A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "States"

The law clearly states it — words mean what they say

Grace-Marie Turner
Galen Institute
Thu, 2014-08-21
"The Affordable Care Act gives the president’s cabinet officers sweeping powers to implement the law, but the administration managed to overreach these powers by allowing people in 36 states to illegally access health insurance subsidies. That was the conclusion of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in July. At issue is the ability of people who sign up for coverage through exchanges established by the federal government to receive credits to reduce the cost of their health insurance. D.C. Appeals Court Judge Raymond Randolph said the statute was quite clear in repeating seven times that subsidies are available only “through an Exchange established by the State.” When the health law was passed, its authors apparently believed they had sufficiently cajoled the states.

Poll: 69% favor Prop. 45 measure on regulating health insurance rates

Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
Thu, 2014-08-21
"A new poll shows 69% of California voters back Proposition 45, a November ballot measure giving the insurance commissioner the power to stop excessive health-insurance rate increases.. The Field Poll released Wednesday indicates broad support statewide for Proposition 45 ahead of what's expected to be a costly and contentious battle between consumer groups and health insurers. Overall, 69% of registered voters said they favored the health-rate regulation measure while 16% opposed it and 15% were undecided heading into the Nov. 4 election. The poll found that a majority of registered Democrats and Republicans in the state supported Proposition 45. Among Democrats, 75% of those surveyed offered support while 58% of Republicans also favored it."

Indiana Man Thought He Was Covered Under Obamacare … Until He Needed to Visit Dentist

Philip Wegmann
The Daily Signal
Wed, 2014-08-20
"An Indiana man who purchased health insurance through Obamacare’s federal exchange says he was assured he had dental coverage. When he needed care, though, he learned that his insurance provider wouldn’t cover the work. Now, he’s warning others they could also be getting misleading information. “You might be very surprised you’re not covered when you were told that you were,” he says."

Reform Update: Arkansas may make Medicaid enrollees fund HSAs

Steven Ross Johnson, Modern Healthcare
Wed, 2014-08-20
"Arkansas, the first state to establish the conservative private-plan model for expanding Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, now is looking to join several other conservative-leaning states in requiring low-income beneficiaries to make monthly contributions to their health coverage in the form of a health savings account. The state has proposed to the CMS that, beginning in 2015, its Medicaid beneficiaries would have to contribute to Health Independence Accounts (PDF). Beneficiaries with annual incomes between 50% and 99% of the federal poverty level would contribute $5 a month to their accounts, while those earning between 100% and 138% of poverty would pay between $10 and $25. The state would provide a matching contribution of $15 into their accounts. Money would be drawn from the accounts for copayments on medical services.

Anthem Blue Cross sued again over narrow-network health plans

Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
Wed, 2014-08-20
"Health insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross faces another lawsuit over switching consumers to narrow-network health plans — with limited selections of doctors — during the rollout of Obamacare.. These types of complaints have already sparked an ongoing investigation by California regulators and other lawsuits seeking class-action status against Anthem and rival Blue Shield of California. A group of 33 Anthem customers filed suit Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the health insurer, which is a unit of WellPoint Inc. Anthem is California's largest for-profit health insurer and had the biggest enrollment this year in individual policies in the Covered California exchange. In the latest suit, Anthem members accuse the company of misrepresenting the size of its physician networks and the insurance benefits provided in new plans offered under the Affordable Care Act."

Md. health officials: Rebuilt health insurance online site will be fixed by Nov.

Jenna Johnson, Washington Post
Wed, 2014-08-20
"Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration is confident that its rapid rebuilding of the state’s health insurance Web site is progressing as planned and will be ready before the next enrollment period begins in November. The state’s first attempt at launching a site was riddled with technical problems that made it much more difficult for residents to sign up for health insurance made possible by the Affordable Care Act. Maryland is now rebuilding the site using technology developed by Connecticut. The fix is estimated to cost at least $40 million, if not much more."

CT’s individual insurance market grew 55 percent under Obamacare

Arielle Levin Becker, Connecticut Mirror
Tue, 2014-08-19
"The number of Connecticut residents covered by health insurance purchased through the state’s individual market rose by nearly 60,000 since last year, a 55 percent increase since the implementation of major provisions of Obamacare, according to figures released by the Connecticut Insurance Department. The data also show that more than half the people who bought their own health insurance last year have maintained their old policies or other plans purchased late in 2013. But more than 50,000 of them won’t be able to keep their health plans beyond this year, potentially setting up a repeat of last fall’s turmoil and frustration among people whose policies were discontinued."

Obamacare Opponents Who Won On Subsidies Ask SCOTUS To Take The Case

Tue, 2014-08-19
"Obamacare challengers in the Halbig case have asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals not to review a three-judge panel's ruling against federal exchange subsidies, instead calling for "final resolution by the Supreme Court." The backstory: one month ago a divided three-judge panel prohibited Obamacare subsidies for residents buying from the federal exchange. The Obama administration asked the full D.C. Circuit bench to rehear the case, which is reserved for matters of exceptional importance. The challengers don't want that, because if they lose at the D.C. Circuit it would make the Supreme Court less likely to take the case. "There is no doubt that this case is of great national importance. Not due to the legal principles at stake—this is a straightforward statutory construction case under well-established principles—but rather due to its policy implications for ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act ('ACA').

FDA vs. right to try: Our view

Editorial board
USA Today
Tue, 2014-08-19
"The deadly Ebola outbreak spreading through Africa is so extreme, it is driving health officials to do something that they would instinctively resist in normal circumstances: Subject patients to unproven experimental drugs. The drugs are risky. Some have not even been tested on humans. Even so, a World Health Organization ethics committee just declared such use ethical, and its reasoning is hard to dispute, at least for patients who would otherwise die. Some chance is better than none, even with unknown side effects. Too bad American patients suffering from terminal illnesses have so much trouble getting the same chance. The process for getting experimental drugs is so daunting that fewer than 1,000 people sought and got federal approval to take such drugs last year. Food and Drug Administration rules require patients to clear a series of hurdles. First, they and their doctors must find a company to provide its drug.

States, Feds on Collision Course Over ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ Laws

Jonathan Easley, Morning Consult
Tue, 2014-08-19
"Health policy hashed out in Washington is usually discussed in terms of billions of dollars or percentage of market share. But, more often than other areas of policy, it can also lead to a focus on whether it will directly cause unnecessary suffering or even death for individuals. Pointing to the deeply personal implications of health policy is not unfamiliar. Consider Sarah Palin’s accusation that Obamacare would create “death panels,” or recent debates over FDA approval of Avastin, a cancer drug. The argument that the government shouldn’t regulate the behavior of a dying patient has sprouted up once again in 2014, and may be setting the stage for a showdown between the states on one side, and the federal government and Congress on the other. In May, Colorado Gov.

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