Posted by Kendall Harmon

"As many as 1 in 5 of the people in the top half of the tax credit range might actually end up having income that puts them out of the tax credit range, which means whopping bills at tax time," Brandes said. "We're talking about millions of people here."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 21, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With five months to go until the Affordable Care Act’s 2015 open enrollment season, states that had troubled exchanges during the inaugural sign-up period are scrambling to either upgrade their sites or transition to the federal exchange—all on the taxpayer’s dime.

A new analysis from the Wall Street Journal finds that the cost for Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada and Oregon to overhaul their exchanges or transition to healthcare.gov will be as high as $240 million in total.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenateState Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 4, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many employers had thought they could shift health costs to the government by sending their employees to a health insurance exchange with a tax-free contribution of cash to help pay premiums, but the Obama administration has squelched the idea in a new ruling. Such arrangements do not satisfy the health care law, the administration said, and employers may be subject to a tax penalty of $100 a day — or $36,500 a year — for each employee who goes into the individual marketplace.

The ruling this month, by the Internal Revenue Service, blocks any wholesale move by employers to dump employees into the exchanges.

Under a central provision of the health care law, larger employers are required to offer health coverage to full-time workers, or else the employers may be subject to penalties.

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketTaxes

5 Comments
Posted May 27, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration has quietly adjusted key provisions of its signature healthcare law to potentially make billions of additional taxpayer dollars available to the insurance industry if companies providing coverage through the Affordable Care Act lose money.

The move was buried in hundreds of pages of new regulations issued late last week. It comes as part of an intensive administration effort to hold down premium increases for next year, a top priority for the White House as the rates will be announced ahead of this fall's congressional elections.

Administration officials for months have denied charges by opponents that they plan a "bailout" for insurance companies providing coverage under the healthcare law.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted May 22, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Previous studies suggest that many people will use the new coverage to obtain medical care for conditions that went untreated while they were uninsured.

The new health law reduces special payments to hospitals serving large numbers of low-income patients, on the assumption that many of the uninsured will gain coverage through Medicaid.

But hospital executives are unsure that the savings will materialize. Dr. Campbell said the cuts could create serious financial problems for hospitals treating large numbers of Medicaid patients.

Recent research in other states has raised similar questions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentMedicaidThe National DeficitPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2014 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If realized, the larger move to marketplace coverage would shift more of the cost and responsibility for employee health insurance to workers themselves.

"Once a few notable companies start to depart form their traditional approach to health care benefits, it's likely that a substantial number of firms could quickly follow suit," the report noted. "The result would be a dramatic departure from the legacy employer/employee payroll deduction benefit provision relationship, and could quickly be the modern day equivalent of companies moving from defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution programs."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe U.S. Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 7, 2014 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Seemingly divided, the Supreme Court struggled Tuesday with the question of whether companies have religious rights, a case challenging President Barack Obama's health overhaul and its guarantee of birth control in employees' preventive care plans.

Peppering attorneys with questions in a 90-minute argument, the justices weighed the rights of for-profit companies against the rights of female employees. The discussion ranged to abortion, too, and even whether a female worker could be forced to wear an all-covering burka.

The outcome could turn on the views of Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the decisive vote, as his colleagues appeared otherwise to divide along liberal and conservative lines.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted March 26, 2014 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A divided Supreme Court seemed inclined to agree Tuesday that the religious beliefs of business owners may trump a requirement in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act that they provide their employees with insurance coverage for all types of contraceptives.

With both snow and demonstrators gathering on the sidewalk outside, it was difficult to predict a precise outcome from the spirited 90-minute argument.

But a majority of the justices seemed to agree that the family-owned businesses that objected to the requirement were covered by a federal statute that gives great protection to the exercise of religion. That would mean the government must show the requirement is not a substantial burden on their religious expression, and that there was no less intrusive way to provide contraceptive coverage to female workers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 25, 2014 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A challenge to part of President Obama's healthcare law that hits the Supreme Court on Tuesday could lead to one of the most significant religious freedom rulings in the high court's history.

Four years ago, in their controversial Citizens United decision, the justices ruled that corporations had full free-speech rights in election campaigns. Now, they're being asked to decide whether for-profit companies are entitled to religious liberties.

At issue in Tuesday's oral argument before the court is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide workers a health plan that covers the full range of contraceptives, including morning-after pills and intrauterine devices, or IUDs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 25, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....with less than 10 days left in the 2014 window to apply for coverage with policies through the federal marketplace, lots of people still don’t understand the penalties. Who pays? Who doesn’t? How do you pay? How do you avoid paying?

Toni McKinnon of Columbia stopped by Richland Library’s main branch on Assembly Street last week to find out about the health insurance marketplace because she was worried about having to pay a penalty.

“When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you can’t afford insurance,” McKinnon said, “and you sure can’t afford to pay some kind of penalty.”

She left the library slightly confused and very disappointed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 25, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Health industry officials say ObamaCare-related premiums will double in some parts of the country, countering claims recently made by the administration.

The expected rate hikes will be announced in the coming months amid an intense election year, when control of the Senate is up for grabs. The sticker shock would likely bolster the GOP’s prospects in November and hamper ObamaCare insurance enrollment efforts in 2015.

The industry complaints come less than a week after Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sought to downplay concerns about rising premiums in the healthcare sector. She told lawmakers rates would increase in 2015 but grow more slowly than in the past.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 20, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

About 4.2 million people have signed up for health plans on Obamacare exchanges through the end of February, making it unlikely that the Obama administration will hit lowered enrollment estimates in the program’s first year.

Whatever momentum was building in January appeared to drop off in February, as the number of sign ups fell below the administration's expectations. The numbers -- which were released a day before Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on the Hill -- also show young people aren't enrolling at rates officials had predicted. That group is key because they are generally presumed to be healthier and less costly.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 11, 2014 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For healthcare reform to mature unimpeded, the debates surrounding the Affordable Care Act require concentrated, nonpartisan attention. And for reform to succeed, we also need hospitals to flourish, especially in places with few options.

Every hospital has a story to tell. Lower Oconee Community Hospital will not keep the nation's attention for long, but its absence and that of other hospitals that close will certainly leave profound voids throughout their communities. Rather than ignore these continuing cracks in the foundation of our evolving healthcare system, there is much to be learned from these now-defunct facilities. We would do well to address the underlying problems behind the closures.

As any medical practitioner will tell you, it is wiser to treat the cause today than alleviate the symptoms tomorrow.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentState Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 27, 2014 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The repeated and prolonged phone waits were Sisyphean, the competence and customer service abysmal. When finally she found a plan that looked like it would cover her Sandostatin and other cancer treatments, she called the insurer, Humana...to confirm that it would do so. The enrollment agent said that after she met her deductible, all treatments and medications—including those for her cancer—would be covered at 100%. Because, however, the enrollment agents did not—unbelievable though this may seem—have access to the "coverage formularies" for the plans they were selling, they said the only way to find out in detail what was in the plan was to buy the plan.

[My mother].. is a woman who had an affordable health plan that covered her condition. Our lawmakers weren't happy with that because . . . they wanted plans that were affordable and covered her condition. So they gave her a new one. It doesn't cover her condition and it's completely unaffordable.

Though I'm no expert on ObamaCare (at 10,000 pages, who could be?), I understand that the intention—or at least the rhetorical justification—of this legislation was to provide coverage for those who didn't have it. But there is something deeply and incontestably perverse about a law that so distorts and undermines the free activity of individuals that they can no longer buy and sell the goods and services that keep them alive. ObamaCare made my mother's old plan illegal, and it forced her to buy a new plan that would accelerate her disease and death. She awaits an appeal with her insurer.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenDrugs/Drug AddictionHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

8 Comments
Posted February 24, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama gave a lovely speech at the recent National Prayer Breakfast - and one is reluctant to criticize....

[but]...many in the audience were reaching for their own jaws when Obama got to the liberty section of his speech, according to several people who attended the breakfast. Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, summed up the general reaction of many with whom he spoke: "Stunned."

"Several people said afterward how encouraged they would have been by President Obama's remarks if only his acts reflected what he said," Cromartie told me.

One table was applauding only out of politeness, according to Jerry Pattengale, who was sitting with Steve Green - president of the Hobby Lobby stores that have challenged Obamacare's contraceptive mandate. Pattengale described the experience as "surrealistic."

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 11, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The budget office analysis found that the law, in effect, nudges workers to work less. The insurance expansion reduces the need for a person to take a full-time job just to get coverage. The premium subsidies effectively bolster household income. Higher taxes for richer households also reduce the incentive to work.

But it will also have an effect on businesses, the report said, including by encouraging them to reduce employee hours to avoid the “employer mandate.” The overall demand for labor would not change, in other words, but businesses might arrange their workers’ schedules differently to avoid having to provide them with health care.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 5, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As 2014 dawns, ObamaCare's most disruptive changes to the health care system are just now getting under way. For American businesses, that means a raft of new taxes that will pose devastating consequences for their employees and the broader economy.

Paramount among them is a new tax on health insurers (HIT) that's projected to "hit" them for more than $100 billion over the next decade. ObamaCare's architects intended to eat into the margins of insurers with this levy — and even set it proportional to each company's market share, so that bigger insurers pay more.

But the truth is that firms in every sector will pay it, as insurers will simply pass the tax along to employers in the form of higher premiums.

Indeed, premiums are expected to jump 2% to 3% over the course of this year thanks to this tax. By 2023, they could be about 4% higher.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance

3 Comments
Posted January 14, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 41 employees of Extreme Dodge in Jackson, Mich., are very familiar with trade-ins, but this year they’re learning about trade-offs as they come face to face with the new realities of health care. A few workers say they’re getting a great deal, but most have a severe case of sticker shock.

“I feel like I’ve been taken to the cleaners,” said Neal Campbell, a salesman.

Read it all or watch the video report from NBC.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 2, 2014 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Chapmans acknowledge that they are better off than many people, but they represent a little-understood reality of the Affordable Care Act. While the act clearly benefits those at the low end of the income scale — and rich people can continue to afford even the most generous plans — people like the Chapmans are caught in the uncomfortable middle: not poor enough for help, but not rich enough to be indifferent to cost.

“We are just right over that line,” said Ms. Chapman, who is 54 and does administrative work for a small wealth management firm. Because their plan is being canceled, she is looking for new coverage for her family, which includes Mr. Chapman, 55, a retired fireman who works on a friend’s farm, and her two sons. “That’s an insane amount of money,” she said of their new premium. “How are you supposed to pay that?”

An analysis by The New York Times shows the cost of premiums for people who just miss qualifying for subsidies varies widely across the country and rises rapidly for people in their 50s and 60s. In some places, prices can quickly approach 20 percent of a person’s income.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 21, 2013 at 8:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Healthcare.gov seems to be working better for consumers, relatively, but it is not clear that it works for insurers (in which case it doesn’t work for consumers either, as they are trying to buy insurance). Insurers have long said that they are receiving botched enrolment forms, or 834s, if they receive them at all. On December 2nd health officials said they had fixed a problem that accounted for 80% of the glitches with 834s. But they would not confirm what share of 834s were being bungled, so it is hard to know the fix’s importance.

If the site is working better for consumers, as it seems to be, shoppers may rush to sign up for insurance before Mr Obama’s deadline of December 23rd. They will expect coverage to kick in just a few days later, on January 1st. That gives insurers little time to process 834s, even if they are sent without problems, let alone deal with garbled forms. Mr Obama’s goals for health reform have always been laudable. But the gruelling, technical job of enrolment will be the big story for some time yet.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted December 5, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Companies are bracing for an influx of participants in their insurance plans due to the health-care overhaul, adding to pressure to shift more of the cost of coverage to employees.

Many employers are betting that the Affordable Care Act's requirement that all Americans have health insurance starting in 2014 will bring more people into their plans who have previously opted out. That, along with other rising expenses, is prompting companies to raise workers' premium contributions, steer them toward high-deductible plans and charge them more to cover family members.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 25, 2013 at 11:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While millions of Americans have been left to fend for themselves and go through the frustrating experience of trying to navigate the federal exchange, members of Congress and their aides have all sorts of assistance to help them sort through their options and enroll.

Lawmakers and the employees who work in their “official offices” will receive coverage next year through the small-business marketplace of the local insurance exchange, known as D.C. Health Link, which has staff members close at hand for guidance.

“D.C. Health Link set up shop right here in Congress,” said Eleanor Holmes Norton, the delegate to the House from the nation’s capital.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 20, 2013 at 6:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans' views of the 2010 healthcare law have worsened in recent weeks, with 40% approving and 55% disapproving of it. For most of the past year, Americans have been divided on the law, usually tilting slightly toward disapproval. The now 15-percentage-point gap between disapproval and approval is the largest Gallup has measured in the past year.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General

0 Comments
Posted November 14, 2013 at 12:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Catholic family in Madison that owns a vehicle lighting manufacturing company won an important religious liberty victory in a Nov. 8 ruling handed down by a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Judge Diane Sykes, writing the majority opinion in the 2-1 decision, said that members of the Grote family and Grote Industries, which they own, cannot be compelled to provide abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations and contraceptives to their employees in their company health plan as required under the Affordable Care Act.

The suit challenged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate in the health care law that requires most employers to provide such coverage even if they have moral objections to it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 12, 2013 at 5:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Insurers say the early buyers of health coverage on the nation's troubled new websites are older than expected so far, raising early concerns about the economics of the insurance marketplaces.

If the trend continues, an older, more expensive set of customers could drive up prices for everyone, the insurers say, by forcing them to spread their costs around. "We need a broad range of people to make this work, and we're not seeing that right now," said Heather Thiltgen of Medical Mutual of Ohio, the state's largest insurer by individual customers. "We're seeing the population skewing older."

The early numbers, described to The Wall Street Journal by insurance executives, agents, state officials and actuaries, are still small—partly a consequence of the continuing technical problems plaguing the federally run exchanges, experts say. HealthCare.gov, the federally run marketplace serving 36 states, is suffering serious technical problems that have prevented many people from signing up.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyBlogging & the InternetHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesScience & TechnologyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — the second most influential bench in the land behind the Supreme Court — ruled 2-1 in favor of business owners who are fighting the requirement that they provide their employees with health insurance that covers birth control.

Requiring companies to cover their employees’ contraception, the court ruled, is unduly burdensome for business owners who oppose birth control on religious grounds, even if they are not purchasing the contraception directly.

“The burden on religious exercise does not occur at the point of contraceptive purchase; instead, it occurs when a company’s owners fill the basket of goods and services that constitute a healthcare plan,” Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote on behalf of the court.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife Ethics* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted November 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Palmetto Primary Care Physicians will launch a new in-house health insurance plan next month for its employees because BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina’s rates have become too expensive, the group’s CEO said Tuesday.

The in-house plan will reduce health insurance costs for the practice’s 600 employees by as much as 85 percent per pay period, said spokeswoman Vivian Barajas.

“The savings on my end is over 50 percent,” she said. “It’s kind of like getting a mini-raise for us.”

Read it all (from the front page above the fold of the print edition of the local paper).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 30, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1--A constant battle is underway between insurance companies that do not want to pay any claims, even legitimate ones, and doctors and hospitals incentivised to rip off patients, insurers, and taxpayers with unnecessary surgeries and Medicare fraud.

2--Insurance companies demand massive amounts of paperwork out of rational fear of fraud and unnecessary treatments. Doctors perform for-profit (as opposed to for-patient) procedures that guarantee more explanations and more paperwork.

3--Doctors and hospitals have direct personal contact with patients, but insurance companies don't. In cases where doctors put patients at huge risk with needless procedures and surgeries, it's easy for hospitals and doctors to point their finger at insurance companies. On the other hand, many sincere, honest doctors have difficulty getting patients the care they should have because insurers believe they are getting ripped off by unnecessary procedures, even when they aren't....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentMedicare* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted October 29, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite President Barack Obama’s promise that those who like their health plans will be able to keep it, residents across the country are being notified they must switch to a more comprehensive, and often more expensive, policy that complies with the federal law.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted October 28, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fullerton resident Jennifer Harris thought she had a great deal, paying $98 a month for an individual plan through Health Net Inc. She got a rude surprise this month when the company said it would cancel her policy at the end of this year. Her current plan does not conform with the new federal rules, which require more generous levels of coverage.

Now Harris, a self-employed lawyer, must shop for replacement insurance. The cheapest plan she has found will cost her $238 a month. She and her husband don't qualify for federal premium subsidies because they earn too much money, about $80,000 a year combined.

"It doesn't seem right to make the middle class pay so much more in order to give health insurance to everybody else," said Harris, who is three months pregnant. "This increase is simply not affordable."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe U.S. Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 27, 2013 at 12:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Results display 10 at a time. Most of the contacts require a phone call to schedule an appointment.

It seems you need a navigator to help you find a navigator. No problem.

Take the time to read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We took some bread crumbs and left an entire meal on the table,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “This has been a really bad two weeks for the Republican Party”--From the online version of last night's New York Times
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted October 17, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The massive retirement and health benefits arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, GuideStone Financial Services, has made good on its threat to pivot from advocacy to litigation in defending beleaguered church health plans.

In its first-ever federal lawsuit, GuideStone has partnered with The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and Locke Lord LLP to file a class-action lawsuit against what Becket described as "the federal government's mandate that [GuideStone clients] provide employees with free access to abortion-inducing drugs and devices."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. Government* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

1 Comments
Posted October 17, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...it is still foolish to ignore the leverage that the individual mandate gives opponents of Obamacare. America's healthcare system for the elderly (Medicare, plus Medicaid for nursing-home care) is already edging the country toward generational war because Washington will sooner or later be forced to choose between drastic limitations on coverage in those programs or drastic increases in taxes on the decreasing portion of working Americans. Now we're adding a parallel obligation on younger workers to subsidize healthcare for fiftysomethings.

What to do? The path of least political resistance is to tough it out, hoping younger households will be unable to figure out what's happening, or simply unwilling to throw in their lot with opponents of gay marriage, marijuana reform and the like. Alternatively, we could start paying attention to the building crisis as younger households scramble ever harder for a middle-class living standard.

And none too soon, because the signs of generational conflict are already appearing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicaidMedicareThe National DeficitPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 14, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Asthma — the most common chronic disease that affects Americans of all ages, about 40 million people — can usually be well controlled with drugs. But being able to afford prescription medications in the United States often requires top-notch insurance or plenty of disposable income, and time to hunt for deals and bargains.

The arsenal of medicines in the Hayeses’ kitchen helps explain why. Pulmicort, a steroid inhaler, generally retails for over $175 in the United States, while pharmacists in Britain buy the identical product for about $20 and dispense it free of charge to asthma patients. Albuterol, one of the oldest asthma medicines, typically costs $50 to $100 per inhaler in the United States, but it was less than $15 a decade ago, before it was repatented.

“The one that really blew my mind was the nasal spray,” said Robin Levi, Hannah and Abby’s mother, referring to her $80 co-payment for Rhinocort Aqua, a prescription drug that was selling for more than $250 a month in Oakland pharmacies last year but costs under $7 in Europe, where it is available over the counter.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicaidMedicareThe National Deficit* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the end, we have incentives for insurers not to compete, for customers not to care about price, and for insurers to drive up the cost of care. Not much of a marketplace, is it?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 7, 2013 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Obamacare is not primarily an entitlement program. The entitlement component — the exchange subsidies — will involve about 2 percent of Americans during the first year. (Others will be added to Medicaid, which has been around since 1965.) About 20 million Americans will eventually get subsidized insurance — a check that goes not to the individual but to insurance companies. The remaining 170 million Americans will not experience Obama­care as a sugary treat but as a series of complex regulatory changes that may make their existing insurance more costly, less generous and less secure.

The main problem with Obamacare is not its addictive generosity; it is its poor, unsustainable design. Its finances depend on forcing large numbers of young and healthy people to buy insurance — yet it makes their insurance more costly and securing coverage less urgent. (Because you can get coverage during each year’s enrollment period at the same price whether you’re healthy or sick, the incentive to buy coverage when healthy is much diminished.)

Heavy insurance regulations will lead some employers to restructure their plans, dump employees into the public exchanges or make greater use of part-time workers. In order to meet a few worthy goals — helping the poor buy insurance and covering preexisting conditions — Obamacare seems destined to destabilize much of our current health system.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 6, 2013 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even though its most virulent critics raise the spectre of “Canadian-style” health care, “Obamacare” does little to change the enduring differences between the two health care system. What, exactly, does “Obamacare” look like compared to Canada?...

Not cost containment: The sharpest critics of Obamacare argue it does little to address the fundamental challenge of cost control. The new law includes a review of Medicare reimbursement and the expansion of Accountable Care Organizations to reward cost-effective care. But it doesn’t grapple in a systematic fashion with the overall inefficiencies in health care delivery and financing, the administrative burden of multiple payers, providers and plans, and the cost pressures of defensive medicine. Governments in Canada know that health care is a searing financial responsibility, but they have at their disposal cost containment measures – monopoly fee negotiations with providers, global budgets for hospitals – that remain unfathomable in the American context.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted October 3, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Consumers seeking more information on their new options under the Affordable Care Act were met with long delays, error messages and a largely non-working federal insurance exchange and call center Tuesday morning.

Heavy Internet traffic and system problems plagued the launch of the health insurance exchanges, a key pillar of President Barack Obama’s health care law. Some of the issues appeared to subside just after 12 p.m. Central time, with some users reporting success in viewing new insurance products offered in Illinois as part of the law.

But others continued to have problems into Tuesday afternoon. For most of Tuesday, attempts to log on to the system were met with error messages: "We have a lot of visitors on our site right now, and we're working to make your experience here better. Please wait here until we send you to the log-in page. Thank you for your patience."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceThe U.S. Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted October 1, 2013 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The federal government on Sunday morning barreled toward its first shutdown in 17 years after the Republican-run House, choosing a hard line, voted to attach a one-year delay of President Obama’s health care law and a repeal of a tax to pay for it to legislation to keep the government running.

The votes, just past midnight, followed an often-angry debate, with members shouting one another down on the House floor. Democrats insisted that Republicans refused to accept their losses in 2012, were putting contempt for the president over the good of the country and would bear responsibility for a shutdown. Republicans said they had the public on their side and were acting to protect Americans from a harmful and unpopular law that had already proved a failure.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicaidMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted September 29, 2013 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Health insurance under Obamacare will cost individuals at least $2,988 a year on average, a price that Republican opponents may target as out-of-reach for many Americans who don’t qualify for U.S. subsidies.

While the $249 monthly payment is intended to be discounted through tax credits, less than half of people now buying insurance on their own may get that help....

The law’s long-term success “will depend on the changes that are made over the next couple of years to address the affordability issue,” said Brian Wright, an insurance analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co. in New York. “If you have modifications that can help address those issues, then it will ultimately be successful. If not, then it’s an open question.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance

5 Comments
Posted September 26, 2013 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Administrators at the Cleveland Clinic announced on Wednesday that the health care giant would be cutting as much as $300 million from its 2014 budget, and that the cuts will likely include layoffs.

"Health care reform has really changed things, and the burden of cost is going to be falling on patients," spokeswoman Eileen Shiel told The Plain Dealer. "We want to make sure we can keep care affordable."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

1 Comments
Posted September 20, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Under the Affordable Care Act, more insurance plans are expected to start covering the cost of obesity treatments, including counseling on diet and exercise as well as medications and surgery. These are treatments that most insurance companies don't cover now.

This move is a response to the increasing number of health advocates and medical groups that say obesity should be classified as a disease.

Not everyone thinks this is a good idea. But this summer, the American Medical Association determined that . They followed in the footsteps of the , a health advocacy group that called obesity a disease back in 2008.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 16, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The next big movement in Massachusetts health care may come not from the state’s world-famous hospitals or its cutting-edge research labs, but from houses of worship.

Stepping up pressure on the health care industry to control spiraling costs, which are crimping family and government budgets, the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization will host a forum next Tuesday at Temple Israel in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area to grill hospital and insurance leaders about the affordability of medical care.

Top executives of major hospital groups, such as Partners HealthCare System, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Steward Health Care System, and leading insurers, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Tufts Health Plan, have accepted invitations to the event, which is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralState Government* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

5 Comments
Posted September 13, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite promises by President Obama that people can keep the insurance they have once Obamacare is in full effect, millions will have to upgrade their policies to meet the benefit standards laid out by the Affordable Care Act. The measure will be in full swing this January.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 24, 2013 at 10:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Less than two months before the health insurance exchanges open nationwide, more Americans disapprove (49%) than approve (41%) of the Affordable Care Act. An additional 11% have no opinion. As this landmark legislation enters the next phase in its implementation process, it remains divisive. With the exception of a bounce likely caused by President Barack Obama's re-election in November 2012, Americans have been more disapproving than approving of the healthcare law.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A leaked memo from Forever 21 said it’s reducing “a number of full-time non management positions,” including stock associates, sales associates, store maintenance associates, accessory specialists and cashiers. Effective on Sunday, they would have been reclassified as part-time employees, with the memo adding their hours will not exceed 29.5 hours per week. Those employees’ existing medical, dental, vision and other voluntary plans will end on Aug. 31 and they won’t be accruing paid time off.

Ahead of the Affordable Care Act mandate requiring companies with at least 50 employees to provide health care coverage to full-time employees (anyone working at least 30 hours a week), Forever 21′s latest move has ignited a heated debate on social media.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

6 Comments
Posted August 19, 2013 at 4:37 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That sets up one of the recurring problems in health-care policy, which is that the more you do to control costs, the more people will hate you. Insurers found this out in the 1990s, when HMOs managed to save a lot of money without doing any measurable harm to care, but the American people loathed them for it. Various provisions in the Affordable Care Act — or any serious cost-control effort — will end up proving it again.

This will present a useful test for seeing who’s serious about controlling health-care costs. Conservative economists, for instance, almost universally hate the fact that employer-provided health benefits aren’t taxed, and that public-sector workers have bargained so aggressively for generous benefits. John McCain’s 2008 health plan relied on ending the employer deduction entirely and converting it to a capped deduction for individuals — which is a much more violent version of this kind of change.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 6, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the near future, he said, United Methodist annual conferences may be able to reduce health coverage costs by allowing local churches to send lower-paid clergy and lay employees to the exchanges.

However, [Andrew Q.] Hendren warns that conferences also should be wary of sending too many church employees onto the exchanges or they may have too small a pool of people to buy affordable insurance.

“The conferences will have to balance that potential savings with the risk to the remaining smaller plan made up of a few large churches and small churches with higher paid clergy and lay employees,” he said. “The smaller plan may be less cost-effective, and appointment frictions may develop as local churches may prefer premium tax-credit-eligible clergy over higher paid clergy — two concerns in a connectional system like ours.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedStewardship* Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance

0 Comments
Posted July 12, 2013 at 4:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The White House on Tuesday delayed for one year a requirement under the Affordable Care Act that businesses provide health insurance to employees, a fresh setback for President Obama’s landmark health-care overhaul as it enters a critical phase.

The provision, commonly known as the employer mandate, calls for businesses with 50 or more workers to provide affordable quality insurance to workers or pay a $2,000 fine per employee. Business groups had objected to the provision, which now will take effect in January 2015.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralOffice of the President

0 Comments
Posted July 3, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Healthy consumers could see insurance rates double or even triple when they look for individual coverage under the federal health law later this year, while the premiums paid by sicker people are set to become more affordable, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of coverage to be sold on the law's new exchanges.

The exchanges, the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's health-care law, look likely to offer few if any of the cut-rate policies that healthy people can now buy, according to the Journal's analysis. At the same time, the top prices look to be within reach for many people who previously faced sky-high premiums because of chronic illnesses or who couldn't buy insurance at all.

Read it all (another link may be found there).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 2, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost a third of 32 hospitals and health systems involved in an experiment aimed at changing the way medical providers are paid may exit the program, a potential threat to the Affordable Care Act’s ambitious cost-saving goals.

Depending on the number of patients involved, “it really shows a critical cost-containment approach in the Affordable Care Act is running into real problems,” said Robert Blendon, a health-policy professor at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, in a telephone interview today.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. Government* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 1, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The price of the Charleston Crab House’s $26.99 “World Famous Crab House Crab Pot” could go up next year, but not because of the price of crabs or a potential seafood shortage. It’s about health care.

John Keener, who owns both Charleston Crab House locations, on James Island and on Meeting Street, is one of many Charleston restaurateurs trying to make sense of the federal Affordable Care Act and how his business will be affected.

Two things are certain: Keener will need to offer his employees health insurance starting in 2014, and he will likely pass the associated costs of that coverage onto his customers.

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* South Carolina

4 Comments
Posted June 14, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sandra Duck thinks she’s the victim of an undeclared Medicaid boycott. And she’s probably right.

When her artificial right hip became infected with the superbug MRSA in late 2009, Dr. Dale Mitchum, a general surgeon, drained, cleaned and closed the infected area. But when the infection returned in early 2010, Mitchum knew Duck needed another hip replacement surgery, which he couldn’t perform. He tried to find an orthopedic surgeon who would operate. More than a year later, he’s still trying.

“I cannot find a living soul that will touch her,” he said recently. “And I’ve tried everywhere, from Tallahassee to Pensacola.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentMedicaid* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

5 Comments
Posted May 15, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many part-timers are facing a double whammy from President Obama's Affordable Care Act.

The law requires large employers offering health insurance to include part-time employees working 30 hours a week or more. But rather than provide healthcare to more workers, a growing number of employers are cutting back employee hours instead.

The result: Not only will these workers earn less money, but they'll also miss out on health insurance at work.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted May 3, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My read of the evidence is that the Affordable Care Act will have a much tougher first year than was initially anticipated but it won’t be the catastrophe that Republicans hope. The exceptions will be a handful of states where Republican governors have purposefully made it a catastrophe, but that’s likely to make the Republican governors look bad, particularly if the law is working smoothly in states that have tried to make it a success.

Conservative commentary on the law, with its continuous predictions of explosive premium hikes (and continuous omissions of the offsetting subsidies) and gleeful celebration anytime anything looks to be going wrong, is risking the mistake that the Obama administration made early on with the sequester. When the predictions of pain and chaos didn’t instantly come true, the whole narrative shifted in an instant.

Republicans have done a very good job prepping the country for the pain of Obamacare. They’ve not done a good job prepping the country for the people who will be helped by Obamacare.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentMedicarePolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 21, 2013 at 2:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, one of the health reform law's chief authors, says he’s worried about a “huge train wreck coming down” if the Obama administration doesn’t improve its public outreach about the legislation.

Baucus, a Montana Democrat who is up for reelection in 2014, sharply criticized the administration’s outreach efforts in a budget hearing on Wednesday. He told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that people and businesses “have no idea what to do, what to expect” from the law.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentMedicarePolitics in GeneralSenateState Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

13 Comments
Posted April 18, 2013 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Yummy Mummy, a little boutique on New York's Upper East Side, has suddenly become a health care provider/online superstore. The company has been hiring like crazy, and just opened an online call center and a warehouse in Illinois. Yummy Mummy even hired somebody to talk to customers' health insurance companies.

And new moms now seem more likely to splurge on fancy new breast pumps. Caroline Shany, a Yummy Mummy customer, spent her own money to buy a breast pump for her first baby. She may buy another one now because insurance will pick up the tab.

"Why not?" she says.

Read or much better listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebatePhilosophy* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinancePolitics in General

0 Comments
Posted April 6, 2013 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new fight is brewing over health insurance companies letting millions of Americans renew their current coverage for another year — and thereby avoid changes under the federal healthcare law.

That may offer a short-term benefit for certain consumers and shield some of those individual policyholders from potentially steep rate increases. But critics say this maneuver could undermine government efforts to remake the insurance market next year and keep premiums affordable overall.

At issue is a little-known loophole in President Obama's landmark legislation that enables health insurers to extend existing policies for nearly all of 2014. This runs contrary to the widespread belief that all health insurance must immediately comply with new federal rules starting Jan. 1, when most provisions of the law take effect.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralState Government

2 Comments
Posted April 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Unable to meet tight deadlines in the new health care law, the Obama administration is delaying parts of a program intended to provide affordable health insurance to small businesses and their employees — a major selling point for the health care legislation.

The law calls for a new insurance marketplace specifically for small businesses, starting next year. But in most states, employers will not be able to get what Congress intended: the option to provide workers with a choice of health plans. They will instead be limited to a single plan.

This choice option, already available to many big businesses, was supposed to become available to small employers in January. But administration officials said they would delay it to 2015 in the 33 states where the federal government will be running insurance markets known as exchanges. And they will delay the requirement for other states as well.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General

0 Comments
Posted April 1, 2013 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Jan. 30, the Obama administration unveiled a long list of exemptions from the ObamaCare insurance mandate. Flaws and contradictions in the law will cause millions of people to be uninsured. The administration also estimated that the cheapest family plan will cost $20,000 by 2016. This new information indicates that the Affordable Care Act is failing in both goals: making insurance affordable and covering the uninsured.

Children are the biggest victims. The hastily drafted law, passed before it was read, overlooked them.

The law says that beginning in 2014, employers with 50 or more full-time employees must offer coverage or pay a penalty. The law's sloppy drafting left it unclear whether that meant worker's coverage or family coverage.

Read it all from IBD.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate

4 Comments
Posted February 7, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thus far, courts have avoided the issue of a corporation's religious rights, Friedman says. In some cases, judges have ruled that plaintiffs have not demonstrated "substantial burden," simply because it's easier than weighing in on the First Amendment and RFRA rights of companies, he said.

If one or more of the cases against the employer contraceptive mandate is successfully appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, justices will face a tricky set of intertwined issues: whether or not a corporation can practice religion; whether or not a corporation has the same religious freedom as its owners; and whether or not being required to cover contraceptives violates a corporation's—or its owners'—religious freedom.

"It's one of the most difficult legal questions I've seen, in terms of all the issues that are intertwined," said Friedman, who runs the Religion Clause blog and wrote about the issue last month. "There really haven't been any [courts] that have said corporations themselves have religious rights. They've either avoided the issue [by finding no substantial burden] or said the corporation can assert the owners' rights."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life

1 Comments
Posted February 4, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Particularly vulnerable to the high rates are small businesses and people who do not have employer-provided insurance and must buy it on their own.

In California, Aetna is proposing rate increases of as much as 22 percent, Anthem Blue Cross 26 percent and Blue Shield of California 20 percent for some of those policy holders, according to the insurers’ filings with the state for 2013. These rate requests are all the more striking after a 39 percent rise sought by Anthem Blue Cross in 2010 helped give impetus to the law, known as the Affordable Care Act, which was passed the same year and will not be fully in effect until 2014.

In other states, like Florida and Ohio, insurers have been able to raise rates by at least 20 percent for some policy holders. The rate increases can amount to several hundred dollars a month.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe U.S. Government

3 Comments
Posted January 7, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is time, instead, to address one aspect of American exceptionalism of which I am not proud. We are the only advanced nation where medical bankruptcies are routine - as are deaths due to lack of access to proper health care.

And the worst part of the latter is the fact that mental health care is particularly unavailable to anyone who is not wealthy, or lucky enough to have mental health coverage through her or his insurance.

Persons with mental health problems need to be identified and helped....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebatePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal FinanceThe U.S. Government* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 19, 2012 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Your medical plan is facing an unexpected expense, so you probably are, too. It’s a new, $63-per-head fee to cushion the cost of covering people with pre-existing conditions under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

The charge, buried in a recent regulation, works out to tens of millions of dollars for the largest companies, employers say. Most of that is likely to be passed on to workers.

Employee benefits lawyer Chantel Sheaks calls it a “sleeper issue” with significant financial consequences, particularly for large employers.

Read it all from the front page of yesterday's local paper.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe U.S. Government

0 Comments
Posted December 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For more than a year, politicians have been fighting over whether to raise taxes on high-income people. They rarely mention that affluent Americans will soon be hit with new taxes adopted as part of the 2010 health care law.

The new levies, which take effect in January, include an increase in the payroll tax on wages and a tax on investment income, including interest, dividends and capital gains. The Obama administration proposed rules to enforce both last week.

Affluent people are much more likely than low-income people to have health insurance, and now they will, in effect, help pay for coverage for many lower-income families. Among the most affluent fifth of households, those affected will see tax increases averaging $6,000 next year, economists estimate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. Government

0 Comments
Posted December 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For decades, doctors in picturesque Boise, Idaho, were part of a tight-knit community, freely referring patients to the specialists or hospitals of their choice and exchanging information about the latest medical treatments.

But that began to change a few years ago, when the city’s largest hospital, St. Luke’s Health System, began rapidly buying physician practices all over town, from general practitioners to cardiologists to orthopedic surgeons.

Today, Boise is a medical battleground....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance

5 Comments
Posted December 1, 2012 at 8:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the first time in its nearly 100-year history, Orlando Health is reducing its workforce by up to 400 positions starting immediately, hospital officials announced this morning.

The elimination of 300 to 400 jobs will occur in two phases, and represents a 2- to 3-percent decrease in the system's 16,000 employees, said Orlando Health spokeswoman Kena Lewis. The reductions affect all departments and all eight of its hospitals, including Orlando Regional Medical Center and Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.

The first wave of employees affected by the "labor expense reduction" portion of the initiative received their notices Friday, said Lewis. The next wave of downsizing will happen after the first of the year.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

4 Comments
Posted November 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an experiment apparently aimed at keeping down the cost of health-care reform, Orlando-based Darden Restaurants has stopped offering full-time schedules to many hourly workers in at least a few Olive Gardens, Red Lobsters and LongHorn Steakhouses...In an emailed statement, Darden said staffing changes are "just one of the many things we are evaluating to help us address the cost implications health care reform will have on our business. There are still many unanswered questions regarding the health care regulations and we simply do not have enough information to make any decisions at this time."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance

10 Comments
Posted October 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Estimates of the number of businesses eligible to take the tax credit have ranged from 1.4 million to 4 million companies, but in May, the Government Accountability Office reported that only 170,300 firms actually claimed the credit in 2010. Of these, only a small fraction, 17 percent, were able to claim the whole credit....

So why has the credit fallen short of expectations? The G.A.O. concluded that the credit was too small to sway business owners. Moreover, it said, claiming the credit is a task so complicated as to discourage many companies from trying.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe U.S. Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 29, 2012 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Saying there are “troubling signs” of abuse in the way hospitals use electronic records to bill for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, the Obama administration warned in a letter to hospital associations Monday that it would not tolerate what it called “gaming the system” and vowed to vigorously prosecute doctors and hospitals implicated in fraud.

The strongly worded letter, signed by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said that “electronic health records have the potential to save money and save lives.” But the letter continued: “There are troubling indications that some providers are using this technology to game the system, possibly to obtain payments to which they are not entitled. False documentation of care is not just bad patient care; it’s illegal.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. Government

0 Comments
Posted September 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Would an expansion of Medicaid under the federal health-care law help or hinder South Carolina’s finances? Depends who you ask.

Strains of disagreement are building against the backdrop of a campaign by Gov. Nikki Haley’s administration to build opposition to an expansion.

Generally opposed by Republicans and favored by Democrats, the debate over whether to expand the Medicaid program in the states is set to play out in many statehouses across the country. That’s because a June Supreme Court ruling made the extension of coverage optional.

In the Palmetto State, advocates for the expansion contend Haley’s administration is emphasizing the costs and underselling offsetting economic benefits of an expansion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetPolitics in GeneralState Government* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted September 24, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act—or "Obamacare," as some have dubbed it—has advocates of faith-based nonprofits concerned about potential unintended "collateral damage" to their bottom lines.

The worry: Chief Justice John Roberts's nod to lawmakers' wide discretion to impose taxes—and to condition taxes to influence behavior—could pose threats both to charities' tax exemptions and to donors' tax deductions.

"It's an issue that's definitely on our radar," said Rhett Butler, government liaison for the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture

0 Comments
Posted September 5, 2012 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As health care costs continue to increase, employers are looking for ways to cut costs, such as reducing spouse and dependent coverage in 2013, says a study out today.

While the total cost of health care is predicted to rise 5.3%, to $11,507 per employee in 2013, the increase is slowing, says the new Towers Watson survey of 440 midsize and large companies. This year, in comparison, the cost is expected to increase 5.9%.

"Recently employers have been increasing employee premiums, although they can only push the envelope so far," says Paul Fronstin, director of the Health Research Program at the Employee Benefit Research Institute. If healthy workers drop out of the plan, self-insured employers might lose money, he says.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

3 Comments
Posted August 28, 2012 at 5:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Are you having trouble finding a doctor who will see you? If not, give it another year and a half. A doctor shortage is on its way.

Most provisions of the Obama health law kick in on Jan. 1, 2014. Within the decade after that, an additional 30 million people are expected to acquire health plans—and if the economic studies are correct, they will try to double their use of the health-care system.

Meanwhile, the administration never seems to tire of reminding seniors that they are entitled to a free annual checkup. Its new campaign is focused on women. Thanks to health reform, they are being told, they will have access to free breast and pelvic exams and even free contraceptives. Once ObamaCare fully takes effect, all of us will be entitled to a long list of preventive services—with no deductible or copayment.

Here is the problem: The health-care system can't possibly deliver on the huge increase in demand for primary-care services.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted August 15, 2012 at 4:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the Inland Empire, an economically depressed region in Southern California, President Obama’s health care law is expected to extend insurance coverage to more than 300,000 people by 2014. But coverage will not necessarily translate into care: Local health experts doubt there will be enough doctors to meet the area’s needs. There are not enough now.

Other places around the country, including the Mississippi Delta, Detroit and suburban Phoenix, face similar problems. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed. And that number will more than double by 2025, as the expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of baby boomers drive up demand for care. Even without the health care law, the shortfall of doctors in 2025 would still exceed 100,000.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

4 Comments
Posted July 30, 2012 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They kept their decision confidential. Not one leak, Not one semi-sliver of a little detail released prematurely. Lips sealed.

It has a role, and, yes, it can be done--even today. Confidentiality, secrets, limits that should not be breached--these things matter.

Hooray for them--it is one of the reasons there is so much surprise.

Say what you want about the actual decision, but this aspect of its handling deserves real praise--KSH.

Filed under: * By Kendall* Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues

13 Comments
Posted June 29, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the roughly 50 million uninsured Americans, the court's ruling has the biggest implications. For the majority of citizens who currently have insurance, the ruling could mean some important changes as well, such as to their health plans or their personal tax rates.

Many less affluent Americans who do not qualify for Medicaid may now gain health coverage as the program is expanded.

For others among the ranks of some 50 million uninsured Americans, the law creates a system of tax subsidies – designed to help more Americans afford health coverage – plus the mandate to buy insurance or pay a fine.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance

13 Comments
Posted June 28, 2012 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues

15 Comments
Posted June 28, 2012 at 9:42 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The debate over the federal contraceptive mandate and the fight for religious freedom is not about “a particular policy choice” but is “a debate over the role of religion in American society and the freedom and integrity of the Catholic Church’s mission,” the head of the Knights of Columbus said June 22.

“It’s not an ordinary national debate. There’s a great deal at stake here,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson told Catholic News Service in an interview in Indianapolis. It is an attempt “to redefine the role of religion in America,” he added.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted June 28, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If you thought Monday’s immigration decision was confusing, wait until the Supreme Court weighs in on health care Thursday. Court-watchers expect a flurry of opinions, dissents and concurring judgments — a confusing outcome for a complex law.

When that happens, all of Washington — and the law’s supporters and opponents throughout the country — will be scrambling for the quickest way to find out the law’s fate.

There are four questions before the court. They are....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President

0 Comments
Posted June 28, 2012 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Supreme Court is set this week to decide the politically charged constitutional clashes between President Obama and Republicans over his healthcare law and his immigration enforcement policy.

By most accounts, the justices must make a stark, clear choice either to endorse Obama's policies — including the mandate for all to have health insurance — or to strike them down as flatly unconstitutional.

But the justices could rule in unexpected ways that would allow both sides to claim a victory.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

0 Comments
Posted June 25, 2012 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a continuing study, an all-star group of researchers following Ms. [Wendy] Parris and tens of thousands of other Oregonians has found that gaining insurance makes people feel healthier, happier and more financially stable. The insured also spend more on health care, dashing some hopes of preventive-medicine advocates who have argued that coverage can save money — by keeping people out of emergency rooms, for instance. In Oregon, the newly insured spent an average of $778 a year, or 25 percent, more on health care than those who did not win insurance.

For the nation, the lesson appears to be mixed. Expanded coverage brings large benefits to many people, but it is also more likely to increase a stretched federal government’s long-term budget responsibilities.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in GeneralState Government

1 Comments
Posted June 24, 2012 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an unexpected blow to the Obama administration and a major boon for America's Catholic bishops, the influential Catholic Health Association on Friday (June 15) rejected White House proposals aimed at easing faith-based objections to the contraception mandate.

“The more we learn, the more it appears that the … approaches for both insured and self-insured plans would be unduly cumbersome and would be unlikely to adequately meet the religious liberty concerns of all of our members and other Church ministries,” Sister Carol Keehan and leaders of the CHA said in a five-page response to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 18, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last September, the U.S. bishops struggled to raise awareness about an “interim final rule” for co-pay-free contraception, approved by the Obama administration in August 2011.

Now, in the wake of 43 Catholic groups filing 12 lawsuits across the nation on May 21, recent polling confirms that the controversial federal rule, approved Jan. 20, has emerged as an election issue. Public opposition has mounted against the controversial rule, while partisan forces and their media allies argue that Catholic leaders are “carrying water” for the GOP.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted May 31, 2012 at 6:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Steven Wagner, the president of QEV Analytics, a polling firm that recently conducted a survey for The Catholic Association, said religion could emerge as a sleeper issue in the election: “Everyone says this election is about the economy. I can see the issue of religious liberty being what decides the race. If Obama continues to lose Catholics by the margin the Pew poll suggests, that means he could lose the key swing states of Florida, Ohio, Colorado and Iowa.”

Losses in those states could cost Obama the White House, and the states are likely aware of that fact. Wagner noted the administration will likely try to be careful and avoid provoking Catholic activists before the election.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President

0 Comments
Posted April 24, 2012 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I will admit that the HHS contraception rule does ask these Catholic clerics to sacrifice something. But what is this sacrifice? Simply to allow the women who work for their organizations to be offered contraceptive coverage by their insurers. To refuse this sacrifice is not to uphold civil society. It is to refuse to participate in it.

Toward the end of their statement, the 15 bishops who signed this statement called on every U.S. Catholic to join in a “great national campaign” on behalf of religious liberty. More specifically, they called for a “Fortnight for Freedom” concluding with the Fourth of July when U.S. dioceses can celebrate both religious liberty and martyrs who have died for the Catholic cause.

As Independence Day approaches, I have a prediction. I predict that rank-and-file American Catholics will ignore this call.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

5 Comments
Posted April 17, 2012 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite differences over contraception, evangelical leaders have fallen in step with Catholic bishops over what they see as federal compulsion to provide services against their conscience.

In 2011, the Obama administration ruled that religious institutions would be required to provide employees with free contraceptive coverage. President Obama said in February that insurers would be responsible for paying for the contraception, but those who opposed the new rule suggested insurers could simply raise premiums to cover the cost.

Searching for strategies, some evangelicals filed lawsuits. Others followed Catholic bishops' lead, releasing letters to be read in churches.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic

1 Comments
Posted April 16, 2012 at 3:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pastors and members of several Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregations will gather Tuesday to show support for the Catholic Church's opposition to federal Health and Human Services department rules requiring many religious institutions to provide employees with health insurance that includes contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.

“We see this HHS contraceptive mandate as an attack on freedom of religion,” said Christopher Barnekov, a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church on Barr Street who is helping to organize the event.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife Ethics* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted April 16, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama's signature health reform law will add as much as $527 billion to federal deficits over the next decade, not cut them as advertised, according to a report released Tuesday.

The Affordable Care Act will add as much as $1.2 trillion to federal spending between 2012 and 2021, the report also finds. Charles Blahous, who serves as one of Medicare's trustees, wrote the report, published by George Mason University's Mercatus Center.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicareThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate

2 Comments
Posted April 12, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted April 11, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fundamentally, they noted, the HHS contraceptive mandate "still forces us to act against our conscience and teaching," particularly because the new proposal does not modify the inclusion of sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortifacients, in the "preventive services" mandate.

"Those falling outside the government definition of 'religious employer' will be forced by the government to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions," the bishops said. "Whatever funding and administrative mechanisms are ultimately chosen, it remains that many deeply religious institutions and individuals will be forbidden to provide even their own employees -- or, in the case of educational institutions, their own students -- with health coverage consistent with their values."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

8 Comments
Posted April 4, 2012 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the mandate falls, the rest of the law stands.

The mandate takes down the Affordable Care Act’s insurance reforms.

If the individual mandate falls, so does the entire Affordable Care Act

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues

2 Comments
Posted March 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Check it out; it was in the mid 30's when I checked this morning.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues

3 Comments
Posted March 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read and/or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2012 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even before the Obama administration’s top lawyer could get three minutes into his defense of the mandate, the justices accused the government of pushing for excessive authority to require Americans to buy anything.

“Are there any limits,” asked Justice Anthony Kennedy, one of three conservative justices who are seen as critical to the fate of the unprecedented insurance mandate.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.suggested the government might require Americans to buy cell phones to be ready for emergencies. And Justice Antonin Scalia asked if the government might require Americans to buy broccoli or automobiles.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues

13 Comments
Posted March 27, 2012 at 10:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The challengers contend that Congress, in order to pay for near-universal health care coverage, has for the first time required individual citizens to buy a commercial product they may not want.

"The reason we want people who are young and relatively healthy to buy health insurance is not because we are terribly concerned that those people are going to get unhealthy and end up in the emergency room," says Paul Clement, who is representing the states. "What we really want is those people to be part of the risk pool and contribute their premiums so that we can afford to pay for the health care for the other folks."

The government counters that health care is different because everybody will receive medical care at some point.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues

12 Comments
Posted March 27, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hitherto, most attention has been given to whether Congress, under its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce, can coerce individuals into engaging in commerce by buying health insurance. Now, the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, has focused on this fact: The individual mandate is incompatible with centuries of contract law. This is so because a compulsory contract is an oxymoron.

The brief, the primary authors of which are IJ’s Elizabeth Price Foley and Steve Simpson, said Obamacare is the first time Congress has used its power to regulate commerce to produce a law “from which there is no escape.” And “coercing commercial transactions” — compelling individuals to sign contracts with insurance companies — “is antithetical to the foundational principle of mutual assent that permeated the common law of contracts at the time of the founding and continues to do so today.”

Throughout the life of this nation, it has been understood that for a contract to be valid, the parties to it must mutually assent to its terms — without duress.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance

18 Comments
Posted March 26, 2012 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The three days of Supreme Court arguments that start Monday on the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law will be a legal marathon, and the lawyers involved have been training.

Last week, there were so many of the mock arguments that lawyers call moot courts that they threatened to exhaust something that had never been thought in short supply: Washington lawyers willing to pretend to be Supreme Court justices.

The problem, said Paul D. Clement, who represents the 26 states challenging the law, was not just the length of the arguments the court will hear, but the variety of topics to be addressed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General

0 Comments
Posted March 26, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The centerpiece of the case against Obamacare is the requirement that everyone buy some kind of health insurance or face stiff penalties--the so-called individual mandate. It is a way of moving toward universal coverage without a government-run or single-payer system. It might surprise Americans to learn that another advanced industrial country, one with a totally private health care system, made precisely the same choice nearly 20 years ago: Switzerland. The lessons from Switzerland and other countries can't resolve the constitutional issues, but they suggest the inevitability of some version of Obamacare....

Twenty years ago, Switzerland had a system very similar to America's--private insurers, private providers--with very similar problems. People didn't buy insurance but ended up in emergency rooms, insurers screened out people with pre-existing conditions, and costs were rising fast. The country came to the conclusion that to make health care work, everyone had to buy insurance.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicareThe National DeficitPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaTaiwanEuropeSwitzerland

21 Comments
Posted March 22, 2012 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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