December 14, 2012
Looking for ways to slow the growth of entitlement programs, budget negotiators in Washington are considering making seniors wait two years longer to qualify for Medicare - from age 65 to 67. Many Republicans have endorsed the idea, noting that Medicare beneficiaries now live far longer on average than they did when Congress created the program in 1965. The problem with the proposal is that it wouldn't save the federal government much money overall, even though it might cut Medicare's costs.
December 11, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration stepped up pressure on states Monday to guarantee insurance for all their low-income residents in 2014 under the new healthcare law, warning governors that the federal government would not pick up the total cost of partially expanding coverage. "We continue to encourage all states to fully expand their Medicaid programs and take advantage of the generous federal matching funds to cover more of their residents," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote in a letter to governors.
December 2, 2012
In a bid to cut the state's healthcare bills, the Brown administration will begin shuttering the Healthy Families insurance program for low-income children on Jan. 1. More than 850,000 kids will be shifted over the course of the year into HMOs that participate in Medi-Cal, California's version of the federally subsidized Medicaid program. It may be too late now for the Legislature to rescue Healthy Families from its untimely and potentially disruptive end, even though lawmakers are heading to Sacramento on Monday to begin a special session devoted to healthcare issues.
November 8, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - With President Obama and congressional Republicans turning to address the looming budget crisis, a coalition of consumer groups, labor unions and major employers is pushing new approaches to control federal health spending without cutting benefits for seniors and others who rely on Medicare and Medicaid. The plan, released Thursday by the National Coalition on Health Care , includes several potentially controversial proposals such as a new penny-per-ounce federal tax on sweetened beverages and tougher penalties on under-performing hospitals.
October 24, 2012 |
Retired social worker Nina Nestor got an all-too-familiar phone call last week: Her prescription refill was ready at her CVS store in San Clemente. Trouble is, the 83-year-old cancer patient didn't ask for the refill or numerous others that CVS pharmacists filled this year without her permission. "The pharmacist told me after two weeks they put it back in stock and reverse the billing," Nestor said. "But I wonder about that. " Government officials share her concerns. Allegations that the pharmacy giant has been automatically refilling medications without patient consent - and possibly overbilling insurers and government programs for unused medicine - have sparked four government investigations in recent weeks, the most recent by the U.S. Justice Department.
September 11, 2012
Re "Know what cutting Medicaid would do," Sept. 9 Michael Hiltzik makes some good points, but there is a larger issue. The battle over our commitment to Medicaid is part of the war over our nation's healthcare system. Today, our patchwork system of Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance (including PPOs, HMOs and indemnity plans) has imposed extraordinary administrative requirements on healthcare providers, with physicians being the most affected. Their time is increasingly devoted to administrative demands at the expense of patient care; escalating healthcare costs result.
September 9, 2012 |
Of the nation's major social insurance programs, Medicaid tends to be the one that gets the least respect. The reason is not because it's small - with some 53 million enrollees, the federal-state program is slightly smaller than Social Security but larger than Medicare - but because it serves the poorest and sickest Americans, those with the fewest healthcare options. Yet Medicaid (or Medi-Cal, as it's known in California) may also have the greatest economic impact of those programs, not only on its recipients but also on the hospitals and clinics in many ill-served communities.
August 20, 2012 |
Health insurance giant Aetna Inc., trying to capitalize on growing enrollment in Medicare and Medicaid, has agreed to acquire Coventry Health Care Inc. for about $5.7 billion in cash and stock. The Hartford, Conn., company and nation's third-largest health insurer said the Coventry deal will allow it to add more than 5 million new members, many of them in faster-growing Medicare Advantage and Medicaid managed-care plans. Other insurers have been striking similar deals as they seek to take advantage of Medicare's growth as more baby boomers retire and the federal healthcare law adds an estimated 15 million Americans to the Medicaid rolls starting in 2014.
August 7, 2012 |
The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that 30 million Americans still will be left without health insurance in 2022, after the U.S. Supreme Courtruling that largely upheld President Obama's healthcare plan. The part of the plan that was not upheld by the high court, however, contains the key to lowering that number. The issue revolves around what it means to be covered by health insurance, and who decides. Before the Supreme Court's ruling, the answer was unambiguous.