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NATIONAL
July 3, 2012 | By David Horsey
The Republican stance on healthcare is a strange mix of muddle and mendacity. The muddle comes from the GOP's presumptive nominee for president, Mitt Romney. The mendacity is the work of conservative "super PACs" that are spending millions on new attack ads built around a brazen lie. Rick Santorum was absolutely right when, during his primary battle with Romney, he said the former Massachusetts governor was “the worst Republican in the country” to pick as point man to oppose the Democrats' healthcare plan.
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NATIONAL
April 10, 2014 | By Noam N. Levey and Christi Parsons
WASHINGTON - Kathleen Sebelius, who helped guide the rocky and controversial rollout of President Obama's landmark health law, has resigned as Health and Human Services secretary after more than five years. In her place, the president plans as soon as Friday to nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, according to a senior administration official. Sebelius was not pressured to resign, the official said. But she leaves after presiding over the disastrous launch of the health law's online insurance marketplaces last fall.
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NEWS
October 29, 2013 | By Matthew Fleischer, guest blogger
The Obama administration came out with a report Monday arguing that 1 million single adults between the ages of 18 and 35 will be eligible for an Obamacare insurance plan costing less than $50 a month. That's news to me. I'm a healthy 34-year-old with a taxable income hovering right around the Obamacare subsidy level who, for the last several years, has purchased a relatively inexpensive catastrophic health insurance plan from Blue Shield. I get to see the doctor four times a year for a $30 co-pay, and I won't have to spend the rest of my life working off the debt if I get hit by a bus. Last month, however, I received a letter from my insurance company informing me that my plan was “no longer available” due to “new requirements for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.” I am being funneled into the closest equivalent plan under the new California health exchange, and my monthly premium is going to rise by nearly 43% to $214 a month.
OPINION
April 9, 2014
Re "Is Obamacare too big to fail?," Opinion, April 6 The effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act became fantasy with the first few sign-ups, hesitant and difficult as they were. Like every sort of entitlement program, once you have any beneficiaries, getting rid of the program is political kryptonite. People continue to kick and scream about the law, about the website, about the cost of premiums, about the coverage, about finding doctors and more, but the only thing they will hate more is being told they have to start all over again with some new program.
BUSINESS
April 1, 2014 | By David Lauter and Christi Parsons
WASHINGTON - The Affordable Care Act has passed its first big test, but the law's distribution of winners and losers all but guarantees the achievement will not quiet its political opposition. White House officials, who had a near-death experience with the law's rollout six months ago, were nearly giddy Tuesday as they celebrated an open-enrollment season that ended on a high note. Despite the early problems with the federal website, "7.1 million Americans have now signed up," President Obama declared in a Rose Garden speech to members of Congress, his staff and supporters in which he notably returned to referring to the law as "Obamacare.
BUSINESS
March 23, 2014 | Michael Hiltzik
If there were fairness in this world, Rita Rizzo would be a media star. Rizzo, 60, owns a management consulting firm for nonprofit groups and government offices in Akron, Ohio, with her husband, Lou Vincent, 64. Vincent, who suffers from Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, has gone without health insurance for 10 years. "We got 30 denial letters," Rizzo told me last week. Three years ago, Rizzo got a hip replacement. Her own insurance premiums were going to rise by $500 a month, to about $800, so she chose instead to triple her deductible to $6,000 to keep the increase to a mere $150 a month.
BUSINESS
October 30, 2013 | By Michael Hiltzik
Deborah Cavallaro is a hard-working real estate agent in the Westchester suburb of Los Angeles who has been featured prominently on a round of news shows lately, talking about how badly Obamacare is going to cost her when her existing plan gets canceled and she has to find a replacement. She says she's angry at President Obama for having promised that people who like their health plans could keep them, when hers is getting canceled for not meeting Obamacare's standards.  "Please explain to me," she told Maria Bartiromo on CNBC Wednesday, "how my plan is a 'substandard' plan when ... I'd be paying more for the exchange plans than I am currently paying by a wide margin.
OPINION
March 13, 2013
Re "GOP renews effort to kill ' Obamacare ,'" March 11 The costs and limitations of America's healthcare system have made it unsustainable. President Obama's healthcare law addressed some of the issues effectively but failed to address others and included some bad features. However, the correct path is not to scuttle the law entirely. If we do that, we will remain with an unsustainable healthcare system. We cannot go back to square one because it is highly likely that we would remain there.
OPINION
July 14, 2013
Re "Focus on fixing, not gutting, the healthcare act," Column, July 12 David Lazarus wants our lawmakers to act like adults when weighing healthcare reform. However, when that large group of mature men and women in the House votes 37 times to repeal a democratically enacted law upheld by the Supreme Court, and also lies about the law's effects, we are dealing with the tantrums of children. The way to make a child modify his behavior is to take away some of his privileges.
NATIONAL
June 28, 2012 | By David Horsey
The Supreme Court is shaking up the political chessboard today by ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act - a.k.a. "Obamacare" - and there is one player who will win no matter what the decision may be: the insurance industry. When Congress was debating healthcare three years ago, health insurers were no fans of reform. They were making gobs of money with the system just as it was. For years, their lobbyists managed to kill any attempt to tinker with the status quo, and major tinkering, like instituting a Canadian-style single-payer scheme, was out of the question because it would cut them out of the healthcare equation.  Also, for sensible business reasons, insurers had never been especially keen on being forced to offer coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions or to pay for preventative care or various other benefits the Democrats and President Obama wanted as part of a healthcare reform package.
OPINION
April 6, 2014 | Doyle McManus
When Obamacare's first open-enrollment period ended last week, the tally was impressive: 7.1 million Americans signed up for insurance on federal and state exchanges by the March 31 deadline, several million more signed up for Medicaid and a whole lot of under-26 Americans got covered by their parents' plans. Those numbers represent a significant political victory for Democrats, making it highly unlikely that Republicans will be able to deliver on their promise to repeal the law. "You're not going to turn away 7 or 10 million people from insurance coverage," crowed Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
BUSINESS
April 2, 2014 | By Chad Terhune
Even with 1.2 million people enrolled by Monday's deadline, California's health exchange isn't done adding to the Obamacare rolls - and it won't be for quite some time. In the months to come, it's estimated that several hundred thousand more Californians could qualify for a special enrollment period as college students graduate, families move and workers change jobs. But health insurers say the state's current rules for late sign-ups rely too much on the honor system and invite abuse by people waiting until they get sick.
BUSINESS
April 1, 2014 | By David Lauter and Christi Parsons
WASHINGTON - The Affordable Care Act has passed its first big test, but the law's distribution of winners and losers all but guarantees the achievement will not quiet its political opposition. White House officials, who had a near-death experience with the law's rollout six months ago, were nearly giddy Tuesday as they celebrated an open-enrollment season that ended on a high note. Despite the early problems with the federal website, "7.1 million Americans have now signed up," President Obama declared in a Rose Garden speech to members of Congress, his staff and supporters in which he notably returned to referring to the law as "Obamacare.
BUSINESS
March 31, 2014 | By Chad Terhune, Noam Levey and Soumya Karlamangla
Overrun by last-minute demand for Obamacare coverage, California gave many consumers until April 15 to enroll as thousands of people across the nation endured long lines and website troubles. Despite the problems, the late surge in sign-ups was a substantial boost to President Obama's signature law, particularly after such a disastrous launch in October. The final tally from the first year of the law's insurance expansion won't be known until later this spring. But as the Affordable Care Act's inaugural open-enrollment period wound down, an outpouring of interest pushed sign-ups on the new online marketplaces close to the Obama administration's goal of 7 million.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 30, 2014 | By Eryn Brown
One long period of Obamacare hand-wringing in Los Angeles County will end Monday, as the window for residents to enroll in mandatory healthcare coverage comes to a close. But less than 24 hours later, county elected officials will be confronted with another politically sensitive facet of the nation's healthcare overhaul: how to manage roughly a million people, many of them poor or undocumented, who will remain uninsured either because they aren't eligible or failed to enroll. Unlike some other counties in California, which are sidestepping the issue and leaving the problem largely to nonprofit free clinics, Los Angeles has committed to providing residents without coverage some system of government-supported medical care.
BUSINESS
March 30, 2014 | By Chad Terhune
After months of head counts for Obamacare, it is the medical bills that will start to matter now. Even before enrollment closes Monday, California has far exceeded its initial goals for signing up people under the Affordable Care Act. Although the sheer volume of 1.1 million policyholders is impressive for a brand new government program, the number of sicker patients is what's likely to draw the most attention. How sick they are and the size of their medical bills will be front and center in the weeks to come as insurers begin drawing up next year's insurance rates, which will become public this summer.
BUSINESS
October 1, 2013 | By Michael Hiltzik
Among the many delusions guiding the Republican campaign against the Affordable Care Act, surely the most consistent is the idea that the public detests the law and is clamoring for repeal. Here's the truth: The American public loves Obamacare, with as many as 88% in favor, according to one survey. How can that be, when polls regularly show a plurality of respondents with an "unfavorable" view of Obamacare? (In a September Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll , the difference was 43% unfavorable to 39% favorable.)
NATIONAL
March 24, 2014 | By David G. Savage
WASHINGTON - A challenge to part of President Obama's healthcare law that hits the Supreme Court on Tuesday could lead to one of the most significant religious freedom rulings in the high court's history. Four years ago, in their controversial Citizens United decision, the justices ruled that corporations had full free-speech rights in election campaigns. Now, they're being asked to decide whether for-profit companies are entitled to religious liberties. At issue in Tuesday's oral argument before the court is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide workers a health plan that covers the full range of contraceptives, including morning-after pills and intrauterine devices, or IUDs.
NATIONAL
March 30, 2014 | By Noam N. Levey
WASHINGTON - President Obama's healthcare law, despite a rocky rollout and determined opposition from critics, already has spurred the largest expansion in health coverage in America in half a century, national surveys and enrollment data show. As the law's initial enrollment period closes, at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage. Some have done so through marketplaces created by the law, some through other private insurance and others through Medicaid, which has expanded under the law in about half the states.
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