Health Care Debate in Florida Veers Off the Beaten Path

Florida is one of the twenty-four states that declined to expand their Medicaid programs.  As a result, approximately 760,000 Florida residents who would qualify for Medicaid under an expanded Medicaid program do not qualify so qualify. In addition, these residents do not qualify for federal subsidies to help them purchase health insurance. Recently, some Florida legislators honed in on an obscure provision in the Affordable Care Act, which allows low-income documented immigrants to qualify for federal subsidies in order to buy health insurance. The legislators intend to publicize this information in an effort to get the Medicaid expansion approved during the next legislative session. Republican state Sen. Rene Garcia of Hialeah stated that the issue is one of “fairness,” and not immigration.

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Health Care Providers Demand Payments Prior to Treating Patients

As health care deductibles rise, some health care providers are demanding that patients pay either a portion of their deductible, or, in some cases, their entire deductible prior to being seen or treated. Hospitals claim that, in order to survive financially, they must charge patients prior to treating them. The hospitals assert that it is much more difficult to collect on patient debts after the patients have received treatment.

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Active Coverage Required by March 1, 2014 to Avoid Penalties Under ACA

In order to avoid paying the penalty mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Americans should have active medical coverage by March, 1, 2014.  The Congressional Budget Office projected that approximately 6 million Americans will pay the penalty in 2016.

The open enrollment period runs through March 31, 2014; however, the insurance plans require time to take effect after enrollment, and the ACA requires a citizen to have an active policy as of March 31.  Thus, plans must be purchased by mid-March 2014 in order to avoid a penalty.

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For guidance on enrollment for Medicare beneficiaries, click here.  

Affordable Care Act Under Fire as Enrollment Opens and Budget Crisis Continues

State and federal websites opened enrollment into the Affordable Care Act (ACA) last Tuesday, October 1, 2013. However, enrollment has not begun smoothly. The waiting time to enroll through the websites is long. Though the Obama administration states that people are working “around the clock” in order to obviate the problem, very few people have actually enrolled. Democrats claim that the long waiting time is evidence of the ACA’s popularity, due to the number of people trying to enroll in the exchanges.

The ACA is the focus of the current battle occurring over the budget in the House, which has resulted in a government shutdown. Republicans would like the Act to be either delayed or defunded, and some claim that the technical glitches demonstrate the unworkability of the ACA. House Republicans have demanded that the Obama administration must change the ACA in order to gain their support and reopen the government.

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Kaiser Family Foundation Conducts Study on Efficacy of Obamacare

The Kaiser Family Foundation is conducting a long-term research project in California, in order to determine whether the Affordable Care Act (ACA) improves the uninsured population’s ability to obtain affordable health insurance. The Foundation selected 2,000 California citizens without health insurance. It will follow these citizens for two years as they navigate the insurance exchanges created by the ACA.

Read more about the study and the first wave of results here.

Obama Does Not End Health Insurance Subsidy for Congress

Recently, during attempts to resolve the budgetary deadlock, the Obama administration offered members of Congress continued federal funding towards insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—provided that they enroll in a specified ACA plan.  Currently, almost all federal employees are eligible for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). On average, FEHBP pays approximately 70 percent of the total cost of the enrollees’ insurance premium.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued proposed rules; the OPM reasoned that the ACA did not repeal the FEHBP, and stated that government subsidies for insurance premiums should continue for federal employees compelled to leave FEHBP. However, numerous commentators opine that those in Congress should be subject to the same rules as other U.S. citizens.

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Large U.S. Company Chooses to End Insurance Coverage for Retirees

The McClatchy Company owns 30 daily U.S. newspapers, and like other large U.S. companies, such as General Electric, Time Warner and the International Business Machines Corporation, it has chosen to reexamine “all” of its health care plans—which includes its health care plan for retirees. McClatchy’s current insurance coverage for retirees does not meet the standards set by the Affordable Care Act. Though nothing in the Act requires McClatchy to end its health care plan for retirees, the company will steer its former employees to the insurance exchanges.

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Conservative Group Uses Questionable Media Tactics in War on Obamacare

Various partisan organizations use the media to wage their battles in the war surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, one outfit in particular, Generation Opportunity, a conservative group based in Virginia, has launched a campaign (described as “creepy”) aimed at convincing younger people not to enroll in the insurance exchanges. In order to sway this population, Generation Opportunity made a video featuring a young woman visiting the gynecologist. The young woman is in stirrups; her female doctor leaves the room unexpectedly—in order to make way for “a leering Uncle Sam” brandishing a speculum.  The woman squirms and screams out of fear. The president of Generation Opportunity claims that the goal is to educate the younger population, and not to insinuate rape. The group made a similar video geared to the young, male population, in which Uncle Sam snaps on his rubber glove.

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PPACA’s Limit on Consumers’ Expenses Delayed Until 2015

The PPACA incorporates mechanisms intended to protect consumers from insurance company abuses. One such mechanism limits patients’ out-of-pocket (OOP) spending for major medical coverage. However, as posted on the Department of Labor’s website, the cap on OOP expenses for consumers will not go into effect until 2015. Some claim that the delay is meant to help businesses and consumers adapt to the PPACA, while others claim that the Administration is catering to employers and businesses at the expense of consumers.

To read more, click here.