`Obamacare Pro’s and Con’s of Enrolment by 31 March 2014 or risk paying a fine ‘


#AceHealthcareNews says according to WASHINGTON (AP) that everyone is sick of hearing about the health care law?
With plenty of people have tuned out after all the political jabber and website woes.

But now is the time to tune back in, before it’s too late, as we are being told that the big deadline is coming March 31.

By that day, for the first time, nearly everyone in the United States is required to be signed up for health insurance or risk paying a fine.

Healthcare.govHere’s what you need to know about this month’s open enrolment countdown:

ALREADY COVERED? NO WORRIES

Most people don’t need to do anything. Even before the health care law passed in 2010, more than 8 out of 10 U.S. residents had coverage, usually through their workplace plans or the government’s Medicare or Medicaid programs. Some have private policies that meet the law’s requirements.

If you’re already covered that way, you meet the law’s requirements.

Since October, about 4 million people have signed up for private plans through the new state and federal marketplaces, the Obama administration says, although it’s not clear how many were already insured elsewhere. In addition, many poor adults now have Medicaid coverage for the first time through expansions of the program in about half the states.

President Barack Obama is urging people who have coverage to help any uninsured friends and relatives get signed up.

NEED COVERAGE? IT’S CRUNCH TIME

Chances are you’ll hear more reminders about health care this month. The push is on to reach millions of uninsured people.

The administration, insurers, medical associations and non-profit groups are teaming up with volunteers to get the word out and guide people through the sometimes-rocky enrollment process. They plan special events at colleges, libraries, churches and work sites.

Singing cats, dogs, parrots — even a goldfish — are promoting the message in TV and online spots from the Ad Council.

A big hurdle for the effort: As recently as last month, three-fourths of the uninsured didn’t know there was a March 31 deadline, according to polling conducted for the Kaiser Family Foundation. Most said they didn’t know much about the law and had an unfavourable opinion of it.

Plus, many worry they won’t be able to afford the new plans.

The enrolment campaign is emphasizing that subsidies are available on a sliding scale to help low-income and middle-class households pay for their insurance.

How to enrol? Start at HealthCare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596. Residents of states running their own marketplaces will be directed there; people in other states go through the federal exchange.

After March 31, many people won’t be able to get subsidized coverage this year, even if they become seriously ill.

The next open enrolment period is set to begin Nov. 15, for coverage in 2015.

DEADLINE DETAILS

There are exceptions. The big one is the Medicaid program for the poor.

People who meet the requirements can sign up any time, with no deadline.

Also, people remain eligible for Medicare when they turn 65.

If you are insured now and lose your coverage during the year, by getting laid off from your job, for example, you can use an exchange to find a new policy then. People can sign up outside the open enrolment period in special situations such as having a baby or moving to another state.

You can choose to buy insurance outside the marketplaces and still benefit from consumer protections in the law.

People who do that wouldn’t normally be eligible for premium subsidies. But the Obama administration says exceptions will be made for people whose attempts to buy marketplace insurance on time were stymied by continuing problems with some enrolment websites.

MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WON’T GET COVERED

Some 12 million people could gain health coverage this year because of the law, if congressional auditors’ predictions don’t prove overly optimistic.

Even so, tens of millions still would go without.

That’s partly because of immigrants in the country illegally; they aren’t eligible for marketplace policies.

Some of the uninsured will not find out about the program in time, will find it confusing or too costly, or will just procrastinate too long. Some feel confident of their health and prefer to risk going uninsured instead of paying premiums. Others are philosophically opposed to participating.

Figuring out just how many of the uninsured got coverage this year won’t be easy because the numbers are fuzzy.

The administration’s enrolment count includes people who already were insured and used the exchanges to find a better deal, or switched from private insurance to Medicaid, or already qualified for Medicaid before the changes.

Some who sign up will end up uninsured anyway, if they fail to pay their premiums.

The budget experts predict enrolment will grow in future years and by 2017 some 92 percent of legal residents too young for Medicare will have insurance.

But even then, about 30 million people in the United States would go uncovered.

SOME ARE LEFT OUT

A gap in the law means some low-income workers can’t get help.

The insurance marketplaces weren’t designed to serve people whose low incomes qualify them for expanded Medicaid instead. But some states have declined to expand their Medicaid programs. That means that in those states, many poor people will get left out.

People who fall into the gap won’t be penalized for failing to get covered.

Some others are exempt from the insurance mandate, too: American Indians, those with religious objections, prisoners, immigrants in the country illegally, and people considered too poor to buy coverage even with financial assistance.

THE IRS IS WATCHING YOU

The law says people who aren’t covered in 2014 are liable for a fine. That amounts to $95 per uninsured person or approximately 1 percent of income, whichever is higher. The penalty goes up in later years.

A year from now, the Internal Revenue Service will be asking taxpayers filing their forms for proof of insurance coverage. Insurance companies are supposed to provide that documentation to their customers.

If you owe a penalty for being uninsured, the IRS can withhold it from your refund.

The agency can’t put people in jail or garnishee wages to get the money. But it can withhold the penalty from a future year’s tax refund.

Courtesy of: #ConnieCass

#AHN2014

 

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TheObamaCrat™ SoapBox: How We Treat Our Elderly ♥


Ace News Group:

#AceHealthcareNews says reading this l can relate to your post entirely.
As having looked after my mother now for a period of 30 years, since my dad died of cancer in 1984.
The last 5 years has been the worst as her health declined and 2 years ago she had fallen 41 times, lucky not to have broken a hip.
Now she is totally unable to walk and is housebound, and unable to work, my mood has gone from hope, to despair and back again.
Now l look at the fact if l had not spent 10 years of my life in Care Homes and in the Community Caring, l would not be able to do all l have done.
So now l thank God and care as much as l can ,for another fellow human being, whatever her condition, is or will be in the future, as onset of dementia is now, my next hurdle.

#mustreadpost

Originally posted on The Militant Negro™:

 

By Jueseppi B.

cellimage

 

 

I was raised from my birth by my grandparents, which allowed me a very different perspective on our mature elderlyAmerican citizens. I closely watched my grandparents battle the results of growing older and I was exposed to that result more directly because I lived with my grandparents and could see the ravages of aging.

 

download

 

I worked in my fair share of nursing homes as a college attendee and got to see just how we Americans treat our parents and grandparents. And it is very nasty and ugly.

 

Today’s society has lost a huge part of its compassion. The world of media brings loss, pain, and tragedy into our lives at an overwhelming rate. And we gobble up all things main stream media. As a people, we’ve become desensitized to the core values we were taught as children. When people grow…

View original 600 more words

#UKGOVNEWS : ” Tories Hand Out Plum Contracts to `Private Firms’ in NHS”


#AceNewsServices says `Tories want to Privatise NHS’ as cuts fund profits for `Fat-Cats’ while `Front Line Staff’ struggle to cope.

Health not WealthIn an article today by the `Daily Mirror’  Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham says huge payments to private agencies to cover understaffed wards is symptomatic of the Conservatives‘ long-term aims.

Before the 2010 election, the Tories promised “no top-down reorganisation of the NHS”. They were lying. They were secretly planning the biggest ever.

The shake-up, signed off by the Lib Dems, has cost £3billion and rising.

To pay for it, the PM took cash off the NHS front line he promised not to cut.

The result? Six-figure payoffs for hundreds of managers and P45s for thousands of nurses. It stinks.

Cameron’s reorganisation has left the NHS weakened, confused and short of staff.

And now the vultures are circling. Agencies are profiteering off the problems of the NHS by charging it exorbitant fees to fill a single shift.

And it only gets worse. Government cuts to NHS community services, mental health and social care are pushing more people to A&E, who in turn need more staff to cope. So our hospitals are trapped in a vicious circle as agencies keep raking in the cash.

Cameron’s reorganisation is giving private firms the green light to cherry-pick services.

 

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#NHS ” Talk About Not Being Able to Tell the Truth”


#AceHealthNews says according to Nadine Dorris the NHS is in good hands, with the Conservatives in charge. Of course Labour and many of the of public, do not agree.

My colleague Kev sent me this post and his words says it all ” Talk about not being able to own up to anything” but then what really is  behind people thinking the NHS has no money, well let me answer this the only way l know how, having spent over 5 years trying to understand the system.

It all, starts one day when one elderly person goes into decline, and you need to consider their healthcare, and the more you get embroiled in the system, the more you realise, that is really simple!

There is plenty of money, it is all ring fenced and this allows all essential services to be starved, of funding.  

This creates what has come to be called a “Two Tier System” whereby the people who need essential care, who cannot understand the system, do not get it, and those that “Do Not Take No For An Answer” such as myself, can get what other people already have got with a little work.

Though there is a much deeper reason for starving our   NHS and that is essential services, can be farmed out to a “Third Party Contractor” this present Government has turned this into an art, and can make us mere mortal’s ,believe their rhetoric.

Their favourite words are watch-words – such as `it is for your own good’  or `we are looking after your children’s future’ making people believe they really care – `they do not’ – all they care about is putting in place, the legacy of `Maggie Thatcher‘ and finishing what she started.

The Way is Contractor’s 

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p style=”text-align:center;”>These companies who you already know or have heard of are called names like Serco  that according to a Guardian Report in April 2013 

It was almost two years ago that whistle-blowers exposed the failings of the privatised out-of-hours GP service run by Serco in Cornwall. Yesterday, finally, they were vindicated. The powerful parliamentary public accounts committee summoned Serco and the NHS body responsible for commissioning them, the Cornwall primary care trust, and gave them the roasting they deserved for a culture of “lying and cheating” and for “shocking” inadequacies in writing and monitoring the contract. The committee had asked the National Audit Office to report on the service after revelations in the Guardian. Members from all parties were excoriating in their judgment of Serco’s behaviour and the inability of the trust to hold the company, which has £2.4bn of public-sectorcontracts in the UK, to account.

The bigger question, however, is whether NHS patients will be any better protected in future as more services are put out to tender. Serco’s health business is growing rapidly – it has £300m worth of contracts in the sector. Other than a dent to its reputation, it has suffered no penalty. It has not been fined for lying and breaching its contract, nor has it lost the job. Its public-sector business just keeps getting bigger as its share price rises. If a private company behaved this way to another private company over a contract, it would find itself in court. Not so when rapacious corporates (the committee’s description) do business with the public sector. A small sorry is enough.

Contractors and Subcontractors pdf   according to National Audit Office the use of contractors and sub-contractors is increasing in the NHS, yet evidence suggests that a third of trusts believe they have limited control over their contractors’ health and safety. 

These people are this Governments `Chosen Few’ and they are the ones who will support the Government and in so doing will get their “Earthly Reward” of these large “Taxpayer Funded” contracts.

Personally l do not see  this as good news for the country and especially the NHS as this leads to that “Two Tier System l told you about, but this time it will be Private Healthcare V’s Free at Point of Delivery.   

 

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US: ” Emily’s List – ‘Abortion Restrictions’ Forbidding Healthcare in Certain States”


#AceNewsServices says just received by our news desk courtesy of "Mother Jones" and their team:

Dear Friend,

Think the Republican War on Women is finally over? Think again.

Here’s a terrifying statistic: State legislatures have passed more abortion restrictions in the past two years than they had in the previous decade.

And it’s not just in the red states. We’re talking about states like Michigan, where the state legislature just passed a bill forbidding health insurance from covering abortions — with NO exemptions for rape or incest.

There’s one sure fire way that we can stop this calculated attack on women’s rights: By electing more pro-choice, Democratic women up and down the ballot. That’s what EMILY’s List has worked to do for nearly 30 years.

Sign up right now to join the more than three million members of EMILY’s List and help us fight back against the Republicans’ anti-women agenda in 2014.

If you think about the big, tough fights we have coming in the 2014 elections, you’ll realize in nearly every critical race, a pro-choice Democratic woman is leading the way.

We need your help to elect governors like Wendy Davis in Texas and Mary Burke in Wisconsin — women who are willing to step up and stand up to the radical GOP.

We need your help to re-elect Kay Hagan and Jeanne Shaheen in the United States Senate to fight back against a federal 20-week abortion ban.

And we need your help electing Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, Michelle Nunn in Georgia, and Natalie Tennant in West Virginia to protect the Democratic majority in the Senate and keep our firewall against the House Republicans.

EMILY’s List has an incredible slate of women candidates across the nation that is ready to fight back against the GOP. Join EMILY’s List now and help make 2014 the Year of the Woman.

We look forward to having you on the list in 2014!

Thanks so much,

Jess McIntosh,
Director of Communications, EMILY’s List

This transmission is intended for the named addressee(s) only and may contain sensitive or protectively marked material up to RESTRICTED and should be handled accordingly. Unless you are the named addressee (or authorised to receive it for the addressee) you may not copy or use it, or disclose it to anyone else. If you have received this transmission in error please notify the sender immediately.

#AceHealthNews: “Protecting Your Family Against Flu Can Have Side-Affects”


#AceHealthNews says Scientist exposes flu shots lies and doom-and-gloom media propaganda

Sunday, January 19, 2014
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles…)
Tags: scientistflu shot liesmedia propaganda

The mainstream media has utterly abandoned science in the push for more flu shot propaganda, entirely failing to mention any of the risks associated with vaccines. According to nearly every story published in the mainstream media, flu shot vaccines offer almost certain protection against the flu while carrying absolute zero risk (risk is never mentioned).

Such a position is utterly anti-scientific. All medical interventions carry inherent risk, and this is especially so when vaccines admittedly contain mercury, MSG, formaldehyde and aluminum, all potent neurotoxic chemicals or heavy metals.

This is why vaccines routinely cause seizures in children, fevers, vomiting, comas and even death. The risk of this becoming known to the public is so great that a private, unconstitutional court called the “vaccine court” was established in order to pay off parents of vaccine-damaged children while requiring them to sign non-disclosure agreements to force them into silence. (Click here to see the astonishing video revealing this.)

Media stories that don’t mention flu shot risks are irresponsible and may cause harm to the public

Any media source that publishes an article pushing flu shots without offering a reasonable discussion of the inherent risk from doing so is acting in a highly irresponsible manner, potentially putting millions of children in harm’s way. Yet mainstream media journalists routinely fail to discuss any risks whatsoever of vaccines, almost as if such risks did not exist.

These journalists are either scientifically illiterate and not aware of such risks, or they are actively deciding to censor such discussions from their stories, thereby conspiring with the vaccine industry to keep the public ignorant of a medical intervention which may cause them serious harm or death. Such actions are highly unethical and smack of a complete lack of journalistic professionalism.

Watch the new Health Ranger video explanation

To learn more about flu shot propaganda, media lies and the abandonment of real science by the vaccine industry, watch this new screen cast video I just posted:

 

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#Fracking : Cameron Ignores Plea’s from “People About Environment and Health” and Bribe’s Council’s”


#AceNewsServices says according to the latest UK #Fracking news from the BBC also with Video

Councils that back #fracking will get to keep more money in tax revenue, David Cameron has said as he urged opponents to “get on board”.

The prime minister said English local authorities would receive all the business rates collected from shale gas schemes – rather than the usual 50%.

In a visit to a Lincolnshire fracking site, he predicted the process could support 74,000 jobs and reduce bills.

Against fracking 01
Against fracking 01 (Photo credit: Bosc d’Anjou)

But Greenpeace accused ministers of trying to “bribe councils”.

Mr Cameron’s announcement on business rates came as French company Total confirmed plans to invest about £30m to help drill two exploratory wells in Lincolnshire. It is the first major energy firm to invest in fracking in the UK.

The British Geological Survey estimates there may be 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas present in the north of England.

But the process to extract it – called fracking, which is short for “hydraulic fracturing” – has led to protests, with environmentalists fearing the technique could cause small earth tremors, water contamination and environmental damage.

On Monday protesters at the Barton Moss fracking facility in Greater Manchester climbed on to lorries entering the site.

But Mr Cameron argued that the UK had the “strongest environmental controls” and pledged: “Nothing would go ahead if there were environmental dangers.

“Shale is important for our country,” he continued. “It could bring 74,000 jobs, over £3 billion of investment, give us cheaper energy for the future, and increase our energy security.

“I want us to get on board this change that is doing so much good and bringing so much benefit to North America. I want us to benefit from it here as well.”

Infographic showing shale gas extraction

Fracking involve’s drilling deep underground and releasing a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals to crack rocks and release gas stored inside.

Whitehall officials said the business rates commitment would mean councils keeping up to £1.7m extra a year from each fracking site.

Separately, the mining industry has pledged to give communities £100,000 for test drilling and a further 1% of the revenues if shale is discovered, they added.

Energy minister Michael Fallon said councils could benefit by up to “£10 million per well-head” if shale gas was successfully extracted in their communities, through the 1% levy on revenues.

“How fracking recovers natural gas from shale”

The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England, said the announcement was a “step in the right direction” but any packages had to “fairly remunerate” those affected.

“Start Quote

This is a naked attempt by the government to bribe hard-pressed councils into accepting fracking in their area.”

According to Lawrence Carter of Greenpeace

“One percent of gross revenues distributed locally is not good enough; returns should be more in line with payments across the rest of the world and be set at 10%,” a spokesman said. “The community benefits of fracking should be enshrined in law, so companies cannot withdraw them to the detriment of local people.”

Responding to the LGA’s call for 10% of revenues, Mr Fallon said: “This is something obviously the industry will keep under review.”

For Labour, shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex said it was right for communities to share in the potential rewards from shale gas, but he called on the government to “get its priorities right”.

“Only by fully addressing legitimate environmental and safety concerns about fracking with robust regulation and comprehensive monitoring will people have confidence that the exploration and possible extraction of shale gas is a safe and reliable source that can contribute to the UK’s energy mix,” he said.

Friends of the Earth’s Jane Thomas argued that the new policy “highlights the depth of local opposition to fracking and the desperate lengths ministers are prepared to go to try to overcome it”.

‘New North Sea’

Lawrence Carter of Greenpeace added: “Having had their claims that fracking will bring down energy bills and create jobs thoroughly discredited, the government is now resorting to straight up bribery to sell their deeply unpopular fracking policy.”

St Anna's Road siteThe “fracking” technique to extract shale gas has proved controversial

The Institute of Directors welcomed the move on business rates, with chief economist James Sproule arguing: “Investment from Total is a vote of long-term confidence in the UK shale industry, and is a welcome sign that the government is creating the conditions necessary to maximise the potential benefits of a new domestic energy source.

UKIP energy spokesman Roger Helmer warned  that “all the financial benefits [of fracking] could be swallowed up by bureaucracy” and urged the government to create a sovereign wealth fund so that  fracking  profits “would ensure financial security for future generations”.

Map showing areas of the UK licensed for oil and gas exploration and areas under consideration for licensing

 

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“Fifty Percent of Britain’s Population Obese by 2050 Leading to Massive Health Costs of Fifty Billion”


#AceHealthNews says according to latest health reports , the prognosis that only half the UK population will be obese by 2050 ”underestimate the true scale of the problem,” a new report has warned. The National Obesity Forum says Britain is in for the worst case obesity scenario.

What scientists call "Overweight" ch...
What scientists call “Overweight” changes with our knowledge of human health (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“It is entirely reasonable to conclude that the determinations of the 2007 Foresight Report (i.e. that half the population might be obese by 2050 at an annual cost of nearly 50 billion pounds), while shocking at the time, may now underestimate the scale of the problem,” the report by the National Obesity Forumstated.

“Obesity and weight management are a direct cause of many health problems and are already placing enormous demands on the NHS at a time when health resources are stretched like never before. The current situation is unsustainable,” Professor David Haslam, the forum’s chair said.

Hard-hitting action is needed to tackle the problem, experts say.

Picture of an Obese Teenager (146kg/322lb) wit...
Picture of an Obese Teenager (146kg/322lb) with Central Obesity, side view. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the UK Department of Health, most people are overweight or obese in England. This includes 61.9 percent of adults and 28 percent of children aged between 2 and 15.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges’ 2013 report on obesity stated that the UK had become “the fat man of Europe”.

An abundance of obesity has been linked to three major factors: Fast food, ready meals and lack of exercise. People munch their high-calorie guilty-food pleasures, such as burgers and fries, and drink their beers and milk shakes sitting in front of their TV’s and PCs. A sedentary lifestyle is turning families into couch potatoes, with obesity guaranteed. What’s even worse is that the disease boosts the risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, cancer, hypertension, osteoarthritis and depression, just to name a few. According to the UK’s Faculty of Public Health, these diseases together cause over 10,000 obesity-related premature deaths annually in Britain.

“Studies and data published since 2007 demonstrate the increased prevalence of obesity, morbid obesity and wider weight management issues. They show how widespread poor nutrition and food choices are among the population, and how little knowledge exists about proper hydration and its importance,”David Haslam noted.

 

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Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:Final Rule {CMS}


#AceHealthNews says the “Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has published a final rule that offers states new flexibilities in providing necessary and appropriate services to elderly and disabled populations on a more individualized basis. Authorized through section 2402 of the Affordable Care Act, the regulation outlines the optional state plan benefit to furnish home and community-based state plan services and draw federal matching funds. As a result, states will be able to design and tailor Medicaid services to better accommodate individual needs. The final rule includes other changes to the HCBS waiver provisions to convey expectations regarding person-centered plans of care, to provide characteristics of settings that are home and community-based as well as settings that may not be home and community-based, to clarify the timing of amendments and public input requirements when states propose modifications to HCBS waiver programs and service rates, and describes strategies state Medicaid systems can pursue to make sure that ageing citizens and individuals with disabilities are supported in the most integrated setting possible.

#AceHealthNews says THE HEALTHCARE PR BLITZ THAT WASN’T…


#AceHealthNews says THE HEALTHCARE PR BLITZ THAT WASN’T – Instead all we really got was that Healthcare.gov lady. Emily Swanson and Mark Blumenthal: “It looked like the ‘health insurance ad wars’ were about to heat up. But the long-anticipated ad campaign to sell Obamacare has not started yet, according to a series of polls conducted by The Huffington Post and YouGov. In mid-December, the Wall Street Journal reported that there would be a ‘coming blitz of insurance ads’ aimed at Americans now eligible to purchase health insurance through the new exchanges created as part of the health reform law. The new slew of ads would be a ‘step up from an already heated-up marketing push’ already underway. So far, however, few people seem to have been subjected to the PR blitz. The Huffington Post and YouGov conducted a series of three weekly polls on Dec. 18-19,Dec. 27-28 and Jan. 2-3. The data from those surveys, combined with ad tracking information provided by Kantar Media, showed little change in the number of health care ads Americans recalled seeing towards the end of 2013. Each survey found that most Americans remembered seeing ads for health insurance, and many remembered seeing those favoring or opposing the new health care law during the previous month. But the percentage of people who reported seeing each type of ad remained stable over the course of the three surveys.” [HuffPost]

Medicare Drug Plan: “How People Get Caught Up in the Medicare Drug Fraud”


#AceHealthNews says when you are elderly and infirm ,would you expect your doctor, drug company and advisers, to give you a “Medicare Drug Plan” you do not really need. Well according to this recent article that is exactly what happened to this person, under this “Medicare Drug Fraud” read the story ……………………………………………. below: comment and share

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Me...
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Medicaid administrator) logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Story of the Events:

At another time in her life, Denise Heap might have tossed aside the insurance forms listing the drugs prescribed to her mother.

The “explanation of benefits” forms came like clockwork and didn’t require any action on her part.

But Heap was worried about her mother, Joyce, who was in the end stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Her health had inexplicably declined in the Los Angeles-area nursing home where she’d been living. So in April, when a thick envelope arrived from her mother’s Medicare drug plan, Heap scrutinized it.

What she found was frightening: Her 77-year-old mother was receiving a raft of medications Heap had never seen before.

As Heap began Googling the drugs, she realized something was drastically wrong. Either her mother was being given expensive medications for conditions she didn’t have 2014 such as breast cancer, asthma, emphysema and high cholesterol 2014 or something sinister was going on: Someone was using her mother to steal drugs.

“I flipped,” Heap said. Medicare’s prescription program, known as Part D, paid for more than “$10,000 worth of meds” in just three months, she said.

She first called Medicare to report her suspicions, she said, then the insurance company that managed her mother’s Medicare drug plan. Neither, she said, seemed very concerned.

“I was like, No, No, No,  You have to understand. I am trying to help you guys,'” she said.

Soon, Heap became convinced someone had stolen her mother’s identity while she was living at a nursing home run by an Armenian couple. The couple kept moving the location of the nursing home. And Heap believed they had over-sedated her mother with high doses of antipsychotics, inappropriately treating her blood pressure and allowing bed bugs to feast on her.

“I knew something crooked was going on,” said Heap, 59, who, with her mother, had co-founded a Holocaust education nonprofit in the 1990s to document stories of German resistance to Hitler.

Frustrated, Heap called Los Angeles County sheriff‘s Sgt. Steve Opferman, head of a task force specializing in prescription drug fraud. As soon as Heap began describing what had happened, Opferman said he knew her mother had been caught up in a fraud scheme involving Armenian organized crime.

Opferman and other investigators say criminals wager that patients and their families will not be like Heap. They bank on the fact that their victims 2014 Medicare beneficiaries 2014 will be too old or too sick to review insurance forms summarizing the medications and services billed in their names. And they count on the tendency of busy family members to give such forms a cursory glance, if that.

“Suffice it to say most people don’t pay attention, let alone know what they’re looking at,” Opferman said.

But Heap’s case, and others like it, shows the important role patients and their families can play in uncovering fraud within Part D. The program now covers 36 million seniors and disabled people and fills 1 in 4 prescriptions nationwide. Last year, it cost taxpayers $62 billion.

In an earlier report, ProPublica found that Medicare’s system for pursuing such fraud is so cumbersome and poorly run that schemes can quickly siphon away millions. Tips such as Heap’s can come into private insurers, which run Part D for Medicare, to contractors hired by Medicare to spot fraud, or to the U.S. Department of Health Human Services inspector general, which investigates health care fraud. But only a small percentage of cases funneled through this chain are prosecuted.

Reporters, using Medicare’s own data, were able to identify scores of doctors whose prescribing within the program followed known patterns of fraud: the cost of doctors’ prescribing jumped dramatically 2014 sometimes by millions of dollars 2014 from one year to the next and they chose brand-name drugs that scammers’ can easily resell.

Some doctors claimed that they 2014 like some of the patients involved 2014 were unwitting victims of identity theft. In other cases, federal investigators found, the doctors were paid for writing bogus or inappropriate prescriptions.

In a response to these findings, a Medicare official said more focus has been placed on fraud detection within Part D.

SpirivaThe drugs listed on Joyce Heap’s explanation of benefits forms are those most-desired in such fraud schemes. They included the asthma drugs Spiriva and Advair Diskus, for which her insurance plan paid nearly $270 a month each, the cholesterol drug Crestor, which cost nearly $170, and the antipsychotic Abilify, for which the plan paid about $920 for a 30-day supply.

Advair DiskusOpferman said Heap’s call launched an investigation that uncovered a large Part D scheme allegedly connecting the owners of the nursing home to a North Hollywood pharmacy operation, including evidence that other residents’ identities were used. A September search of the pharmacy where Heap’s mother’s prescriptions were filled found evidence that drugs were being relabeled or repackaged for resale, he said.

The doctor who prescribed the drugs has denied prescribing the majority of them, Opferman said. The case is now part of an ongoing investigation by California’s Department of Justice and his group, he said.

Opferman said investigators might never have known of the scheme without Heap’s tip.

Joyce Heap didn’t live long after her daughter unearthed the problems.

She improved briefly after moving to a new nursing home, where a doctor reduced her psychiatric medications, Denise Heap said. But she died of a heart attack on April 21.

In the months following her mother’s death, Heap said, she sent letters alerting Medicare and her mother’s insurer to the possible fraud. In July she wrote, “Please note that 100% of the prescriptions charged in April 2013 2026 are FRAUDULENT.”

Heap said she is “outraged” Medicare didn’t follow-up and ask detailed questions about her allegations. In fact, it was either her insurer or Medicare 2014 she can’t recall which 2014 that recommended she call the local sheriff if she was worried.

“I would have thought immediately they would have gotten on it,” she said.

But Heap said she is mostly tormented that she didn’t know such fraud schemes existed 2014 and that elderly people like her mother could become prey.

“It’s a hard thing to live with,” she said, tearfully. “I feel like I failed.”

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 Courtesy of:  Tracy Weber and Charles Ornstein ProPublica,  Dec. 31, 2013, 10:20 a.m.

 

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Big Data+Big Pharma = Big Money


#AceHealthNews says a recent article courtesy of Charles Ornstein ProPublica,  dated Jan. 10, 2014, 12 p.m.

Need another reminder of how much drug-makers spend to discover what doctors are prescribing? Look no further than new documents from the leading keeper of such data.

IMS HealthcareIMS Health Holdings Inc. says it pulled in nearly $2 billion in the first nine months of 2013, much of it from sweeping up data from pharmacies and selling it to pharmaceutical and biotech companies. The firm’s revenues in 2012 reached $2.4 billion, about 60 percent of it from selling such information.

The numbers became public because IMS, currently in private hands, recently filed to make a public stock offering. The company’s prospectus gives fresh insight into the huge dollars 2013 and huge volumes of data 2013 flowing through a little-watched industry.

IMS and its competitors are known as prescription drug information intermediaries. Drug company sales representatives, using data these companies supply, can know before entering a doctor’s office if he or she favours their products or those of a competitor. The industry is controversial, with some doctors and patient groups saying it threatens the privacy of private medical information.

The data maintained by the industry is huge. IMS, based in Danbury, Conn., says its collection includes “over 85 percent of the world’s prescriptions by sales revenue,” as well as comprehensive, anonymous medical records for 400 million patients.  

All of this adds up to 10 petabytes worth of material 2014 or about 10 million gigabytes, a figure roughly equal to all of the websites and online books, movies, music and TV shows that have been stored by the non-profit Internet Archive.

IMS StatisticsIMS Health says it processes and brings order to more than 45 billion health care transactions each year from more than 780,000 different feeds around the world. “All of the top 100 global pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are clients” of its products, the firm’s prospectus says.

Dr. Randall Stafford, a Stanford University professor who has used IMS data for his research, said the company has grown markedly in recent years through acquisitions of competitors and other companies that host and analyze data. As the pharmaceutical industry has consolidated, he says, IMS has evolved by offering more services and expanding in China and India.

“They’ve tried to beef up their competitiveness in some areas by making all of these acquisitions,” he said.

IMS has especially expanded its database of anonymous patient records, which can match patients’ diagnoses with their prescriptions and track changes over time, Stafford said.

IMS sells two types of products: information offerings and technology services. The information products allow pharmaceutical companies to get national snapshots of prescribing trends in more than 70 countries and data about each prescribers in 50 countries.

IMS’s prospectus offers examples of the questions companies are able to answer with its data, including which providers generate the highest return on a sales rep’s visit, whether a rep drives appropriate prescribing and how much reps should be paid.

IMS Health’s data collection and sales have been controversial.

Several years ago, three states passed laws limiting the ability of IMS and companies like it to collect data on doctors’ prescriptions and sell it to drug-makers for marketing purposes. Their intent was to protect physician and patient privacy and to reduce health care costs by reducing marketing of brand-name drugs. Once a drug loses patent protection and becomes generic, promotion essentially ceases.

IMS and other companies sued, and the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled in their favor, finding a First Amendment right to collect and sell the information. (ProPublica and a group of media companies filed a legal brief supporting IMS on First Amendment grounds.)

ProPublica has sought to purchase data on each provider from IMS and some of its competitors but was told by each that it could not buy the information at any price.

Instead, reporters obtained data from Medicare on providers in its taxpayer-subsidized drug program, known as Part D, which fills more than one in every four prescriptions nationally. The data are now on Prescriber Checkup, where anyone can look up each doctor and compare their prescriptions to peers in their specialty and state.

ProPublica has found that in Part D, some of the top prescriber’s of heavily marketed drugs received speaking fees from the companies that made them.

Physicians and privacy advocates have argued that prescription records could be used to glean information about specific patients’ conditions without their permission. In addition, physicians have argued that they have a right to privacy about the way they choose drugs 2014 but aren’t asked before pharmacies sell information about them.  

Stafford said those concerns have parallels to recent revelations about mass surveillance by the National Security Agency.

“It’s part of a larger dialogue, which things like the NSA scandal have brought up,” he said. “There’s a lot of data out there that people don’t necessarily know about. … We’re living in a time where people can accept some loss of privacy, but they at least want to know how their privacy is being compromised.”

In its prospectus, IMS cited several challenges to its growth, including data-protection laws, security breaches and increased competition from other data collectors. The filing notes that the United Kingdom’s National Health Service in 2011 started releasing large volumes of data on doctor prescribing “at little or no charge, reducing the demand for our information services derived from similar data.”

Until 2010, IMS Health was a publicly traded company. At that point, it was acquired for $5.2 billion, including debt, by private-equity groups and the Canadian pension board.

Bloomberg News, citing confidential sources, reported last fall that IMS’s owners may seek to value the company at $8 billion or more.

IMS Health declined to comment for this story, citing the regulatory quiet period before the public offering takes place. No date has been set.

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#AceHealthNews says according to the latest news the…


#AceHealthNews says according to the latest news the Obama administration will drop CGI Federal as the lead contractor for the troubled HealthCare.gov website, government officials said Friday. The company has been linked to many of the problems surrounding the Oct. 1 launch of the federal health care exchange, which President Obama has called “screwed up.”

#AceHealthNews says according to the U S Food…


#AceHealthNews says according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has told manufacturers of antibacterial soaps and body washes to demonstrate that they are both safe and effective within the next year. New evidence is emerging that some of the chemicals used in soaps, toothpaste, dish detergent, and other common household products may pose hazards for human health and the environment. The FDA’s proposed final rule would require manufacturers to demonstrate efficacy and safety or the products could be reformulated or removed from the market.

#AceNewsGroup says to All its Readers “Thank You for 1000 Likes on Our Posts”


WP Like Button#AceNewsGroup says today marks another milestone for our group and it is all thanks to you the readers kind support and all your likes, as we have reached 1000 and we could not do it without your support.

So all l can say is a great big thank you from the Ace News GroupThanks in all languages   

 

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“Group of Little Sister’s that Care’s for the Elderly and Poor Get Dispensation from the Federal Contraception Mandate”


#AceHealthNews Blessed Jeanne Jugan (October 25, 1792 – 1879)...

#AceHealthcareNews says according to WASHINGTON D.C., January 2 (CNA/EWTN News) .- A group of religious sisters that cares for the elderly poor in the U.S. was among several religious organizations to gain protection from the federal contraception mandate shortly before it took effect on Jan. 1.

“We are grateful for the decision of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granting us a temporary injunction protecting us from the HHS contraceptive mandate,” said the Little Sisters of the Poor.

On Dec. 31, just hours before the mandate was to take effect for religious non-profit groups, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an emergency stay temporarily blocking the regulation’s enforcement against the religious sisters. The federal government has until 10 a.m. on Jan. 3 to reply to Justice Sotomayor’s order.

The Little Sisters of the Poor – who have provided physical, spiritual and emotional care for the elderly and dying in communities throughout the U.S. for 175 years – voiced gratitude for the decision.

“We hope and pray that we will receive a favorable outcome in order to continue to serve the elderly of all faiths with the same community support and religious freedom that we have always appreciated,” the consecrated sisters said in a Jan. 1 statement.

Justice Sotomayor’s stay applies to the Little Sisters as well as more than 200 religious groups insured by the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust. It protects these groups from the demands of the federal contraception mandate, which requires employers to offer health insurance covering contraception, sterilization, and some drugs that can cause early abortions.

Employers who fail to comply with the mandate face crippling penalties.

Because the Little Sisters of the Poor are not affiliated with a particular house of worship, they do not qualify for the religious exemption to the mandate.

The federal government has argued that it has sufficiently provided for the religious freedom of the Little Sisters and other religious organizations through an “accommodation” under which the faith-based employers can pass the burden of providing the objectionable coverage to insurers, who must then offer it directly to employees without cost. Critics, however, argue that the costs of the coverage will ultimately be handed on to the employer in some way.

English: The Little Sisters of the Poor facili...
English: The Little Sisters of the Poor facility in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is helping represent the Little Sisters of the Poor in their lawsuit, welcomed the news of the stay.

“We are delighted that the Supreme Court has issued this order protecting the Little Sisters,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund. “The government has lots of ways to deliver contraceptives to people – it doesn’t need to force nuns to participate.”

Justice Sotomayor’s decision joined more than a dozen other preliminary court orders to block the mandate. The majority of nonprofit groups that have sued over the mandate have received temporary relief.

Also on Dec. 31, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia granted last-minute injunctive relief to several Catholic colleges and organizations, including the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and The Catholic University of America.

The Archdiocese of Washington welcomed the injunction in a statement, saying that the court’s decision is “in line with the rulings of courts all across the country” in its recognition “that the HHS mandate imposes a substantial and impermissible burden on the free exercise of religion.”

“These decisions also vindicate the pledge of the U.S. Catholic bishops to stand united in resolute defense of the first and most sacred freedom – religious liberty,” the archdiocese stated.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has asked U.S. President Barack Obama to extend temporary protections from the mandate to all religious employers who object to it.

President Barack Obama and Justice Sonia Sotom...
President Barack Obama and Justice Sonia Sotomayor meet in the Oval Office prior to a reception for the new Supreme Court Justice at the White House, on Aug. 12, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a Dec. 31 letter to the president, he noted that the government has already chosen to delay a regulation requiring employers to offer health insurance to employees. However, religious employers who do wish to “provide and fully subsidize an excellent health plan for employees,” but object to covering contraception and related products, face “crippling fines of up to $100 a day or $36,500 a year per employee.”

This position “harshly and disproportionately penalizes those seeking to offer life-affirming health coverage in accord with the teachings of their faith,” the archbishop stated. “The Administration’s flexibility in implementing the ACA has not yet reached those who want only to exercise what has rightly been called our ‘First Freedom’ under the Constitution.”

“In effect, the government seems to be telling employees that they are better off with no employer health plan at all than with a plan that does not cover contraceptives,” Archbishop Kurtz said, adding that this position is “hard to reconcile with an Act whose purpose is to bring us closer to universal coverage.”

 

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” Affordable Healthcare for Who? Certainly Not for the Citizens – According to These Figures”


Blue Cross Brand Bullies

#AceHealthcareNews says during the “Christmas” period l was looking at certain companies that purport to serve the betterment of society and especially the ” Health Care System” one such company that had certain articles – very skilfully woven was “Blue Cross” looking deeper and a little research later l found more this time from various new providers.

One of the worst things about companies that are involved in the “Healthcare Industry” is that they look first at turnover, secondly profit and thirdly at their future growth. The word “Care” should be applied in thought, word and deed, but it never gets a look in, as smoke and mirror’s covers up the #truth.     

This latest article confirms my suspicions and highlights not the article that l will add to the bottom of this post, but what really certain not-for-profit companies really mean by not-for-profit as these fee scales show:

WASHINGTON – The New Year brings yet another negative surprise from Obamacare: a raft of new taxes and fees that already are translating into higher health insurance premiums for average Americans.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, the state’s largest private health insurer, has notified customers it’s raising their premiums by as much as 10 percent in January because of eight new levies and fees in the Affordable Care Act, or ACA.

Blue Cross linked the increase to taxes and fees taking effect Jan. 1.

“The ACA includes new taxes and fees,” the insurance giant told each policyholder in a three-page letter, titled “Information about Your 2014 Renewal.” “The costs required to pay these new taxes and fees are included in your premium and will not be charged separately.”

Blue Cross of Montana sent out a similar notice, while Blue Cross of Alabama cited the taxes on its bills with a separate line item for “Affordable Care Act Fees and Taxes.”

"Mackin Disputes Obama's Statement"Blue Cross polices and costs are expected to set a standard for the industry, influencing how insurers adjust to the law, which is also raising premiums because of mandates that expand coverage and benefits. Aetna has also blamed taxes and fees for coming rate hikes.

Specifically, the insurance companies have referenced two Obamacare charges taking effect Jan. 

1. One is a flat 2 percent tax on all health insurers, which is expected to raise $8 billion for the administration to help pay costs of the overall act in 2014, but raise health-care premiums for consumers by more than 3 percent. The other is a yearly “reinsurance fee” of $63 per person insured.

2.There’s also a $2 fee per policy that funds a new federal bureaucracy called the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute. Insurers also must pay a 3.5 percent user free to sell health plans on the HealthCare.gov website.

Although these taxes are imposed on insurance companies, policyholders end up paying for them in the form of higher premiums. Over the next decade, the Washington-based Heritage Foundation estimates the average American family will pay roughly $5,000 more in premiums to pay for them all.

And these are just the Obamacare taxes and fees that insurers are warning customers they’re passing on to them. There are also hidden taxes, such as the medical equipment levy that will make heart valves, stents, pacemakers and other medical devices more expensive.

All told, there are more than 20 new or higher taxes and fees embedded in the Affordable Care Act – more than half of which affect families earning less than $250,000 a year.

The new taxes, which cost more than $675 billion over the next decade, include:

  • A 2.3 percent excise tax on U.S. sales of medical devices that’s already devastating the medical supply industry and its work force.

The levy, which took effect Jan. 1, 2013, is a $20 billion blow to an industry that employs more than 360,000 working in plants across the U.S.

"Stop the Healthcare Rip-Off's"Several major manufacturers have been impacted, including:

  • Stryker Corp. of Michigan, which blames the tax for 1,000 layoffs.
  • Indianabased Zimmer Corp., which cites the tax in laying off 450 and taking a $50 million charge against earnings.
  • Indiana-based Cook Medical Inc., which has scrubbed plans to open a new U.S. factory each year.
  • Boston Scientific Corp., which has opted to open plants in tax-friendlier China and Ireland to help offset a $100 million charge against earnings.
  • Minnesota-based Medtronic Inc., which expects an annual charge against earnings of $175 million.
  • A $50,000 excise tax on charitable hospitals that fail to meet new “community health assessment needs,” “financial assistance” and other rules set by the Health and Human Services Department (took effect in 2010).
  •  A 3.8 percent surtax on investment income from capital gains and dividends that applies to single filers earning more than $200,000 and married couples filing jointly earning more than $250,000 (took effect Jan. 1, 2013).
  •  A $24 billion tax on the paper industry to control a pollutant known as black liquor (took effect in 2010).
  •  A $2.3 billion-a-year tax on innovator drug companies (took effect in 2010).
  •  A 10 percent excise tax on Americans using indoor tanning salons (took effect July 1, 2010).
  •  An $87 billion hike in Medicare payroll taxes for employees, as well as the self-employed (took effect Jan. 1, 2013).
  •  A hike in the threshold for writing off medical expenses to 10 percent of adjusted gross income from 7.5 percent (took effect Jan. 1, 2013.).
  •  A new cap on flexible spending accounts of $2,500 a year (took effect Jan. 1, 2013).
  •  Elimination of the tax deduction for employer-provided prescription drug coverage for Medicare recipients (took effect Jan. 1, 2013).
  •  An income surtax of 1 percent of adjusted gross income, rising to 2.5 percent by 2016, on individuals who refuse to go along with Obamacare by buying  a policy not approved by the government (took effect Jan. 1, 2013).
  •  A $2,000 tax charged to employers with 50 or more workers for every full-time worker not offered health coverage (delayed).
  •  A $60 billion tax on health insurers (effective Jan. 1, 2014).
  •  A 40 percent excise tax on so-called Cadillac, or higher cost, health insurance plans (goes into effect Jan. 1, 2018).

As promised here is that article posted and sent to my news desk: 

DETROIT, Oct. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is the only health insurer to offer coverage to people in all of Michigan’s 83 counties on the federally-run health insurance marketplace that opened today at 8 a.m.

Blue Cross and its affiliated HMO, Blue Care Network of Michigan, offer some of the lowest-priced plans across Michigan’s 16 rating regions.  In the majority of counties in Michigan, BCBSM or BCN bronze and silver plan options offer some of the most affordable premiums on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Products, pricing and plan design are available onwww.healthcare.gov and on the BCBSM website at www.bcbsm.com/myblue.

“Blue Cross and Blue Care Network have worked very hard to put affordable health insurance options in front of Michiganconsumers as uninsured people and small employers begin open enrollment today,” said Terry Burke, BCBSM vice president for individual business.  “As people examine their choices, Blue Cross will be offering guidance – both online and on the phone – to help people make a health plan choice that is right for them.”

The Blues offer a total of 18 options for coverage.  These products are available on the federally-run Health Insurance Marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, opening today, through independent Blue-certified insurance agents and directly through BCBSM and BCN.

“The Affordable Care Act has significantly changed what health insurance covers, how it’s sold and what it costs. With the marketplace now open, consumers will be able to choose from 18 competitively priced Blues products, with options available toMichigan residents in every county,” Burke said.  “We are proud to offer some of the lowest-priced plans in Michigan.  These affordable options give more people the opportunity to choose Blue Cross plans.”

Both Blue Cross and Blue Care Network will offer plans at the Gold, Silver, Bronze and Catastrophic levels. Under ACA guidelines, Bronze plans will cover 60 percent of health care expenses, Silver plans cover 70 percent, and Gold cover 80 percent. Catastrophic plans, available to individuals under the age of 30 or those qualifying for a hardship, have a higher deductible and are not associated with metal level actuarial values. 

Editor – says judge for yourself.  

“Archbishop Kurtz Asks President Obama for Temporary Relief from Burdensome Fines Against Ministries of Service to the Poor, Sick and Vulnerable”


English: President Barack Obama with Judge Son...
English: President Barack Obama with Judge Sonia Sotomayor in the East Room of the White House where the President introduced her as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice David, May 26, 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

#AceWorldNews says Archbishop Kurtz Asks President Obama for Temporary Relief from Burdensome Fines Against Ministries of Service to the Poor, Sick and Vulnerable

1. Urges temporary relief from HHS mandate while courts decide

2. Highlights other exemptions, extensions granted for economic, administrative reasons

3. Mandate’s penalties to hurt, rather than help, shared goal of expanding coverage

 

Extracts from WASHINGTON, Dec. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has asked President Obama to temporarily exempt religious institutions from crippling fines if their insurance plans exclude sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives.

English: Sonia Sotomayor, U.S. Supreme Court j...
English: Sonia Sotomayor, U.S. Supreme Court justice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Archbishop Kurtz also asked the President to consider that the U.S. Supreme Court already has agreed to hear two cases related to the mandate created by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). At least 90 cases have been brought to federal courts by individuals and institutions objecting to the imposition of the HHS mandate. Most of the decisions to date have favored those bringing suit.

Archbishop Kurtz’s request comes as the Administration has offered exemptions to numerous people and organizations having difficulty in implementing the ACA. Individuals who faced penalties for not meeting deadlines for enrollment have had deadlines extended. Businesses with 50 or more employees will not be fined if they drop or otherwise do not offer health insurance at all for 2014. After 2014, if these businesses do not offer a health insurance plan, they face a fine of $2,000 a year per employee.

Meanwhile, beginning as early as January 1, 2014, organizations such as church-sponsored universities, hospitals and social services, face a fine of $100 per day ($36,500 per year) per employee if they provide health coverage that does not include contraceptives, including abortion-causing drugs, and sterilization.

“The result is a regulation that harshly and disproportionately penalizes those seeking to offer life-affirming health coverage in accord with the teachings of their faith,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “The Administration’s flexibility in implementing the ACA has not yet reached those who want only to exercise what has rightly been called our ‘First Freedom’ under the Constitution.”

“I understand that legal issues in these cases will ultimately be settled by the Supreme Court,” he added. “In the meantime, however, many religious employers have not obtained the temporary relief they need in time to avoid being subjected to the HHS mandate beginning January 1.  I urge you, therefore, to consider offering temporary relief from this mandate, as you have for so many other individuals and groups facing other requirements under the ACA.”

#AceHealthcareNews

Official photographic portrait of US President...
Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The entire letter follows:

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the Catholic bishops of the United States, I wish you and your family every blessing in this New Year.  The bishops pray regularly that you and our other public officials will have renewed strength to fulfill the duties of your office with integrity, justice and compassion.

In this regard, your Administration recently relaxed the rules governing individual health plans under the Affordable Care Act, so Americans whose current plans have been canceled may claim a “hardship exemption” from some requirements.  This is the latest in a series of actions to advance the ACA’s goal of maximizing health coverage, while minimizing hardships to Americans as the Act is implemented.  For example, the ACA exempts small employers from the mandate to offer health coverage, and you have suspended this mandate for all employers through 2014.

One category of Americans, however, has been left out in the cold: Those who, due to moral and religious conviction, cannot in good conscience comply with the HHS regulation requiring coverage of sterilization and contraceptives. This mandate includes drugs and devices that can interfere with the survival of a human being in the earliest stage of development, burdening religious convictions on abortion as well as contraception. To date, at least 90 lawsuits representing almost 300 plaintiffs have been filed to challenge this mandate, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear two of these cases in its current Term. Most lower courts addressing the issue have found merit in the plaintiffs’ claims and granted at least temporary relief, while some courts have denied relief or have yet to act.

Many Catholic and other nonprofit institutions caring for those in need through education, health care and other services are not exempt from the contraceptive mandate.  For reasons articulated by the courts, the Administration’s final rule of July 2013 does not alleviate the burden on their religious freedom.

Please consider, then, the result of your Administration’s current policies.  In the coming year, no employer, large or small, will be required to offer a health plan at all. Employers face no penalty in the coming year (and only $2000 per employee afterwards) for canceling coverage against their employees’ wishes, compelling them to seek individual coverage on the open market.  But an employer who chooses, out of charity and good will, to provide and fully subsidize an excellent health plan for employees – but excludes sterilization or any contraceptive drug or device – faces crippling fines of up to $100 a day or $36,500 a year per employee.  In effect, the government seems to be telling employees that they are better off with no employer health plan at all than with a plan that does not cover contraceptives.  This is hard to reconcile with an Act whose purpose is to bring us closer to universal coverage.

The result is a regulation that harshly and disproportionately penalizes those seeking to offer life-affirming health coverage in accord with the teachings of their faith.  The Administration’s flexibility in implementing the ACA has not yet reached those who want only to exercise what has rightly been called our “First Freedom” under the Constitution.

I understand that legal issues in these cases will ultimately be settled by the Supreme Court. In the meantime, however, many religious employers have not obtained the temporary relief they need in time to avoid being subjected to the HHS mandate beginning January 1.  I urge you, therefore, to consider offering temporary relief from this mandate, as you have for so many other individuals and groups facing other requirements under the ACA.

Thank you for considering this urgent plea. Again, be assured of my continued prayers in the coming year as you seek to serve the American people.

Sincerely yours,

Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D.
Archbishop of Louisville
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

SOURCE  U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

#AceHealthNews