First Edition: April 15, 2010

In today's headlines: The jobless benefits package, including a COBRA subsidy extension and Medicare-doctor pay fix, advances in the Senate. In the House, a committee chairman cancels a hearing on business health care complaints. 

New Long-Term Care Insurance Will Provide Flexible Cash Benefits
Writing for Kaiser Health News, Howard Gleckman explains the CLASS Act, which is a part of the new health reform law: "Millie Toda of Toledo, Ohio, takes cares of her husband Richard, 83, who is severely disabled from Parkinson's Disease. She’s grateful that with the help of government-paid home health aides and adult day care, he's able to continue living at home rather than move to a nursing home" (Kaiser Health News).

Waxman Backs Away From Challenge To Big Corporations On Health Costs
Kaiser Health News staff writer Christopher Weaver writes about the cancellation of an upcoming House Energy and Commerce Hearing and what it might mean: "A new congressional staff report has defused a standoff between Democrats and large corporations over losses the firms anticipate because of the new health overhaul law" (Kaiser Health News).

AP-GfK Poll: Jump In Opposition To Health Care Law
Opposition to President Barack Obama's health care law jumped after he signed it — a clear indication his victory could become a liability for Democrats in this fall's elections (The Associated Press).

Health Law Rolls Back Abortion Rights, Groups Say
Recent fights between anti-abortion groups could leave people with the impression that the new health overhaul law expands women's access to abortion. But abortion-rights groups vehemently disagree (NPR).

New Health Law Expands High-Risk Coverage
When Miles Owyang was born, six weeks premature, the doctors determined that he had a heart ailment. It was nothing serious, just something to monitor (NPR/KQED).

Jobless Benefits Advance In Senate With Republican Votes
The chamber voted 60 to 34 to proceed on a measure that would extend unemployment insurance, subsidies for the COBRA health insurance program and federal flood insurance through May 5. Four Republicans -- Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) and George V. Voinovich (Ohio) -- joined every Democrat present in voting to move the bill forward, making it likely that the measure will pass in a final tally this week (The Washington Post).

Unemployment Package Clears Hurdle
The pending short-term package—which includes extensions of emergency flood insurance, COBRA benefits and the Medicare "doc fix"—has become a thorn in the side of the majority party, which has faced filibusters in each of its last two attempts to move it through the Senate. As a result of this most recent impasse, unemployment benefits expired April 5. The legislation on the floor, however, would cover the gap in coverage and retroactively grant benefits to those who lost them (Politico).

Dems Cancel Hearing On Business Health Care Gripes
Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday canceled a hearing called to hear concerns by AT&T and other corporations about new employer costs in the health care overhaul, saying the companies now believe the overhaul could ease their costs if implemented properly (The Associated Press).

Insurer Sets Out Medicaid Coping Strategies For States
UnitedHealth Group Inc. and its rivals in the managed-care industry are gearing up to go after one of the biggest new markets to be created by the new federal health-care law: the roughly 16 million new people expected to be eligible for insurance coverage under state Medicaid programs (The Wall Street Journal).

List Rates Or Pay, State Tells Insurers
State regulators yesterday demanded that health insurers submit revised April 1 premium rates for tens of thousands of individuals and small businesses by 3 p.m. tomorrow [April 15] or face stiff fines (The Boston Globe).

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