• Is The Issue Of Health Care Pushing Your Buttons?

  • Share Your Story

    If you have a story to share about healthcare issues in South Carolina, we want to hear it!

Seniors Save Big Thanks To ObamaCare

From USA Today:

By Kelly Kennedy


WASHINGTON – More than 2.65 million Medicare recipients have saved more than $1.5 billion on their prescriptions this year, a $569-per-person average, while premiums have remained stable, the government plans to announce today.

That’s because of the provision of the health care law that put a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the “doughnut hole,” the gap between traditional and catastrophic coverage in the drug benefit, also known as Part D.

And, as of the end of November, more than 24 million people, or about half of those with traditional Medicare, have gone in for a free annual physical or other screening exam since the rules changed this year because of the health care law.

“We’re very pleased with the numbers,” Jonathan Blum, director of the Center for Medicare, told USA TODAY. “We found the Part D premiums have also stayed constant, despite predictions that they would go up in 2012.”

The Department of Health and Human Services announced in August that 2012 Medicare prescription drug plan premiums would average about $30 a month, compared to $30.76 in 2011.

Starting this year, seniors who reach the doughnut hole in prescription benefits receive a 50% discount on name brand prescription drugs. Drug companies must provide the discount to participate in the prescription plan. Before the health care law took effect, Medicare patients had to pay full price for their prescriptions once they reached the gap in coverage.

The prescription data are through the end of October.

Seniors are becoming more engaged in their care, Blum said, citing the hundreds of forums Medicare has conducted about the changes. “The sentiment is that Medicare is trying to keep them healthy and out of the hospital,” Blum said. Continue reading

SCOTUS Sets Date For Obamacare Showdown

From Politico:

The Supreme Court will hear three days of oral arguments. | NIKO DUFFY/POLITICO


The health care showdown of 2012 has been scheduled.

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear three days of oral arguments on various pieces of the health reform law on March 26, 27 and 28 — just days after the law’s two-year anniversary.

On Monday, March 26, the justices will hear one hour of debate on whether the Anti-Injunction Act prevents the court from ruling on the constitutionality of the law.

On Tuesday, March 27, the justices will hear two hours of argument on the constitutionality of the mandate, the centerpiece issue of the case.

On Wednesday, March 28, 90 minutes of argument will be held on which pieces of the law should fall if the mandate is ruled unconstitutional, and an hour of argument will be held on whether the law’s Medicaid expansion is constitutional.

In November, the court indicated it would spread the arguments on the health law’s four issues over just two days. The suit was brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Meet The New 1%: Healthcare CEOs Beat Out Bankers

From The Guardian:

Joel Gemunder, CEO Omnicare, had a total pay package in 2010 worth $98m.

No bankers in top 10 of America’s best-paid executives, but those in charge of healthcare and drugs firms are in the money.

By Dominic Rushe

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Pity Wall Street’s bankers. Once the highest-paid bosses in the land, they are now also-rans. The real money is in healthcare and drugs, according to the latest survey of executive pay.

There are no bankers in the top 10 of this year’s GMI survey of CEO pay. In fact, they have been out since 2007, when Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein competed for the top slot with Richard Fuld, boss of soon-to-be-bust Lehman Brothers, and Angelo Morzillo, head of Countrywide, once the largest sub-prime home loan firm.

With the bankers still recovering from their tussle with hubris, old age and infirmity were 2010’s boom businesses – at least in terms of pay. Leading the pack was John Hammergren, chief executive of McKesson Corporation. The firm’s 52-year-old chairman, chief executive and president took home $145,266,971 in 2010.

McKeeson is probably the biggest company you’ve never heard of. Headquartered in San Francisco, the company is the largest pharmaceutical distributor in North America, distributing a third of the medicines used in the US. McKeeson’s sales topped $112bn last year.

Hammergren’s next closest rival was Joel Gemunder, outgoing boss of Omnicare, where he had been president since 1981. Omnicare is a pharmacy company that dispenses drugs in nursing homes – among other services – and had sales of $6.15bn last year. When Gemunder started at the firm it had sales of $150m. His 2010 total pay package was worth $98,283,242.

CVS Caremark, which operates 7,000 pharmacies across the US, awarded chief executive Thomas Ryan $68,079,823 in 2010. Caremark’s share price was $71.70 on 1 May 1998, when Ryan joined the firm, and ended 2010 at $34.29. Continue reading

2.5M Young Adults Gain Health Insurance Via Obamacare – Huzzah!

 From The Associated Press:

President Obama talks about the Affordable Care Act in Virginia earlier this week. He highlighted provisions, including requirements to let young adults stay on their parents’ insurance plans. (By Dennis Brack, Getty Images)


December 14, 2011

Washington – The number of young adults lacking medical coverage has shrunk by 2.5 million since the new health care overhaul law took effect, according to a new analysis the Obama administration is to release Wednesday.

That drop is 2½ times as large as the drop indicated by previous government and private estimates from earlier this year, which showed about 1 million Americans ages 19-25 had gained coverage.

Administration officials said they now have more data. They say they’re also slicing the numbers more precisely than the government usually does, trying to pinpoint the impact of a popular provision in an otherwise politically divisive law.

Under the health overhaul, children can remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until they turn 26, and families have flocked to sign up young adults making the transition to work in a challenging economic environment. But the fate of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment remains uncertain, with the Supreme Court scheduled to hear a constitutional challenge next year, and Republican presidential candidates vowing to repeal it.

“The increase in coverage among 19- to 25-year-olds can be directly attributed to the Affordable Care Act’s new dependent coverage provision,” said a draft report from the Health and Human Services Department. “Initial gains from this policy have continued to grow as … students graduate from high school and college.” Continue reading

And Here We Thought Gov. Haley Was Acting In Good Faith

From The Post & Courier:

Haley dictated panel finding

Outcome ordered before health committee met

By Renee “Little Girl” Dudley


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gov. Nikki Haley dictated the conclusions of a committee charged with deciding how the state should implement federal health care reform before the group ever held its first meeting, public documents show.

Now, some of those involved in the dozens of meetings are calling the entire planning process a sham that wasted their time and part of a $1 million federal grant.

In a March 31 email thread that included Haley, her top advisers and the committee member who eventually wrote the report, Haley wrote, “The whole point of this commission should be to figure out how to opt out and how to avoid a federal takeover, NOT create a state exchange,” which is eventually what happened.

A central part of the federal health care overhaul, an exchange is a marketplace where various insurance plans eventually will be sold.

The emails were released to the newspaper Friday afternoon in response to a Nov. 16 public records request to the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The newspaper had made a nearly identical request of the governor’s office in May, but the office did not include the emails in its response.

The documents show a first-term Republican administration focused on public perception of its handling of the Democratic health care reform law. They also reveal the tight control Haley and her top aides exercise over other state agencies, requiring media inquiries to various state departments to pass through the governor’s office for inspection.

“Oh my God, we just threw $1 million away here,” said Frank Knapp, who participated in the meetings as president of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce. “This confirms this whole thing was an effort to justify the million-dollar grant, but the reality is they had no intention of even exploring whether the state should establish an exchange — which is exactly what the grant called for.” Continue reading

The Individual Mandate’s Shameless Flip-Floppers

From The Hill:

GOPers Who Were For It Before They Were Against It

By Juan Williams

12/05/11 05:15 AM ET

What do Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, the leading contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, have in common?

Long before President Obama, both supported an idea they now pretend to spurn — the idea of requiring people to buy health insurance.

As recently as 2009, Romney publicly supported, the “individual mandate” for buying health insurance. And as recently as last month one of Gingrich’s websites still endorsed the “mandate” for all Americans earning more than $50,000 annually.

Romney and Gingrich are not alone in their history of supporting the idea of a government requirement that everyone buy health insurance. As governor of Utah in 2007, Jon Huntsman endorsed a healthcare reform plan from the United Way of Salt Lake City that called for a mandate.

“I think if you’re going to get it done and get it done right, the mandate has to be part of it in some way, shape or form,” he said at the time.

Gingrich, Romney and Huntsman are wide open to charges of political hypocrisy.

They apparently feel the need to fake their outrage over the individual mandate to win the GOP nomination. In an age of outrageous political posturing — telling lies and daring anyone to call you on it — this is the strongest indicator of the current lack of leadership and honest political debate about major national problems.

And it is not even good politics. Continue reading