• Is The Issue Of Health Care Pushing Your Buttons?

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An Uncertain Future For Medicare and Medicaid

From Politico:

The Obama administration could be faced with obligations to spend cash it  doesn’t have.

By J. LESTER FEDER| 7/21/11 10:47 PM EDT

A default scenario is so unthinkable that not too many people have thought about what happens to Medicare and Medicaid if a deal isn’t reached.

One longtime Washington health hand said he had not contemplated the overall picture of what happens after Aug. 2 without a deal because, “I think it’s unlikely, but it’s also kind of [too] horrible” to think about.

But people are getting nervous enough that it’s time to give the issue real thought, said Julius Hobson, former congressional affairs director for the American Medical Association.

“I think up until last week people were buying into that usual, conventional wisdom that they’d get that grand deal, and now they’re being disabused of that notion,” he said.

So what does happen? Does Medicare keep making payments? If Social Security checks continue to go out, will Medicare premiums be withheld? Will states get their Medicaid dollars? Continue reading

Repeal Benefits Blue Cross Blue Shield

From The Post and Courier:

By Renee Dudley–Sunday, July 3, 2011

In 2006, the South Carolina Legislature repealed a decades-old insurance code, stripping the state’s authority to regulate discounting in contracts between hospitals and insurers.

The deletion allowed the state’s biggest health insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield, to negotiate contracts that could cripple its competitors and raise costs for consumers. And Blue Cross was among the special-interest groups lobbying for the repeal, according to a legislator who requested it.

Although the state apparently had not enforced that section of the law, the repeal stripped regulators of authority to step in if it became necessary to regulate anticompetitive activities.

The code appears to have forbidden types of “most-favored-nation” contracts with hospitals and doctors, which some economists said have played a significant role in driving up health care costs in South Carolina. Continue reading

AMA Votes In Support of Individual Mandate

From The Hill:

By Sam Baker – 06/20/11  

The AMA’s House of Delegates voted 326-165 to support the law’s requirement that most people buy insurance. The coverage mandate is at the center of several lawsuits challenging the new law’s constitutionality.AMA President Cecil Wilson said the “overwhelming” vote shows that doctors still believe a mandate is necessary to achieving universal coverage.He emphasized that the AMA — the country’s largest trade association for doctors — backed the individual mandate before the debate over healthcare reform. Many members of the traditionally conservative group wanted to see that position reassessed at the AMA’s annual meeting this week in Chicago.
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