Health Care


Obama Administration Releases Final Regulation For New Medicaid Program Called "Community First Choice Option"

By Marty Omoto
California Disability Community Action Network

Yesterday the Obama Administration announced the release of the long awaited final federal regulations for a new Medicaid program, called the “Community First Choice Option” that will provide states who apply, with a higher federal match to fund community-based programs services and supports for person with disabilities and seniors who would otherwise be placed in a nursing home or similar facility. The announcement was made by the US Department of Health and Human Services earlier today. The regulations were first issued as proposed rules over a year ago for public comment.

To view the 304 page final federal rule, click on this link to the Federal Register website:  http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2012-10294_PI.pdf

The Tragic Consequences of an Employer’s Broken Promise

By Michael D. Sorkin
United Media Guild

Robert Douglas collapsed and died while he was about to let his two mixed-breed dogs out the back door of his modest brick home in St. Louis. Two days later, on Dec. 16, relatives found his body on the kitchen floor. He was 59.

Robert had cared for his two rescued dogs, and he had done the same for his friends and colleagues at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he had worked for nearly 40 years. He was to the newsroom as Radar was to “M*A*S*H”: the guy we went to when we needed help.

Robert made sure we got what we needed to do our jobs, especially when the bosses said we couldn’t.

Blame, Blacklisting, Death, and Destruction

By Linda Leu
Health Access California

A packed Assembly Health Committee agenda kicked off Tuesday with AB1461, the bill that would reform the individual health insurance market in accordance with the Affordable Care Act. Chairman Monning, the bill’s author, outlined the protections covered by the bill, including community rating (rather than rating based health status) and guaranteed issue and renewal.

Tax Day Thoughts...

By Anthony Wright
Health Access California

On tax day, we remember the saying by Oliver Wendell Holmes, that "taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society."

Today, we joined other Sacramento leaders in front of the Federal building, to protest a decidedly uncivilized proposal--to give significant tax breaks to the richest among us, to cut and undermine core health programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act.

Of course, we are referring to the "Ryan budget," the measure passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week, with the support of several California Republican Congressmen, including Representative Dan Lungren.

Affordable Care Act: Freedom from Ignorance

By Donald Cohen
The Cry Wolf Project

The Supreme Court’s deliberation on the Affordable Care Act goes to the heart of differing visions of the American concept of “freedom” and “liberty.” It’s a debate worth having.

In court this week, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. described what real freedom looks like. “There will be millions of people with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease,” he said, “and as a result of the health care that they will get, they will be unshackled from the disabilities that those diseases put on them and have the opportunity to enjoy the blessings of liberty.”

Verrilli’s argument evokes FDR’s famous “Four Freedoms Speech” that included freedom from “want” and “fear.”

Aetna Gets The Scarlet "U"

By Anthony Wright
Health Access California

Last week, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced he was declaring Aetna's recent quarterly health insurance rate increase for small employers as "unreasonable."

This is notable as the first *formal* finding of an “unreasonable” rate hike by the Department of Insurance for health insurance rate increases under the Affordable Care Act and companion implementing state legislation, SB 1163 (Leno).

To be clear, this wasn't the first time that insurers filed unreasonable rate hikes--it is the first time that a health insurer refused to reduce or retract a proposed rate increase at the request of the Insurance Commissioner. The Department of Managed Health Care, which has also been negotiating rates with insurers, did declare an Anthem Blue Cross rate hike as unreasonable last year.

The Health Care Game

By Harvey Rosenfield
WheresOurMoney.org

Like the Hunger Games, in which leaders of the 1% connive to rig a contest so that a charismatic representative of the 99% is defeated, there’s lots of intrigue behind the US Supreme Court hearings on the federal health care law that recently took place.

Five Reasons Not to Buy Matzah at Walmart

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By Danny Feingold, The Frying Pan

It’s matzah bargain-hunting season, and guess who has entered the fray? That’s right, Walmart.

The world’s largest retailer may not be known for bar mitzvah catering, but apparently the matzah market was too lucrative to pass up. Visit walmart.com, and in less time than it took God to part the Red Sea, you can load up on all variety of matzah products, from matzah ball soup mix to matzah meal. Those looking to brush up on their Pesach basics can even find Celebrate Passover: With Matzah, Maror and Memories, a handy guide to the holiday published by that noted authority on Jewish customs, National Geographic (imagine the charoset photo spreads).

But before you get out your credit card, you might want to consider whether a matzah splurge at Walmart is really in the spirit of Passover. Here’s some unleavened food for thought:

1) Walmart and Poverty

What California Has At Stake At The Supreme Court

By Anthony Wright
Health Access California

So, what would happen if the Supreme Court struck down the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? Hundreds of thousands of Californians would lose their health insurance, and many more would lose financial assistance to be able to afford care and coverage. Millions more California families would find that their new options, benefits, and consumer protections would disappear.

If the Supreme Court strikes down the health law, it would be a radical, unprecedented, judicially activist step that would literally throw people in treatment off of coverage, and have devastating ripple effect throughout our health system and state. Hundreds of thousands of Californians could lose their health coverage. Over 8,600 Californians with pre-existing conditions would be dumped onto the mercy of the market, uninsured and uninsurable. Over 370,000 low-income Californians in federally-matched county 'bridge to reform' programs would find themselves on a bridge to nowhere.

Chilling Impact of Court Rejecting Health Care Law

By Randy Shaw
Beyond Chron

Progressives are surprisingly unconcerned about the Supreme Court’s now likely striking down of the individual mandate and perhaps the entire health care law. To the contrary, articles on sites like Firedoglake.com and TheNation.com argue that striking down the law creates an opening for single-payer, long the preferred progressive health care plan. But while it’s good to find a silver lining in any dark cloud, the negative impacts of the court’s striking down Obamacare go far beyond health care. Suddenly, every progressive reform measure will be charged with being “unconstitutional,” and many activists will figure that as long as the right-wing Supreme Court majority remains, there’s no point working to pass anything. And that’s exactly the attitude that opponents of progressive change hope to foster.