States, Courts, Employers Contend With Health Law's Requirements

News outlets follow developments on health insurance exchanges, requirements for mental health parity and employer coverage and assess still-pending lawsuits

Politico: Republicans Feud Over Obamacare
At issue are the state-based health care exchanges, set to start in 2014, which will create new marketplaces for people who can’t get insurance elsewhere. If states don’t declare their plans to set one up by Dec. 14, the Department of Health and Human Services will begin doing it for them. So Republicans face a choice: Create their own and appear to endorse a federal government health care takeover, or allow Washington to take control (Epstein and Cheney, 11/30).

Kaiser Health News: Analysis: Health Exchanges And The Litigation Landscape
If you think that the Affordable Care Act has surmounted all of the major legal attacks its opponents could come up with, think again. Critics of the federal health law have only begun to fight, although most of their battles are decidedly uphill (Taylor, 11/29).

The Associated Press: Pay A Penalty? Biz Owners Face Health Care Dilemma
Rose Wang looks at her staff of 70 employees and wonders if she’ll have to lay off some of them to comply with the health care law. The owner of Binary Group Inc., an information technology firm based in Alexandria, Va., is one of many small business owners who will be required to provide health insurance for her staffers under a provision of the law that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. ... Right now, no one knows how much the insurance will cost, and owners aren't sure if they'd be better off not buying it and paying a government penalty of $2,000 per worker (Rosenberg, 11/29).

Medscape: Dentistry Could Be Shaped By New Affordable Care Act Rules
Eleven million adults may drop their dental insurance as a result of a requirement in the affordable care act that they buy dental benefits for their children, the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) is warning. The changes could come about as a result of rules published online November 26 by the US Department of Health and Human Services to define what "essential benefits" health insurance plans must include when sold to individuals or small groups, such as companies with fewer than 50 employees (Harrison, 11/29).

Stateline: Parity For Behavioral Health Coverage Delayed By Lack Of Federal Rules
[The 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Act] requires insurers to cover mental illness and substance abuse treatment on an equal basis with physical ailments. The law, which passed with substantial bipartisan support, was supposed to eliminate two-tiered systems for co-pays, deductibles or treatment limitations. The Obama administration's Affordable Care Act will vastly extend the reach of the 2008 law. The older law does not require health insurance plans to offer behavioral health coverage, although if they do it must be on par with benefits provided for medical and surgical care. But the ACA does require that all health plans sold on the soon-to-be-created state health insurance exchanges eventually offer mental health coverage (Ollove, 11/30).

ABC: Voters Come Clean on Health Care
Voters who backed President Obama and those who supported Mitt Romney just can’t seem to agree on key health care issues, a new study suggests. But they’ll have to compromise if they want change in Washington. The study, which drew on the combined data of three pre-election and exit polls, found that Obama supporters were three times more likely to say that health care was the most important problem facing the country (Nathan, 11/29).

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