First Edition: July 11, 2014

Today's headlines include coverage of surveys that offer insight into how the health law is doing in terms of reducing the nation's rate of uninsurance.

Kaiser Health News: A Reader Asks: Does Selling Your House Affect Eligibility For Assisted Living?
Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews answers this reader's question (7/11). Read her response.

Politico: The Verdict Is In: Obamacare Lowers Uninsured
A survey by the Commonwealth Fund found that 9.5 million fewer adults are uninsured now than at the beginning of the Obamacare enrollment season. The Urban Institute's Health Reform Monitoring Survey found a similar drop, with 8 million adults gaining coverage. And Gallup-Healthways survey reported that the uninsured rate has fallen to 13.4 percent of adults, the lowest level since it began tracking health coverage in 2008. That was all on Thursday. In recent months, other surveys in the Gallup series have consistently found the same downward trend, and a RAND survey in April estimated that the law extended health coverage to 9.3 million Americans (Nather, 7/11). 

Los Angeles Times: Health Law Covers At Least 8 Million
President Obama's healthcare law has reduced the number of uninsured adults by 8 million to 11 million in its first year, according to three new studies, and the vast majority report satisfaction with their new health plans. The studies -; done separately by the Commonwealth Fund, the Urban Institute and the Gallup organization -; use different methods to estimate the effect that the Affordable Care Act has had (Terhune and Lauter, 7/10).

Los Angeles Times: Rate Of Uninsured Californians Is Halved Under Obamacare, Survey Finds
The percentage of Californians without health insurance was cut in half in the last nine months during the federal health law's expansion of coverage, a new survey shows. Nationwide, an estimated 9.5 million adults under the age of 65 gained health insurance between late summer 2013 and last month, according to a survey the Commonwealth Fund released Thursday (Terhune, 7/10).

Politico: More Signs That Health Coverage Is Growing Under Obamacare
Millions of Americans have gained health insurance since Obamacare went into effect, according to several new surveys that show the law is bringing down the nation's uninsurance rate after its "train wreck" of a start. Three new surveys released in rapid succession Thursday found substantial numbers of newly insured adults. None of those findings will put to rest the political debate about the cost, structure and wisdom of the Affordable Care Act but they do give advocates firm evidence that the law is meeting coverage goals (Wheaton, 7/10).

The New York Times: Suit Against Obama To Focus On Health Law, Boehner Says
Speaker John A. Boehner's lawsuit against President Obama will focus on changes to the health care law that Mr. Boehner says should have been left to Congress, according to a statement issued Thursday by the speaker's office (Weisman, 7/10).

Los Angeles Times: House Lawsuit Over Obamacare To Focus On Employer Mandate Delay
House leaders announced Thursday that their planned lawsuit against President Obama would focus on his failure to enforce provisions of the Affordable Care Act, renewing a fight over his landmark health law. Speaker John A. Boehner had previously announced plans to sue the president over what he said was Obama's failure to fulfill his constitutional duties, but Boehner did not specify what the challenge would be based on (Memoli, 7/10).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: House Republicans Lay Out Legislation For Lawsuit Against Obama
House Speaker John Boehner's (R., Ohio) planned lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama's executive actions will focus on the White House's decision to waive the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate without the consent of Congress, Republican leaders said Thursday. Republicans unveiled a draft House resolution that would authorize the House of Representatives to file a lawsuit against Mr. Obama, which the chamber is expected to vote on this month. Mr. Boehner said that the lawsuit would be about the division of powers between the executive and legislative branches, saying the White House decision to alter the health law violated that separation of authority (Crittenden, 7/10).

Politico: GOP's Obama Lawsuit To Focus On Employer Mandate
House Republicans will base their lawsuit against President Barack Obama on the administration's "unilateral" decision to delay the employer mandate provision in Obamacare, Speaker John Boehner said Thursday. Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) released a draft resolution that would authorize the House to move forward with a case against Obama for what House Republicans are characterizing as a broad abuse of executive power. The resolution will be considered by the committee next week and a vote on the House floor is expected by the end of July (French, 7/11).

The New York Times: Obscure Rule Restricts Health Law's Expansion Of Care For Addicts
The law allowed states to expand Medicaid to many more low-income people, meaning that drug addicts and alcoholics who were previously ineligible could now receive coverage for substance abuse treatment, which the law has deemed an "essential health benefit." But there is a hitch: Under an obscure federal rule enacted almost 50 years ago, Medicaid covers residential addiction treatment in community-based programs only if they have 16 or fewer beds (Goodnough, 7/10).

The Washington Post: Michigan Reached Its Health Insurance Enrollment Goals 8 Months Early
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) announced Thursday that the state had reached its first-year goal of signing up 322,000 residents for the Healthy Michigan Plan eight months early. About 477,000 Michigan residents are eligible for the Health Michigan Plan, the state's expanded Medicaid program for low-income residents. To be eligible, individuals cannot qualify for or be enrolled in Medicare or other Medicaid programs and must have income at or below 133 percent of the poverty level (Schwartz, 7/10).

The Wall Street Journal: Doctor Quits Uterine-Device Safety Panel Over Conflict
A member of a panel advising the government on the safety of a medical device that can spread cancer in women stepped down after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviewed consulting fees he accepted from a device manufacturer, the agency said Thursday (Levitz, 7/10).

The Washington Post: FDA Has Free-Speech, Safety Issues To Weigh In Review Of 'Off-Label' Drug Marketing
Prompted in part by recent federal court decisions, the FDA is reviewing its rules on what kind of data drug companies should be allowed to distribute to doctors regarding off-label uses, as well as how they should respond to unsolicited questions from physicians about those uses. Its goal is to issue new guidelines by the end of the year (Dennis, 7/9).

Los Angeles Times: UnitedHealth Group Sues California Over Fine
Setting up a major legal fight, UnitedHealth Group Inc. has sued California's insurance commissioner to block his attempt to fine the insurer $173.6 million for violations during a botched 2005 acquisition. The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Orange County Superior Court, is the latest twist in a long-running political drama. Four years ago, California sought a jaw-dropping fine of nearly $10 billion against UnitedHealth, the nation's largest health insurer. The penalty related to problems handling medical claims and policyholder applications after the insurer bought Cypress-based PacifiCare (Terhune, 7/10).

The Associated Press: Va. Changes Regs On Long-Term Care Insurance
Virginia regulators are encouraging long-term care insurance policyholders to take advantage of changes that strengthen protections against unintentional coverage lapses due to nonpayment. The Bureau of Insurance of the State Corporation Commission says insurers have long been required to provide policyholders with the option to designate a third party to receive notice of an impending policy lapse (7/10).

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.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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