Posts Tagged ‘obamacare

30
Jul
14

ObamaCare: Making Medicare Stronger For Future Generations

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White House: Medicare Trustees Report Shows Significant Improvements For Seniors And Taxpayers

Today’s annual report from the Medicare program’s Boards of Trustees brings good news about the program’s financial future: Its Trust Fund will last four more years, to 2030, and projected Part B premiums for 2015 will not increase for the second year in a row. As we celebrate Medicare’s 49th birthday this week, we will recommit to ensuring that the program continues providing health and economic security for the nation’s elderly and people with disabilities through the 21st century and beyond. Today’s news shows that we are on the right track, and we are optimistic that the promising results we’ve seen in recent years can continue into the future. In 2009, the Trustees projected the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund would not be able to pay its bills in 2017 – just three years from now. Today’s new date is 2030, 13 years later than that projection – an improvement that is thanks in part to reforms in the Affordable Care Act (Chart 1).

The law implemented changes to promote value-based payments, reduce waste and fraud, and strengthen the program’s benefits. These changes, for example, have reduced hospital spending on preventable readmissions, helping to lower hospital costs, which constitute a significant portion of trust fund spending. Lower Medicare spending means lower cost sharing and lower premiums for Medicare beneficiaries. For the second year in a row, premiums in Part B are projected to stay the same in 2015 as in 2013 and 2014. This means seniors are expected to keep more of their annual Social Security cost of living adjustment. In fact, the last six years have seen some of the slowest premium growth in the program’s history. Moreover, the Affordable Care Act has saved millions of beneficiaries over $10 billion in prescription drug costs by improving prescription drug benefits and closing the “donut hole.”

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Sahil Kapur: Obamacare Will Help Medicare Remain Solvent Even Longer, Trustees Report Says

The Medicare insurance trust fund will be solvent until 2030, four years longer than projected last year, according to a trustees report released Monday. The trustees report chalked up the new projection to the recent slowdown in health spending growth and various cost-saving reforms enacted under Obamacare. “In recent years U.S. national health expenditure (NHE) growth has slowed relative to previous historical patterns,” the report read.

It added: “The Board assumes that the various cost-reduction measures … will occur as the Affordable Care Act requires.” (Obamacare has been credited in recent years with extending the life of Medicare beyond 2016, the year it was projected to go in the red prior to the ACA’s enactment.)

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Amy Goldstein: Medicare Finances Improve Partly Due To ACA, Hospital Expenses, Trustee Report Says

Medicare’s financial stability has been strengthened by the Affordable Care Act and other forces that have been subduing health-care spending, according to a new official forecast that says the fund covering the program’s hospital costs will remain solvent until 2030 — four years later than expected a year ago. The trustees’ forecast said that the trust fund that pays for hospital care — Medicare Part A — has been strengthened significantly,

with the date when it is predicted to start running short of money extended by 14 years since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010. The report also predicted that the insurance premiums that older Americans pay for the portion of Medicare that covers doctors’ visits and other outpatient care would probably remain the same for a third year in a row.

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29
Jul
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama reacts to a picture presented to him of a younger Robert Gibbs, who played soccer at North Carolina State, following a town hall meeting at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C. on July 29, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

11:15: The President meets with a group of House Democrats on economic issues, Roosevelt Room

12:0: White House press briefing

3:0: The President departs White House

3:25: Meets with wounded service members, Walter Reed Hospital

5:15: Departs Bethesda, Maryland

7:0 CT: Arrives Kansas City, Missouri

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The Week Ahead

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Reuters: Table For Five: Obama To Dine With Kansas City Penpals

Valerie, a single mom from Kansas City, Missouri, who owns a small business, wrote to President Barack Obama last week “in the middle of the night,” describing just how hard she works.

On Tuesday, she will get the chance to tell Obama in person as one of four people the president dines with in a visit to the midwestern city – part of a summertime White House campaign to rouse Democratic voters ahead of November midterm elections.

“Are you serious?” said Valerie – whose last name was not provided – to Josh Earnest, Obama’s press secretary, who phoned her to invite her to the dinner.

“Oh my God! I would love it!” she told Earnest in a video made by the White House.

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BBC: Israel Intensifies Gaza Attacks After Netanyahu Warning

At least 60 Palestinians are said to have been killed after Israel intensified its bombardment of Gaza and warned of a long conflict ahead.

Gaza’s only power plant caught fire as Israel carried out 60 air strikes, targeting sites associated with Hamas, the Islamist group which controls Gaza.

UN staff members are said to be among those killed.

….. A huge plume of smoke rose over the strip’s only power plant after one of its fuel tanks was reportedly set alight by Israeli tank shells, and the plant was forced to shut down.

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Jesse Rosenfeld: Israel Creates ‘No Man’s Land’ In Gaza, Shrinking Strip By 40 Percent

To protect itself from Hamas rockets and tunnels, Israel is forcing tens of thousands of people out of their homes, turning their old neighborhoods into a no-man’s land.

BEIT HANOUN, Gaza — This narrow strip of land that used to be called “the Gaza Strip,” already one of the more densely populated places on earth, is growing dramatically smaller. The Israeli military, relentlessly and methodically, is driving people out of the three-kilometer (1.8 mile) buffer zone it says it needs to protect against Hamas rockets and tunnels. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the buffer zone eats up about 44 percent of Gaza’s territory.

What that means on the ground is scenes of extraordinary devastation in places like the Al Shajaya district approaching Gaza’s eastern frontier, and Beit Hanoun in the north. These were crowded neighborhoods less than three weeks ago. Now they have been literally depopulated, the residents joining more than 160,000 internally displaced people in refuges and makeshift shelters. Apartment blocks are fields of rubble, and as I move through this hostile landscape the phrase that keeps ringing in my head is “scorched earth.”

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Michael Hiltzik: Here’s The Single Best Analysis Of The Halbig Anti-Obamacare Ruling

Northwestern University law and political science professor Andrew Koppelman moves past the absurd legal theory underlying the Halbig ruling on the Affordable Care Act — in which a federal appeals court invalidated subsidies provided to insurance buyers on federal, as opposed to state, insurance exchanges — to ask why the lawsuit’s backers brought the case in the first place. We know the consequences of the ruling: If it stands, about 4.8 million Americans will lose their subsidies and likely their health insurance, since it would be rendered unaffordable; there are residents of as many as 36 states that let the federal government establish their exchanges.

But is that what the plaintiffs and their backers really desired? And if not, what was their real goal? Koppelman’s conclusion is that the lawsuit is a product of the “moral dysfunction” infecting the fight over Obamacare. “The opponents of Obamacare,” he writes in the New Republic, “have from the beginning found themselves driven by the logic of their position to make arguments that are increasingly morally repulsive.” In this case and others aimed at overturning the ACA, he writes, the argument is that “if you get sick and you can’t pay for it, that’s your tough luck.” Koppelman doesn’t think the plaintiffs really believe that. He thinks they’re merely out to make a narrow ideological point about government responsibility, and the 4.8 million possible victims of their campaign are merely collateral damage.

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Business Insider: Israel Grants First Golan Heights Oil Drilling License To Dick Cheney-Linked Company

Israel has granted a U.S. company the first license to explore for oil and gas in the occupied Golan Heights, John Reed of the Financial Times reports.

A local subsidiary of the New York-listed company Genie Energy — which is advised by former vice president Dick Cheney and whose shareholders include Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch — will now have exclusive rights to a 153-square mile radius in the southern part of the Golan Heights.

That geographic location will likely prove controversial. Israel seized the Golan Heights in the Six-Day War in 1967 and annexed the territory in 1981. Its administration of the area — which is not recognized by international law — has been mostly peaceful until the Syrian civil war broke out 23 months ago.

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BBC: Russia ‘Violated 1987 Nuclear Missile Treaty’, Says US

Russia has violated a key arms control treaty by testing a nuclear cruise missile, the US government says.

Russia tested a ground-launched cruise missile, breaking the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed in 1987 during the Cold War, the US said.

A senior US official did not provide further details on the alleged breach, but described it as “very serious”.

The bilateral agreement banned medium-range missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km (300 to 3,400 miles).

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BBC: EU Set To Widen Sanctions On Russia Over Ukraine

The European Union is set to agree new sanctions against Russia, targeting its finance, energy and defence sectors over the conflict in Ukraine.

Top Russian individuals and entities are already subject to EU sanctions for their alleged role in Ukraine’s crisis.

Calls for the EU to act have been fuelled by the downing of flight MH17.

An international team has again failed to access the crash site in eastern Ukraine, amid heavy fighting between government forces and rebels there.

This is the third time in as many days that the team, which includes Dutch and Australian police officers, has had to abandon attempts to reach the site.

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Michael Felberbaum: US Court: Virginia Marriage Is For All Lovers

Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional on Monday in the first such decision by a federal appellate court in the South. “We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws,” Judge Henry F. Floyd wrote. The 2-1 ruling applies throughout the circuit that also includes West Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas, where the attorneys general split Monday on what they’ll do next. Virginians voted 57 percent to 43 percent in 2006 to amend their constitution to ban gay marriage.

Virginia laws prohibit recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. Floyd said such measures “impermissibly infringe on its citizens’ fundamental right to marry.” The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond is the second federal appellate court to overturn gay marriage bans, and the first to affect the South, a region where the rising tide of rulings favoring marriage equality is testing concepts of states’ rights that have long held sway. Gay marriage proponents have won more than 20 legal decisions around the country since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year. Most are still under appeal. More than 70 cases have been filed in all 31 states that prohibit same-sex marriage. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia allow such marriages.

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CNBC: US Confidence Jumps In July As Consumers See Better Days Ahead

Consumers grew more confident about the economy in July, The Conference Board reported on Tuesday, with stock markets perched near record highs and expectations building for the recovery. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose to 90.9, higher than expectations and above the prior month’s showing of 86.4. That was the component’s highest since October 2007.

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On This Day

 President Obama eats a peach following a town hall meeting at Kroger’s Supermarket in Bristol, Va. on July 29, 2009. Seconds later, the President handed a dollar bill to the CEO of Kroger’s, who attended the event (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama listens to a question at a town hall meeting at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C. on July 29, 2009 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

The hands of U.S. Secret Service agents as President Obama shakes hands along a rope line following a health care town hall meeting at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C on July 29, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Crime victim Lisa Marie Iyotte gets emotional while introducing President Obama before he signed the Tribal Law and Order Act during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House, on July 29, 2010

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First Lady Michelle Obama greets U.S. military families at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, July 29, 2012

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President Obama greets former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Outer Oval Office, July 29, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama has lunch with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the patio outside the Oval Office, July 29, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama meets with Secretary of State John Kerry in the Oval Office, July 29, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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28
Jul
14

ObamaCare Works – And Kentucky Is Proof

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LEO Weekly: Medicaid Expansion Leads To Booming Reimbursements, Plunging Uninsured Rate In Kentucky

Kentucky’s Department of Medicaid Services has also provided this map that shows how the uninsured rate has plummeted within each county since 2012, assuming that 75 percent of Kynect enrollees did not previously have insurance (as indicated in their Kynect application): While this drop is staggering through the state, it is most pronounced in the four eastern Kentucky counties of Harlan, Letcher, Leslie and Perry, who went from 17-20 percent uninsured to less than 5 percent. These four counties went from some of the highest uninsured rates to the lowest in the entire state. Thanks, Obama.

While rural hospitals in Kentucky still face unique challenges that must be addressed, including how well Medicaid managed care is able to meet the increased demand for providers, the rosy estimates given by Gov. Beshear last year on the effects of embracing the Affordable Care Act appear to be coming to fruition. The question still remains whether Kentucky’s legislature will decide to continue these efforts next year, or whether a possible new Republican majority in the state House will decide to roll back the clock.

More here

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Mary Meehan: Affordable Care Act Refunds Due From Four Kentucky Insurers

Kentucky families will receive $6.2 million in refunds, an average of $43 per family, under a provision of the Affordable Care Act known as the 80/20 rule. The refunds announced Thursday by the federal government are the result of the rule requiring insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of the money paid in premiums on patient care. If the companies don’t reach that amount with spending on bonuses or red tape, it must be refunded to their customers.

According to a news release from the federal Department of Health & Human Services, consumers nationwide will receive $330 million. Four Kentucky health insurance plans will refund money. Anthem Health Plans of Kentucky had by far the largest refund at $4.4 million. Humana Health Plan was at $766,295, Golden Rule Insurance Co., $342,336, and Time Insurance Co., $333,096.

More here

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24
Jul
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: Senator Barack Obama leaves the stage after making a speech in front of the Victory Column in Berlin on July 24, 2008

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Today

9:50 PDT: The President attends a DNC fundraiser, private residence, Los Angeles

1:25 PDT: Delivers remarks, Los Angeles Trade-Technical College

3:05 PDT: Departs Los Angeles

5:0 EDT The President’s interview with CNBC’s Steve Liesman is aired

10:50 EDT: Arrives White House

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@petesouza: Pres Obama disembarks from AF1 in LA

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LA Times: In Los Angeles, Obama Gives His Die-Hard Supporters A Tough-Love Talk

President Obama delivered a tough-love talk to his biggest boosters  Wednesday, telling Democratic donors gathered in Los Angeles that they need to step it up before November if he’s going to get much done in his last two years in office. “You thought, ‘OK, we elect Barack and that’s it,’” Obama told a crowd big-dollar donors gathered in the lush Hancock Park backyard of TV producer Shonda Rhimes. He reminded them that he’d warned that it wasn’t about electing him but about getting “our democracy to work.” “I have got to have a Congress that has some sense and is willing to work and is willing to compromise and is focused on the American people. And we don’t have that right now.” Obama is often candid about what he describes as Democrats’ chronic problem: low turnout in midterm elections. But his remarks Wednesday came with a sharper ribbing for a crowd he seemed to think could take it.

Democrats like the fun of a presidential campaign, Obama said. But “we’ve got to step it up in the midterms. Not when it’s easy, not when it’s sexy, not when there’s hope posters….” While Democrats “don’t even know there’s an election,” Obama said, Republicans get to the polls. “Lo and behold we’re surprised when John Boehner is speaker of the House! What happened to Nancy Pelosi? What happened is y’all didn’t vote. And that’s when all kinds of … stuff happened,” Obama said, pausing as if deliberating on whether to keep the rant clean. “That’s what it was — stuff.”

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Marketwatch: Jobless Claims Lowest In More Than Eight Years

The number of unemployed workers applying for jobless benefits tumbled in the most recent weekly data to the lowest level in more than eight years, signaling that employers are letting go of very few workers.

Applicants for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits in the week that ended July 19 dropped by 19,000 to 284,000 — the lowest level since February 2006, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected initial claims of 310,000 in the most recent weekly data.

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Steve Benen: Jobless Claims Improve To Eight-Year Low

The last time the Labor Department published a report on initial unemployment claims this good, the Great Recession hadn’t even started yet:

The number of people who applied for regular state unemployment-insurance benefits in the week that ended July 19 tumbled by 19,000 to 284,000 – the lowest level since February 2006 – signaling that companies have further slowed down the pace of layoffs and are letting go of few workers, according to government data released Thursday….

Regular readers know I run the above chart every Thursday morning, highlighting initial unemployment claims since January 2007, the year the Great Recession started. Look closely, however, and you’ll notice that today’s report is the best since before the chart began.

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Chicago Tribune: U.S. Health Insurers To Pay $330 Million In Premium Rebates

U.S. health insurers will send out about $330 million in rebates to employers and individuals this summer under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday.

The law, often called Obamacare, requires insurance companies to refund customers when they spend less than 80 percent or 85 percent of healthcare premiums they collect for medical care.

The rebates will go to about 6.8 million people and have a value of about $80 per family. They are to be sent by Aug. 1 either directly to consumers or to the employer providing the health coverage, who is required to pass the savings onto employees, the agency said in a report.

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Pro Publica: Even After Open Enrollment, Activity Remains Unexpectedly High On Federal Health Insurance Exchange

New federal data, obtained by ProPublica under the Freedom of Information Act, shows nearly 1 million insurance transactions since mid-April.

For months, journalists and politicians fixated on the number of people signing up for health insurance through the federal exchange created as part of the Affordable Care Act. It turned out that more than 5 million people signed up using Healthcare.gov by April 19, the end of the open-enrollment period.

But perhaps more surprising is that, according to federal data released Wednesday to ProPublica, there have been nearly 1 million transactions on the exchange since then. People are allowed to sign up and switch plans after certain life events, such as job changes, moves, the birth of a baby, marriages and divorces.

The volume of these transactions was a jolt even for those who have watched the rollout of the ACA most closely.

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CNN: CNN Poll: Is Obamacare Working?

More than half the public says Obamacare has helped either their families or others across the country, although less than one in five Americans say they have personally benefited from the health care law, according to a new national poll. A CNN/ORC International survey also indicates that a majority of Americans oppose the Affordable Care Act, but that some of that opposition is from people who don’t think the measure goes far enough.

The poll, conducted this past weekend, was released on Wednesday, one day after a federal appeals court upheld Obamacare tax subsidies. That ruling came just a couple of hours after a separate appeals court struck down such subsidies for the millions of Americans enrolled in the federal government’s HealthCare.gov exchange. 53% say that Obamacare has helped either their families or others across the country.

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ThinkProgress: Demonizing Migrant Children Proves An Epic Fail For Anti-Immigrant Groups

Anti-Immigrants can’t even throw a good rally anymore.

Anti-immigrant groups have hit upon the issue of children fleeing violence who are arriving unaccompanied by adults at our southern border. These children are coming from three countries: El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. All three countries have very serious problems with gang violence, murder and child trafficking into prostitution. Under current US federal law these children have the right to have their cases thoroughly evaluated to ensure that no child is returned to a country where they might be killed, injured or trafficked.

… To make their case that Americans are really upset about an increase in unaccompanied children at the border, anti-immigrant groups staged what was supposed to have been a massive number of protests around the country. They staged a “National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform, Amnesty & Border Surge”….

…. Despite this all in effort, the anti-immigrants failed miserably to turn people out to protest children. If these rallies around the country were meant to demonstrate the power of the anti-immigrant movement, they may instead signal its end. In many cases, no one showed up at all.

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Brian Beutler: The Conservative Judges Who Ruled Against Obamacare Missed This One Very Important Detail

We now know that two conservative judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals have declared it illegal for the government to subsidize Obamacare health plans in states that didn’t set up their own insurance exchanges. In reaching that conclusion, Judge Thomas Griffith, who authored the opinion of the court, sought to rebut each of the Obama administration’s arguments to the contrarythat the law clearly contemplates subsidizing health plans in every state whether or not a state built its own marketplace. But in one instance he based his counterargument on information that became outdated less than one week ago.

And the recent development turns that counterargument on its head. One of the White House’s most straightforward arguments is that neither Congress nor the administration would have approved a punitive system so at odds with the ACA’s ultimate, stated goal of achieving near-universal insurance coverage. The law seeks to achieve near-universal coverage by mandating the purchase of guaranteed, subsidized (and thus affordable) health plans. Take away the subsidies, and the plans are no longer affordable. If the plans aren’t affordable, they’re no longer compulsory. And if they aren’t compulsory and affordable the coverage expansion goal will be unattainable.

More here

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On This Day

Senator Obama waves to the crowd after making a speech in front of the Victory Column in Berlin, July 24, 2008

Sen. Obama waves from his car on July 24, 2008 in Berlin, Germany

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President Obama shares a lighter moment with Vice President Biden in the Oval Office on July 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama meets with leaders from the disability community in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on July 24, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama shakes the hand of a young military family member at the Marine Barracks evening parade in Washington, D.C. on July 24, 2009 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the U.S. Marine Barracks evening parade in Washington, D.C. on July 24, 2009 (All photos by Samantha Appleton)

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First Lady Michelle Obama bids farewell to departing staff Eirene Busa, White House Stenographer, center left, and Holli Crawford, White House Communications Agency, center right, aboard Bright Star during a flight from Manchester, N.H., to Joint Base Andrews, Md., July 24, 2011 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

President Obama and Vice President Biden walk around the South Lawn of the White House, Sunday, July 24, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama greets patrons and restaurant staff during a local stop at the Gateway Breakfast House in Portland, Ore., July 24, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama presents Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., with a birthday cupcake aboard Air Force One, July 24, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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23
Jul
14

Thanks To ObamaCare, Seeing A Doctor Is No Longer A Luxury

Supreme Court Upholds Obama's Affordable Care Act

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Claire Bolderson: Obamacare In Kentucky

“I am so happy,” says Sizemore as she waits at the Grace Community Health Centre in Clay County, Kentucky, “I’ve not had insurance since I turned 19.” But Sizemore is also nervous. She is seriously overweight and was warned in her teens that she was likely to develop diabetes. Without health insurance she has not been able to afford tests or check-ups to see if she has indeed got the disease.  Sizemore is one of 421,000 people in Kentucky who’ve signed up since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare, came into force last October. Like many, she now qualifies for Medicaid, the government programme that pays for health care for the poorest Americans. Under the new law, the federal government offers states money to expand Medicaid so that many more people on very low wages, like Liberty Sizemore, are covered. Benita Adams may be one of the people the Governor has in mind. The 62-year-old grandmother lives on the edge of the rolling Appalachian Mountains in eastern Kentucky. She owns her home but works two jobs as a dental assistant to make ends meet.

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Adams has had no health insurance since her divorce 30 years ago. A recent heart operation left her with a $67,000 bill. Although the hospital waived around half of that, she still pays $50 a month to clear the rest. “I used to say, if I get hurt just let me be killed because I can’t afford to pay any more hospital bills,” she says. But Adams no longer has to worry. Under Obamacare, she qualifies for a private insurance plan with a hefty government subsidy that covers the monthly payments in full. “Everyone was mad over Obamacare but it’s just wonderful, it’s really helping people,” Adams says as she lists the medical appointments she has been to since getting insured. Liberty Sizemore, waiting for her blood test results at the Grace Community Health Centre, feels the same. “I was so worried,” she says. “But now I can get better because I have a doctor. I have a doctor and that’s a relief off my shoulders, more than you can know.”

More here

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