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Bachmann Medicaid Hypocrisy

From Today.com:

Michael Isikoff–6/28/2011 7:46:46 PM

While Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has forcefully denounced the Medicaid program for swelling the “welfare rolls,” the mental health clinic run by her husband has been collecting annual Medicaid payments totaling over $137,000 for the treatment of patients since 2005, according to new figures obtained by NBC News.

The previously unreported payments are on top of the $24,000 in federal and state funds that Bachmann & Associates, the clinic founded by Marcus Bachmann, a clinical therapist, received in recent years under a state grant to train its employees, state records show. The figures were provided to NBC News in response to a Freedom of Information request.

The clinic, based in Lake Elmo, Minn., describes itself on its website as offering “quality Christian counseling” for a large number of mental health problems ranging from “anger management” to addictions and eating disorders. Continue reading

Health Care Reform Saves Seniors A Combined $260 Million

From The Hill:

By Julian Pecquet – 06/28/11 10:07 AM ET

Almost half a million seniors on Medicare had saved a combined $260 million on their medicines by the end of last month thanks to the healthcare reform law, the Obama administration announced Tuesday.

A total of 478,272 people have taken advantage of the law’s 50 percent prescription discount for seniors in the Medicare “doughnut hole,” according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The month of May saw a sharp increase in the number of beneficiaries benefiting from the provision, up 76 percent from 270,900 at the end of April.

“As more and more beneficiaries hit the donut hole through the rest of this year,” CMS Administrator Don Berwick said in a statement, “the numbers will continue to climb. All of these beneficiaries will see savings on their drug costs that were not available in previous years.”

The agency also released a state-by-state breakdown of the numbers, showing that California saw the greatest benefit, with 54,586 seniors saving almost $30 million.

Religious Groups Rally Against Medicaid Cuts

From The Hill

By Julian Pecquet – 06/28/11 03:30 PM ET  

The nation’s largest Jewish organization announced Tuesday that it’s convening other religious groups to fight Medicaid cuts, the same day a nonpartisan coalition of providers and health plans separately launched an ad campaign against the cuts.

The Jewish Federation of North America says it’s partnering with other major faith-based groups – Lutheran Services of America, Catholic Health Association and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism among them – to fight against Medicaid cuts. As part of its effort, the federation examined how the federal Medicaid funding cuts called for in House Republicans’ budget proposal would affect the nation’s largest cities.

Meanwhile, the Partnership for Medicaid launched an ad campaign to push back against Medicaid cuts that are on the table as part of debt ceiling talks. Advocates believe the $1 trillion in domestic spending cuts that the White House has put on the table includes $100 billion in Medicaid cuts, the same amount that President Obama called for in his April 13 deficit reduction speech. Continue reading

KidsWell Campaign

KidsWell Campaign Launches Website and Online Resource Hub for Health Reform Implementation

KidsWell, a campaign dedicated to the successful implementation of federal health reform for America’s children, launched http://www.kidswellcampaign.org/, a website monitoring state and national health care reform implementation and opposition across the country.

First Focus Campaign for Children is a partner of the KidsWell Coalition, a diverse network of state and national organizations supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies and working on behalf of children to increase health coverage and ensure successful implementation of health care reform. Continue reading

ACA’s Individual Mandate Wins First Appellate Review

From The New York Times:

By –Published: June 29, 2011

The Obama administration won the first appellate review of the 2010 health care law on Wednesday as a three-judge panel from the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati held that it was constitutional for Congress to require that Americans obtain health insurance.

 The ruling is the first of three opinions to be delivered by separate courts of appeal that heard arguments in the health care litigation in May and June. Opinions are expected soon from panels in both the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., and in the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta.

Lawyers on both sides of the case widely expect the Supreme Court to take one or more of the cases, perhaps as soon as its coming term, which starts in October. The speed of the Sixth Circuit ruling could help ensure that timing. Continue reading

RomneyCare: Program Review Shows Appealing Efficacy

From The Boston Globe:


June 26, 2011|By Brian C. Mooney, Globe Staff

Second of two stories on Mitt Romney and the state health care overhaul.

On a sunny autumn afternoon in October 2008, Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, met New Hampshire portrait artist Richard Whitney at the State House and went to the governor’s office he once occupied on the third floor.

About eight months earlier, Romney had dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, and his successor, Deval Patrick, had arranged for them to use his office to shoot photos to be used for Romney’s official portrait, which would be unveiled the following year.

The artist and former governor had already met at Romney’s vacation home in Wolfeboro,, N.H., to discuss the painting, and Romney was clear on the image he wanted to convey for posterity.

He would be at his desk, wearing a light blue business suit and tie. Visible in the frame would be symbols of what he held dear and how he wanted to be remembered.

One was a photo of Ann, center of his personal universe.

The other was an official-looking document, with the symbol of the medical profession — the caduceus — embossed in gold on the cover. It stood for the Massachusetts health care law, passed in 2006, his final year as governor. Easily the most memorable achievement of his political career, it is now perhaps the biggest hurdle to achieving his presidential dream. Continue reading

RomneyCare: A Look At Massachusetts Health Care

From The Boston Globe:


May 30, 2011|By Brian C. Mooney, Globe Staff

First in a series on Mitt Romney and the Massachusetts health care overhaul.

In late spring 2005, Mitt Romney gathered with a dozen top policy and political advisers in a conference room near the governor’s suite on the third floor of the State House.

For two years, they had grappled with the abstruse complexities of health care reform, sifting data, evaluating input from experts, and testing theories to craft a plan that would expand coverage to nearly everyone in the state and not break the bank.

This was a bold move for a first-term Republican governor, some of whose more conservative advisers doubted the wisdom of a foray deep into policy turf long dominated by Democrats. One privately called the idea Dukakis II, a reference to the 1988 Democratic-led effort by Governor Michael S. Dukakis to phase in near-universal coverage — even though Romney’s approach was fundamentally different.

 But Romney was resolute in pushing forward. And on the table this day was a critical decision that would, in many ways, define the plan, and also Romney’s political ambitions, wherever they would lead him. Continue reading

Healthcare Reform As A Market-Based Solution

From The Huffington Post:

Tommy Thompson– 06/27/11 06:44 PM

I am writing to suggest that governors of both political parties have tremendous opportunity to use free market principles and set up health insurance exchanges which work and give constituents freedom of choice. There is a lot of discussion about health insurance exchanges as it relates to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Some governors have a negative opinion of insurance exchanges and I believe that by doing so they are giving up a tremendous opportunity to use marketplace choice and allow insurance companies to compete in their respective states. It would be a terrible mistake to have governors give up that opportunity to set up exchanges and forfeit that opportunity back to the federal government which would limit states’ rights and their constituents’ ability to pick and choose the best insurance for themselves and their families.

Just as governors did during welfare reform, by using these kinds of free market principles to chart a new course in dealing with welfare, they gave people hope for a job and independence and did not lock them into welfare dependency. Exchanges can be and should be a market-based solution. As a Republican and an advocate of market-placed innovation, I believe that health care should possess the same entrepreneurship zeal and leverage of technology that allows us to create an Apple iPhone or Amazon e-commerce portal. Continue reading

Healthcare Reform To Benefit Small Businesses

From The Hill:

By Sam Baker – 06/21/11 10:00 AM ET

Healthcare reform can help reverse a drop in the number of businesses offering health benefits to their employees, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says.

The share of employers that offer health insurance fell by 3.6 percentage points between 1999 and 2009, according to a study the foundation released Tuesday morning. It also says 61 percent of working-age Americans get insurance from their employer, down from 69 percent a decade ago.

The decline has been especially severe among small businesses and for families making between $44,000 and $88,000 per year, the report says. Continue reading

AMA Votes In Support of Individual Mandate

From The Hill:

By Sam Baker – 06/20/11  

The AMA’s House of Delegates voted 326-165 to support the law’s requirement that most people buy insurance. The coverage mandate is at the center of several lawsuits challenging the new law’s constitutionality.AMA President Cecil Wilson said the “overwhelming” vote shows that doctors still believe a mandate is necessary to achieving universal coverage.He emphasized that the AMA — the country’s largest trade association for doctors — backed the individual mandate before the debate over healthcare reform. Many members of the traditionally conservative group wanted to see that position reassessed at the AMA’s annual meeting this week in Chicago.
Continue reading