Health Care

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News Update at 2:54 p.m. Wed. May 9:  The Executive Council has passed a $2.3 billion contract that will overhaul the state’s Medicaid program. Medicaid Managed care could significantly shake up service for some 140,000 N.H. residents. HHS officials believe this reform is critical. More details to follow on this evening's All Things Considered.

 

State and Managed Care company officials met today with the executive council to discuss the contract that would change the state’s Medicaid Program. The councilors have serious concerns, and many questions.

The $2.2 billion dollar proposed contract is the biggest in the history of the state. Supporters say Managed Medicaid would streamline services for the some 130,000 people in the program. Health-care providers worry the new contract may hurt their patients and their business.

US Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki was in New Hampshire Tuesday to visit the site of the new Veterans Center in Hooksett. The new center, which will be completed in August, is part of an effort by the VA to help Vets gain better access to medical care and mental health counseling.

With its two-year anniversary passed, President Obama’s law is still finding its way.  Some parts are in place, but others are very much in play, especially with the challenge to it heard by the U. S. Supreme Court, and some states, including New Hampshire, resisting elements of the law.  We’ll talk with Granite Staters involved in this and see how they are adapting to this new law.

Guests

The historic legal arguments on the Obama health care overhaul came to a close at the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, with key justices suggesting the court may be prepared to strike down not just the individual mandate but the whole law.

The major arguments of the day were premised on a supposition. Suppose, asked the court, we do strike down the individual mandate — what other parts of the law, if any, should be allowed to stand?

With the fate of the health law's insurance mandate in doubt, the last day of arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court became even more crucial to the future of the Obama administration's central legislative achievement.

After Tuesday's judicial fireworks, the Supreme Court wraps up arguments on the new health care law Wednesday by focusing on two questions. The first involves what would happen if the "individual mandate" — the core of the law that requires most people to have health insurance — is struck down. Would the rest of the law fall, too, or could some provisions stay?

Texas, Feds Face Off Over Planned Parenthood

Mar 28, 2012

Texas and the federal government are going at each other again, this time over Planned Parenthood.

The Texas Legislature cut off all Medicaid money to Planned Parenthood because of its involvement in abortions; in response, the federal government has suspended funding for the state's reproductive health program.

Now, Texas is suing the Obama administration.

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At the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, hostile questioning from key justices seemed to imperil the individual mandate, the central provision of the Obama health care overhaul.

The mandate requires virtually all Americans to have health insurance — through Medicare, Medicaid or employer-provided insurance, or, if you are not covered by any of those, through individual insurance that you pay for.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli seemed unusually nervous at first, asking for a moment to sip water to clear his throat. He had good reason for his nerves.

The U.S. Supreme Court signaled Monday that it likely will resolve the constitutional challenge to the Obama health care overhaul, sidestepping the procedural issues that could derail the case until 2015.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court hears its second day of testimony about the Affordable Care Act. At issue is a central tenet of that law: whether it's legal to require individuals to purchase health care.

But apart from the legal debate, there are questions about the economics of the mandate. Some — like Peggy Bodner of Portland, Ore. — worry it may be difficult to find the money to pay for health insurance, even with government subsidies.

The U.S. Supreme Court gets to the heart of the health care arguments Tuesday. Almost exactly two years after Congress passed the Obama health care overhaul, the justices are hearing legal arguments testing the constitutionality of the so-called health care mandate — so-called because those words actually do not appear in the law.

It's the hottest ticket in Washington, D.C. Even the flossiest lawyers in town can't get a seat. Senators, congressmen, Cabinet and White House officials are all vying for a place.

At the U.S. Supreme Court, people have been lining up for days, waiting to hear this week's historic oral arguments on President Obama's health care law. The arguments will last for six hours over a three-day period, the longest argument in more than 40 years.

When the U.S. Supreme Court hears challenges to the Obama administration's health care law this week, the arguments will be complex, with questions about states' rights, mandatory insurance, and Medicaid.

To introduce those concepts — and to give the rest of us something to do while the court hears six hours of arguments — we offer a word search game. The grid below features many words you'll likely hear this week, as NPR's Nina Totenberg reports from the court.

Free health clinics have long been places people turn to when they don't have health insurance or any money to pay for care. But the health law's expansion of coverage puts free clinics in uncharted territory.

While the law goes before the Supreme Court this week, health providers are already gearing up for a surge in patients with insurance.

Around the country, hundreds of free clinics have been established over the past 50 years to treat patients like Patsy Duarte.

 

An official with Obama administration came to Manchester today to tout the achievements of the Affordable Care Act.

At an event organized by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, New Hampshire residents told their stories of how the health-care law had improved their lives.

Specialty Hospitals Pass House

Mar 21, 2012

In a 198 to 161 vote, house members passed a bill that would allow for-profit specialty hospitals to avoid going through the certificate of need regulatory process. The bill also exempts these hospitals, most of which do not take Medicaid patients, from paying the state's Medicaid Enhancement Tax.

Opponents say the bill gives an unfair advantage to these for-profit specialty hospitals. Cancer Treatment Centers of America is eyeing New Hampshire as a location for a facility in the Northeast.

The sweeping health overhaul law turns 2 years old this Friday. And as it heads toward a constitutional showdown at the Supreme Court next week, the debate over the measure remains almost as heated as the day President Obama signed it into law.

Most of the president's speeches these days focus on jobs or gas prices. But the health care law is his signature achievement, and it always gets a mention at political events.

"Change is health care reform that we passed after a century of trying," President Obama said to cheers and applause from the audience at a recent fundraiser in New York.

As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear a case involving the constitutionality of President Obama's health care overhaul, social scientists are asking a disturbing — and controversial — question: Do the intense feelings about the health care overhaul among ordinary Americans stem from their philosophical views about the appropriate role of government, or from their racial attitudes about the signature policy of the country's first black president?

When the Supreme Court hears arguments over President Obama's health care law next week, one item on the table will be a program that has been in place for nearly 50 years.

Medicaid, a joint federal-state program that provides health care for the poor, was signed into law by Lyndon Johnson. Under the Affordable Care Act, it will be greatly expanded and provide coverage for millions of uninsured, including low-income adults without children.

House Votes To Dismantle Certificate Of Need Board

Mar 14, 2012

The Certificate of Need Board approves new hospitals and expansions of existing medical centers in the state. Wednesday the house voted 166-140 to get rid of the board entirely. The House rejected an amendment which would have overhauled the existing board and phase it out over five years. The idea was to reconfigure the board with non-stakeholders, such as not allowing hospital representatives to serve.

It wasn't that long ago that money flowed steadily to entrepreneurs who dreamt up whiz-bang medical devices.

Hospitals souped up their surgical suites with robots or high-tech radiation machines for cancer treatment. Cost wasn't an issue: They just got passed along to insurance companies, who passed them on to employers and patients.

But after the Great Recession hit and the 2010 health law passed, the financiers behind the medical arms race started to rethink their investment calculus.

Under the federal health care law, money is going out around the country to help school campuses boost health services for their students.

At Abraham Lincoln High School in Los Angeles students often visit a modest trailer at the back of the sprawling campus. It's in a neighborhood near downtown L.A. where houses are missing windows and have peeling paint.

Medicaid Grant Money To Help Home Based Services

Mar 2, 2012

New Hampshire will be the first state in the country to receive new Medicaid grant money to help seniors and people with disabilities remain in their homes.

The state will receive $26.5 million over three years through the Affordable Care Act.

The goal is to help states shift from institutional care to home and community-based services.

In 2009, 41 percent of New Hampshire’s Medicaid money was spent on community-based services.

That will increase to 47 percent in 2013 with the new grant money. 

Specialty Hospitals Get A Favorable Vote

Feb 23, 2012

The House Health and Human Services Committee has sent an amended bill allowing not just Cancer Specialty Hospitals but all specialty hospitals to bypass the Certificate of Need process. All other hospitals in the state must go in front of the CON board to gain approval for new or expanded services.

Rep. Lynn Blakenbeker, Republican of Concord, voted in favor of the bill.

"We as a state should be encouraging businesses all kinds to come into the state especially when it comes to specialty healthcare treatment we should be offering all options," she says.

Part of an ongoing series

Zumba is a fitness craze; a high-energy dance and exercise program. You can find it in high-end gyms and even the community center in Hazelwood, Mo., where Casaundra Bronner, 40, lives.

Photo:<a href="http://www.401kcalculator.org">401Kcalculator.org</a> / Flickr

As part of the  Affordable Care Act, every state must have a health insurance exchange in place by January 2014. An exchange is a clearinghouse of sorts where people and small business can go to buy insurance and also find out which tax rebates they may use to help them buy coverage.

Why Home Care Workers Aren't Guaranteed Minimum Wage

Feb 17, 2012

Recently, the Obama Administration announced plans to change Labor Department rules so that home care workers–personal care aides and home health aides–are guaranteed federal minimum wage and overtime pay.

By far, our most popular post to date is a map we created using federal data on which states offer minimum wage and overtime guarantees to home health workers, and which don't.

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