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Californians Are the Savviest ACA Exchange Consumers
California Healthline
Californians are among the best at signing up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges, according to an online calculator called Putting Patients First, the Orlando Business Journal reports. The Putting Patients First calculator was created by the National Health Council.

Biz Bits: How the Affordable Care Act may affect your tax refund
Mount Shasta News
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) brings a lot of changes to this year’s tax code. Do you know if and how it will affect your tax refund? Here are five tips from H&R Block to help you understand how your taxes and tax refund will be affected as a result of the biggest tax code change in more than 20 years.

HHS says federal Obamacare sign-ups hit 6.6 million
Washington Times
Tom Howell Jr.
Nearly 6.6 million people selected health plans on the federal Obamacare exchange between Nov. 15 and Jan. 2, the Obama administration said Wednesday in its latest “snapshot” of activity in the law’s second go-around. The figures released by the Health and Human Services Department reflect both returning customers who actively or automatically re-enrolled on HealthCare.gov and those who entered the exchanges for the first time.
House passes first ObamaCare bill of year
The Hill
Cristina Marcos
The House passed legislation Tuesday to exempt veterans who have health insurance through the Defense or Veterans Affairs departments from ObamaCare’s employer mandate. Members voted overwhelmingly in favor of the measure, the first House bill on the floor in the new Congress, by 412-0. The bill marks the first ObamaCare-related vote of the new Congress, after more than 50 in the last four years. Another measure to make changes to the law is slated for floor consideration this week. It would establish 40 hours as a full-time workweek under the healthcare law instead of 30. The vote for that bill is more likely to fall along party lines, however.

Chart of the Day: Obamacare Just Keeps Working, and Working, and Working….
Mother Jones
Kevin Drum
Last year, as Obamacare finally went into full effect, the ranks of the uninsured began to drop sharply. Despite all the website problems and the repeated predictions of doom from conservatives, it turned out that Obamacare was working well. Then things stabilized as open enrollment ended. Today, Gallup released new results for the final quarter of 2014, which marked the start of Obamacare’s second year of enrollment, and guess what? The ranks of the uninsured are dropping yet again.

White House threatens veto on Republican bill to weaken Obamacare
Mike Segar
The White House said on Wednesday that President Barack Obama would veto a Republican-backed bill that would reduce the number of people who qualify for employer-based health insurance under his signature Affordable Care Act. The bill, introduced on Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives, aims to require companies to offer healthcare coverage to employees who work 40 hours per week, instead of the 30-hour threshold under the reforms known as Obamacare.

The Effect of Eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s Tax Credits in Federally Facilitated Marketplaces

Study: 9.6M could lose ObamaCare if subsidy challenge succeeds
The Hill
Elise Viebeck
Roughly 9.6 million people could lose medical coverage on ObamaCare’s exchanges if the Supreme Court rules that subsidies distributed by the federal marketplaces are invalid, according to a new study. Researchers with the RAND Corp., a nonpartisan research group, said such a ruling could cause “significant instability” and “threaten the viability of the individual health insurance market” in the 34 states where the federal government manages the exchange. Premiums on the individual market would also rise by 47 percent, or $1,610 annually, for a 40-year-old non-smoker with a silver plan, the study said.

Tax Returns Complicated by Health Care Law and I.R.S. Staff Cuts
The New York Times
Ann Carrns
The filing season for tax year 2014 starts in less than two weeks. While some people won’t have all the forms needed to file their returns until the beginning of next month, there’s good reason to start gearing up now — whether you prepare your own taxes, or pay someone to do it for you. On the plus side, unlike last year when filing season was delayed by a government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service says it is on track this year, and will begin accepting electronic tax returns and processing paper forms on Jan. 20. But a combination of reduced help from the I.R.S., and potential confusion from new tax requirements under the Affordable Care Act, the federal health care law, may mean it could take longer to get your questions answered and file your return.

Raising of weekly hours to 40 for ACA health benefits facing vote
Indianapolis Star
Maureen Groppe
The U.S. House is expected to approve Thursday a bill championed by Indiana lawmakers that would increase the number of hours an employee has to work before the employer must offer health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The White House has threatened to veto the bill, saying it would increase the deficit and the number of uninsured, while giving employers a greater incentive than they have now to reduce workers’ hours to avoid paying for health insurance. “What’s clear is that the temptation that some employers might have would only be sweetened significantly if this Republican change were to be put into place,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.



California Diversity Health Summit Nov. 5th





































Poll: Most Californians Favor Coverage for Undocumented, Low Income

California Healthline
David Gorn
A poll released today found that a majority of California registered voters believe government subsidized health coverage should be extended to the undocumented population in the state.  “California has led the nation in expanding access to care and now we have an opportunity to continue that by finishing the job of Obamacare,” said Daniel Zingale, senior vice president at The California Endowment.

Fil-Am solon will push for health coverage of undocumented in California
Jun Nucum
The lone Filipino-American member the California State Assembly vowed to push for legislation that would provide health care coverage for all Californians regardless of immigration status. If passed, the law would benefit an estimated two million undocumented immigrants in California including thousands of the 1.2 million Filipinos in the state.

Year two enrollment poses big challenge for health care marketplaces
Julie Appleby
As states gear up for round two of Obamacare enrollment next month, they have their sights set on people like Miles Alva. Alva, 28, works part-time at a video store and is about to graduate from Cal State Northridge. Getting insured is about the last thing on his mind. “It’s not a priority,” the television and cinema arts student said. “I am not interested in paying for health insurance right now.”

California regulators clear Obamacare rates, hold off on networks

Los Angeles Times
Chad Terhune
California regulators won’t challenge the next round of health insurance rate increases in the state exchange, but insurers’ narrow networks of doctors and hospitals are drawing tougher scrutiny. The state’s two insurance regulators didn’t find proposed premiums for 2015 individual coverage to be unreasonable among the 10 health plans in the Covered California exchange. These rates also apply to individual coverage outside the state’s Obamacare marketplace.

Covered California enrollment numbers have been released

Imperial Valley Press
Krista Daly
About 7,375 people have enrolled for health insurance through Covered California in the Imperial County since the beginning of the year. Covered California is part of the Affordable Care Act, which helps to provide health insurance to those who previously had trouble getting it.



Obamacare Round 2: States gear up for start of next enrollment period in November

Washington Post
Anna Gorman and Julie Appleby
As states gear up for Round 2 of Affordable Care Act enrollment next month, they have their sights set on people like Miles Alva.  Alva, 28, works part time at a video store and is about to graduate from California State University at Northridge. Getting insured is about the last thing on his mind. “It’s not a priority,” the television and cinema arts student said. “I am not interested in paying for health insurance right now.”

Wal-Mart adds in-store program to help customers compare insurance offerings

Washington Post
Sarah Halzack
Wal-Mart announced Monday that it will dive deeper into the health-care market, unveiling an initiative to allow customers to compare and enroll in health insurance plans in thousands of its stores. Wal-Mart is teaming with DirectHealth.com, an online insurance comparison site and independent health insurance agency, to set up counters in its stores where consumers can talk to licensed agents about plan options.


Anti-Obamacare Congressman Urges Obama To Use Obamacare To Fight Ebola

Think Progress
Igor Volsky

A Republican congressman, who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than 30 times, called on the federal government on Monday to use a fund embedded in the law to help prevent a national outbreak of Ebola. “It’s section 4002 in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it’s called the Prevention and Public Health Fund, and this is a self-replenishing fund, at the first of the fiscal year every year,” Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) explained during an appearance on 660AM’s Mark Davis Show.


The surprising Obamacare experiment that saved taxpayers $24 million last year

Washington Post
Danielle Parquette

The medical center is what’s called a Pioneer Accountable Care Organization, one of 19 in the country. More simply: It’s a network of doctors, nurses and social workers who team up to deliver continuous, coordinated care to patients — and, in the process, slash government spending. Its approach has been championed by some health economists as a cutting-edge way to save tax money.  Last year, the Montefiore Pioneer ACO saved the government $24.5 million in Medicare spending, according to a Montefiore spokesperson. Because of a cost-cutting incentive built into the Affordable Care Act, which created the partnership, the medical center got to keep $13 million of that amount.


‘Health For All’ Bill Would Fix Hole in the Affordable Care Act


Covered California outlines campaign for new enrollment (English and Spanish)

Vida en el Valle, Sept 22
With open enrollment starting in less than two month, California residents might start noticing the new advertising campaign from Covered California on television or radio.

Deadline approaches to confirm Covered California eligibility (English and Spanish)
Vida en el Valle, Sept 22
Consumers who might be at risk of losing health coverage through Covered California have six days left to submit proper proof of legal residency in the United States.

More Hispanics Have Insurance (in Spanish)
EFE in La Opinión
EFE in El Mensajero
Sept 29
Hispanics’ health coverage has increased, in less than a year, from 64% to 77% in states that have implemented the Affordable Care Act or ACA, according to a recent poll.

More Latinos Enrolling in Health Insurance (Spanish)
MundoFOX, Sept 29
More and more Latinos have enrolled in the U.S. health care system. Since the first open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, the rate of uninsured Hispanics between 19 and 64 years old fell by 13 percent.

New Legislation Could Help Undocumented and Uninsured (English)
El Nuevo Sol, Sept 27
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) excludes undocumented people. These are children, mothers, fathers, students, and seniors of different nationalities from all over the world according to the 2013 study, Undocumented and Uninsured, by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and funded by The CommonWealth Fund.

Fighting to Keep Health Insurance in the New Open Enrollment Period (Spanish)
Radio Bilingue, Sept 28
Samuel Orozco, the news director of Radio Bilingue, reviewed the efforts of the federal government and California to pave the way for thousands of Latinos who had to overcome many obstacles to finally get health insurance for themselves and their families, making their way in a sea of adversity and misinformation, failures of the automated online health insurance marketplace, and even idiosyncratic problems, such as not opening or reading governmental notices in the mail.


California Scrambles To Clear Medi-Cal Applications Backlog
Capital Public Radio
Pauline Bartolone
The state of California says about 400,000 applicants to the Medi-Cal program are still waiting to get coverage. Administrators say they’ve made a lot of progress on the backlog in recent weeks. But consumer advocates say the state could be doing more to get people coverage faster. The state says it had a tremendous wave of applicants to Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act – it has enrolled more than two million people. Norman Williams of the California Department of Health Care Services says that’s part of the backup.

California’s Enrollment Success Is Its Greatest Challenge
Medpage Today
Anna Gorman
California is coming face to face with the reality of one of its biggest Obamacare successes: the explosion in Medi-Cal enrollment. The numbers — 2.2 million enrollees since January — surprised healthcare experts and created unforeseen challenges for state officials. Altogether, there are now about 11 million Medi-Cal beneficiaries, constituting nearly 30% of the state’s population. That has pushed the public insurance program into the spotlight, after nearly 50 years as a quiet mainstay of the state’s healthcare system, and it has raised concerns about California’s ability to meet the increased demand for healthcare.

Some medical services for undocumented people in Fresno County could end soon
Modesto Bee
Marc Benjamin
Undocumented immigrants may have no access to certain types of medical services later this year if the Fresno County Board of Supervisors moves ahead with plans to end a contract for indigent health services with Community Regional Medical Center. The program could end because the county won a lawsuit earlier this year when a Fresno County Superior Court judge ruled it didn’t have to provide those services in light of the changing health care environment.

Some Say Sick Not Getting Health Care
Valley News
Rocardo Alonso-Zaldivar
Ending insurance discrimination against the sick was a central goal of the nation’s health care overhaul, but leading patient groups say that promise is being undermined by new barriers from insurers. The insurance industry responds that critics are confusing legitimate cost-control with bias. Some state regulators, however, say there’s reason to be concerned about policies that shift costs to patients and narrow their choices of hospitals and doctors.

The GOP is using wacky strategies to derail ACA
Deseret News
Dean Baker
There is zero truth to most of the Republicans’ stories on the horrors of the ACA, but that has little relevance to their efforts to derail the program. They apparently believe that there is no more pressing problem facing the country than making sure that people do not get health insurance. This is the backdrop that must be kept in mind when considering the Halbig v. Sebelius case that is currently moving through the court system.

Medicare To Pay Physicians To Provide Care Coordination Services
California Healthline
Medicare in January 2015 plans to begin paying physicians a monthly fee to coordinate the care of beneficiaries with chronic diseases, in an effort to improve continuity of care, the New York Times reports. For each beneficiary with two or more chronic conditions — such as heart disease, diabetes or depression — who signs up, physicians will receive $42 per month.

White House Being Pressed to Enforce Obamacare’s Anti-Discrimination Provisions
Ending insurance discrimination against the sick was a central goal of the nation’s health care overhaul, but leading patient groups say that promise is being undermined by new barriers from insurers. The insurance industry responds that critics are confusing legitimate cost-control with bias. Some state regulators, however, say there’s reason to be concerned about policies that shift costs to patients and narrow their choices of hospitals and doctors.

Health reform law effects will trickle down to workers comp: Doctor
Business Insurance
Stephanie Goldberg
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act makes little mention of workers compensation, but the law will indirectly affect workers comp systems nationwide in both negative and positive ways, one doctor said during the Disability Management Employer Coalition’s conference in Las Vegas. Since workers compensation regulations vary from state to state, the effects of the Affordable Care Act will look a little different everywhere, said Dr. David Deitz, national medical director of commercial insurance strategic practices at Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. in Boston.









Recent poll by CNN on Americans believing others are better off with Obamacare:



Governor signs bill to diversify Covered California board

Sacramento Business Journal

Kathy Robertson


Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill to diversify the expertise of the board that governs Covered California, the state health benefit exchange.

Latest ACA Rulings Will Not Affect Californians

Capital Public Radio
Pauline Bartolone

People in the Golden State don’t have to bother understanding the conflicting federal appeals court rulings handed down Tuesday. Elizabeth Taylor with the National Health Law Program says the rulings deal with people buying coverage on the federal exchange. Covered California is a state-based exchange. “Doesn’t affect California, nope,” says Taylor.


Poll: Most say Obamacare working

Lucy McCalmont
More than half of Americans believe that they or others are better off with Obamacare, a new poll shows. The CNN poll released Wednesday found that 18 percent of respondents said they or their family had benefited from the health care law, while an additional 35 percent said while they may not be better off, the lives of others have improved. Forty-four percent say no one has benefited from Obamacare.

Business Groups, Consumer Advocates Draw Lines In The Sand About Essential Benefits

Kaiser Health News
Shefali Luthra

That’s when this provision of the Affordable Care Act, which sets out 10 specific health services that must be covered by plans sold on the exchanges, will likely be  reviewed by the Department of Health and Human Services. Business interests and consumer advocates are already making their positions clear – the former pushing for greater consciousness of premium costs and the latter looking to safeguard consumers’ coverage. During a July 21 Capitol Hill briefing, members of the Affordable Health Benefits Coalition, a business interest group including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Retail Federation, said they would push to reshape essential benefits, arguing that current regulations have led to unaffordable hikes in insurance premiums.


10 Million Americans Sought Help To Enroll In ACA

Insurance News Net
Alex Nixon
Bob Nelson’s business surged earlier this year when people scrambled to find health coverage to comply with the Affordable Care Act. Even though uninsured consumers could go online and buy a health plan through a government website without professional help, hundreds came to see Nelson, an Ambridge insurance broker. “It’s hard to believe that I sold more insurance in six months than I did in five years,” said Nelson, referring to the October-March open enrollment period on Healthcare.gov.

Mountainous Backlog Stalls Medi-Cal Expansion in California

Kaiser Health News
Helen Shen
A massive backlog of Medi-Cal applications is well into its third  month, and California officials have provided little information about how and when the largest such bottleneck in the nation might be cleared. The California Department of Health Care Services in Sacramento first reported 800,000 pending applications in April. By May, that number had grown by 100,000 and has not budged much since.  As the state works through older applications, new ones continue each day to enter the system, which has been plagued by computer glitches and inefficient procedures for verifying applicants’ personal information.

Covered California To Award $16.9M in Navigator Grants

California Healthline
Covered California has announced it will dole out $16.9 million in grants to navigators to help with education, enrollment and outreach during the exchange’s second open enrollment period, which begins Nov. 15. Officials said that as many as 135 groups could be awarded grants, with the size of the award based on enrolling “a predetermined number of consumers.”

See Also:



Does Covered California have 1.4 million Obamacare enrollees or hundreds of thousands fewer? No one knows for sure

San Francisco Business Times

Chris Rauber


Back in mid-April, officials at Covered California were taking bows and running victory laps after tallying 1.4 million anticipated enrollees during the Obamacare exchange’s initial open enrollment period. That tally led the nation by a large margin.


Who Shopped The SHOP Exchanges? Very Few Small Businesses

Kaiser Health News
Fred Mogul

SHOP is an option set up by the health law catering to workplaces with 50 or fewer employees. It has been slow to get off the ground around the country, with 18 states postponing its full implementation, at least until 2016. California, a much more populous state than New York, has 1.4 million people in its exchange overall, but under 5,000 in its SHOP exchange. Officials at the New York State of Health say the big push last year and earlier this year has been in the individual market, and they hope to build momentum in the coming months and years for the small-business product.


Hobby Lobby’s Unintended Consequences


Ezekiel Emanuel


Which would you prefer: to have the ability to decide for yourself and your family the type of coverage you want to purchase on a health insurance exchange—and having your premiums subsidized by a defined contribution or voucher from your employer—or to cede that ability to your employer entirely, having them pick your insurance for you, but empowering them to decide, based on their personal religious beliefs, which services to cover and which to exclude

People Of Color Aren’t Benefiting From Obamacare As Much As They Could Be

Think Progress
Vignesh Krishnaswamy

Even as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enables millions of uninsured people to gain coverage, a new survey shows that stark racial disparities in health insurance coverage remain a serious problem.  Data released by the CDC at the end of June shows that in 2013, among individuals under 65 years old, 30 percent of Hispanics and 19 percent of non-Hispanic blacks were uninsured. That’s significantly more than the percent of non-Hispanic Asians and non-Hispanic whites who were uninsured.


COBRA Enrollees Have 60 Days to Switch to an Exchange Plan; Move Is Expected to Save California Consumers Money on Health Insurance 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Beginning Thursday, May 15, Covered California will launch a limited-time special-enrollment period for people who have COBRA health insurance and would like to switch to an exchange plan.

People who have health coverage through COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) will be eligible to shop for and buy coverage through Covered California from May 15 through July 15, 2014. The two-month window mirrors a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ruling announced May 2 that allows COBRA enrollees to buy plans through the federal exchange until July 1.

The federal policy for the COBRA special-enrollment period was approved amid concerns that notifications did not give consumers clear information about options in the new marketplace. HHS encouraged state exchanges to follow suit.

Read more


LALCC Members:

Chronic disease accounts for seven in ten deaths in the United States each year. The management of these conditions, many of which are largely preventable, consumes more than 75% of American expenditures on health care. Due to the Latino community’s specific set of challenges and circumstances, Hispanics are at greater riskof developing diabetes and other chronic health conditions than non-Hispanic Whites.

First, we lack access to affordable, high-quality health care. Two of the biggest risk factors for poor health among Latinos are the lack of access to affordable, high-quality health care and the inconsistent health care intervention in between doctor visits. More than twice as many (33%) Latinos younger than age 65 lack health insurance compared to non-Hispanics (14%). And of those who are receiving health care, they still face many barriers to being able to properly treat and manage their diseases.

Second, there are several social determinants that Latinos face on a daily basis. Research demonstrates that poverty, income and wealth inequality, racism, sex discrimination, and low socioeconomic conditions are risk factors for poor health.

Third, there are inadequate intervention efforts made to our community.
Hispanics are less likely than non-Hispanics to be reached by mainstream health education, promotion, and disease prevention messages, which tend to reach middle-class, well-insured, English-speaking people.

Read NCLR’s Chronic Disease Report to learn more about our community’s struggle with this ever-growing health issue and to read our findings and suggestions to help alleviate the problem.


Manuela McDonough
Associate Director, IHH



ACA Media Monitoring: Monday, June 16, 2014

Today’s Clips:





Sacramento Airport Rejects Billboard Featuring Undocumented Immigrants Promoting Health Care

California Healthline


Sacramento International Airport has rejected a billboard advertisement from the California Endowment that depicted undocumented immigrants promoting universal health care. In a statement, the airport said the billboard violated its policy prohibiting displays that could involve the facility in “controversial, social, moral, political or ethical issues.”

Farmworkers in Calif. Often Lack Access to Mental Health Services

California Healthline
According to the Board of Behavioral Sciences, few mental health professionals in the state speak a second language. Specifically, a 2006 survey by the agency found that about 12% of professionals licensed by the agency spoke fluent Spanish and about 1% spoke Chinese. Meanwhile, more than 20% of California residents speak a language other than English at home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey.

See Also:

–          http://www.healthycal.org/archives/15947


Seizure of assets from Medicaid recipients becomes heated issue in California

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Tracy Seipel
California politicians and federal bureaucrats are scrambling to iron out an unexpected wrinkle in the nation’s health care law that is forcing many Americans to choose between health coverage and depriving heirs of much of their inheritance. California is one of 10 states that recover a broad array of costs from recipients of Medicaid, the health program for the poor that is called Medi-Cal in California. The policy applies to recipients 55 and older — and only after they die.
See Also:



Once again, U.S. has most expensive, least effective health care system in survey

Washington Post
Lenny Bernstein
A report released Monday by a respected think tank ranks the United States dead last in the quality of its health-care system when compared with 10 other western, industrialized nations, the same spot it occupied in four previous studies by the same organization. Not only did the U.S. fail to move up between 2004 and 2014 — as other nations did with concerted effort and significant reforms — it also has maintained this dubious distinction while spending far more per capita ($8,508) on health care than Norway ($5,669), which has the second most expensive system.

Hobby Lobby aims for Obamacare win, Christian nation

Stephanie Simon
The Green family may be best known in secular circles for their lawsuit against Obamacare, a high-stakes — and highly political — case that could undercut the administration’s goal of setting minimum standards for health care coverage. By the end of this month, the Supreme Court will decide if the federal government can force the Greens to include methods of contraception they deem sinful as part of employees’ health insurance. The pending Hobby Lobby ruling has thrust the Greens into the national spotlight, but the family’s mission is far bigger than a single court case.

Say What? Many Patients Struggling To Learn The Foreign Language Of Health Insurance

Kaiser Health News
Anna Gorman
Health officials have spent much of the past year promoting the Affordable Care Act and enrolling people in coverage. Now they need to help consumers understand the basics of health insurance and how to use their policies, health care providers and researchers say. “Giving somebody an insurance card and not really telling them what that insurance is going to do for them is not going to produce the health outcomes that we all want to see,” said Brendan Saloner, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. “If the goal is to improve health and lower costs … it is really important to equip consumers with the education they need.”


Thousands to Be Questioned on Eligibility for Health Insurance Subsidies

New York Times
Robert Pear
The Obama administration is contacting hundreds of thousands of people with subsidized health insurance to resolve questions about their eligibility, as consumer advocates express concern that many will be required to repay some or all of the subsidies. Of the eight million people who signed up for private health plans through insurance exchanges under the new health care law, two million reported personal information that differed from data in government records, according to federal officials and Serco, the company hired to resolve such inconsistencies.


Electronic health records: A ‘clunky’ transition

Arthur Allen
The government-led transformation of health information is driving doctors to distraction, igniting nurse protests and crushing hospitals under debt. Most health care professionals accept the inevitability of going electronic and see its value. But they have a message for the administration’s multibillion-dollar push: not so fast. The government has already delayed parts of the program, but the American Medical Association and others want more relaxation of the rules, and warn of disaster if they aren’t heeded.

Insurers flocking to ObamaCare

The Hill
Elise Viebeck
Health insurance companies suddenly want in on the ObamaCare action. With a difficult launch year out of the way, insurers are seeing a moneymaking opportunity in the federal healthcare program and are lining up to offer plans on the ObamaCare exchanges in 2015. In the 10 states where data is available, at least 27 new insurers have indicated they will offer plans on the marketplaces in 2015. Each additional carrier will expand the number of plans sold on the exchanges, since none of the carriers already offering plans have indicated they will drop out.


More Insurers in Obamacare Mean Lower Premiums
Fiscal Times
Brianna Ehley
Insurance companies that sat on the sidelines of Obamacare last year are looking to get in the game in 2015. This could mean more options and lower premiums for Obamacare enrollees next year. A new analysis from The Advisory Board says that in every state where data is available so far, more providers are asking to participate in Obamacare next year.


Senate bill doubles spending on veterans’ health

Washington Post
Associated Press
Spending on veterans’ health care could double in three years under the Senate’s solution to the long waits experienced by thousands seeking medical care at VA hospitals and clinics, according to congressional budget experts. Analyzing a bill the Senate passed overwhelmingly last Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the measure would add $35 billion over the next three years to the $44 billion the government now spends annually on medical care for veterans.


Feds Seek To Resolve Discrepancies in ACA Exchange Applications

California Healthline
The Obama administration has begun notifying hundreds of thousands of people who acquired subsidized health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges to verify their eligibility or risk having to pay back some of those funds next year or lose their coverage altogether, the New York Times reports.


Decoding premiums, co-insurance, co-pays and deductibles has some people reeling

Sacramento Bee
Anna Gorman
Health officials have spent much of the past year promoting the Affordable Care Act and enrolling people in coverage. Now they need to help consumers understand the basics of health insurance and how to use their policies, health care providers and researchers say. “Giving somebody an insurance card and not really telling them what that insurance is going to do for them is not going to produce the health outcomes that we all want to see,” said Brendan Saloner, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania.


Opinion: Time has come for single-payer healthcare

The Daily Californian
Sally Littlefield

Recently, it has been reported that 7.5 million Americans have enrolled in Obamacare, many more than expected. Yes, it’s better than before: overall, Americans are insured, and insurance companies are no longer allowed to overcharge or deny coverage to the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions. Key issues persist, however: Some people still cannot afford adequate insurance or insurance at all. New issues have arisen as well: 14 million people are left scrambling after their plans were canceled, and others are ignored by the system all together. Going backward is not the answer. But clearly, the Affordable Care Act is not the answer either. So where do we go from here? According to prestigious organizations such as Physicians for a National Health Program, the American Medical Student Association and the California Nurses Association, the answer is clear: single-payer health care.


Small business insurance program through Affordable Care Act delayed in S.C.

Insurance News Net
Joey Holleman
South Carolina, and 17 other states have been allowed to delay until 2016 at the earliest the implementation of a major component of the Affordable Care Act designed for small businesses and their employees. The Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, was designed to allow companies with up to 100 employees to offer a menu of insurance options to their workers. The “employee choice” portion of SHOP was to provide individuals in the company group policies options similar to the gold, silver and bronze plans offered on the federal Health Insurance Marketplace.


Will diabetes patients benefit from the Affordable Care Act?

Medical Xpress
Mary Ann Leibert
The Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) is dramatically changing health care delivery in the U.S. Specific parts of the new law, which will be phased in through 2020, will have a significant impact on patients with diabetes and prediabetes, as explored in a comprehensive Review article published in Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics (DTT).


Covered California offers limited open enrollment for folks on COBRA

Sacramento Business Journal
Kathy Robertson
Covered California kicked off a special 60-day open enrollment period Thursday for people with COBRA coverage who would like to switch to an exchange plan. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act — better known as COBRA — allows workers who lose or leave their jobs to continue coverage they used to have at work if they pay the tab themselves. COBRA is generally available for up to 18 months, but California allows an extension for another 18 months for a total of 36 months.


Senate Oks bill to diversify Covered California

Sacramento Bee

via AP


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The state Senate has approved a bill to diversify the board overseeing Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange. SB972 by Democratic Sen. Norma Torres of Pomona passed 33-0 Thursday and moves to the Assembly. The bill initially sought to expand the five-member board by two seats but was met with resistance by other senators. The amended version adds several categories to the qualifications for appointment. They include health product marketing, information technology, information systems management and enrollment assistance.


Survey: Many Women Unaware How Health Law Benefits Them

Kaiser Health News

Lisa Gillespie

A large number of women face significant barriers to health care, and while the health law will likely help them get services, some are unaware of the benefits already in effect, according to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Intended as a baseline to measure the future impact of the law, the findings identified several key issues. For instance, 18 percent of women aged 18 to 64 were uninsured, but minorities and low-income women were more likely not to have coverage. Four in 10 low-income women were uninsured at the end of 2013, compared to five percent of higher-income women. Twenty-two percent of black women and 36 percent of Hispanic women were uninsured. Seventeen percent of black women and 14 percent of Hispanic women were covered by Medicaid compared to seven percent of white women.


A simple visualization of why it stinks to be uninsured

Washington Post
Jason Millman

One major difference between being insured and uninsured is easy to see in new graphs from a government report. When compared to those without insurance, working-age adults with insurance are far less likely to go without prescription drugs because they can’t afford them, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.  You can also see in this chart how people struggle to afford insurance as their incomes approach and fall below the federal poverty line.


Veterans in S.F. wait nearly a month for medical care

San Francisco Chronicle
Victoria Colliver
New patients seeking care at the San Francisco VA Medical Center are waiting an average of 29.7 days for their first appointment with a primary care specialist – more than twice the goal of the Department of Veterans Affairs but still shorter than many VA centers in California and the rest of the country.


Group: Covered California Should Better Track Enrollee Demographics

California Healthline
The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network last month sent a letter to the Covered California Board saying that the state’s health insurance exchange did not effectively collect and release data on those who enrolled in coverage, HealthyCal reports.


State Lawmakers Tackle Public Health Issues

Christine Vestal
Four years into implementing the Affordable Care Act, state politicians turned their attention to other pressing health care issues such as preventing drug overdose deaths, limiting e-cigarettes and making medical marijuana more available. States also grappled with the question of who should receive a costly and highly effective cure for hepatitis C. A few states also launched programs aimed at controlling two of the costliest chronic conditions – asthma and diabetes.


Insurers Expand Health Exchange Plans’ Provider Networks

California Healthline


Insurers in several states are expanding their hospital and physician networks for plans sold through the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges amid complaints from consumers and state officials about limited provider options, the Wall Street Journal reports.


Audit Shows Extensive Medical Delays for Tens of Thousands of Veterans

New York Times
Richard A Oppel Jr.

More than 57,000 patients have been waiting more than three months for medical appointments at hospitals and clinics run by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and nearly 64,000 others have been enrolled in the system for a decade but have still not been seen by doctors despite their requests, according to a nationwide audit released Monday.


Budget Referees Make It Harder To Evaluate Obamacare Costs

Kaiser Health News
The Congressional Budget Office will no longer evaluate the fiscal implications of some parts of the Affordable Care Act, partly because of all the changes made during implementation. KHN’s Mary Agnes Carey and The Fiscal Times’ Eric Pianin discuss.


If you like it, you can keep it: Insurance exemptions, premiums and the ACA

The Hill
Carolyn Long Engelhard
On the heels of the disappointing and politically disastrous rollout of the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) heath insurance marketplaces in October 2013, the media reported that perhaps as many as 4.7 million Americans would receive cancellation notices from their “nongroup” or individual health insurance plans because they lacked basic coverage standards under the ACA.