News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Insurers volunteer to extend payment deadline for health-care coverage to Jan. 10
Washington Post

The nation’s health insurance industry decided Wednesday to extend the deadline until Jan. 10 for Americans to pay for coverage that starts on New Year’s Day, as enrollment through the new federal and state insurance marketplaces appears to be surging.

After meager participation during the first two months, more than half a million people have chosen plans in the federal exchange since the beginning of December, according to government figures that have not been made public. Several states running their own exchanges are reporting sizable enrollment upswings, as well.

News Headlines Article

SGR Bill’s Payment Transparency Provision Elicits Concern
Health Leaders Media

Almost lost in the brouhaha over the expected repeal of the Sustainable Growth Rate funding formula is a provision that would make a physicians’ Medicare claims database available to the public online and at no cost. House and Senate versions of the “doc fix” bill repealing the SGR include language from the Medicare Data Access for Transparency and Accountability Act (Medicare DATA Act), legislation sponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley, (R-IA), and Ron Wyden, (D-OR).

News Headlines Article

Views From The Hospital Executive Suite
HealthAffairs Blog

Pessimism pervades the national dialogue surrounding healthcare reform. Despite fixes to the federal exchange website and marked improvements in enrollment, politicians and pundits continue to assail the Affordable Care Act (ACA), offering grim predictions about the future of healthcare after its implementation. The law, they claim, is an unworkable train-wreck. It will produce a healthcare system with significantly higher costs, lower quality, and bureaucratic confusion.

News Headlines Article

Medical costs, not ACA, blamed most for big insurance hikes so far
Modern Healthcare

Roughly half of the health plans that filed for premium increases of 10% or more from July 2012 to June 2013 put some of the blame on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But the vast majority of the hikes were attributed to medical costs and other routine factors, according to a new report by the Commonwealth Fund.

“Overall, the Affordable Care Act’s benefit mandates and insurer fees had only a minor effect on insurers’ larger rate increases prior to 2014,” concluded the report, authored by healthcare scholars Michael McCue, of Virginia Commonwealth University, and Mark Hall, of Wake Forest University.

News Headlines Article

Health insurers extend Obamacare payment deadlines
Los Angeles Times

Health insurers nationally said they would give consumers until Jan. 10 to pay for health coverage starting Jan. 1 as part of government-run exchanges under the federal healthcare law. But some state exchanges, including those of California and Connecticut, indicated they would stick with slightly different deadlines that were already extended. The extensions come amid a sharp rise in applicants and continued difficulties for many people trying to navigate the sign-up process.

News Headlines Article

Insurers allow more time to pay under health law
San Francisco Chronicle

Consumers anxious over tight insurance deadlines and lingering computer problems during the holidays will get extra time to pay their premiums under President Barack Obama’s health care law, insurers announced Wednesday.

The board of the industry’s biggest trade group — America’s Health Insurance Plans — said consumers who select a plan by Dec. 23 will now have until Jan. 10 to pay their first month’s premium. That’s 10 extra days beyond a New Year’s Eve deadline set by the government.

News Headlines Article

Insurers extend payment deadline for Jan. 1 Obamacare coverage
Sacramento Bee

The nation’s largest health insurance industry trade group announced Wednesday that consumers, frustrated by technical problems with federal and state health insurance marketplaces, will get more time to pay for individual coverage that begins Jan. 1.

The board of directors of America’s Health Insurance Plans said consumers who select an individual health plan by Dec. 23 will now have until Jan. 10 to make their first month’s premium payment for retroactive coverage that begins on Jan. 1, 2014.

News Headlines Article

Insurers Heed White House Plea for Premium Leniency
National Journal Magazine

Insurance companies are giving consumers until Jan. 10 to pay premiums for health coverage that begins Jan. 1, according to a national trade association representing insurers.

America’s Health Insurance Plans announced Wednesday that consumers who select plans by Dec. 23 on the Affordable Care Act’s federal and state exchanges will be allowed to pay premiums as late as Jan. 10, an extension from the Dec. 31 deadline set by the Health and Human Services Department.

News Headlines Article

Healthcare reform insurance deadline will be met, says HHS
Live Insurance News

The Department of Health and Human Services has announced that the HealthCare.gov website will be able to handle the volume of visitors that will be required to head to the site on or before December 23, 2013, in order to meet that healthcare reform deadline for purchasing coverage to ensure that the plans will be active by January 1. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services communications director, Julie Bataille, an additional 500,000 people had visited the healthcare reform website over the weekend.

News Headlines Article

Obamacare’s bespectacled, curly haired hipster in a flannel onesie draws scorn from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
New York Daily News

The bullied Obamacare girl from the insurance website has been replaced and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is among the critics ridiculing the program’s latest poster child. The new face of health care reform is a bespectacled, curly haired hipster who embraces holiday cheer as he encourages young people to join the conversation about the Affordable Care Act. The young man dons a flannel onesie and cradles a mug of hot cocoa to promote the #GetTalking hashtag, an effort to start the conversation about the changes in health care during the holidays, in one ad released on Barack Obama’s Twitter account.

News Headlines Article

First lady Michelle Obama joins president’s push on health care
The Grio

First lady Michelle Obama is suggesting a different kind of Christmas present for moms to give this year — a family discussion on health insurance.

The first lady joked it could be a new holiday tradition as the president enlisted his popular wife to help get young Americans to sign up for coverage. The couple spoke to moms in the Oval Office Wednesday, just five days before a Dec. 23 deadline for consumers to select a plan if they want coverage at the beginning of the new year.

News Headlines Article

Obamacare enrollment by Latinos hurt by immigration law concerns
Reuters

Concerns among Hispanics that signing up for medical insurance under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law may draw the scrutiny of immigration authorities has hurt enrollment, according to advocates of the policy.

Convincing Latinos to enroll could be crucial to the law’s success, and supporters of Obama’s signature domestic policy are aiming their campaign at the 10.2 million Latinos eligible for the new insurance plans or the expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor.

News Headlines Article

Uninsured Skeptical of Health Care Law in Poll
New York Times

Americans who lack medical coverage disapprove of President Obama’s health care law at roughly the same rate as the insured, even though most say they struggle to pay for basic care, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Fifty-three percent of the uninsured disapprove of the law, the poll found, compared with 51 percent of those who have health coverage. A third of the uninsured say the law will help them personally, but about the same number think it will hurt them, with cost a leading concern.

News Headlines Article

Who Will Be Hit Hardest By the Healthcare Coverage Gap?
The Wall Street Journal

With President Obama’s healthcare reform receiving controversial responses and with many Republicans standing in direct opposition to its implementation, studies looking at the coverage gap have highlighted main groups of concerns. The Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan research group, released a report on the coverage gap as it will effect race and ethnicity in those states not implementing Obamacare.

News Headlines Article

Here’s why the failure of the Obamacare website was entirely predictable
The Business Journal

The rollout of the Obamacare website, healthcare.gov, has been a debacle. But for those of us who work in the technology industry and understand how the federal government treats IT projects, the disaster was entirely predictable.

Shortly before the website’s launch, President Obama said during a speech in Maryland: “This is real simple. It’s a website where you can compare and purchase affordable health insurance plans side by side the same way you shop for a plane ticket on Kayak, same way you shop for a TV on Amazon.

News Headlines Article

Overhaul website problems may trigger price hikes
San Francisco Chronicle

Problems with the government’s main health care overhaul website carry a bigger risk than frequent crashes: Higher prices could follow for many Americans if technical troubles scare off young people.

The government has touted recent improvements to HeathCare.gov, which millions of Americans are expected to use to sign up for coverage. But enrollment still lags far behind projections, and that has triggered worries that legions of potential customers in their 20s and 30s might not sign up.

News Headlines Article

Covered California adds service hours to beat deadline
Los Angeles Business Journal

Many people may be still shopping for the holidays, but another important rush is coming to a head: the deadline for enrollment in Covered California’s health insurance exchange.

Consumers must pick a plan by Dec. 23, and to help get people enrolled, Covered California is extending its service center hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 22.

The enrollment date deadline is for coverage beginning Jan. 1, but the health insurance exchange notes that as long as payment is received by Jan. 6, coverage will be retroactive to Jan. 1.

News Headlines Article

Key deadlines nearing for new healthcare coverage
Sacramento Bee

Peter V. Lee, the head of the state’s health insurance exchange, said the pace of registration has quickened as customers face a series of deadlines.

Roughly 15,000 consumers a day were signing up for coverage the first two days of last week.

“We are seeing huge interest,” Lee said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday, adding that more people were becoming familiar with Covered California.

News Headlines Article

California’s health exchange botched letters to 114,000 households
Los Angeles Times

Adding to consumer confusion ahead of a major enrollment deadline, California’s health insurance exchange sent flawed eligibility notices to nearly 114,000 households due to a computer error. The Covered California exchange said the letters sent from Nov. 22 to Dec. 7 had blank spaces or missing information on people’s eligibility for insurance or federal premium subsidies. “The letters would say you are eligible for Covered California, but you are ineligible for blank,” said exchange spokeswoman Anne Gonzales.

News Headlines Article

Hypocritical insurers accuse hospitals of conflict of interest
Daily Kos

Charity, it is said, begins at home. But as Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal suggests, charity clearly ends with America’s health insurance companies. As the Journal reports, insurers are battling charities and hospitals who have launched pilot programs to help pay for the health care premiums of lower-income Americans. But the carriers’ campaign to prevent potentially sicker, more costly patients from becoming their customers isn’t just cruel. As it turns out, the same insurers accusing hospitals of a conflict of interest are squeezing them using newly acquired billing services and increasingly limiting your choice of doctors to the physician practices they now own.

News Headlines Article

HL20: Jeffrey Brenner, MD—Providing Better Care to Complex Patients
Health Leaders Media

Jeffrey Brenner, MD, the founder and executive director of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers and the medical director for the Urban Health Institute at Cooper Hospital, both in Camden, N.J.—one of the poorest communities in the country—became interested in providing primary care to highly complex patients as a medical student working in an inner-city free clinic.

While training alongside a passionate physician and mentor, Brenner says he realized how important it is to take the time to build strong relationships with patients who have complicated barriers to care.

News Headlines Article

UC Davis study: PSA testing for prostate cancer plays important role
Sacramento Bee

UC Davis researchers say that a widely used test for prostate cancer likely plays an important role in catching the disease early, when it is most treatable.

The findings suggest that the PSA – or prostate specific antigen – test could be responsible for a reduction in prostate cancer mortality rates.

Since the introduction of PSA testing in the late 1980s, prostate cancer mortality has gone down 40 percent. The higher the PSA level, the more likely a man has prostate cancer.

Commands