One of Obamacare’s big experiments to lower costs is working surprisingly well
September 4, 2018, Kaiser Health News, Julie Rovner- Wednesday is looking like yet another pivotal day in the life-or-death saga that has marked the history of the Affordable Care Act. In a Texas courtroom, a group of Republican attorneys general, led by Texas’ Ken Paxton, are set to face off against a group of Democratic attorneys general, led by California’s Xavier Becerra, in a lawsuit aimed at striking down the federal health law. The Republicans say that when Congress eliminated the penalty for not having health insurance as part of last year’s tax bill, lawmakers rendered the entire health law unconstitutional. The Democrats argue that’s not the case. But first, the sides will argue before U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas, whether the health law should be put on hold while the case is litigated. The GOP plaintiffs are seeking a “preliminary injunction” on the law.
September 3, 2018, NPR, Alison Kodjak- Consumers who buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act markets may be pleasantly surprised this fall as average premiums are forecast to rise much less than in recent years. The price of a 2019 policy sold on the ACA exchanges will increase less than 4 percent, according to an analysis of preliminary filings from insurers in all 50 states by ACASignups.net, a website and blog run by analyst Charles Gaba that tracks ACA enrollment and insurer participation. And those insurers are expanding their offerings. “The news about the marketplace this year is very good, both in terms of the premium increase and extent of carrier participation,” says Katherine Hempstead,a senior policy adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
September 3, 2018, Politico, Helena Bottemiller Evich- Immigrants are turning down government help to buy infant formula and healthy food for their young children because they’re afraid the Trump administration could bar them from getting a green card if they take federal aid. Local health providers say they’ve received panicked phone calls from both documented and undocumented immigrant families demanding to be dropped from the rolls of WIC, a federal nutrition program aimed at pregnant women and children, after news reports that the White House is potentially planning to deny legal status to immigrants who’ve used public benefits. Agencies in at least 18 states say they’ve seen drops of up to 20 percent in enrollment, and they attribute the change largely to fears about the immigration policy.
‘What did I do to my child?’: As program for kids with disabilities suffers funding shortage, parent
August 31, 2018, Mississippi Today, Larrison Campbell- Julie Foster felt cautiously optimistic when she answered the phone last November and heard her daughter’s early intervention coordinator on the other end. The Fosters had moved from Chicago to DeSoto County the month before, and while the change was hectic - even by long distance move standards - she loved her new job, a relief since it had brought them down here. Her daughter’s transition from Illinois’s early intervention program to one in Mississippi had progressed smoothly, at least at first. Aliyah has multiple developmental delays and qualifies for a range of therapies through a provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This federal program guarantees a variety of therapies to all children under age three who qualify. In Illinois, this meant weekly sessions with a special instructor plus speech, physical, occupational and feeding therapy - a total of 25 therapy hours every month.
A Texas hospital that charged a teacher $108,951 for care after a heart attack slashed the bill to $332.29 Thursday - but not before the huge charge sparked a national conversation over what should be done to combat surprise medical bills that afflict a growing number of Americans. The story of Drew Calver was first reported by Kaiser Health News and NPR on Monday as part of the “Bill of the Month” series, which examines U.S. health care prices and the troubles patients run up against in the $3.5 trillion industry. In Calver’s case, the 44-year-old father of two had suffered a heart attack in April 2017 and a neighbor rushed him to the nearest emergency room, which was an out-of-network hospital under his school district health plan. His insurance paid the hospital $56,000 for his four day hospitalization and procedures to clear his blocked “widow-maker” artery. But the hospital, St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, wasn’t satisfied with that amount and went after the high school history teacher and swim coach for an additional $109,000 in a practice known as “balance billing.