With No Budget, Panel To Study Health Care Work Force Shortage Has Never Met

As health law implementation efforts advance, workforce issues continue to draw headlines. Meanwhile, the Obama administration released final rules Friday regarding key elements of the overhaul, and the law's birth control coverage mandate continues to be the subject of court challenges.

The New York Times: Panel On Health Care Work Force, Lacking A Budget, Is Left Waiting
One of the biggest threats to the success of President Obama's health care law comes from shortages of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. But a 15-member commission created to investigate the problem has never met in two and a half years because it has no money from Congress or the administration (Pear, 2/24).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: White House Doesn't Budge On Health Premiums
The Obama administration isn't budging on restrictions in the federal health-care law over how much insurance companies can reduce premiums for younger consumers. Federal officials released final rules Friday confirming that insurers will not be allowed to charge older people more than three times the amount they charge younger people starting in 2014 (Radnofsky, 2/22).

Medpage Today: HHS Finalizes ACA Consumer Protections
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has finalized rules for implementing some of the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including guaranteed issue and guaranteed renewal of insurance policies. In addition to requiring insurers to issue policies to patients regardless of their health histories and to renew those policies at the patient's request, the rules also limit insurers to varying premiums based only on the patient's tobacco use, family size, and age -- with an older person paying no more than three times what a younger person is charged. Insurers will not be allowed to charge premiums based on health status, past claims, gender, occupation, length of time the person has been insured, or employer size (Frieden, 2/23).

Politico: Suits Hit Contraception Rule's 'Religious Burden'
The Obama administration is aggressively defending its contraception coverage policy in the courts, asking judges to require the companies bringing the lawsuits to provide contraceptives to their employees even before the legal fight over religious freedom is resolved (Haberkorn and Smith, 2/25).

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