First Edition: August 26, 2014
Today's early morning highlights from major news organizations, including a report about how what some say is a health law "drafting error" and other's term a "political miscalculation" could become the measure's trouble spot.
Kaiser Health News: New Birth Control Rules Appear To Track Supreme Court Suggestion
Kaiser Health News staff writer Julie Rovner reports: “Those who favor women being guaranteed no-cost birth control coverage under their health insurance say the new rules for nonprofit religious organizations issued by the Obama administration simply put into force what the Supreme Court suggested last month” (Rovner, 8/25). Read the story.
Kaiser Health News: With Coverage Through Obamacare, Transgender Woman Opts For Surgery
Kaiser Health News staff writer Anna Gorman reports: “Among the less-talked-about implications of the Affordable Care Act is the relief it is providing to many transgender people, many of whom are low-income and who have struggled to obtain health coverage. Getting jobs that offer insurance often has been difficult for transgender people and the cost of purchasing plans on the private market can be prohibitive. Some have been denied policies altogether after being diagnosed with “gender identity disorder,” often considered a pre-existing condition. Without insurance, many people were unable to afford the hormones, surgeries and counseling needed to complete their transition. Nor would they have been covered in the event of surgical complications, which can include infections (Gorman, 8/25). Read the story or watch the related video.
Los Angeles Times: Could A Wording 'Glitch' Doom Obama's Healthcare Law?
In 2009, they had spent months piecing together a compromise that sought to create a national system of subsidized insurance — but one run by the states. Now, they fear their work could be undone by what some call a "drafting error" and others portray as a political miscalculation. The judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit based their ruling on language saying that subsidies would be offered for health policies bought through an "exchange established by the state." That wording meant only marketplaces established by 14 states, including California, would qualify, the three-judge panel ruled; 5 million people in 36 states where consumers used the federal government's exchange should not get subsidies (Savage, 8/25).
Politico: House To Spend $350K On Barack Obama Lawsuit
The House of Representatives will not spend more than $350,000 to sue President Barack Obama, according to a contract released Monday by a congressional committee. BakerHostetler’s David Rivkin will represent the House as it seeks to show that Obama has misused executive authority. The contract expires in January 2015 and the House is paying $500 per hour (Sherman, 8/25).
The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: House GOP Hires $500-An-Hour Lawyers For Suit Against Obama
House Republicans revealed Monday they will pay an outside law firm $500 an hour to pursue their lawsuit against President Barack Obama, a disclosure that served to ratchet up the political controversy surrounding the GOP’s legal effort. House Republicans said they had hired law firm Baker & Hostetler LLP and partner David Rivkin to make the legal case that Mr. Obama overstepped his legal authority in implementing the Affordable Care Act. The lawsuit, which was authorized by House Republicans last month, is expected to focus on the White House’s decision last year to give employers a one-year reprieve from a requirement they offer health coverage or pay a penalty (Crittenden, 8/25).
The Washington Post: Oregon Files Suit Against Oracle, Developer Of Faulty Health Exchange
The Oregon Department of Justice on Friday filed suit against the developer of its catastrophically broken health-care exchange, accusing Oracle America Inc. of false statements, fraud and racketeering, among other misdeeds. In a 126-page filing, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) in a Marion County court, says Oracle fraudulently induced Oregon and its health-care exchange, Cover Oregon, into contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In total, the state spent more than $240 million on Oracle; Cover Oregon, a disaster from the start, failed to sign up a single person for health-care coverage through its Web site (Wilson, 8/25).
The New York Times: Technology Adviser Expected To Leave White House Post
Todd Park, President Obama’s top technology adviser and an important figure in the emergency effort last year to fix the federal government’s online health care marketplace after a disastrous beginning, is leaving the White House, a person familiar with the matter said Monday (Joachim, 8/25).
The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: A Drug Naming Dispute, With Billions On The Line
In health care, even how you name something can become a debate with billions of dollars on the line. With a new wave of cheaper versions of biologic drugs expected to soon become available in the United States, the health-care industry is still fighting over key ground rules for these drugs — more than four years after the Affordable Care Act cleared a pathway for this new drug classification. That includes what names these copy-cat version of biologic drugs should actually go by (Millman, 8/25).
The Associated Press: Probe: No Proof VA Delays Caused Phoenix Veterans To Die
The Veterans Affairs Department says investigators have found no proof that delays in care caused any deaths at a VA hospital in Phoenix, deflating an explosive allegation that helped expose a troubled health care system in which veterans waited months for appointments while employees falsified records to cover up the delays (8/26).
Politico: Obama Orders Aimed At VA Delays
President Barack Obama will announce a number of executive actions on Tuesday tackling the scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs, including providing better access to health care for veterans. The White House has reached out to over a quarter of a million veterans to get them off of wait-lists and into appointments, according to an administration fact sheet released Tuesday. Acknowledging what it called “inexcusable delays” that ultimately led to the deaths of dozens of veterans who were on waitlists, the White House said these steps will “ensure that this never happens again, and we will keep at it as long as it takes” (McCalmont, 8/26).
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