What do the Supreme Court cases where corporations challenge the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate on religious grounds have to do with state government?  Nothing, at least on the surface.  But if you dig a little deeper the outcome of this case could affect state and local land use decisions.  That is why the State and Local Legal Center filed an amicus brief in this case. 

The federal government on Tuesday approved the Iowa plan to provide new private health insurance plus other plans from the state’s online health insurance marketplace to cover residents newly eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act option. However, according to AP reports, federal officials stopped short of approving the flexibility the Gov. Haslam requested to charge premiums. The legislature and Gov. Haslam negotiated the plan during the 2013 session.

The state’s proposal provides those with incomes up to 100 percent of poverty a state-run health plan similar to that of state employees. Those between 100 and 138 percent of poverty would get private plans sold through the marketplace and paid for with federal (and later some state) Medicaid funds.  

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is trying to “balance comprehensiveness and affordability” with the type of coverage insurers must offer under the Affordable Care Act, Sherry Glied, assistant secretary for Planning and Evaluation, said. Glied spoke at The Council of State Governments’ webinar “Essential Health Benefits: An Overview for State Legislators” Tuesday.

States are taking significant action to establish health insurance exchanges required under the Affordable Care Act.

That’s according to Steve Larsen, deputy administrator and director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who took part in a Dec. 6 webinar, “Health Exchanges: Understanding State Options and Deadlines,” sponsored by The Council of State Governments.

Consumers and health policy experts have all known about the differences in health insurance premiums across states. There have been plenty of anecdotal stories, but real data have been hard to come by.

Not now. A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found the state-by-state variation was substantial, ranging from a high of $400 per member per month in Vermont and Massachusetts to a low of $136 in Alabama. The data came directly from filings with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) by insurers.

The National Journal reports today that the Institute of Medicine has recommended that health insurers should pay for a range of services for women at no cost, including birth control, counseling on sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS screening.  

The IOM said free coverage of contraceptives would reduce unintended pregnancies. NPR reported today that half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended.

A new report from Milliman, Inc., a consulting and actuarial firm, shows total health care costs are $19,393 for the typical American family of four covered by a perferred provider organization. In 2002, the same family's overall costs were $9,235. These totals include the employer and employee shares of health care costs.

This Act prohibits carriers offering health plans in the state from denying coverage on the basis that the coverage is provided through telemedicine if the health care service would be covered were it provided through in-person consultation between the covered person and a health care provider. Coverage for health care services provided through telemedicine must be determined in a manner consistent with coverage for health care services provided through in-person consultation.

According to American Medical News, early indications are that relatively few employers are dropping mental health coverage as they go into open enrollment for the 2011 calendar year.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, passed in 2008 but fully in effect in 2011, requires companies that offer mental health benefits to restrict them no further than they do physical health coverage.

According to the 2010 Employer Health...

Jon Kingsdale will be the featured speaker in a session on health insurance exchanges on the first day of the 2010 CSG National Conference in Providence, RI, in December. Kingsdale is the former director of the Massachusetts Connector, created in 2006 and a model for the new health exchange requirement in federal health reform.

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