Posts Tagged - ‘obama administration’

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Health Coverage and HIV/AIDS

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

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With its affordable health insurance legislation under its belt, the Obama administration has begun tackling a new health issue: the HIV/AIDS crisis. Although new infections have slowed since their peak in the ’80s, many people are still affected.

It is a two-pronged effort, aimed at reducing new infections while increasing access to health care for those who already have it. Instead of allocating significant amounts of new funding, existing funding will be redirected to high-risk populations like African-Americans and gay/bisexual men.

Some fear that the new comprehensive strategy won’t be enough, however. The economy has resulted in many people losing their jobs, which for many also means losing health coverage. Although there are medications that allow HIV patients to live longer and healthier lives, they are still very expensive. The out-of-pocket cost is almost out of reach for the uninsured. In addition, a person with HIV or AIDS would find it almost impossible to buy health insurance on the open market for the next several years.

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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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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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Support For Healthcare Reform Continues to Rise

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

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Although healthcare reform is still extremely controversial, a recent poll showed that Americans’ outlook on the law became more positive in June.

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s polling showed that 48% of respondents were now in favor of the bill, an increase of 7% from the month before. Opposition decreased by three percentage points, to 41%.

Why the change of heart? There are several contributing factors. For one thing, the political heat has somewhat died down–other issues have taken the spotlight. Meanwhile, the Obama administration had launched a public relations campaign, which drew attention to the beneficial affordable health insurance-related provisions taking effect this year.

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Obama Warns Insurers Against Circumventing Healthcare Reform

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

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Health insurance companies are preparing for the impact reform will have on them. Some of this preparation is gaining negative attention from President Obama–namely, increasing their rates severely before healthcare reform takes effect and significantly limits their ability to do so. Since the law will keep them from increasing rates solely for profit-maximizing purposes, they ideally want to have the highest floor before it becomes effective.

Today, he is holding a meeting at the White House to drive this point home further. Although the federal government doesn’t gain direct control over regulating health insurance plans, it gains more oversight responsibility. Their worst-case scenario is that insurers increase their rates before provisions begin taking effect this summer, while blaming the legislation for forcing them to make those moves.

The president of industry lobbying group America’s Health Insurance Plans, as well as executives from 13 health insurers and several state insurance commissioners, will attend the meeting. It is unclear whether it will have any actual impact on their actions. Some believe the summit is more of a political move, intended to protect Democrats against blowback in the midterm elections.

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Do New York Courts Have A Medical Malpractice Soultion?

Monday, June 21st, 2010

The medical malpractice system has been heavily criticized for its contribution to soaring health insurance premiums. Many doctors practice defensive medicine–performing far too many expensive tests and procedures that are unnecessary, in order to avoid lawsuits.

A judge in New York thinks he has a soultion: treating all parties involved like people. Many families want vindication and justice, instead of extremely large sums of money. By having doctors and nurses apologize for any mistake, he has convinced victims to take smaller settlements as opposed to choosing a jury trial.

The affordable health insurance reform law sets $3 million aside for studying these methods to see if they can work nationally.

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Is The American Public Now Behind Healthcare Reform?

Friday, June 18th, 2010

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Many found the promises of the Obama administration–that the nation would take more favorable views of healthcare reform once its immediate benefits kicked in and were better understood–far-fetched fantasies of Democrats. However, a recent poll indicates that the optimists may have had a point.

According to the poll, which was taken in early June by the Associated Press and GfK, 45% support the legislation as a way of bringing about more affordable health insurance. Even some registered Republicans are changing their tune: 17% are now in favor–still a tiny minority, but a nine-point jump from May.

Not everyone is warming up to the plan: 42% are still opposed, and the poll has over four percentage points of error. Nevertheless, it’s an improvement from last month, when only 39% of those polled liked the law.

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Your Group Health Insurance May Change

Monday, June 14th, 2010

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Contrary to President Obama’s proclamations that healthcare reform wouldn’t force people to give up existing employer-based health insurance they liked, there are indicators that employers may change those policies after all. Republicans are accusing him of lying to get the bill passed.

A leaked draft version of the regulations for group health insurance coverage states that plans that existed before the passage of the law must comply with some of its provisions, such as co-payment-free preventative care doctors’ visits, covering adult dependents until age 26, and an appeals process for disputed medical claims.

Most employees would consider these additional benefits a net positive (making good plans better), but companies are dreading the additional cost that any modifications to their health coverage entails. They may pass that cost onto employees, although the bill aims to discourage that.

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Pennsylvania Health Insurance Companies Under More Scrutiny

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

With rising health insurance rates and a high unemployment rate that makes it harder for people to afford them, several states have used their regulatory power to take matters into their own hands. The Obama administration is giving grants to states who plan to step up enforcement.

Pennsylvania is the latest to attempt capping rate increases. Democratic Governor Ed Rendell criticized the state’s major health insurers–Independence Blue Cross and Highmark among them–for allegedly gouging consumers by increasing premiums by over half! That is in contrast to the 5% to 10% annual increase in actual medical spending.

Rendell and others accuse Pennsylvania health insurance companies of extracting as much money as possible prior to to the most stringent healthcare reforms taking effect.

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Can Health Insurance Companies and Obama Administration Work Together?

Friday, June 4th, 2010

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Over the past year and a half, politicians have often vilified the health insurance industry in order to garner support for healthcare reform. Meanwhile, health insurers have hit back at the government.

Nevertheless, now that it’s law, both sides have to cooperate to implement it effectively. Health insurance plan providers want to continue profiting, so they want the most favorable regulations possible. They also want to be able to take advantage of the upcoming subsidies.

For their part, the Obama administration needs to work with insurers to ensure that the process goes smoothly; their political life depends on it.

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