Posts Tagged - ‘Kathleen Sebelius’

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Another State to Join Healthcare Reform Lawsuit?

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

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Although the very first challenge to the Obama adminstration’s affordable health insurance reform law was rejected by the Supreme Court, that isn’t stopping states from continuing to oppose it. Over 20 attorney generals launched a lawsuit over the individual mandate provision earlier this year; it is predicted that arguments will be heard sometime in 2011.

Now, Kansas is mulling over the possibility of becoming yet another plaintiff in the large Florida-led case. The Republicans recently elected to state office, Governor-elect Sam Brownback and Attorney General-elect Derek Schmidt, have vowed to mount legal challenges. However, it will most likely take awhile for them to gear up for it.

Ironically, former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who retired in order to become the Secretary of Health and Human Services, is in charge of promoting and implementing the healthcare reform legislation.

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McDonalds, Other Businesses Exempt from Healthcare Reform Law

Monday, October 18th, 2010

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There has been much concern surrounding healthcare reform’s impact on businesses. Many are worried that employers will drop their health insurance plans altogether, rather than complying with new requirements that increase the standard of care.

However, 30 companies and unions–McDonalds is the most popular–have received an exemption from that provision. The waiver must be renewed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius each year until 2014. HHS made the judgment that rather than risking companies discontinuing seasonal and temporary workers’ health coverage entirely, it makes more sense to allow them to retain the inferior mini-med plans with extremely low annual limits of coverage. This will be the case for several years, until the health insurance exchanges are fully operational to give such employees more options.

Other firms are protesting this move, because small businesses will suffer while the big names with lobbying influence can get around the unfavorable provision.

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Should Obama Use Executive Orders To Ban Health Insurance Plans From Increasing Rates?

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

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In preparation for healthcare reform regulations that will end up cutting into their profits, insurers are sharply increasing rates while they still can. While Department of Health and Human Services head Kathleen Sebelius has criticized their opportunism–which allegedly goes beyond the actual rise of health care costs–right now, her words have no teeth.

The increases are lowering already shaky public support for the law. What can the Obama administration do? A consumer watchdog group is recommending that the President issue an executive order to freeze health insurance plans‘ premiums until the rate review provisions go into effect in the next plan year.

According to the Supreme Court, presidents are allowed to do so. However, taking that course of action would be politically risky–many already believe that his administration is taking too much control over the health insurance industry.

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In The Meantime: Sebelius Tries To Get Health Insurance Companies’ Cooperation

Friday, July 9th, 2010

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The intention of the healthcare reform law is to increase access to insurance. It largely attempts to do so via stringent regulations. However, most of those regulations will not become effective until 2014.

The gap is a serious issue. Between now and then, health insurers will still be able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is asking for their cooperation to help remedy this dilemma.

Doing so will probably be quite difficult, since the Obama administration has taken a largely adversarial role against providers of health insurance plans in the past. According to Sebelius, their goal is to stabilize the private sector by promoting the elements that could increase their sales (e.g. tax credits for small businesses).

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Adult Children On Health Insurance Plans? Not So Fast

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

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Although Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has asked health insurance companies to extend coverage to adult children until the age of 26–who would otherwise age out of their parents’ plans or become ineligible upon college graduation–immediately, they aren’t legally mandated to do so until the first plan year beginning after September 23rd.

Actually, most health insurers have agreed to do so. It’s the employers who are holding out until the last minute. Most corporate health insurance plans don’t renew until January 1st. That leaves newly minted university graduates in the lurch for several months.

Even those companies who are willing to retain existing coverage won’t let young adults whose coverage previously lapsed re-enroll until next year.

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Sebelius Urges Employers to Implement Group Health Insurance Earlier

Friday, May 28th, 2010

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The deadline for large group health insurance plans to expand coverage to the adult children of employees until the age of 26 is September 23rd. However, the actual date depends on when the new plan year begins, which can be as late as January 1st of next year for many companies.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is encouraging employers to enact this element of healthcare reform earlier than required. Doing so will be especially helpful to recent college graduates, who would otherwise be uninsured.

Will businesses comply? On the one hand, the demographic in question is generally healthy, so total costs shouldn’t rise all that much. On the other hand, premiums may increase. One study found that 16% are planning to expand their health benefits to this group.

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Obama Administration Wants VA Healthcare Reform Lawsuit Dismissed

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

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Yesterday, Department of Justice Lawyers requested that a federal judge dismiss the state of Virginia’s lawsuit against healthcare reform.

Shortly before the federal legislation passed, Virginia passed a state law that forbids any entity from mandating that its residents purchase a health insurance plan. Its attorney general then filed a lawsuit on the grounds that the individual mandate that is at the center of the Obama administration’s reform efforts is an unconstitutional overreach on the part of the federal government, therefore violating the 10th Amendment. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said in the government’s motion that the Commerce Clause allowed them the power to regulate this issue, and that striking down the provision would virtually cancel out the law’s attempt to control costs while simultaneously expanding coverage.

The judge is still mulling over both sides’ arguments. Whether or not this particular Virginia health insurance mandate lawsuit continues, there is still the one from 20 other states to deal with.

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Sebelius Puts More Heat On WellPoint’s Health Insurance

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

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Recently, WellPoint has been one of the most controversial health insurance companies. Their rate increases and alleged dumping of policyholders with breast cancer have received much criticism.

Although they have taken some steps to repair their reputation, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius wants more. She is urging state insurance departments and governors to further examine the insurer’s proposed rate increases. In addition, she wants governors to make sure that states have the authority to review and approve health insurance plan rate changes.

Their increases in California gained the most attention, and the up to 39% price hikes have been blamed on an accounting error. Sebelius wants other states to check for similar errors.

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WellPoint Stops Dropping Sick Patients from Health Insurance

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

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After pressure from the Obama administration, WellPoint has agreed to quit dropping policyholders from their health insurance plans once they get sick.

Although the law only bans rescission six months from now, recent controversies have resulted in some demanding action earlier. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius congratulated WellPoint on their quick action, and hopes that other companies follow suit in implementing affordable health insurance reform.

The new guidelines will become effective on May 1st.

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Sebelius: WellPoint Must Stop Dropping Breast Cancer Patients

Monday, April 26th, 2010

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An update on an earlier story: the U.S. government has stepped into the controversy surrounding WellPoint, one of the nation’s top health insurance companies.

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, has demanded that the health insurer quit its practice of dropping policyholders shortly after they are diagnosed with breast cancer. An AP investigation found that their software had algorithms that automatically flagged related diagnostic codes, unfairly targeting them for fraud investigations. Patients were then dropped with very little justification.

Affordable health insurance reform plans to phase out this practice, known as rescission. Sebelius considers WellPoint’s actions deplorable. In their defense, the insurer claims that they do not single out breast cancer; rather, they are searching for a variety of pre-existing conditions a person may have known of and lied about when purchasing coverage.

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