Studies Find Share Of Uninsured People Signing Up For Coverage Remains Low
But some signals point to a pattern that may be emerging that suggests more uninsured people have been looking for information about plan options or seeking to buy insurance through the online marketplaces in these final weeks of open enrollment.
The Washington Post: New Health Insurance Marketplaces Signing Up Few Uninsured Americans, Two Surveys Find
The new health insurance marketplaces appear to be making little headway in signing up Americans who lack insurance, the Affordable Care Act’s central goal, according to a pair of new surveys. Only one in 10 uninsured people who qualify for private plans through the new marketplaces enrolled as of last month, one of the surveys shows. The other found that about half of uninsured adults have looked for information on the online exchanges or planned to look (Goldstein, 3/6).
The Wall Street Journal: Number Of Uninsured Buying Coverage Under Health Law Is Rising
The number of previously uninsured consumers buying coverage under the health law has risen sharply in recent weeks, according to new research, a nascent signal of progress in the law's goal of reducing the ranks of the uninsured. The overall share of uninsured people gaining coverage remains low, but the trend suggests more people could get coverage as the enrollment period approaches its final weeks. Most people must pick health plans by the end of March (Weaver and Mathews, 3/6).
Fox News: ObamaCare Signing Up Few Uninsured Americans, Studies Show
ObamaCare appears to be making little progress in signing up uninsured Americans, one of the law's primary goals, according to two new surveys. Only one in 10 uninsured people who qualify for private plans through the new health insurance marketplaces enrolled as of last month, according to a survey by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., The Washington Post reported on Thursday. The McKinsey survey found that only 27 percent of people who have selected a plan on the exchanges described themselves as having previously been without insurance (3/7).
Politico Pro: Study: More Obamacare Enrollees Were Uninsured
More people who were previously uninsured are signing up for health coverage as the country gets closer to the March 31 close of open enrollment, according to an updated enrollment snapshot by McKinsey & Company released Thursday. About 27 percent of those who bought a new plan this year said they had not been covered in a survey fielded from Feb. 4-13 and detailed Thursday at a conference of America’s Health Insurance Plans. While still only about a quarter of sign-ups, that compares with just 11 percent in surveys earlier in the enrollment period that the consulting firm conducted (Norman, 3/6).
Who Wins And Who Loses From Latest ACA Delays?
Media outlets look at the impact of the two-year extension of nonconforming plans, as well as of other regulatory changes that will affect unions and insurers.
Marketplace: Who Foots The Bill For An Obamacare Delay?
The latest delay in the Affordable Care Act means people enrolled in plans that don't meet Obamacare's stricter coverage standards can keep them for another two years. It could create a two-tiered system, because states will get to decide whether to allow the delay, says former Senator Ben Nelson, who now heads the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. And because people in the plans that don’t comply with Obamacare tend to be healthier, not having them in the broader insurance pool means insurers have to shell out more money, and that cost will be passed to consumers. How much more? Nelson says it's too soon to pin down a figure ... (Gorenstein, 3/6).
The Wall Street Journal: Obama Says Delays Don't Mean Health Law Was A Mistake
President Barack Obama on Thursday responded to criticism of his latest change to the Affordable Care Act, saying fixes to the program should be expected and don't amount to an implicit acknowledgment of the law's flaws. "No, No, No," Mr. Obama said when asked whether the delays and changes to the law suggest it was a mistake. "On a program like this that has so many people involved, and millions of people who are trying to find health insurance or get better health insurance, there are always going to be some smoothing out of the process" (Favole, 3/6).
The Seattle Times: Washington Won't Revive Canceled Insurance Plans
Washington residents are not affected by President Obama’s announcement that canceled health insurance plans will be extended by an additional two years. Plans that expired at the end of 2013 will stay dead in Washington, the state’s insurance commissioner confirmed Wednesday (Stiffler, 3/6).
The CT Mirror: Latest Obamacare Tweak Could Revive CT Debate On Extending Health Plans
Thousands of Connecticut residents whose health insurance plans didn’t meet the requirements of the federal health law managed to keep their policies by renewing them in late 2013, before the new Obamacare regulations kicked in.The expectation was that they’d have to buy new, Obamacare-compliant health plans when their policies expire late this year. But now the federal government says those people could continue their noncompliant plans for another two years -- if their states and insurers allow it (Becker, 3/7).
The San Jose Mercury News: Obamacare Extension Of Nonconforming Health Plans Won't Affect Many Californians
The Obama administration's announcement Wednesday that allows a two-year extension for individual health insurance policies that don't conform to the health care law applies nationwide -- but only to states that agree to the plan, according to a spokeswoman with the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In California, even if the state Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown approve the extension by changing current law, most of the 1.1 million Californians whose nonconforming plans were canceled last year wouldn't likely benefit, a state Insurance Department official said Thursday. Janice Rocco, deputy commissioner of health care policy, said there are "very few people left'' with pre-2014 policies who would be able to take advantage of Wednesday's decision because state law says that after Jan. 1, 2014, insurance plans that don't comply with the Affordable Care Act cannot be sold or renewed (Seipel, 3/6).
Kaiser Health News: What Will Obamacare Really Cost? They Might Be First To Know
Now that medical insurers must accept all applicants no matter how sick, what will these new customers cost health plans? How will they affect coverage prices for 2015 and beyond? Few questions about the Affordable Care Act are more important. How it all plays out will affect consumer pocketbooks, insurance company profits and perhaps the political fortunes of those backing the health law (Hancock, 3/7).
The size of the potential tax penalties facing consumers who go without health insurance, and how the latest regulatory changes affect unions and insurers also draw scrutiny -
The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Obamacare Penalty To Exceed $95 For Many Americans
For many individuals and families, the penalty for not having health-insurance coverage will run a lot higher than the $95 figure often cited — and it could run into the five figures in some cases. That’s according to the Tax Policy Center, which has just rolled out a tax penalty calculator — the ACA Tax Penalty Calculator. The calculator helps people figure out how large their tax penalty will be if they fail to obtain required health-insurance coverage (McKinnon, 3/6).
The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Some Unions Get Break From Health Law’s ‘Belly Button Tax’
The slew of regulations released by the Obama administration Wednesday to implement the federal health law included confirmation that some labor unions and businesses would get a break from the law’s so-called belly button tax. Federal officials signaled in November they were planning to let some organizations that offer health insurance off paying a reinsurance fee on each person they cover, which goes into a fund to compensate insurance carriers that end up paying big medical bills now they can no longer charge riskier people more (Radnofsky, 3/6).
CQ HealthBeat: Additional Funds For Insurers Through Risk Corridors Could Cost $8 Billion
Health plans could be eligible for $8 billion in extra funds to offset unexpectedly high claims this year under regulations finalized this week, a top federal official said after speaking to an insurer trade group on Thursday. The additional funds were provided because of the problems insurers have faced this year offering coverage to individuals and small businesses through health law exchanges. The money is intended to compensate insurers who may have greater-than-expected losses, in part because President Barack Obama said consumers could continue getting coverage through insurance policies that do not meet the benefit requirements of the health care law (Adams, 3/6).
Head Of Federal Insurance Marketplace Resigning
Gary Cohen says he will return to California, where he was once an insurance executive, regulator and head of an advocacy group.
The New York Times: Official At Helm Of Federal Health Marketplace Is Resigning
Gary M. Cohen, the official in charge of the federal health insurance marketplace, who repeatedly told Congress before its troubled rollout that it would work well, said on Thursday that he was resigning. Mr. Cohen is the chief architect of federal rules regulating the operations of private health insurance under the new health care law (Pear, 3/6).
Bloomberg: U.S. Health Insurance Regulator Gary Cohen To Resign
Cohen will step down as director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the end of the month, when the first enrollment period for the health-care law concludes, Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Cohen’s boss, said yesterday in an e-mail to employees. Cohen and Tavenner said his departure is voluntary. ... Cohen said he hasn’t begun looking for a new job in part because of federal conflict-of-interest rules (Wayne, 3/6).
N.H. Senate, Led By GOP, Votes To Expand Medicaid
Seven Republicans joined Democrats to pass the bill, which now goes to the Democratic-controlled House. Meanwhile, tensions are rising in Virginia on the issue as Republicans in the House hold out against the governor's offensive, and in Pennsylvania, the Republican governor amends his requirements for an expansion.
The New York Times: New Hampshire Senate Votes To Expand Health Insurance Coverage
The state's Republican-dominated Senate voted Thursday to expand health care coverage to an estimated 50,000 adults using Medicaid funding made available through the Affordable Care Act. The bill moves to the House, which has passed similar legislation. Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, praised the bill, calling it "a New Hampshire-specific solution to making sure that we can have health care coverage for working men and women throughout the state who haven’t had it before" (Bidgood, 3/6).
Concord Monitor: N.H. Senate Approves Medicaid Expansion, 18-5
After more than two hours of debate and three failed attempts by opponents to amend the bill, the New Hampshire Senate yesterday voted, 18-5, to expand the state Medicaid program. Seven Republicans, including Senate President Chuck Morse of Salem, joined the entire Democratic Senate caucus in supporting the legislation. ... The bill goes next to the House Finance Committee on Monday. The Democratic majority there is supportive of the bill, as is Gov. Maggie Hassan, who would have to sign it before the state can begin submitting necessary paperwork to federal agencies (Palermo, 3/7).
New Hampshire Union Leader: Senate Passes Medicaid Expansion On Bipartisan Vote
Senate Bill 413 uses the current managed-care Medicaid program, an existing program that pays the private health insurance premium for those on employer plans, and private insurance through the state's health insurance exchange to provide health insurance for an estimated 50,000 state residents. Supporters said the bill would help those needing health care, providers and the state economy. But opponents argued it does little to protect taxpayers and will be unaffordable in coming years (Rayno, 3/6).
The Richmond Times-Dispatch: McAuliffe Presses Ahead On Medicaid
Gov. Terry McAuliffe will visit a Fredericksburg hospital today on his promotional tour for expanding health care to the uninsured, a day after House Republicans launched an unsuccessful attempt to extend the legislative session instead of having a special session to deal with the issue in the state budget. The Fredericksburg area is home turf for House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, who leads the opposition to a Senate plan for extending health coverage to uninsured Virginians as part of its proposed budget. "I’ll be in Fredericksburg … if the speaker would like to come with me," McAuliffe quipped Thursday in a news conference to celebrate the launch of a major Medicaid reform initiative (Meola and Martz, 3/6).
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot: McAuliffe Lambasts House Republicans On Medicaid
In some of his most forceful comments yet on Medicaid expansion, Gov. Terry McAuliffe condemned Republicans in the House of Delegates on Thursday for refusing to provide health care for the poor even though it is a "life and death" proposition. Speaking at a morning news event heralding a new state pilot program to better treat patients jointly eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, the Democrat denounced his GOP rivals for their unwillingness to even consider the matter (Sizemore and Walker, 3/6).
The Washington Post: In Va., Waiting For Someone To Blink On Medicaid
With two days to go before they are supposed to leave town, House Republicans and Gov. Terry McAuliffe showed no signs Thursday of budging in their standoff over expanding Medicaid, bringing Virginia closer to a historic budget stalemate. McAuliffe (D) continued making his case on behalf of expansion, accusing Republican opponents of ignoring those Virginians who stand to benefit the most from the program. Recounting wrenching stories from a tour of a health clinic in rural Wise County, the governor said: "Folks, this is about life and death. It is not a partisan political game" (Laris, 3/6).
Philadelphia Inquirer: Corbett Shifts On Medicaid Work-Search Requirement
Gov. Corbett has backed off his insistence that a work-search requirement be included in any expansion of Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians, lowering a major stumbling block for approval of his proposal. In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Corbett suggested turning the work-search requirement into "a voluntary, one-year pilot program to positively encourage those who are able to work" by reducing premiums (Sapatkin and Worden, 3/7).
Politico Pro: Corbett Drops Employment Requirement For Medicaid Expansion
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has agreed to back off the most controversial element of a proposal to expand Medicaid -- a requirement that able-bodied beneficiaries without full-time work participate in an employment program as a condition of their health coverage. Instead, he's requesting approval for a one-year pilot program that would be voluntary and offer reduced premiums for anyone who signs up. The concession, offered in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that was provided to Politico, may put the state in a stronger position as its waiver request is reviewed (Cheney, 3/6).
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Corbett Changes Course On Medicaid
The state will essentially drop a controversial work-search requirement it had sought to impose as part of its overhaul of Pennsylvania's Medicaid program, according to documents that became public Thursday. A letter from Gov. Tom Corbett to Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary, says the governor wants to "move forward in good faith and work towards a reasonable compromise" on the matter. He is instead proposing a voluntary pilot program called "Encouraging Employment" (Giammarise, 3/6).
Health News Florida: 'It's All About Hope' -- and $51B
A lot of money -- $200 million a month or $7 million a day -- could be used to buy health coverage for Florida's poor. But it all could go to some other state, said advocates who held a Capitol press conference Wednesday with the message: "Take the Money!" The money in question is the estimated $51 billion over 10 years that is sitting in Washington D.C., to be sent to Florida to buy health coverage for the poor (Gentry, 3/6).
The Arizona Republic: Insider: Battle Of Medicaid Bills Meets Predictable End
The battle of the Medicaid bills met a predictable end in the Arizona House of Representatives: Speaker Andy Tobin's bill passed, while a measure from his congressional opponent Adam Kwasman quietly disappeared. It wasn't supposed to be this way. Tobin last month pooh-poohed Kwasman's bill to repeal the Medicaid expansion Gov. Jan Brewer championed, but said he’d still let the 60 representatives decide its fate (Pitzl, 3/6).
Political Cartoon: 'Care-Free?'
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Care-Free?" by Len Chapman.
And here's today's health policy haiku:
TAILORING THE MESSAGE
means "we need young enrollees,"
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please send it to us at http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/ContactUs.aspx and let us know if you want to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.
House GOP To Vote On 'Doc Fix' Bill That Repeals Health Law Individual Mandate
The bill could put House Democrats in an awkward spot, but would be a nonstarter in the Democrat-controlled Senate and could kill prospects this year to get rid of the sustainable growth rate formula. Meanwhile, a right-leaning advocacy group unveils a $1 million ad campaign against congressional Democrats over the administration's proposed reductions in funding to private Medicare Advantage plans.
Politico: House To Vote On 'Doc Fix' – With Obamacare Funds
House Republicans are planning to bring up a permanent "doc fix" bill next week — paid for by repealing the individual mandate in Obamacare. It puts House Democrats in an awkward position. They have to either vote against repealing a Medicare payment formula that has long vexed doctors — or against a key, but unpopular piece of the Affordable Care Act. And because the bill isn't likely to come up in the Democratic-led Senate, the problem will still be unsolved (Haberkorn, 3/6).
Politico: $1 Million In Ads To Target Democrats On Medicare
Seizing on proposed Medicare Advantage cuts, the right-leaning American Action Network will unveil a $1 million ad campaign on Friday against three vulnerable Democratic senators and six House Democrats. Over the next two weeks, TV buys will be accompanied by mailings to swing voters and online ads directing voters to DontCutOurMedicare.com (Hohmann, 3/6).
McClatchy: Do GOP Rep. Ellmers' Claims Of Cuts To Medicare Advantage Plans Hold Up?
Rep. Renee Ellmers this week joined fellow Republicans who say the Obama administration is slashing Medicare Advantage to pay for the health care law. Ellmers and other House Republicans sent a letter to the administration this week, calling for "immediate reversal of their plans to make painful cuts to Medicare Advantage to pay for Obamacare." The recent spate of political warnings about Medicare Advantage stem from a Feb. 21 announcement of preliminary figures used to compute the rates Medicare will pay to private providers for Medicare Advantage plans in 2015 (Schoof, 3/6).
Still, the Republicans are weighing how to deal with the health law, which many had expected to make the key foil in their midterm campaigns. But some are rethinking that strategy as public attitudes on the law evolve.
Fox News: Republican Proposes Hiring Official Watchdog For ObamaCare
A Republican congressman is calling for the federal government to hire a full-time watchdog for ObamaCare, amid ongoing concerns about fraud and mismanagement. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., introduced a bill on Thursday that would create a "Special Inspector General for Monitoring the Affordable Care Act (SIGMA)." He told Fox News the position is needed to follow the money. "There's very specific criteria that the special inspector general is required to produce and follow up on," Roskam told Fox News. "But the point is it needs to be done holistically and in a larger context. It's just a common sense approach to government and oversight” (Emanuel, 3/6).
The Fiscal Times: Divided GOP Searches for 'One Voice' On Obamacare
Are Republicans fumbling their anti-Obamacare message ahead of the midterm elections? During the first months of the law's disastrous rollout -- plagued with website problems, cancelled policies and numerous delays -- it seemed as if Obamacare would be an easy target for the GOP. However, now that the majority of the website's glitches have been resolved and enrollment has increased, the Republicans seem to be at an impasse over how to deal with Obamacare (Ehley, 3/7).
The Fiscal Times: Americans Want to Fix, Not Repeal Obamacare
Though the majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of Obamacare—most say they would prefer to see the law fixed instead of repealed. That's according to a survey by Hart Research Associates and Public Opinion Strategies that found 54 percent of respondents say they want lawmakers to repair Obamacare, while 28 percent say they want to eliminate it. Another 17 percent say they want the law to remain as is (Ehley, 3/6).
Privately Run Long-Term Care Gets High Scrutiny
Other news includes a report that could mean better inspections of nursing homes and a study that examines the burden many poor women face in caring for an aging parent.
The New York Times: Pitfalls Seen In A Turn to Privately Run Long-Term Care
Even as public attention is focused on the Affordable Care Act, another health care overhaul is underway in many states: an ambitious effort to restrain the ballooning Medicaid cost of long-term care as people live longer and survive more disabling conditions (Bernstein, 3/6).
Kaiser Health News: IG Report Findings Could Strengthen Nursing Home Inspections
Federal efforts to strengthen inspections of the nation's nursing homes are gaining momentum after a government probe uncovered instances of substandard care. The March 3 report by the HHS Inspector General found that an estimated one-third of residents suffered harm because of substandard care and that the chances of nursing home inspectors discovering these 'adverse events' are 'slim to none,' said Ruth Ann Dorrill, a deputy regional director for the inspector general and the manager of the investigation (Jaffe, 3/7).
Reuters: Financial 'Vicious Cycle' Traps Poor Women Caregivers
Caring for aging parents can be a burden for anyone, but poor women are more likely to need to take it on and to enter a financial downward spiral as a result, a recent study suggests. Women with better financial resources can afford paid health care for an aging parent, which allows those women to remain in the workforce, the authors found (Jegtvig, 3/6).
Companies Test Private Exchanges, Other Ways To Cut Health Costs
Some companies are turning to private exchanges to cut costs while a team of three programmers use data to help people wade through their coverage choices.
The New York Times: Companies Test Plans To Cut Their Health Costs
As health care costs continue their steady climb, employers are looking for ways to slow the pace. A survey of large employers released on Thursday showed that companies were shifting more costs onto their employees but were also experimenting with concepts like private exchanges that allow companies like Walgreen to offer their workers more choices in health care plans (Abelson, 3/6).
The New York Times: More Than One Way To Buy A Plan
When the federal online marketplace for the Affordable Care Act stumbled out of the gate last fall, leaving would-be applicants unable to sign up for care or even to view their plans, three young programmers thought they might be able to help frustrated users. In October, they packaged reams of publicly-available data into a website, healthsherpa.com, that allowed users to immediately view exchange plans in their area. But the site was intended for research only; users still had to purchase them through the federal and state health exchanges or, in some cases, directly through insurers (Bidgood, 3/6).
Maryland's Health Exchange Continues To Be Hot Button Political Issue
News outlets report on developments regarding health exchanges in Maryland, Delaware and Oregon.
The Baltimore Sun: Republicans Continue Push To Scrap Health Exchange Website
Republicans in Annapolis continue their push to get more information about what went wrong with the state's troubled health exchange website, and to scrap the site entirely. Maryland Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley called for an independent investigation, but was told in a letter from Attorney General Douglas Gansler that his office lacked the authority (Cohn, 3/6).
The Washington Post: Gansler Decries ‘Mismanagement’ Of Maryland Health Exchange In Letter To GOP Senator
Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) offered fresh criticism Thursday of the way that Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration has handled Maryland’s online health insurance exchange, saying in a letter to a Republican senator that “the taxpayers ... have been poorly served by the Executive Branch’s mismanagement.” Gansler, a Democratic candidate for governor, wrote that he is “deeply troubled” by the tens of millions of dollars that have been “wasted while hard-working Marylanders have suffered from the botched rollout” (Wagner, 3/6).
The Associated Press: Del. Officials Report 7K Enrollees In Exchange
With the open enrollment period set to expire in about three weeks, the number of Delawareans who have chosen private insurance plans under the federal Affordable Care Act remains far below the initial goal set by state officials. The number determined to be eligible for health care coverage under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion also remains a fraction of what state officials had estimated last year, according to figures presented to the Delaware Health Care Commission on Thursday (3/6).
The Oregonian: Cover Oregon Health Exchange Considers Web-Based Insurance Seller, ehealth, Inc
The Cover Oregon health insurance exchange is in discussions with eHealth, Inc, the online health insurance seller. The company, which operates the website ehealthinsurance.com, takes over the role of insurance agent, posting information on prices and plans similar to the vision of health care exchanges. News of possible discussions was broken by CNBC, which noted eHealth is close to a deal with Maryland for a pilot program in which the site would provide consumers with preliminary subsidy estimates and forward their application to that state's exchange, getting credit for a sale (Budnick, 3/6).
Highlights: Calif. Retiree Health Costs Rise; More Abortion Clinic Closings In Texas; Wash. Insurance Bills Roadblock
A selection of health policy stories from California, Texas, Washington state, Illinois, Virginia and Georgia.
Los Angeles Times: Estimate Of How Much State Owes For Retiree Health Care Keeps Rising
While lawmakers begin discussing ways to fix California's cash-strapped teacher pension system, another long-term financial problem continues to fester. The cost of providing health care to retired state workers is $64.6 billion more than state leaders have set aside to pay, an increase of $730 million from the previous year (Megerian, 3/6).
The New York Times: Abortion Law Pushes Texas Clinics To Close Doors
Shortly before a candlelight vigil on the sidewalk outside, employees of the last abortion clinic in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas shut the doors early Thursday evening, making legal abortion unavailable in the poorest part of the state in the wake of tough new restrictions passed last year by the Texas Legislature (Fernandez, 3/6).
Los Angeles Times: Two More Abortion Clinics Close In Texas Under New Restrictions
Two more Texas abortion clinics closed on Thursday because of restrictions in a state law that is being fought in the federal courts. Amy Hagstrom Miller, who owns the Whole Woman's Health Clinic, told reporters on Thursday that Republican lawmakers have made it impossible to keep her clinics open in Beaumont and McAllen. The McAllen clinic is the last in the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas, and the Beaumont clinic is the only one between Houston and the Louisiana border (Muskal, 3/6).
The Seattle Times: Bills Designed To Aid Consumers With Insurance Run Into Opposition
Two bills in the state Legislature aimed at increasing transparency for consumers and helping them make savvy decisions about insurance are now missing key elements, primarily because of concerns that companies’ proprietary information might be revealed. One bill was designed to protect consumers from being blindsided by their insurer’s potential collapse because of financial instability of their larger holding company (Ostrom, 3/6).
Los Angeles Times: Computers With L.A. County Patients’ Personal Data Are Stolen
A Torrance office of Sutherland Healthcare Solutions, which handles billing and collections for the county's Department of Health Services and Department of Public Health, was burglarized Feb. 5 and computer equipment was stolen, according to a county statement issued Thursday (Sewell, 3/6).
The Associated Press: Report: Fewer Illinois Kids Lack Health Insurance
While a child advocacy group's report shows that more Illinois kids now have health insurance, it also warns that health disparities related to income and race could intensify if there are program cuts to Medicaid and social services as the state faces a large dip in revenues next year. The yearly report released Thursday by Voices for Illinois Children shows children that are black, Latino or from low-income families have less access to health care and insurance (Koop, 3/6).
The Richmond Times-Dispatch: McAuliffe, Citing Coordinated Care Program, Urges Lawmakers To Close 'Coverage Gap'
Gov. Terry McAuliffe today used the launch of an ambitious pilot project for coordinating care of elderly and disabled Virginians to call again for the state to extend health insurance coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured residents. The Commonwealth Coordinated Care program began enrolling people on Monday in Central Virginia and Tidewater in an effort to manage services they receive from both the federal Medicare program and the state-federal Medicaid program. The program eventually will cover five regions of the state and an estimated 78,000 people who are “dually eligible” for both programs (Martz, 3/6).
Georgia Health News: Bill Would Nudge More HIV Patients Into Treatment
More than half of Georgians with HIV are not currently in treatment, health officials say. A Senate bill aims to bring thousands more of these patients into care. If enacted, SB 342 would allow the state’s Department of Public Health to alert a physician of a patient’s HIV or AIDS status (Miller, 3/6).
The San Francisco Chronicle: Prisoners Lose In Damage Claim Over Lack Of Health Care
Prisoners can't sue for damages when they are denied health care because the state has failed to provide enough funding for medical staff or supplies, a divided federal appeals court ruled Thursday. In the case of a Southern California inmate whose treatment for a painful dental condition was delayed because the prison was short of dentists and technicians, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled 6-5 that prison employees are immune from damage claims when the cause is a lack of state funds. "A prison medical official who fails to provide needed treatment because he lacks the necessary resources can hardly be said to have intended to punish the inmate," Chief Judge Alex Kozinski said in the majority opinion (Egelko, 3/6).