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Sizing Up Health Law Politics And Policies

News outlets detail the political landscape surrounding the overhaul’s implementation and provide user’s guides to help consumers navigate changes. Coverage also highlights health law provisions that could impact coverage for small businesses and union members, and how the law is helping drive marketplace developments.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Working Out The Obama Health Law Details
With less than eight weeks until open enrollment officially begins for those who need to purchase health insurance through the state exchanges, the coming weeks and months will provide us with a front row seat into how ready the Obama Administration really is for the implementation of the President’s signature health law. The lay of the land politically isn’t difficult to predict: Republicans will seize on any story or report where the law is falling short, while Democrats will emphasize the positives (Dupree, 8/7).

California Health Report: The Affordable Care Act: A User’s Guide
California has embraced the Affordable Care Act like no other state. Health professionals started enrolling patients who qualify for the Medi-Cal expansion three years ago. The state also built an online health insurance marketplace called Covered California, which will debut this October (8/7).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Small Businesses Consider Cutting Family Insurance Coverage When Health Care Law Takes Effect
One casualty of the new health care law may be paid coverage for families of people who work for small businesses. Insurance companies have already warned small business customers that premiums could rise 20 percent or more in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. That’s making some owners consider not paying for coverage for workers’ families, even though insurance is a benefit that helps companies attract and retain top talent. If more small business owners decide to stop paying for family coverage, it will accelerate a trend that started as the cost of health insurance soared in recent years (8/7).

The Lund Report: Unions Worry Affordable Care Act Will Negatively Effect Trade Workers’ Health Insurance
Trade unions are becoming concerned that the Affordable Care Act will bring about the dismantling of their health plans and force their members to pay more for health insurance. The national presidents of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) and UNITE HERE wrote a scathing letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi expressing their concerns, which was published in the Wall Street Journal on July 12 (Waldroupe, 8/7).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Health Care Overhaul, Competition Push Drugstores to Stretch Well Beyond Filling Prescriptions
At some Walgreen stores, there are health clinics staffed by nurse practitioners, cafes that sell barista-prepared coffee and Eyebrow Bars where trained professionals groom unruly facial hair. Oh, and pharmacists fill prescriptions, too (8/7).

California Healthline: More Doctors Are Quitting Medicare. Is Obamacare Really To Blame?
What the [Wall Street Journal] didn’t report is that, per CMS, the number of physicians who agreed to accept Medicare patients continues to grow year-over-year, from 705,568 in 2012 to 735,041 in 2013. And other providers aren’t turning down Medicare, either. The number of nurse practitioners participating in the program has only gone up, Jan Towers of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners told California Healthline. That’s not to overlook doctors’ feelings about the program; “the reality is that Medicare has caused some very real frustration,” according to Reid Blackwelder, president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians (Diamond, 8/7).

And on the topic of legal challenges to the birth control coverage mandate –

The Hill: Christian College Renews Suit Against Birth Control Mandate
A Christian college in Colorado became the country’s first nonprofit plaintiff to refile suit against the Obama administration’s birth control coverage mandate after a previous action was dismissed. The initial lawsuit from Colorado Christian University (CCU) did not progress because final regulations on the birth control policy had not been issued (Viebeck, 8/7).