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January 19, 2014 | By Eric J. Segall
Rarely in American history has the Supreme Court been called on to decide so many important social, legal and political issues in such a relatively brief period of time. This term, the court will hand down decisions on affirmative action, campaign finance reform, free speech and the separation of church and state. At the same time, the lower courts are struggling with new and aggressive abortion laws, same-sex marriage restrictions at the state level and yet more church/state issues that could have important consequences for President Obama's Affordable Care Act, even as more constitutional challenges to that legislation are headed toward the high court.
January 19, 2014 | By Soumya Karlamangla
When Alva Alvarez gets sick, she buys over-the-counter medicine from the grocery and takes as much as she can until she feels better. The mother of five resorts to this because she can't afford a visit to the doctor to figure out what's ailing her. Although scenarios like this are supposed to disappear as millions of Americans become newly insured under the national healthcare law, Alvarez's situation isn't likely to improve and could get worse....
January 11, 2014 | By Noam N. Levey
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has dumped the information technology firm responsible for building the troubled website, replacing CGI Federal with Accenture, another multinational IT firm, the administration announced Saturday. CGI, which has drawn sustained criticism for its work on a centerpiece feature of the president's health law, was effectively demoted last fall, when administration officials turned to a subsidiary of insurance giant UnitedHealth to rescue from its disastrous Oct. 1 debut.
January 7, 2014 | By Cathleen Decker
The frantic image-making by Democrats and Republicans as the 2014 elections loom rippled through the Senate debate Tuesday over whether to extend jobless benefits that expired late last year. For Democrats, who unanimously supported a procedural vote on the benefit extension, the issue offered an opportunity to come to the defense of a middle class still reeling from the economic downturn despite the abundant returns visited upon Wall Street. For Republicans, only six of whom crossed party lines to further the benefit extension, the day brought a renewed effort to tie jobless relief to Obamacare, the issue that they hope will stagger Democrats in the fall.
January 7, 2014 | By Hedrick Smith
The narrowly approved contract agreement between Boeing and its Washington state workforce will be hailed by some as a victory for the canny, hardball brinkmanship of Boeing's management and the knuckle-under economic pragmatism of the International Machinists Union. But the steep cutbacks in retirement and health benefits that tens of thousands of Boeing workers were forced to swallow have far larger implications for middle-class America. Boeing's stingy treatment of its highly skilled workforce offers a vivid example of how America's new economy has created gaping economic inequalities and steadily squeezed the economic life out of the U.S. middle class over the last three decades, even as corporate profits and CEO pay have skyrocketed.
January 7, 2014 | By Chad Terhune
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones criticized Blue Shield of California for an "unreasonable" rate hike affecting about 81,000 individual policyholders. Tuesday, Jones said the nonprofit health insurer's 10% average increase effective Jan. 1 was excessive. But he and other state officials don't have the authority to reject changes in premiums. Jones said the latest rate hike amounted to an average increase of 32% over a two-year period. "We have heard from Californians time and time again about how painful it is to pay these rate increases," Jones said.
January 6, 2014 | By Noam N. Levey
WASHINGTON - Soaring healthcare spending - which helped pave the way for President Obama's health law - continued to moderate in 2012, the fourth year of a historic slowdown in how much the nation pays for medical treatment, according to a new government report. Overall spending on healthcare rose less than 4% in 2012, less than half the rate of a decade ago, independent economists at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services concluded. And for only the third time in the last 15 years, health spending rose more slowly than the overall economy.
January 6, 2014 | By Chad Terhune
Paperwork and computer glitches are still tripping up some eager consumers who are seeking coverage through California's insurance exchange and its 11 health plans. On Monday, the Covered California exchange said that all the applications it received online for coverage starting Jan. 1 have been sent to participating insurers, but that it is still sorting through an unspecified number of paper applications for that time period. In light of that delay, last weekend the state exchange extended the payment deadline for January premiums by nine days to Jan. 15. A week into the new year, some people are still waiting to get an invoice or confirmation of coverage.
January 5, 2014 | By George P. Shultz, Scott W. Atlas and John F. Cogan
As the acute problems of the Affordable Care Act become increasingly apparent, it also has become clear that we need new ways of ensuring access to healthcare for all Americans. We should begin with an examination of health insurance. Insurance is about protecting against risk. In the health arena, the risk at issue is of large and unexpected medical expenses. The proper role of health insurance should be to finance necessary and expensive medical services without the patient incurring devastating financial consequences.
December 29, 2013 | By Noam N. Levey
WASHINGTON - More than 1.1 million people have enrolled in health insurance plans through the marketplace operated by the federal government, the Obama administration announced Sunday. A late-December surge in sign-ups - combined with rising enrollment on similar marketplaces operated by 14 states and the District of Columbia - means that about 2 million people nationwide appear to have signed up for health coverage under President Obama's health law since Oct. 1. Not all states have reported their enrollment numbers through Dec. 24, so an exact tally is not available.
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