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News Archives

Obamacare Seems to Be Reducing People’s Medical Debt

April 20, 2016, The New York Times, Margot Sanger-Katz- Even if you lack health insurance, you’ll probably be able to get treatment at a hospital in the event of a catastrophe - if you’re struck by a car, say. But having insurance can mean the difference between financial security and financial ruin. A new study is showing that, by giving health insurance to low-income people, Obamacare seems to have cut down on their debt substantially. It estimates that medical debt held by people newly covered by Medicaid since 2014 has been reduced by about $600 to $1,000 each year.

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Bill to audit welfare recipients sent back to committee

April 19, 2016, AP News, Nassim Benchaabane- Lawmakers are unlikely to reconsider a bill requiring audits of Medicaid recipients and tightening restrictions on other government aid. A joint House-Senate committee filed the latest version of House Bill 1116 Monday, but the House decided Tuesday to send it back for more consideration. The Senate hasn’t discussed the bill yet. Both legislative chambers would have to approve the bill before it would go to Gov. Phil Bryant. The joint committee could change the bill and send it back to both legislative chambers for approval, but it has a Thursday deadline for doing so before the bill dies.

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Study: Medicaid Expansion Encourages More Poor Adults To Get Health Care

April 18, 2016, Kaiser Health News, Phil Galewitz- In states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, low-income adults were more likely to see a doctor, stay overnight in a hospital and receive their first diagnoses of diabetes and high cholesterol, according to a study published Monday. Yet researchers found no improvement in adults’ own assessments of their health, a conclusion echoed by similar studies, the authors wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Two factors might explain the lack of perceived improvement. People did not sign up for Medicaid as soon as it expanded in January 2014 so there was little time to better their health. Also, survey participants’ increased contact with health providers and fresh knowledge about their health might have negatively affected their opinions, the authors said.

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Immigrants, the Poor and Minorities Gain Sharply Under Affordable Care Act

April 17, 2016, The New York Times, Sabrina Tavernise and Robert Gebeloff- The first full year of the Affordable Care Act brought historic increases in coverage for low-wage workers and others who have long been left out of the health care system, a New York Times analysis has found. Immigrants of all backgrounds - including more than a million legal residents who are not citizens - had the sharpest rise in coverage rates. Hispanics, a coveted group of voters this election year, accounted for nearly a third of the increase in adults with insurance.  That was the single largest share of any racial or ethnic group, far greater than their 17 percent share of the population. Low-wage workers, who did not have enough clout in the labor market to demand insurance, saw sharp increases.

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HHS report: Dire warnings of ObamaCare price spikes wrong

April 12, 2016, The Hill, Peter Sullivan- A new report from the Obama administration finds that ObamaCare premiums rose 8 percent last year, pushing back on warnings of larger price hikes. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report released Tuesday finds that ObamaCare premiums rose 8 percent on average - from $356 a month to $386 a month - from 2015 to 2016. Once the ObamaCare tax credits that help 85 percent of consumers afford their plans are factored in, the average premium increase was even smaller: $102 to $106, or 4 percent.

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Poll: Majority in State Support Medicaid Expansion, But the Legislature Doesn’t

April 11, 2016, Jackson Free Press, Arielle Dreher- Despite the Mississippi Legislature’s inaction with Medicaid expansion this session, a new poll shows that more than 50 percent of Mississippians support expanding Medicaid, which could provide health-care coverage to an additional 280,000 Mississippians, as well as provide tax credits for low-income adults. The Mississippi Health Advocacy Program paid for the four questions on the April Mason-Dixon poll of 625 Mississippians, which asked Mississippians about the specifics of expanding Medicaid in the state. “Equity arguments in this state don’t get a lot of traction from Democrats and Republicans alike; that’s the reason the issue isn’t taken up,” Mitchell said. “But when you start talking economics, people start to listen.”

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Consumer Reports: Mississippi medical license board website ranks last

April 8, 2016, Mississippi Business Journal, Jack Weatherly- Mississippi is ranked last among 65 medical licensing boards in terms of websites, according to Consumer Reports.The state had a composite score of 6, compared with top-ranked California, which scored 84. Of eight categories, the Magnolia State’s Board of Medical Licensure was given a poor rating in seven, and one assessment of fair. Dr. Virginia Crawford, interim executive director of the state board, did not contest the finding of two reports - one from Consumer Reports and another from the University of Michigan. “We’re in the process of doing a review of our technology and updating the website as well as the licensing software,” Crawford said in an interview with the Mississippi Business Journal. “So we are hoping we can make some changes to that and get it off the bottom,” she said.

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Sales of Short-Term Health Policies Surge

April 10, 2016, The Wall Street Journal, Anna Wilde Mathews- A type of limited health coverage with features largely banned by the Affordable Care Act is flourishing, as some consumers grab onto an alternative they say is cheaper than conventional plans sold under the law. Sales of short-term health insurance are up sharply since the health law’s major provisions took effect in 2014, according to insurance agencies. New sales figures show the temporary policies, traditionally sold to consumers who are trying to fill coverage gaps for a few months, have continued their surge recently-even though people who buy them face mounting financial penalties because the coverage doesn’t meet the ACA’s standards.

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FOCUS ON HEALTHCARE - Reductions in federal programs could force some rural hospitals to close

April 8, 2016, Mississippi Business Journal, Becky Gillette- Hospitals in Mississippi are facing daunting financial challenges today and in the years ahead. In addition to having high costs for uncompensated care linked to the state’s decision not to participate in the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion, there are numerous federal budget cuts to Medicaid and Medicare that are causing concern.One example is that hospitals saw significant reductions this year in Medicaid outpatient payments as a result of the implementation of the Ambulatory Payment Classification system, said Timothy H. Moore, president and CEO, Mississippi Hospital Association.

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Prices And Health Care Quality: Many Consumers Don’t See A Link

April 8, 2016, Kaiser Health News, Michelle Andrews- Most consumers don’t believe the adage that “you get what you pay for” in health care, according to a new study. The report in this month’s issue of the journal Health Affairs analyzed the responses of 2,010 adults to four questions about the relationship between health care prices and quality, such as “Would you say higher prices are typically a sign of better quality medical care or not?” and “If one doctor charged less than another doctor for the same service, would you think that the less expensive doctor is providing lower quality care or would you not think that?”

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