A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Medicare"

Governors: States Should Consider Easing Physician Assistant Limits

John Wilkerson, Inside Health Policy
Thu, 2014-09-25
"Governors suggest in a new report that states consider easing restrictions on physician assistants to help deal with swelling Medicaid rolls. The National Governors Association says states should consider including PAs in the definition of "provider," loosening so-called scope-of-practice laws to let physicians delegate more tasks to PAs, opening clinical training sites and encouraging PAs to work in primary care. "To increase the use of the physician assistant workforce, states should review the laws and regulations affecting the profession and consider actions to increase the future supply of PAs," an NGA release states."

How To Fix Medicare? Ask The Public

Mary Agnes Carey
Kaiser Heatth News
Wed, 2014-09-24
"Washington is full of ideas to overhaul Medicare. Some would increase the program’s eligibility age, others would charge higher-income beneficiaries more for their coverage. There’s movement to link payment to the quality — rather than the quantity — of care delivered. Marge Ginsburg decided to ask ordinary Americans how they would change the federal entitlement program."

The Problems With the Census Bureau’s New Estimates on How Many Americans Have Health Insurance

Edmund Haislmaier
The Heritage Foundation
Wed, 2014-09-17
"If you are looking for information on how Americans are engaging with the Affordable Care Act, the Census Bureau’s recently released latest annual estimates of health insurance coverage is probably not the place to look—at least for now. The Census Bureau, which derives its information on healthcare from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement—the same survey where it asks how many toilets, computers, microwaves, etc., people have in their homes—does provide some useful insights. It catalogues the demographic characteristics of the population based on participation in different types of health insurance coverage—government health care programs, private employer and individual plans, and the uninsured.

PolitiFact: Medicare, that favorite campaign attack line

Tampa Bay Times Politifact
Mon, 2014-09-15
"When it comes to claims about Medicare, some political talking points just never die. In Iowa and Virginia, Republicans have accused Democrats of cutting Medicare to pay for Obamacare. In Florida, a Republican was slammed for ending the Medicare "guarantee." Other Medicare-related attacks have been deployed in Arkansas and Kentucky Senate races. The point of all the attacks is to convince midterm voters that one side or the other won't protect the program. Take this one, used in a recent ad aired by the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the hotly contested Iowa Senate race between Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley and Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst: "Bruce Braley voted to cut $700 billion from Medicare to support Obamacare," the ad says. "That's just not fair. We paid in. We paid for it. That should be there for us.""

Obamacare Can’t Take Credit for Slower Health Spending Growth

Alyene Senger
Daily Signal
Fri, 2014-09-12
"Some of Obamacare’s big supporters say the new law has already contributed to decreases in the rate of growth of health spending. But a new report from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of the Actuary says the rate slowed because of a slow economic recovery, increased cost-sharing for those enrolled in private plans and sequestration. Indeed, the report does not even mention Obamacare when assessing the situation. “The recent period is marked by a four-year historically low rate of health spending growth, which is primarily attributable to the sluggish economic recovery and constrained state and local government budgets following the 2007-09 recession,” the report states."

With Medicaid expansion blocked, McAuliffe unveils modest plan to insure more Virginians

Laura Vozzella and Jenna Portnoy, The Washington Post
Wed, 2014-09-10
"RICHMOND — Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who vowed in June to defy the Republican-controlled legislature and expand healthcare to 400,000 uninsured Virginians, unveiled a much more modest plan Monday after being thwarted by federal rules and a last-minute change to state budget language. McAuliffe outlined measures to provide health insurance to as many as 25,000 Virginians, just a fraction of those he had hoped to cover by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The biggest change, covering 20,000 people with severe mental illness, will need funding approval from the General Assembly to continue past the current fiscal year. McAuliffe also offered proposals to improve care for people already in Medicaid and boost outreach efforts to those who qualify but are not enrolled."

Rural Enrollment Presents Continuing Health Law Challenges

Shefali Luthra
Kaiser Health News
Mon, 2014-09-08
"Americans living in rural areas will be a key target as states and nonprofit groups strategize how to enroll more people in health law insurance plans this fall. Though millions of people signed up for private insurance or Medicaid in the first year of the Affordable Care Act, millions of others did not. Many live in rural areas where people “face more barriers,” said Laurie Martin, a RAND Corp. senior policy researcher. Brock Slabach, a senior vice president at the National Rural Health Association, said “the feds are particularly concerned about this.” Distance is one problem: Residents have to travel farther to get face-to-face assistance from the so-called navigators and assisters hired to help consumers figure out the process.

McAuliffe to announce health care plans Today

The Associated Press
Mon, 2014-09-08
"RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is set to unveil his plan to increase health care coverage for the state’s poor. The Democratic governor will speak publicly Monday on his plans for health care expansion. The governor unsuccessfully tried to persuade Republican lawmakers to expand Medicaid during this year’s legislative session. The impasse led to a protracted stalemate over the state budget that ended with a GOP victory."

Former Medicaid recipients get special enrollment period for federal exchange

Scott Bauer
The Associated Press
Sat, 2014-09-06
"MADISON, Wis. -- Nearly 26,000 adults who lost Medicaid coverage through Wisconsin's BadgerCare Plus program after being kicked off earlier this year will have more time to sign up for private subsidized insurance, the federal government announced Thursday. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it was establishing a special enrollment period through Nov. 2 for those people to sign up under the federal exchange created under the health overhaul law. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services estimates that about 25,800 out of 63,000 adults who lost that coverage had yet to sign up for subsidized insurance plans under the federal law. They lost coverage after Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature tightened income eligibility for the state's Medicaid coverage from 200 percent of poverty to 100 percent. That made the income cutoff for coverage $11,670 for an individual and $23,850 for a family of four."

CMS offers to pay part of contested inpatient claims

Anne Zieger, Healthcare Dive
Thu, 2014-09-04
"Dive Brief: •In an effort to reduce the backlog of contested Medicare claims, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has offered to pay hospitals 68% of what they say they are owed for short-term inpatient stays. •The system of hearings on challenged claims has been on hold since December, when the HHS Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals temporarily suspended most new requests for administrative law judge hearings on payment denials by recovery audit contractors. •Hospitals will have 60 days to decide whether to accept CMS' offer, which does not apply to any short-term hospital admission that occurred after October 1, 2013."

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