepticism Runs Deep
As Kentucky prepares to implement the health law, public agencies and advocacy groups are devoting millions of dollars and scores of outreach workers to sign up a key group: uninsured people in the state's rural expanses. Of the roughly 640,000 Kentuckians who are uninsured, 45% live in nonmetropolitan counties, which are mainly rural, according to state data (Campo-Flores, 9/13).

Politico: Obamacare D-Day Becomes A Soft Launch
For months all eyes have been on October 1 -; the first day people can sign up for Obamacare. But as that day approaches, many people working on the nuts and bolts of the health law are tamping down any expectations of a sign-up stampede. Not everyone will enroll immediately. And that, they say, is the way they want it (Haberkorn, 9/14).

The Tennessean/USA Today: Health Law Offers Quandary For Youths
Whether he and millions of other young people buy coverage is crucial for the federal health law to reach the goal of making insurance affordable. Their participation is needed to offset the cost of guaranteed coverage for older people with pre-existing conditions. But with barely more than two weeks before enrollment begins on a newly created exchange for the uninsured, most young people know little or nothing about what's at stake for them, according to polls and surveys (Wilemon, 9/15).

Los Angeles Times: Insurers Limiting Doctors, Hospitals In Health Insurance Market
The doctor can't see you now. Consumers may hear that a lot more often after getting health insurance under President Obama's Affordable Care Act. To hold down premiums, major insurers in California have sharply limited the number of doctors and hospitals available to patients in the state's new health insurance market opening Oct. 1 (Terhune, 9/14).

The Washington Post: If Elected, Mcauliffe Faces Showdown With Va. House Republicans Over Obamacare
Terry McAuliffe has made Medicaid expansion central to his bid for governor, saying it would provide health insurance to 400,000 needy Virginians, create thousands of jobs and provide the state with a $2 billion a year windfall. Some Republicans say his push to expand the health-care program could lead to something less appealing: a government shutdown. "I will not sign a budget in Virginia unless it includes the Medicaid expansion," McAuliffe said this summer in an interview with AARP. ... Given overwhelming opposition to expansion in the GOP-dominated House of Delegates, that campaign promise amounts to a threat to hold the state budget hostage to McAuliffe's Medicaid goal, some Republicans say (Vozzella, 9/14).

NPR: Calling Obesity A Disease May Make It Easier To Get Help
Under the Affordable Care Act, more insurance plans are expected to start covering the cost of obesity treatments, including counseling on diet and exercise as well as medications and surgery. These are treatments that most insurance companies don't cover now. This move is a response to the increasing number of health advocates and medical groups that say obesity should be classified as a disease (Neighmond, 9/16).

The New York Times: On Campus, A Faculty Uprising Over Personal Data
Improving health while holding down health care costs is the kind of having-your-cake-and-eating-it combination that most people can get behind. In fact, both ideas are embedded in the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act. But an uprising among faculty members at Pennsylvania State University over a new employee wellness plan is challenging at least some of the methods designed to achieve those aims (Singer, 9/14).

Politico: Price, Van Hollen Spar Over Obamacare
Reps. Tom Price and Chris Van Hollen tore into each other on "Fox News Sunday" when asked whether stopping Obamacare implementation was worth shutting down the government. Price, a Republican from Georgia, when asked whether he supported a shutdown to stop the implementation of Obamacare, demurred twice, changing course from an earlier Fox interview in which he said that he would. Instead, he pointed to a proposal to delay the law's implementation for a year (Drusch, 9/15).

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