First Edition: August 29, 2014

Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including reports about the Obama administration and Pennsylvania reaching an agreement to expand Medicaid in that state.

Kaiser Health News: Beware Of Higher Charges If You Go To An Out-Of-Network Emergency Room
Kaiser Health News' consumer columnist Michelle Andrews reports: "When you need emergency care, chances are you aren't going to pause to figure out whether the nearest hospital is in your health insurer's network. Nor should you. That's why the health law prohibits insurers from charging higher copayments or coinsurance for out-of-network emergency care. ... But there are some potential trouble spots that could leave you on the hook for substantially higher charges than you might expect" (Andrews, 8/29). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Calif. Bill Would Protect Estates Of Many Who Received Medicaid
Capital Public Radio's Pauline Bartolone, working in collaboration with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "A bill passed by the California legislature this week is putting Gov. Jerry Brown in a delicate position: Sign the measure and support consumer demands for a change in the state's policy on recovering assets from Medicaid enrollees or keep the current system that generates about $30 million used to provide Medicaid benefits to more residents (Bartolone, 8/28). Read the story.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: In Texas, New Doctor-Restrictive Abortion Law Could Kick In Monday
Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, KUHF's Carrie Feibel, working in collaboration with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "A federal judge in Austin, Texas, will issue a decision in the next few days about whether clinics that perform abortion in the state must become outpatient surgery centers. The Texas law is part of a national trend, in which state legislatures seek to regulate doctors and their offices instead of women seeking abortions" (Feibel, 8/28). Read the story.

The New York Times: Pennsylvania To Purchase Private Care For Its Poor
Pennsylvania will become the 27th state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration announced Thursday, using federal funds to buy private health insurance for about 500,000 low-income residents starting next year. Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, had proposed the plan as an alternative to expanding traditional Medicaid under the health care law, which he opposes. Now that federal officials have signed off, Pennsylvania will join Arkansas and Iowa in using Medicaid funds to buy private coverage for the poor (Goodnough, 8/28).

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Administration, Pennsylvania Governor Reach Deal To Expand Medicaid
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett reached a deal with the Obama administration to extend the state's Medicaid program to half a million low-income residents under the Affordable Care Act, officials said Thursday. Pennsylvania is now the 27th state to agree to broaden Medicaid to include everyone earning up to a third more than the federal poverty level, or around $16,000 for a single adult. The agreement makes Mr. Corbett, a Republican, the ninth GOP governor to go along with a central part of the 2010 health-care law (Radnofsky, 8/28).

The Washington Post: Pennsylvania's Republican Governor Expands Medicaid
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett had sought the Obama administration's permission to use money authorized by the Affordable Care Act to purchase private health insurance for poor adults. With Thursday's announcement, Corbett and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services instead agreed to a plan to expand the program through managed care organizations. ... Medicaid coverage for Pennsylvania adults earning below 133 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $15,500, will begin in January. Starting in 2016, adults earning above the federal poverty line will have to pay premiums worth no more than 2 percent of household income. Those adults can be dropped from the program for failing to pay premiums, but they can also receive discounts for healthy behaviors, like going for a check-up (Millman, 8/28).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Feds Approve Corbett's Pa. Medicaid Expansion Proposal
In what was described as a five-year demonstration project, Pennsylvania got the go-ahead to use federal money to pay private insurers to provide health care to uninsured individuals - many in low-wage jobs. ... But whether the Healthy PA program will roll out Jan. 1 as scheduled could depend on voters. Polls show Corbett facing a double-digit deficit in his bid for reelection. His Democratic challenger, Tom Wolf, has said he supports the traditional Medicaid expansion that 26 states and the District of Columbia have already approved (Worden, 8/28).

The Wall Street Journal: CBO Director: Political Divide Makes Fiscal Progress 'Very Hard'
[Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas] Elmendorf said it was impossible to tell whether his agency's 2009 and 2010 assessments of the Affordable Care Act were – in retrospect – accurate, because parts of the law are only beginning to take effect and also because it is difficult to measure what programs like Medicare would look like without the ACA changes. "We don't know, and I think in some important ways, we will never know," Mr. Elmendorf said. He said CBO's projections for the number of people who would enroll in insurance exchanges established by the ACA have turned out to be very accurate. He also said they stand by their estimate that the law – in its entirety – will reduce the government's deficit over its first two decades (Paletta, 8/28).

The New York Times/Texas Tribune: Texas Hospitals Say They've Lost Insured Patients To Urgent Care
Opting to skip the wait at hospital emergency rooms, an increasing number of Texans are choosing to use urgent care centers that are popping up in strip malls and shopping districts. ... The increasing number of urgent care centers is problematic for Texas hospitals. Hospitals say they are competing with the clinics for the same pool of insured Texans, at a time when they are also getting less money to cover the cost of treating uninsured patients (Ura, 8/28).

USA Today: If 'Clean,' Big Data Can Improve U.S. Health Care
Less medical privacy may be good for your health. A growing body of research has found that information Americans share on social media websites about their health and lifestyle is more up to date and accurate than what they share with doctors, employers, insurance companies and government agencies. In other words, we're more honest with our friends than we are with those who control our access to medical care (Shinal, 8/28).

The Wall Street Journal: States Expand Access To Overdose-Reversal Drug
Faced with an unrelenting epidemic of heroin and pain-pill deaths, many states are pushing to make more widely available a drug called naloxone that can reverse overdoses from such opioid drugs within minutes. ... There are now 24 states, along with the District of Columbia, that have passed laws expanding access to naloxone, 17 of them in the last two years, said Corey Davis, deputy director of the Network for Public Health Law's Southeastern region, who tracks such policies. The measures vary, but common provisions include allowing doctors to prescribe naloxone to a drug user's friends and family members, and removing legal liability for prescribers and those who administer the medication (Campo-Flores and Elinson, 8/28).

The New York Times: Ebola Could Strike 20,000, World Health Agency Says
The World Health Organization said on Thursday that the Ebola epidemic was still accelerating and could afflict more than 20,000 people -; almost seven times the current number of reported cases -; before it could be brought under control (Cumming-Bruce and Cowell, 8/28).

The Wall Street Journal: Testing On Experimental Ebola Vaccine To Begin in U.S.
The National Institutes of Health said Thursday it will begin testing an experimental Ebola vaccine in humans next week, accelerating research as an epidemic caused by the deadly virus continues to ravage West Africa (McKay, 8/28).

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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