Can Rebate Checks Really Change Public Perception About The Health Law?

National Journal reports that although the checks are one of the earliest, tangible benefits for people with insurance, they are unlikely to alter the public view -- in part because they have gone to only about 10 percent of households. 

National Journal: Will Health Rebate Checks Help Obama?
For many insured Americans, the first tangible benefit of President Obama's signature health care law recently landed in their inbox: a check from their insurance company. Some commentators this summer predicted the mailing of the checks could be a turning point for the controversial health law and perhaps give a political boost to Obama in his reelection bid. "There are a variety of incremental ways that people are learning that the Affordable Care Act will be helpful to them," said Ron Pollack, the president of Families USA, a liberal health care advocacy group. "The rebate checks will be a part of that." Still, despite that enthusiasm, the arrival of the rebates is unlikely to shift public perceptions in a major way. The policy has affected only a small percentage of Americans, not everyone is getting a direct payment, and the average size of the rebates is modest (Sanger-Katz, 9/26).

Meanwhile, the federal government is appealing a lower court's order blocking it from enforcing the overhaul's birth control coverage mandate on a Colorado firm -

The Associated Press: US Government Appeals Order In Health Care Lawsuit
The federal government is appealing an order blocking it from penalizing a Colorado business whose health coverage for employees doesn't cover birth control. President Barack Obama's health care package requires group health plans to offer no-cost preventive care coverage to women for items including birth control. The owners of the heating and air conditioning business Hercules Industries Inc. challenged the mandate, saying their Roman Catholic beliefs condemn contraception (9/25).

In other court news -

Modern Healthcare: Supreme Court To Hear Cases On Hospital Deals, Payment Appeals
The U.S. Supreme Court has set hearing dates in November and December for three healthcare cases that will test the boundaries for acquisitions by public hospital authorities, Medicare payment appeals and settlements in wage-and-hour class-action lawsuits. On Nov. 26, the justices will hear arguments in the case of FTC v. Phoebe Putney Health System. In that case, the Federal Trade Commission is seeking to unwind the $198 million acquisition of a formerly for-profit hospital in Albany, Ga., that was purchased by a public hospital authority that owns the only other competing hospital in the county (Carlson, 9/25).

Also, hospitals argue they need more guidance on exchanges in order to comply with another federal rule -

CQ HealthBeat: AHA Urges Delay In IRS Rule Prodding Nonprofit Hospitals To Deliver More Charity Care
Hospitals are urging federal officials to put off until 2014 a new rule requiring them to better notify patients about what free or discounted care they offer, according to comments filed with the IRS. Hospitals are still waiting for federal guidance on the expansion of Medicaid and the creation of insurance exchanges under the health care law, the American Hospital Association (AHA) said in a lengthy comment letter requesting the delay. Without such guidance, facilities could be announcing financial assistance policies that comply with the new rule just as new information is becoming available about coverage expansion and exchanges that might require them to change those policies, the AHA said in the Sept. 24 letter (Reichard, 9/25).

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