HHS Report Says Obamacare Plans Are Cheaper Than They Look

July 12, 2016, NPR, Alison Kodjak-  Obamacare health plans have been getting a bad rap this year. Critics say the premiums are too high, the out-of-pocket costs are out of control, and the requirements and red tape are too thick. But now the Obama administration is pushing back. A study released Tuesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services argues that the cost-sharing isn’t nearly as heavy as previous analyses have shown, because most consumers get subsidies that limit their deductibles and copayments. “This comprehensive analysis makes clear that two key misconceptions about the market are incorrect,” said Christen Linke Young, principal deputy director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at CMS.

Medicaid expansion improves access

July 8, 2016, The Clarion Ledger, Pam Roshell- As I travel across the Southeastern region, there is nothing more heartbreaking than to witness some of the region’s poorest and sickest citizens be denied access to affordable, quality health care because they are caught in the persistent Medicaid gap. The despair felt by tens of thousands of low-income citizens in the seven Southeastern states - Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee - that have chosen not to expand Medicaid is in contrast to millions of grateful and satisfied Americans who have gained access to quality health care as a result of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Justice Dept. Has Concerns Over Aetna-Humana Deal: Source

July 7, 2016, The New York Times, Reuters- The U.S. Department of Justice has significant concerns about Aetna Inc’s proposed acquisition of health insurer Humana Inc, a source familiar with the situation said on Thursday, sending shares of Humana down as much as 11 percent.Aetna’s purchase of Humana would combine two of the largest providers of Medicare Advantage plans for elderly people, and investors have long been concerned the deal might pose a competition issue for antitrust regulators.

Obamacare isn’t the jobs crusher it was made out to be

July 7, 2016, Business Insider, Bob Bryan- Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, there were some dire warnings about its potential affect on the jobs market. Lawmakers opposed to it raised concerns that small businesses would be reluctant to hire employees for fear of hitting the threshold for providing insurance or that hourly employees would have their hours cut back to avoid hitting full-time status. Those fears, however, have not come to pass, according to B. Ravikumar, of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and Lin Shao, of Washington University in St. Louis.

House Panel Extends Funding For Medicare Program To Help Consumers

July 7, 2016, Kaiser Health News, Susan Jaffee- A House subcommittee voted on Thursday to continue $52 million in funding for a program that helps seniors understand the complexities of their Medicare coverage. Two weeks ago, a Senate committee voted to eliminate it. The measure preserving the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, known as SHIP, is part of a massive spending bill for federal health, education and labor programs, approved by the Republican majority of the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees those departments. Democrats opposed the bill, which would cut money for the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and the Social Security Administration.

Cuts in Health Department put everyone at risk

July 5, 2016, The Sun Herald, Buddy Daughdrill-  From ensuring safe food, safe milk, and safe water to preventing the spread of infectious diseases, from providing emergency preparedness readiness, to promoting healthier, safer communities - these are all a part of the health care system in Mississippi that is called public health. A system that is in place as a first line of defense in protecting you and your community. It protects and benefits everyone. That very system is in jeopardy in Mississippi because our Legislature failed to recognize the need for a basic public health infrastructure designed to protect us all from the spread of disease, to support us through natural and man-made disasters and to promote a healthier and thus wealthier Mississippi.