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Administration Warns Employers: Don’t Dump Sick Workers From Plans
National Public Radio

As employers try to minimize expenses under the health law, the Obama administration has warned them against paying high-cost workers to leave the company medical plan and buy coverage elsewhere. Such a move would unlawfully discriminate against employees based on their health status, three federal agencies said in a bulletin issued in early November.

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Health-care maze remains for undocumented immigrants
CNBC

President Obama’s executive order preventing the deportation of up to 5 million undocumented immigrants won’t preclude all of them from getting affordable health coverage. But it remains to be seen just how many will be presented with that option.

Even if a good amount do get insurance, the health, social and economic costs from having the remaining immigrants effectively locked out of health coverage will remain a problem, say advocates and analysts.

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5 answers to small business questions about Obamacare
Sacramento Business Journal

For better or worse, Obamacare has received a lot of attention the past few years.

Yet, despite all the coverage in the media, there are still many misconceptions about what Obamacare is, what it’s changed and what it offers to small businesses.

Here are five answers to commonly asked questions on the topic:

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Facing health law hikes, consumers mull options
San Francisco Chronicle

Consumers across most of America will see their health insurance premiums go up next year for popular plans under President Barack Obama’s health care law. But it will take time for families to figure out the best bang for their budgets — even as a bigger political battle brews over the program’s future. For many people, government subsidies will cushion the hit. And there’s a new factor: Returning customers who are savvy about health insurance and prepared to shop for a better deal.

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Open enrollment? Time to watch what’s happening to your health plan at work.
Washington Post

Even if you’re not shopping in an Affordable Care Act marketplace, you may need to make big health insurance decisions this year. Employer-sponsored plans — where most working-age folks get coverage — are changing, too.

Rising costs, a looming tax on rich benefit packages and the idea that people should buy medical treatment the way they shop for cellphones have made many workplace plans very different for 2015.

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Insurers’ Listings of In-Network Doctors Often Out of Date
The Wall Street Journal

Many insurers are offering smaller networks of doctors in their Medicare Advantage and commercial health plans this year. But those networks may be even narrower than they seem, physicians and regulators say, because the lists often include names and addresses that are erroneous or out-of-date.

In some cases, the doctors shown as participating in plans have moved, retired or died, surveys show. Others are listed under the wrong specialty, work in hospitals full-time and don’t see outpatients, or don’t accept the plan being offered.

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Schumer: Democrats ‘blew’ opportunity by focusing on ‘wrong problem’ — health care
Washington Post

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), the Senate’s third-ranking Democrat, slammed his party Tuesday for pursuing health-care reform in 2009 and 2010, arguing that Democrats hurt themselves politically by not focusing instead on policies aimed at helping a “broader swath” of middle-class Americans.

“After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus. But unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them.

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Schumer: Dems miscalculated on Obamacare timing, handed Congress to GOP
Modern Healthcare

Passing Obamacare in 2010, when the country was still struggling to dig out of the Great Recession, was a critical political miscalculation by Democrats that led to the GOP takeover of the House, contends Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).Speaking to reporters at the National Press Club in Washington Tuesday, Schumer pointed out that only a tiny fraction of the electorate, he suggested 5%, stood to directly benefit from the federal healthcare law because most voters have coverage through their employer or government programs.

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Chuck Schumer says Democrats shouldn’t have bothered to reform health care
Washington Post

Today, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who among other things is in charge of messaging for the Senate’s Democrats, delivered a speech about the Democrats’ message at the National Press Club. His central theme was that Democrats must be the party that advocates for government’s role in making people’s lives better, a sentiment with which I heartily agree. But there was another part of the speech that is getting some attention, in which Schumer says that it was a mistake to pursue health care reform early in President Obama’s first term.

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Turning 21? Here’s How To Avoid A Big Hike In Health Premiums
National Public Radio

For young people, turning 21 is generally a reason to celebrate. If they’re insured through the federal health insurance marketplace that operates in about three-dozen states, however, their birthday could mean a whopping 58 percent jump in their health insurance premium in 2015, according to an analysis by researchers at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Many 21-year-olds who qualify for premium subsidies will be able to sidestep the rate increase if they re-evaluate their coverage options on the federal marketplace before Feb. 15, when the annual open enrollment period ends.

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House GOP proposal includes plan to kill ‘two-midnight rule’
Modern Healthcare

House Republicans are circulating a proposal to overhaul the way Medicare pays hospitals for short stays, including a plan to eliminate the widely criticized “two-midnight rule.” The timing of the document, described as a “discussion draft” might seem strange. It arrives in the middle of a lame-duck session in which Congress is expected to do little but fund the federal government before it runs out of money on Dec. 11.

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Medicaid, CHIP coverage at risk for thousands of pre-ACA enrollees
Modern Healthcare

Many states are struggling to re-enroll adults and children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, with hundreds of thousands of current beneficiaries at risk of losing coverage, advocates say.

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Treatment For HIV Runs Low In U.S., Despite Diagnosis
National Public Radio

About two-thirds of Americans who are infected with the virus that causes AIDS aren’t getting treated for it.

The finding comes from an analysis just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that more needs to be done to make sure people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus get proper treatment.

“For people living with HIV, it’s not just about knowing you’re infected — it’s also about going to the doctor for medical care,” says CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.

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Health Grants Go to Small Communities With Innovative Approaches to Obesity, Smoking
HealthyCal.org

To motivate Lake County residents to get moving earlier this year, public health workers used a charming mascot named Rocky the River Otter.

They handed out several of the stuffed animals and asked participants in their “Move More 20+14” physical challenge to photograph themselves exercising next to the cute toys. Rocky ended up in pictures at such locations as an elementary school hula-hoop session, yoga classes and on top of a mountain.

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FDA hopes calorie counts will help Americans consume fewer
Modern Healthcare

Even if new federal rules requiring calorie counts on vending machines and restaurant menus do little to change the choices people make about food, health experts and advocates are optimistic that restaurants and manufacturers will change what they sell. The Food and Drug Administration issued two final rules on Tuesday intended to shed more light on the food Americans buy. One requires restaurants that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations (PDF) to post calorie counts on menus and menu boards of the items they serve.

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Advanced EMS may not be best for cardiac-arrest patients
Modern Healthcare

Patients in cardiac arrest may be better off riding to the hospital in an ambulance without advanced life support services. A new study finds that cardiac patients who received advanced care from paramedics had lower survival rates and worse clinical outcomes at substantially higher costs. Emergency physicians who reviewed the study say the findings offer important insights but also caution that additional research is needed to validate the findings.

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Dignity Health reports quarterly loss of $29M
Sacramento Business Journal

Dignity Health, the parent company to local Mercy hospitals, reported a net loss of $29 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30, but the hit could be temporary. Revenue, operating income, investment income and net income all declined for the quarter, but the big reason behind the lower numbers is loss of income from the Medi-Cal provider fee. California hospitals tax themselves to bring down a higher federal match for the Medi-Cal program — and federal health officials have yet to approve the fee for 2014.

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Elk Grove’s state rep leads Ebola hearing
Elk Grove Citizen

State medical officials said at a State Assembly committee hearing that they are prepared to respond if a case of Ebola is diagnosed in California.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Ebola is a “rare and deadly disease” caused by infection with an Ebola virus strain. Ebola could cause disease in humans, monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees.

 

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