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Sebelius Messes With Texas - Health Care Edge: Brought to you by Coalition for Medicare Choices

Sebelius Messes With Texas

By Sam Baker, Sophie Novack and Clara Ritger

 

TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be in Houston today for an announcement about enrollment outreach in the area. She'll be joined by three congressional Democrats from Texas -- Gene Green, Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green. Texas -- and the Houston area in particular -- has gotten a lot of attention from the White House. The state has the highest rate of uninsurance in the country, and the law's supporters are on their own; Gov. Rick Perry has staunchly refused to do anything to help implement the Affordable Care Act.

Top Health Care News

U.S. LAUNCHES GLOBAL INITIATIVE TO COMBAT INFECTIOUS DISEASE: The U.S. is joining over two dozen countries and international organizations to prevent and respond to threats of infectious diseases by increasing security at laboratories, improving immunization programs, and creating emergency-response centers to respond to outbreaks within two hours. (Lena H. Sun, Washington Post)

HOW OBAMACARE WILL HURT DEMOCRATS' 2016 BID FOR THE WHITE HOUSE: "If there was any chance that health care reform would soon feel more like the law of the land and less like a piñata that gets refilled and rehung daily, the White House essentially put that notion to rest this week when it punted the deadline for medium-sized employers to comply with the law yet another year." (James Oliphant, National Journal)

 

Exchanges

THE 10 LEAST EXPENSIVE INSURANCE MARKETS IN THE U.S.: Minneapolis-St. Paul; Pittsburgh and northwestern Pennsylvania; middle Minnesota; Tucson, Arizona; northwestern Minnesota; Salt Lake City; Hawaii; Knoxville, Tennessee; western and north central Minnesota; Chattanooga, Tennessee. (Jordan Rau, Kaiser Health News)

WHITE HOUSE WEIGHING PROPOSAL FOR 'COPPER' INSURANCE PLANS: "Some backers of the 2010 health-care law are pushing to create a new kind of insurance coverage that the measure essentially had ruled out: policies offering lower premiums but significantly higher out-of-pocket costs than those now available." (Louise Radnofsky, Wall Street Journal)

Insurers and Providers

MORE INSURERS REJECT AIDS PATIENTS: All three insurance companies selling plans under the ACA exchange in Louisiana are rejecting payments from the Ryan White Program, a federal program to help low-income HIV/AID patients. (Sharon Begley, Reuters)

 

THE LONG WAIT FOR PREMIUM PAYMENT NUMBERS MAY SOON BE OVER: Obamacare enrollment numbers currently include those who have not paid their first month's premium to insurers, who are technically not covered until they do. CMS is developing a system to track those who have paid, through the consumer information forms sent to insurers. (Jonathan Easley, The Hill)

U.S. DOCTORS SHIFT TO SALARIED HOSPITAL POSITIONS: The change is a result of physicians' concerns over the changing health care market, but experts warn it could actually increase cost of care for patients. (Elisabeth Rosenthal, New York Times)

States

STATES STRUGGLE TO ENROLL LATINOS IN OBAMACARE: "Enrollment problems are playing out in other states with large Hispanic populations as well, including Arizona and Texas...But California stands out as the most troubling case, proponents of the law say, because it has the most Latinos of any state and has worked hard to enroll them." (Jennifer Medina and Abby Goodnough, New York Times)

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MASSACHUSETTS EXCHANGE DIRECTOR IN TEARS DESCRIBING SITE PROBLEMS: "These people came here to lead and innovate, and instead they're doing manual workarounds, and they are embarrassed to tell friends and family that they work for the Health Connector," Executive Director Jean Yang said at the board meeting. Fifty-thousand applications have yet to be entered into the computer system. (Michael Levenson, Boston Globe)

THOUSANDS IN CALIFORNIA EXPOSED TO MEASLES: An unvaccinated student at University of California, Berkeley was diagnosed with measles, after attending classes and riding the BART train in San Francisco last week. Public health officials say anyone riding BART from Feb. 4 to Feb. 7 during the morning or late evening commutes may have been exposed. (Jonel Aleccia, NBC News)

ARKANSAS HOUSE WILL VOTE ON PRIVATE OPTION APPROPRIATION TUESDAY: The House will vote on whether to renew funding for the state's alternate Medicaid expansion plan Tuesday, as a divide emerges over strategy among Republicans opposed to the program. (David Ramsey, Arkansas Times)

Medicare

HOUSE REPUBLICANS PRESS WHITE HOUSE ON MEDICARE ADVANTAGE CUTS: GOP House leadership sent a letter to President Obama to raise concerns regarding cuts to the Medicare program from the ACA. (Jake Sherman and Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico)

Soda

COULD TAXING SODA CREATE JOBS?: A new study found that a 20 percent increase on the price of sugar-sweetened beverages would have an overall positive impact on the labor market. (Clara Ritger, National Journal)

CALIFORNIA COULD BECOME FIRST STATE TO REQUIRE WARNING LABELS ON SUGARY DRINKS: "[The proposed bill] would require the warning on the front of all beverage containers with added sweeteners that have 75 or more calories in every 12 ounces. The label would read: 'STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.'" (Don Thompson, Associated Press)

Happening Today

NATIONAL QUALITY FORUM ANNUAL CONFERENCE: Second day of "Making Sense of Quality Data for Patients, Providers, and Payers," at 8:30 a.m.

QUARTERLY EARNINGS RELEASED: National Healthcare Corporation

HAPPY #HEALTHPOLICYVALENTINES DAY: "My love for you is like American health care costs: Overwhelming, and always growing." (Dan Diamond, The Advisory Board Company)

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Health Care Edge is one of my top resources."

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