Category Archive - News

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Health Insurance Plan Reform Lawsuit Will Probably Continue

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

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The healthcare reform lawsuit launched by 20 states is currently being argued in a federal district court. According to the judge presiding over it, Roger Vinson, he will probably rule that the states have general jurisdiction to sue the federal government.

Vinson does not appear to be much of a sympathetic ear for the Obama administration’s lawyers, who claim that the health insurance plan mandate inherent in the bill should be considered as a tax–which they are allowed to impose.

When he decides on the lawsuit’s fate on October 14, Vinson predicts that the bulk of the lawsuit will be allowed to proceed to further arguments on December 16. However, some of it will probably be dismissed; a bittersweet fate for health insurance reform opponents.

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Affordable Health Insurance Grants for Utah’s Native Americans

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Image: Bob Rosenberg under CC 3.0

Native Americans are one of the demographics most likely to be uninsured. Although a majority of them are eligible for affordable health insurance through CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program) and Medicaid, they still struggle with access, especially on reservations.

The new healthcare reform law includes a grant for nearly $1 million to help Utah’s many tribes access health care. The smaller tribes are less likely to have charitable clinics established.

What will the grants cover? Their purposes include outreach from the Utah Navajo Health System to the nearby town of White Mesa, where there is a large American Indian population. 10 to 15 percent of children living there are enrolled in CHIP, when up to 95 percent are estimated to be eligible for that Utah health insurance plan. Several other walk-in clinics in the state will also receive grants.

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Will Health Insurance Plan Provider Pay $10 Billion Fine?

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

One of the many complexities associated with health care is the constant mergers and buyouts. The worst-case scenario is that when your health insurance plan is caught in the middle, your health falls by the wayside.

That’s what the state of California’s insurance commissioner accuses PacifiCare of doing after being acquired by United HealthCare several years ago. Former PPO patients state that their documents were lost or incorrectly entered into the system, causing their claims to be denied. This allegedly went on for several years, from 2006 (shortly after the merger) until 2008.

The insurer is unlikely to pay out the entire sum: it’s only the maximum they could be liable for, based on a fine of $100,000 per count for nearly a million counts. In the vast majority of cases, they will settle with the state.

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Pennsylvania Insurer Wants Health Insurance Plan Rate Hikes

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
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As of January 1st, your health insurance plan could become more expensive if you live in certain regions of Pennsylvania.

Blue Cross of Northeast Pennsylvania wants up to $10 million worth of premium hikes. For now, eight plans would be affected, including those targeted towards lower-income individuals–including a guaranteed issue policy for the recently unemployed. Some of the plans are subsidized.

Pennsylvania health insurance customers have one month to comment on the proposal before the state’s insurance department makes a decision on BCNEPA’s request..

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No Fee on Health Insurance Plans to Pay For Okla. Medicaid

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
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Image: KB35 under CC 3.0

Recently, the Oklahoma state legislature attempted to implement a one percent fee on the sale of health insurance plans. The proceeds were supposed to help pay for the state’s Medicare program.

However, the state’s Supreme Court just ruled that such a fee is unconstitutional, agreeing with Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland’s objections. Six out of nine justices decided that since the law was passed during the final week of the legislative session with less than three quarters of the legislature in favor, it could not stand.

The fee was to be charged to employers that offer health insurance coverage to their employees. It was supposed to raise $78 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1st.

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States Receive Grants To Implement Healthcare Reform

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010
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Image: Aaron Esterling under CC 3.0

Affordable health insurance reform requires states to take the lead in regulating insurers. Many of them do not have the infrastructure or legal authority to do so. That is where $46 million in federal grants come in.

All but a handful of states, as well as the District of Columbia, will receive $1 million each for actions such as hiring actuaries to investigate rate increases and developing data systems for health insurance rate filings.

Which states are the holdouts? The following didn’t apply for the Department of Health and Human Services’ grant:

  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Alaska
  • Wyoming
  • Minnesota
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Health Insurance Scammers Prey on Healthcare Reform Confusion

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010
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Image: B Rosen under CC 3.0

Over the past several months, the American public has been wrestling with the advent of healthcare reform and what it will mean for them. For many, it will require them to purchase a health insurance plan.

Unfortunately, scammers in 24 states are taking advantage of this uncertainty. They are advertising medical discount plans as full-fledged health insurance, which they are not. Unlike standard insurance, these limited plans aren’t accepted by doctors and hospitals to cover most or all of a person’s medical bills.

The Federal Trade Commission has joined in the fight to crack down on these misleading marketing tactics. They hope to eliminate them before the mandate provision of the law goes into effect in 2014.

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Federal Grant To Review Illinois Health Insurance Premiums?

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

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Over the past several years, Illinois health insurance rates have risen significantly. Like many other states, their insurance department has been overburdened and unable to investigate premium increases.

States have been criticized for rubber-stamping health insurers’ requests in the past. Illinois is looking for a $1 million federal grant from the healthcare reform law to analyze and collect information about health insurance premiums in the state. Their intention is to better determine which would be considered reasonable, and which should be deemed unconscionable–higher than both the medical inflation rate and national averages.

If the state’s application is approved, they’ll receive the funding next month.

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Missouri Launches Its Own Health Insurance Reform Lawsuit

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Image: Allen Gathman under CC 3.0

It started with Virginia. Then, Florida and 20 other states banded together. Now, another state has joined the ranks of those suing over the Obama administration’s health insurance reform law.

Republican Lieutenant Governor recently filed another similar lawsuit, which contends that requiring almost all residents to purchase Missouri health insurance (as one of the primary statutes does) is unconstitutional.

Why didn’t Missouri join the class-action suit? It is unclear; unlike Virginia, it doesn’t have its own separate law against the compelled purchase of health care that gives it separate standing–however, a measure to pass one is currently pending on their August primary ballot.

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Medicare & Medicaid Head Named Via Recess Appointment

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

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One of the people most responsible for implementing the provisions of affordable health insurance reform is the administrator for the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services. President Barack Obama nominated Dr. Donald Berwick for the role several weeks ago.

However, the Obama administration has had trouble getting Berwick approved by the Senate. Many senators fear that some statements Berwick has previously made indicate that he favors totally government-run socialized medicine, similar to that in the United Kingdom. As a result, Obama has used the controversial recess appointment to install Berwick.

A recess appointment is done through an executive order when Congress is on break. Despite its risks, effective healthcare reform that results in cheap health insurance rates requires that the post isn’t left open any longer than necessary.

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