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Archive for the ‘Health.’ Category

Obamacare Campaign Highlights Sports Injuries to Enroll Young People.


With the clock running down on Obamacare enrollment, the administration sought to persuade young people to sign up for health coverage on Tuesday by telling them how much it hurts not be insured – that is, how much it can hurt the wallet.

Take the humble ankle sprain, one of the most common injuries among young adults under the age of 25. Treating it can cost $2,290. Then there’s the broken arm: On average $7,700. And people without health insurance get to pay full freight.

Or as U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius put it in a government blog: “This can be a huge financial blow to young people and families alike.”

That is the message the administration hopes will be heard by college-age kids and others who do not have health insurance, but could qualify for federal subsidies to help purchase coverage. Some could also qualify for the Medicaid health program for the poor.

Open enrollment ends March 31.

In a promotion aimed at fans of the annual college basketball playoff series known as March Madness, Sebelius’ Department of Health and Human Services and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition released data looking at the economic costs of common sports injuries like sprains and fractures – just the sort of thing to send a young person to the emergency room.

Young people are vital to the success of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law. Obamacare prevents insurance companies from penalizing people who are sick or older. And so the new marketplaces need young people who are cheaper to insure to make up for the higher financial risks posed by others.

But so far, the administration’s target audience of people aged 18 to 34 have not been signing up in such large numbers, a trend that could lead to higher insurance costs down the road if it continues.

More than 5 million people have enrolled in private health insurance under Obamacare, according to the administration. But the latest breakdown shows the number of younger adults stuck at 25 percent of the enrollment population, versus the 38 percent target that the administration laid out before last October’s botched rollout.

Administration officials say younger people could sign up in huge numbers in the final days of the open enrollment period.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

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Obama Administration Drops Proposal to Limit Medicare Drugs.


The Obama administration has abandoned a proposed change in Medicare after the plan was criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike.

The plan would have given health insurance companies more freedom to limit the number of drugs covered by Medicare. Those against the proposal said it would restrict seniors’ access to drugs they need.

Under current Medicare law, the majority of drugs across six classes are covered. The proposed plan would have limited that list to three classes — drugs that treat cancer, HIV and seizures.

“We will engage in further stakeholder input before advancing some or all of the changes in these areas in future years,” Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner wrote to lawmakers Monday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky responded by saying the Obama administration should not go forward with its proposed cut in Medicare Advantage, a program that helps seniors pay for select medical services — including prescription drugs, also known as Part D.

“We remain concerned about the impact of Obamacare’s looming cuts to Medicare Advantage, something that was not addressed in today’s announcement,” McConnell said in a statement. “Seniors need to know whether the president will stand by his word, and that they can keep the plans they have and like.”

As the administration tries to regulate the industry more under the Affordable Care Act, seniors’ access to drugs has become a hot-button issue. Several proposals have popped up, ranging from limiting certain drugs depending on where the patient lives to allowing all pharmacies to dispense medication, regardless of the patient’s plan or healthcare network.

“We plan to finalize proposals related to consumer protections, anti-fraud provisions that have bipartisan support and transparency after taking into consideration the comments received during the public comment period,” Tavenner wrote.

The Partnership for Part D Access, a coalition based in Washington that advocates for the right of seniors to continue to receive prescription drug coverage, was pleased with Monday’s decision to ax the proposal.

“We are thrilled that [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] has listened to the loud chorus of support for maintaining beneficiary access to the life-saving drugs provided under Medicare Part D,” said coalition member Chuck Ingoglia, senior vice president of the National Council for Behavioral Health.

“Although we need to remain vigilant on this issue, we commend today’s action by CMS, which will allow millions of seniors to continue to confidently rely upon Medicare to provide them the drugs they need.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Jason Devaney

RNC Building Database of Obamacare Cancellation Victims.


Republican National Committee data scientists are building a list of the millions of Americans who lost their insurance policies through Obamacare in hopes of aiming campaigns at those people this year and in the 2016 presidential election, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said.

“Getting that information and having good data as to who votes, who doesn’t vote, voter registration, party affiliation, consumer characteristics, cross-referenced with that kind of information, I think, is important for us to have,” Priebus told the Washington Examiner  after participating in a Conservative Political Action Conference panel talk on Saturday.

Priebus said the RNC has not had difficulty finding tech staffers, and has brought in some top engineers from sites like LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Facebook to work on the data projects.
The cancellations stand to play a key role in this year’s midterm elections, with many Democratic Party leaders urging candidates to talk openly about Obamacare issues while offering their own solutions to fix them.

The new approach, Democrats say, is based on polls such as a CBS News survey in January, which showed people agree the healthcare law has some good aspects, but changes are needed to make the law better.

In Colorado, where Fox News reported late last year that 250,000 people received cancellation notices, Obamacare is expected to make a huge impact on elections.

Republican Rep. Cory Gardner is challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in November, and Udall has been arguing about whether the figures are valid, The Denver Post reports.  But Jo Donlin, director of external affairs for the state insurance division, insisted the figures are right, saying many people have renewed policies, but “regardless, they received cancellation notices.”

The Obama administration also eased some election pressure on Democrats about a week ago when it announced a directive allowing insurers to keep offering health plans that did not meet minimum Obamacare coverage requirements, reports The Hill.

Without the delays, another wave of health insurance cancellations would likely have hit this fall, just before voters headed to the ballots in November.

“I don’t see how they could have a bunch of these announcements going out in September,” one consultant in the health insurance industry said. “Not when they’re trying to defend the Senate and keep their losses at a minimum in the House. This is not something to have out there right before the election.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Second HIV Baby in Study Free of Virus.


Two children with HIV who were treated immediately after birth have no signs of the virus 9 and 23 months later, scientists said in a report that suggests a potential approach to curing HIV-infected babies.

The findings from the two children are spurring doctors in Canada, South Africa and the U.S. to try to replicate the results, and spawned a study in 54 babies, the researchers said yesterday.

The research suggests that deploying drugs early in life may help keep the virus from gaining a foothold. The importance of such a result is clear: More than 260,000 children were infected globally with HIV in 2012, either at birth or through breastfeeding.

While the early findings are promising, a final step is needed before determining that a cure is at hand, said Deborah Persaud, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

“The only way we can prove that we’ve accomplished remission in these kids is taking them off treatment, and that’s not without risks,” Persaud, who was involved in the research on both babies, said in an interview yesterday at a medical meeting on infectious disease held in Boston.

While the latest HIV drugs can keep the virus in check, they don’t eliminate it from hidden reservoirs deep within the body. The drugs are taken for a lifetime and patients often have to cycle among different medicines to offset the disease’s ability to become resistant.

Los Angeles Baby

Persaud presented results yesterday from a child born last year in Los Angeles County. The baby began treatment with anti- HIV drugs four hours after being born and still has no trace of the virus in its blood, Persaud said. The baby remains on treatment, and there’s no immediate plan to stop the medicine to see whether the virus rebounds, she said.

The previous child, born in Mississippi, was cleared of the virus with a similar approach a year ago, and remains HIV-free 23 months after ceasing treatment, according to Persaud, who presented her report yesterday at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

Inspired by the Mississippi baby, doctors in Canada are now seeking to repeat the result in five newborns, and three babies in South Africa are also receiving medicines in an effort to cure them. Within the next few months, researchers also plan to start a trial in 54 children to test whether the approach can be repeated on a larger scale, Persaud said.

That larger study will start infected infants on treatment within 48 hours of birth, then take them off drugs two years later to see whether the virus rebounds.

Drug Combination

The babies will receive a three-drug combination of zidovudine and lamivudine, two now-generic medicines developed by GlaxoSmithKline Plc, and nevirapine, a treatment from Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH that has also lost patent protection.

The cases involving the two infants build on increasing evidence about approaches to curing a disease doctors once thought an insurmountable challenge.

To date, the only adult to have been cured of the virus is Timothy Ray Brown, the so-called Berlin patient. Brown has been clear of the virus since having a bone marrow transplant for leukemia in 2007 from a donor with a rare mutation to a gene called CCR5 that keeps HIV at bay without the aid of antiretroviral drugs.

While the case proves that HIV can be cured, bone marrow transplants are too expensive and dangerous to make them practical on a mass scale.

Sangamo Biosciences Inc. is trying to mimic the CCR5 mutation with a gene-altering technology. In a study published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers led by Carl June at the University of Pennsylvania infused 12 patients with Richmond, California-based Sangamo’s SB-728-T, an experimental treatment that changes CCR5.

While the trial was designed to assess the product’s safety, not its efficacy, it found that the treatment was associated with a drop in the amount of virus in some patients who were taken off their regular anti-AIDS drugs.

 

© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

GAO to Probe Flawed State Obamacare Exchanges.


Image: GAO to Probe Flawed State Obamacare ExchangesRep. Greg Walden

Spurred on by House Republicans, the investigative arm of Congress is looking into problems with state health exchange websites around the country. The U.S. Government Accountability Office will try to determine how $304 million in federal grants was spent on the Cover Oregon website, which has yet to enroll a single person online without special assistance.

The agency said due to similar requests from several members of Congress and congressional committees related to the rollout of online health care exchanges, it would broaden the investigation and issue several separate reports on its findings.

GAO spokesman Charles Young said just which states will be included with Oregon will be determined as the investigation goes forward. But 14 states and the District of Columbia opted to create their own exchanges and accepted federal funding to do so.

Republicans have been stepping up their attacks on troubled health exchanges during this election year, but Rep. Greg. Walden, R-Ore., said it was a non-partisan issue.

He noted Oregon Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley made their own requests for the GAO to investigate a day after the Republicans — Walden, House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan, and Reps. Joe Pitts and Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania — filed theirs last month.

“The politics will play out where they may, good or bad,” Walden said. “That doesn’t mean you don’t ask questions. We need to get answers.”

Merkley said in a statement that he looked forward to the GAO’s recommendations “about how to fix the system and avoid this happening in the future.”

Cover Oregon spokesman Michael Cox said, “We will participate fully with the GAO as they conduct their work.”

Walden added that the probe of state websites would “piggyback nicely” on another GAO look at the federal health exchange website, which has already begun.

Separately, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has asked for an inspector general’s investigation into problems with the rollout of the health care law.

Some of the state exchanges have outperformed the federal exchange website, but others have trailed behind and faced significant challenges, including expensive fixes to glitches and lower projected enrollments.

In addition to Oregon, where residents on their own still can’t sign up for coverage in one sitting, the exchanges in Maryland, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Minnesota have faced major problems.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, called the investigation a political stunt.

“With House Republicans voting today for the 50th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it is disappointing but not surprising that Republicans are now using federal government resources to investigate state health exchanges instead of finding a productive way to help Americans access health care,” Schatz said in an emailed comment.

States with successful exchanges include Connecticut, Rhode Island, Kentucky and New York. Connecticut, which has far exceeded its enrollment goals for the open enrollment period, is setting up a consulting business and marketing an “exchange in a box” to other states.

Cover Oregon’s online enrollment system was supposed to launch in October, allowing individuals and small businesses to compare insurance plans and qualify for federal tax credits to subsidize the premiums. It wasn’t ready, however, forcing people to fill out a lengthy paper application that would have to be processed by hand. Pieces of the website are now working and some portions of the processing are automated, but significant problems still exist.

Republicans have contended problems were known for months before the launch. Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, has acknowledged mistakes were made but denies having prior knowledge of problems that kept the website from launching on time.

Other questions raised by the Republican request, crafted in consultation with the GAO, include:

  • What capability does the federal government have to reclaim those funds if Oregon abandons the state-run exchange and joins the federal one?
  • What other costs has Oregon incurred because of the website’s failure?
  • Did Cover Oregon’s status as a state organization play a role in its failure?
  • What steps could federal agencies have taken to assure state and federal oversight of projects like this in the future.

The Wyden-Merkley request asks more questions:

  • How were the federal funds used, including job creation, public and private contractors, software developers, and consumer education?
  • What efforts to enroll people outside the website have been successful, and what can be done to expand enrollment ahead of the March 31 deadline?
  • If taxpayer funds were mismanaged, can the federal government reclaim grant funds from contractors?
  • Was there anything in the Affordable Care Act that Cover Oregon did not respond to in its creation?
  • What can Oregon do to most quickly and efficiently overcome Cover Oregon’s problems and enroll more people?

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Obamacare Architect: ‘Be Prepared to Kiss Your Insurance Company Good-Bye Forever’.


Now we see the true intent of Obamacare, a complete and total takeover of not just your health system, but of the insurance corporations themselves. The government will decide who gets care and who does not. They will decide who lives and who dies. This is true in all Socialist countries.

Blaze: Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the architects behind Obamacare, is now claiming that “insurance companies as we know them are about to die.” Critics of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law have long alleged that one of the real goals of the law was to put private insurance companies out of business.

obamacare-architect-ezekiel-emanuel-insurance-companies-will-die

“So be prepared to kiss your insurance company good-bye forever,” Emanuel concludes.

“The good news is you won’t have insurance companies to kick around much longer. The system is changing,” Emanuel writes in an op-ed on New Republic. “As a result, insurance companies as they are now will be going away. Indeed, they are already evolving. For the next few years insurance companies will both continue to provide services to employers and, increasingly, compete against each other in the health insurance exchanges.”

Due to Obamacare, “new actors will force insurance companies to evolve or become extinct,” he continues. Instead, new groups called “accountable care organizations” (ACOs) must start competing directly in the health care exchanges for exclusive contracts with employers. source – The Blaze

by NTEB News Desk

Christians Flock to Obamacare Alternative.


A Christian healthcare sharing program that’s been around for more than 20 years has exploded since the launch of Obamacare, Fox News reported.

Exempt from the Obamacare mandate to buy health insurance, Medi-Share is a network of Christians who pool their financial resources to cover members’ medical expenses in what the organization deems a “proven biblical model of healthcare.”

Editor’s Note: Health Benefits of Prayer Revealed!

According to Fox, the nation’s three largest ministries have 242,000 members from all 50 states. Since the Oct. 1 Obamacare rollout, Medi-Share has enrolled 30,000 new members, more than the number of people who selected Obamacare plans in 24 states.

“Fellow believers who are living God-honoring lifestyles, based on biblical principles and service to others,” according to MyChristianCare.org, who meet the following requirements are permitted to apply to join the network:

• Attend church regularly and submit a “verifiable Christian testimony indicating a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and profess the Statement of Faith;

• Abstain from sex outside “traditional Christian marriage” ;

• Cannot use tobacco or illegal drugs and cannot abuse alcohol or legal drugs;

• Must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident with a green card or visa and Social Security number living full time in the United States.

A “New Testament way of thinking,” Medi-Share is not health insurance, and there is no guarantee that it will cover a member’s healthcare costs. But CEO Tony Meggs told Fox that during its 21 years in existence, there have been only a handful of complaints about coverage.

Medi-Share does not cover abortion or morning-after pills, since those things violate members’ religious beliefs.

Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a healthcare consumer advocacy group, told Fox News that Medi-Share does not offer the same protections as federally regulated coverage.

Editor’s Note: Health Benefits of Prayer Revealed!

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Melissa Clyne

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