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08 Sep 13

A new analysis of federal health data shows that Medicaid paid for nearly half of all births in the United States in 2010, a rate that continues to increase.

The federal health care program covered 48 percent of the 3.8 million births that year, jumping from 40 percent in 2008, say researchers from the George Washington University School of Public Health. In only two years, the government entitlement covered 90,000 more women giving birth, as states expand the federal-state health coverage plan.

"As states expand coverage, low-income women of childbearing age will be able to obtain more continuous coverage before and between pregnancies," lead investigator Anne Markus, an associate professor of health policy at the university, said in a statement. Markus and her colleagues said the study would help other researchers assess changes to America’s health care system brought by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, also known as Obamacare.

19 Feb 13

Less than a year before Americans will be required to have insurance under President Obama's healthcare law, many of its backers are growing increasingly anxious that premiums could jump, driven up by the legislation itself.

Higher premiums could undermine a core promise of the Affordable Care Act: to make basic health protections available to all Americans for the first time. Major rate increases also threaten to cause a backlash just as the law is supposed to deliver many key benefits Obama promised when he signed it in 2010.

"The single biggest issue we face now is affordability," said Jill Zorn, senior program officer at the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, a consumer advocacy group that championed the new law.

19 Feb 13

Friday was a very important day for health policy days. It was the last day for states to tell the federal government whether they wanted any part in running the Affordable Care Act  health exchanges come 2014.
The federal government did not get many takers. Some of the most closely watched states, including Florida and New Jersey, decided to leave the entire task to the federal government. All told, the federal government will run 26 of the state health exchanges. It  also will partner with seven states, where state and federal officials take joint responsibility for the marketplace. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia will take on the task themselves. Here’s what that looks like in map form, via the Kaiser Family Foundation.

25 Jan 13

Millions of smokers could be priced out of health insurance because of tobacco penalties in President Barack Obama's health care law, according to experts who are just now teasing out the potential impact of a little-noted provision in the massive legislation.

The Affordable Care Act — "Obamacare" to its detractors — allows health insurers to charge smokers buying individual policies up to 50 percent higher premiums starting next Jan. 1.

For a 55-year-old smoker, the penalty could reach nearly $4,250 a year. A 60-year-old could wind up paying nearly $5,100 on top of premiums.

Younger smokers could be charged lower penalties under rules proposed last fall by the Obama administration. But older smokers could face a heavy hit on their household budgets at a time in life when smoking-related illnesses tend to emerge.

28 Dec 12

The Obama administration has a lot riding on California’s implementation of Obamacare, also known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. How the state implements the new insurance exchanges, and whether or not it is done successfully, will be an important test of nationalized health care.

But a state-run health exchange puts the burden onto the state and the expense ultimately on the taxpayers. The state loses the authority and flexibility needed to best meet the needs of its people… Which is why more than 30 states have told the Obama government that they will not create state-run health exchanges, leaving the Obama administration to build and operate online health insurance markets for more than 30 states. This is an unexpected problem, unanticipated by the federal government when Obamacare was passed in 2010.

But this isn’t a problem for Democratically controlled California government, which will do just about anything for a federal grant.

06 Dec 10

"Congressional Republicans are hoping to put Democrats in a no-win new year's jam: defund a big chunk of their health care overhaul or slash Medicare payments instead.

Despite rampant repeal rhetoric, Republicans have so far struggled to dismantle any part of health reform. Now, they see a new path forward: pilfer health reform dollars to pay for the next "doc fix," the must-pass patch to Medicare doctor payments. "

Republican Senate aides familiar with the issue told POLITICO they are seriously looking at the new law's $15 billion public health commitment to finance a one-year doc fix in the next session of Congress.

The Senate has passed four doc fixes this year alone, none of which were longer than six months and two lasted just 30 days. The last patch, a one-month reprieve passed by the House on Monday, will expire on Dec. 31. Without a doc fix, Medicare provider rates would drop 25 percent.

The idea of tying the doc fix to a partial health reform repeal has legs because it comes with a clear rhetorical message: Congress should not start creating new entitlements without the necessary funding to uphold existing ones.

29 May 09

Former DNC chairman Howard Dean is coming out with a new book that makes the case for Democrats' ambitious plans to reform the country's health care system.

"America has had 'socialized' medicine since 1964,'" Dean writes in the book, according to a rele

29 May 09

Progressive health care reform groups demanded on Thursday that Washington’s NBC television affiliate refuse to air a 30-minute infomercial funded by a conservative group opposed to creating a public insurance plan.

The Service Employees International Un

22 May 09

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) played odds-maker on healthcare reform over breakfast Thursday, predicting a 75 percent to 80 percent chance that his panel will advance a bipartisan bill next month.

Asked by a reporter what were th

15 May 09

Eli Lilly CEO John Lechleiter waded into the debate over a public health-insurance plan, saying today that such an option would create a “slippery slope” toward a day when all or most Americans would have government coverage.

Leichleiter argued, much as

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