New taxes, Medicaid expansion requests and health insurance portability make health law news

News outlets examines a host of health law issues including new taxes on the rich -- set to soon take effect -- meant to pay for parts of the health law, governors' latest requests on expanding Medicaid, health insurance portability for older workers and dealing with chronic care.

The New York Times: New Taxes To Take Effect To Fund Health Care Law
For more than a year, politicians have been fighting over whether to raise taxes on high-income people. They rarely mention that affluent Americans will soon be hit with new taxes adopted as part of the 2010 health care law. The new levies, which take effect in January, include an increase in the payroll tax on wages and a tax on investment income, including interest, dividends and capital gains. The Obama administration proposed rules to enforce both last week (Pear, 12/8).

The Washington Post: GOP Governors Seek Leeway On Medicaid Expansion
Republican governors are ratcheting up pressure on President Obama to scale back a key provision of his health care law. In a letter to Obama last week, 11 governors asked for a meeting "as soon as possible" to negotiate for greater control over their Medicaid programs. Among other things, the governors want the option of expanding Medicaid -- the state-federal program for the poor and disabled -; in a much more modest way than envisioned in the law (Aizenman, 12/8).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Care Law May Free Some Workers To Switch Jobs
The health-care overhaul, whatever its larger merits, might offer some relief for individuals in their 50s and early 60s in the grips of "job lock." That's a term used to describe workers who are unable or reluctant to leave their current jobs for fear they won't be able to find health insurance. Older employees in particular -- who are likelier than younger workers to have health problems and who don't qualify for Medicare until age 65 -- see that uncertainty as a "major barrier" to changing jobs or retiring, says Michael Thompson, New York-based principal of human-resource services at consulting firm PwC (Coombes, 12/10).

California Healthline: Forum Explores Dealing With Chronic Care Under ACA
Chronic health conditions will remain one of the contributing factors to financial and utilization strain on the health care system, but there are a number of steps that can be taken to address them, according to a panel of experts that met recently in San Jose. ... The moderator, physician and health care author Travis Stork, said dealing with chronic conditions may be the most important health care concern of our time. ... Now that health care reform is becoming reality nationally, Stork said, it's time to shift from pilot programs to implementation of the pilots that work (Gorn, 12/10).

The Boston Globe: Will National Health Reform Close Ethnic And Racial Disparities?
One-third of Hispanics and more than 20 percent of African-Americans nationwide lack health insurance. But the law's provisions -- most of which take effect in January 2014 -- will effectively cut by half the number of African-Americans who are uninsured, and significantly improve coverage rates for Hispanics (Weintraub, 12/9).

Additionally, a former Congressional Budget Office director says GOP governors may be inadvertently enabling a "single-payer" system --

The Hill: Holtz-Eakin: GOP Governors Enabling Single-Payer Health Care
Republican governors are going down a slippery slope toward single-payer healthcare by resisting the key feature of President Obama's health care law, according to conservative economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin. Republican governors have taken a hard line against setting up their own exchanges, which conservatives see as the best chance to undermine President Obama's signature health care law. But as Holtz-Eakin noted in the National Review, that choice gives more power to the federal government. "Conservatives must recognize that establishing a state health-insurance exchange is not acquiescing to ObamaCare," Holtz-Eakin wrote. "It is instead one of the best means available to fight it and to ensure that control remains where it belongs -- in the states and with citizens" (Baker, 12/7).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from 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.


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