The Associated Press is reporting today that the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will have all its full panel of judges re-hear the challenge to granting subsidies for health insurance purchase in the states that have not implemented state-based health insurance exchanges.

The initial ruling had come from a three-judge panel and called...

On July 22, 2014, two federal appeals courts handed down opposing rulings on the legality of tax credits to reduce the cost of health insurance premiums purchased in the 36 states with federally facilitated exchanges. In those states, 4.7 million individuals receive tax subsidies, averaging $264 per month, to make their premiums affordable. No changes are anticipated in the availability of tax subsidies during the appeal of these decisions. Pundits are betting that the ultimate stop for the cases will be the U.S. Supreme Court. 

During the ACA open enrollment period, Oct. 1, 2013 to April 15, 2014, 12.8 million persons signed up for health insurance. Over 8 million purchased health insurance policies through the exchanges and 85 percent of those buyers qualified for a tax subsidy to reduce the premium cost. Another 4.8 million enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP programs in states, an 8.2 percent increase in overall Medicaid enrollees nationally.

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.

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