July 31, 2014
CONTRADICTORY rulings from two federal appellate courts last week have dragged the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act back into legal uncertainty and again put its future in doubt, just as millions of Americans are beginning to realize the law's potential. Muddled language in the health-care law divided the courts. One court focused on a handful of words, the other on the law's broader language and its obvious intent - to provide health insurance to as many Americans as possible.
July 31, 2014
The latest attack on the Affordable Care Act - a federal court ruling that means the law is likely headed for another showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court - threatens to throw up more barriers to high-quality health care for millions of Americans. The decision, questioning the legality of federal insurance subsidies that are helping low-income workers afford coverage, would gut President Obama's landmark health-care reforms. Sure, the ruling is being decried by some legal experts as an "ultimately nonsensical reading" of the law. And the White House plans to seek a broader review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, whose decision was contradicted by another appeals court ruling on the very same day. As a matter of principle, there is no question that a Democratic Congress, acting without a single Republican vote, intended to put health insurance within reach of most of the nation's 45 million to 50 million uninsured.
July 28, 2014 |
It took Sheena Sheard two hours on two buses, towing two children and a three-wheeled stroller, to get to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. It would have been three buses but the trio legged out the final stretch to ensure Sheard could see her lawyer. That's right, her lawyer. Sheard was going to see Eileen Carroll at St. Christopher's to determine whether she qualified for a hardship exemption that would allow her to buy health insurance on the now-closed Affordable Care Act marketplace.
July 21, 2014 |
The e-mail was 138 words of frustration. Alan Brooks' wife Cherylann, a diabetic with high blood pressure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), needed health insurance she couldn't afford. And now a charity clinic, her last lifeline to care, was being forced to close, purportedly because of the Affordable Care Act. For the last four years, Brooks' family has been surviving on his Social Security disability check. While his health care is covered by Medicare, Cherylann has had to rely on the charity clinic doctors at St. Luke's South Side Medical Center in Bethlehem to monitor and treat her conditions.
July 13, 2014 |
His plugged-in friends said he was a fool not to buy health insurance on the federal marketplace. Mark Gaines knew they were right. He was, after all, a 26-year-old law school graduate. But if a judge had asked him for a summation of the Affordable Care Act last fall, it would have been a one-sentence brief. "I didn't know anything about it," said Gaines, who lives in South Philadelphia and was working part-time. "I knew that it was going to make [insurance] open to everyone and make it cheaper.
June 29, 2014 |
Claudia Gordon spent 14 years chasing down bad boys as a Philadelphia policewoman. As a woman officer, Gordon occasionally ran into a perp who was thinking, "Whatcha gonna do?" Bad move, bad boy. "They think women are weak," said Gordon, 59, who retired in 2006. "But we're not as weak as they think. " On the street, there was no intimidating Gordon. But buying health insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace - well, that rattled her. Like so many others who tried to buy health insurance on healthcare.gov last fall, Gordon had to make a couple of attempts to finally get her plan, and only then with the help of a navigator.
June 27, 2014 |
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is getting a makeover. It wants new health ideas to go viral. It wants partners in business and government, to magnify its impact. And it seeks game-changing ideas from inventors to improve doctor visits and reshape medicine into a "culture of health. " The nation's largest health philanthropy has long been focused on discrete health problems such as smoking and obesity. But in a major policy shift publicly discussed Wednesday for the first time, the Princeton-based foundation is seeking to up its game and inspire mass movements.
June 15, 2014 |
In the 10 months that Emily Lennon has been an Affordable Care Act navigator, she has reached one solid conclusion: Most people buying health insurance don't speak the lingo. "Nobody understands health insurance," said Lennon, who works at Resources for Human Development. Lennon has found that most first-time buyers, as well as people who were once covered through work but now buy coverage on their own, don't know basic terms like premium and deductible. Start talking coinsurance, out-of-pocket maximum, pharmaceutical formulary, co-payment, in-network providers, tier plans , HMO and PPO , and people get lost in the jargon jungle.
June 11, 2014 |
Independence Blue Cross' profits tumbled last year to their lowest level since the region's largest health insurer lost money in 2008 and 2009, according to IBC's annual report on its website. The Center City company reported net income of $142.6 million in 2013, down by a quarter from $191.5 million in 2012, despite a 5 percent increase in revenue, the annual report's bare-bones financial statement said. Total revenue was $11.05 billion, up from $10.48 billion, the company said.
June 10, 2014 |
Violette Carb and Noelia Rivera got married - for the first time - two and a half years ago. "It wasn't legal, obviously," Carb said. But the two Philadelphia women had been together for seven years, and they wanted to commit. At Sunday's Pride Day festival, less than a month after a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage, the 24-year-old women tied the knot again. This time, Carb will be covered by Rivera's health insurance. Fourteen couples - who had been together 119 years - were wed on Independence Mall during a glitter-filled parade.