Almost everyone agrees that physical well being should be a top priority no matter what. That isn’t surprising. The controversy often begins only when financing medical intervention is necessary. Most of us are already at a major disadvantage because America has an exceedingly pricey healthcare system. Sarah Kliff and Soo Oh at Vox publicized as much last year. They visualized several cost comparisons between the US and other developed nations. The data is sobering. With the exception of colonoscopies and CT scans, Americans paid more, on average, for standard procedures than did any of their counterparts elsewhere.
The authoring duo clearly emphasized how our domestic policies are in large part to blame. “Most other countries have some central body that negotiates prices with hospitals and drug manufacturers,” they explained. “The US doesn’t have that type of agency.” We instead rely on fragmented insurance companies to negotiate prices independently with hospitals, doctors, and the pharmaceutical industry. It should stand to reason that those players and institutions are working in our best interests yet the evidence suggests otherwise.
Journalists aren’t the only ones revealing a dire need for policy reform. Institutions world renowned for breakthrough research have gotten involved, too. For instance, Karen Feldscher at The Harvard Gazette promoted a joint study conducted by the Harvard Global Health Institute and the London School of Economics. According to the researchers, “the study confirmed that the US has substantially higher spending, worse population health outcomes, and worse access to care than other wealthy countries.” They identified the main culprits as excessive administrative costs, absurd average salaries, and the per capita spending on pharmaceutical drugs.
Don’t forget that the GOP remains hellbent on dismantling as much of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) as possible. It’s hard to fathom how or why any politician could justify an initiative that denies people access to affordable healthcare while simultaneously letting insurers apply questionable discretion over coverage. Some states are fortunately fighting back while their counterparts elsewhere play right along. That means adequate healthcare coverage is now often dependent on where we live.
Nisarg Patel at Slate openly despaired over that exact phenomenon last summer. “As blue states are building their own path towards universal coverage,” wrote Nisarg. “Red states have remained on course with the Trump administration, imposing work requirements on Medicaid recipients and deregulated insurance markets.” Countless Americans have, as a result, now found themselves dangerously underinsured or tragically uninsured. Either way, there is still almost no escaping the medical industrial complex. Successfully navigating the healthcare system is itself a cumbersome undertaking despite the urgency required for numerous medical conditions and/or disorders.
The elderly are regularly the victim of our complicated healthcare system. Many sometimes struggle with cognitive functions essential to the due diligence and decision-making process. Add into the mix the fact that things like Medicare Annual Enrollment and Medicaid reimbursements are frequently time-sensitive. Access to reliable public resources has certainly never been better, but utilizing them inherently presupposes sufficient health literacy and cognitive function–neither of which is guaranteed.
The above dilemma hasn’t gone unnoticed, especially when it comes to the first factor. Scholars at Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Center on Society and Health declared education necessary for improving healthcare outcomes. According to them, “healthcare has a bigger impact for people with limited education than for those with more education.” Most of us focus exclusively on medical interventions when the data indicates that they only account for about 20% of outcomes. Contrast that with higher education, which has a disproportionate influence on long-term health outcomes plus a wide array of other benefits.
Suffice it to say that preserving our health and well being isn’t as easy as it ought to be. Overcoming obstacles is the reality for many Americans regardless of lifestyle. Defying the status quo is the only way to ensure the future is different.
The new guidance also suggests considering exemptions or “reasonable modifications” for certain Medicaid recipients, including elderly, pregnant or disabled people; those in areas with high unemployment or people caring for children or elderly relatives; people with substance abuse disorders such as opioid addiction.
It states that a review of studies showed, “strong evidence that unemployment is generally harmful to health, including higher mortality; poorer general health; poorer mental health; and higher medical consultation and hospital admission rates”.
The report also states that people with a full-time job are less likely to suffer from depression.
As of October 2017, nearly 75 million individuals were enrolled in Medicaid and the children’s health insurance program (CHIP).
According to a study by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, almost 60% of working-age Medicaid recipients are already employed full time or part time.
It is unclear how many Medicaid recipients who are actively seeking work may lose their insurance in the process if their state should choose to enact the new guidelines.
Several members of Congress were outspoken against the decision.
Under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare, 31 states expanded Medicaid coverage. Republicans have tried repeatedly to overturn the health law.
The Obama Administration had previously rebuffed proposals allowing states the right to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients, arguing it would result in fewer people having access to health insurance.
In order to implement any new policy based on the guidance, states would have to propose the changes through waivers and wait until they are granted federal approval.
Ex- Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have expressed their concerns regarding the current political climate in the US, in comments seen as a veiled rebuke of President Donald Trump’s leadership.
Barack Obama urged Americans to reject the politics of “division” and “fear”, while George W. Bush criticized “bullying and prejudice” in public life.
They were speaking separately and neither mentioned President Trump by name.
Donald Trump, who has been critical of his two predecessors, is yet to comment.
Ex-presidents traditionally shy away from commenting publicly on their successors, and Barack Obama said on leaving office he would extend that courtesy for a time to Donald Trump, as George W. Bush had to him.
Barack Obama has broken his silence since to issue statements on President Trump’s efforts to dismantle ObamaCare, as well as his controversial “Muslim ban” and decision to abandon the Paris climate accord.
Speaking at a Democratic campaign event in Newark, New Jersey, Barack Obama said Americans should “send a message to the world that we are rejecting a politics of division, we are rejecting a politics of fear”.
The former president added: “What we can’t have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before that dates back centuries.
“Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed. That’s folks looking 50 years back. It’s the 21st Century, not the 19th Century. Come on!”
Barack Obama touched on similar themes at another event later in Richmond, Virginia, saying: “We’ve got folks who are deliberately trying to make folks angry, to demonize people who have different ideas, to get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage.”
Speaking just hours earlier in New York, George W. Bush said: “Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.
“There are some signs that the intensity of support for democracy itself has waned – especially among the young.”
Americans, the former president said, have “seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty”.
“At times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together.
“We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America.”
Both ex-presidents have until now largely avoided commenting publicly on President Trump’s policies.
Before his election last year, Donald Trump was highly critical of both Barack Obama and George W. Bush, describing each of them at one time or another as “perhaps the worst president in the history” of the US.
Since his inauguration in January, Donald Trump’s combative style and direct public comments on a number of key issues have caused controversy both among Democrats and Republicans.
The president has regularly blamed the media, which he says do not focus on his achievements and instead choose to concentrate on what he describes as “fake news”.
Jimmy Kimmel told the studio audience on his regular show that three hours after a normal birth, his son Billy started to turn purple.
One nurse spotted it and took him away for checks, soon finding that he had a heart illness. The situation looked serious, and “we had atheists praying for us,” he said.
However, Billy went through open heart surgery at three days old and, thanks to the efforts of the staff at the children’s hospital, he survived.
The TV host said: “You know, before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you wouldn’t be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition.
“If your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not live long enough to even get denied.”
Jimmy Kimmel continued: “If your baby is going to die and doesn’t have to it shouldn’t matter how much money you make.
“I mean I think that’s something that whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else – we all agree on that, right?
“This isn’t football. There are no teams; we are the team. No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life. It just shouldn’t happen, not here.”
One of the people behind the Affordable Care Act, Andy Slavitt, tweeted that those who watched Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue should use it as inspiration to lobby Congress.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said he and President Trump agreed to withdraw the vote, after it became apparent it would not get the minimum of 215 Republican votes needed.
Republicans have a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
However, multiple reports suggested that between 28 and 35 Republicans were opposed to President Trump’s draft American Health Care Act (AHCA).
Some were said to be unhappy that the bill cut health coverage too severely, while others felt the changes did not go far enough.
The new healthcare bill also appeared unpopular with the public – in one recent poll, just 17% approved of it.
Image source Getty Images
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the AHCA would reduce the deficit by $336 billion between 2017 and 2026.
However, the number of Americans without health insurance would stand at 52 million by the same time – an extra 24 million compared with ObamaCare.
Speaking after the withdrawal, President Trump repeatedly said ObamaCare would “explode”.
However, he refrained from criticizing Paul Ryan, whose job as speaker of the House involves rallying support for controversial bills.
President Trump said: “I like Speaker Ryan. I think Paul really worked hard.”
Paul Ryan also told reporters the president had been “really been fantastic”.
Donald Trump said the Republicans would probably focus on tax reform for now.
“We have to let ObamaCare go its own way for a little while,” he told reporters at the Oval Office, adding that if the Democrats were “civilized and came together”, the two parties could work out a “great healthcare bill”.
“We learned about loyalty; we learned a lot about the vote-getting process,” he said.
Earlier Paul Ryan told reporters: “We are going to be living with ObamaCare for the foreseeable future.
“I will not sugar-coat this. This is a disappointing day for us. Doing big things is hard.
“We were a 10-year opposition party where being against things was easy to do.”
Leader of the House minority Democrats Nancy Pelosi described the retraction as “a victory for the American people”.
However, March 23 vote was delayed because of opposition from some Republicans – despite President Trump’s repeated attempts to persuade them to back the legislature.
The president now says he wants to move on and vote – whatever the result on March 24.
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said this was exactly the message delivered to Republican lawmakers at a meeting behind closed doors on March 23.
Image source Wikipedia
House Speaker Paul Ryan said: “For seven-and-a-half years we have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it’s collapsing and it’s failing families, and tomorrow we’re proceeding.”
Meanwhile, New York’s Republican representative Chris Collins said: “The president has said he wants a vote tomorrow, up or down.
“If for any reason it is down, we are just going to move forward with additional parts of his agenda.”
Repealing and replacing ObamaCare was a major plank of Donald Trump’s election campaign.
March 23 vote postponement is a setback for the president who had insisted he would win the numbers to pass it through the lower chamber of Congress on that day.
Earlier on March 23, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said President Trump had made a “rookie’s error for bringing this up on a day when clearly you’re not ready”.
The healthcare bill needs 215 votes to pass but ran into opposition mainly from conservative Republicans who believed it did not roll back enough of Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
ObamaCare helped 20 million previously uninsured Americans get health insurance but has been plagued by increases in insurance premiums, which were also a problem before the health law.
Donald Trump promised a new law that would cover more people and at a lower cost.
Donald Trump has named Tom Price as his future health secretary.
The 62-year-old Georgia congressman and orthopedic surgeon is a strong critic of President Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms.
He currently chairs the House of Representatives budget committee.
Tom Price will play a key role in Republican plans to replace the Affordable Healthcare Act (ObamaCare).a
Image source Flickr
In his campaign, Donald Trump vowed to repeal and replace the act, considered Barack Obama’s flagship measure.
However, he has since said he favors keeping certain provisions.
Donald Trump said Tom Price was a “tireless problem solver” and “the go-to expert on healthcare policy”.
“He is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace ObamaCare and bring affordable and accessible healthcare to every American,” the president-elect said in a statement.
Tom Price said he was looking forward to the opportunity of serving as health secretary on behalf of the American people.
He said his aim was to create a new system that worked for patients, families and doctors, adding that it should “protect the well-being of the country while embracing its innovative spirit”.
Tom Price will be working closely with Seema Verma, who will lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees government health programs and insurance standards.
“Together, Chairman Price and Seema Verma are the dream team that will transform our healthcare system,” Donald Trump said.
Earlier this month Donald Trump, who has pledged to repeal the healthcare bill, said he would keep some parts of the law such as allowing young adults to be insured on their parents’ policies and banning insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Donald Trump has said he is open to keep key parts of President Barack Obama’s healthcare bill, the ObamaCare.
The president-elect, who has pledged to repeal the 2010 law, said he will keep the ban on insurers denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Donald Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he also favored allowing young adults to be insured on their parents’ policies.
“I like those very much,” he said of the two pillars of the bill.
It was his meeting with President Obama on November 10 that had made him reconsider his calls for an all-out replacement of the Affordable Care Act, he told the newspaper.
Asked whether he would implement a campaign promise to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server while secretary of state, Donald Trump said: “It’s not something I’ve given a lot of thought, because I want to solve healthcare, jobs, border control, tax reform.”
Meanwhile, protesters angered by Donald Trump’s election gathered in several cities for a third night on November 11. Thousands took to the streets of Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, voicing anger at the president-elect’s comments about immigrants, Muslims and women.
In a separate interview with CBS, Donald Trump said the parts of ObamaCare he was “going to try to keep” were “the strongest assets”.
He said that while the bill would be repealed and replaced, the changes would provide Americans with “great healthcare for much less money”.
Donald Trump made the statement during an interview with the 60 Minutes program, which is due to air on November 13.
Also on November 11, Donald Trump put Vice-President-elect Mike Pence in charge of his transition team, replacing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton will unveil a plan to rein in prescription drug costs by forcing pharmaceutical companies to reinvest their profits into research and allowing for more generic and imported drugs.
The proposal, which Hillary Clinton will outline in a speech in Iowa on September 22, would also allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug costs and cap out-of-pocket expenses, according to details of the plan sent out by her campaign team.
The plan seeks to address a key shortcoming of ObamaCare, President Barack Obama’s signature health law, as Hillary Clinton aims to show how she would put her imprint on it.
On September 21, Hillary Clinton sent out a tweet referencing a New York Times article about Daraprim, a drug to treat toxoplasmosis that increased in price overnight from $13.50 to $750 per tablet.
“Price gouging like this in the specialty drug market is outrageous. Tomorrow I’ll lay out a plan to take it on,” Hillary Clinton said.
US pharmaceuticals companies charge Americans thousands of dollars for new drugs that are often priced lower in other developed nations while receiving billions of taxpayer dollars for basic research, according to the campaign.
The prescription drug plan is part of a broader focus on health care this week.
On September 23, Hillary Clinton will outline a separate set of proposals to address other out-of-pocket health costs that patients face.
According to the campaign, Hillary Clinton’s plan will propose to:
Deny tax breaks for consumer advertising and demand that drug companies instead invest US taxpayer dollars in research and development. Many companies benefit from corporate write-offs for advertising aimed specifically at consumers. Companies that receive federal funds would be required to reinvest a certain amount in research.
Encourage the production of generic drugs including lowering the amount of time companies can exclusively produce new treatments.
Cap what insurers can charge consumers with chronic or serious health conditions in out-of-pocket costs. Health insurance plans would place a monthly limit of $250 on out-of-pocket costs for such patients.
Allow Americans to import drugs from abroad. Countries in Europe with similar safety standards often pay half of what American pay for the same drugs, according to the campaign.
Allow Medicare to negotiate drug and biologic prices, especially for high-cost drugs with limited competition.
A key portion of ObamaCare has been upheld by the US Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision.
The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care act as a whole made subsidies available for people in all 50 states, not just those who bought insurance through a state exchange.
The high court case was the second major challenge to the healthcare law since its passage.
The decision is major victory for the Obama administration.
“Congress passed the Affordable Care act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion.
If the law was overturned, 6.4 million Americans would have been at risk of losing aid.
The 2010 ObamaCare set up a federally run insurance exchange where Americans who were not covered by employers or other governmental could buy health insurance.
Opponents argue that a phrase included in the law, “established by the state,” demonstrated that the healthcare subsidies should have only been available for people in states that set up exchanges.
However, most Americans receiving subsidies purchase healthcare through the federal exchange after many states decided not to set up their own marketplaces.
The Obama administration argued that was a too-narrow reading of the law, which spans near 1,000 pages, and the rest of the legislation makes clear subsidies are intended for those who meet income requirements, regardless of which exchange insurance was purchased from.
Justice John Roberts voted with liberal colleagues in support of the law. He was also the key vote to uphold it in a 2012 case. Justice Anthony Kennedy dissented in 2012, but sided with the majority on June 25.
Justice Anthony Scalia’s wrote in his dissent that the Supreme Court is setting a precedent of favoring some laws over others.
“We should start calling this law SCOTUScare” Justice Anthony Scalia’s wrote.
“Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of.”
The upholding of the Affordable Care Act cements President Barack Obama’s biggest legislative victory.
Outside the Supreme Court on June 25, people were celebratory and joyful, chanting “ACA is here to stay!” and “If you’re covered and you know it clap your hands.”
President Barack Obama appears in a BuzzFeed video showing him practicing his messaging that people should go to HealthCare.gov by February 15 to get covered.
Barack Obama made the comic video to remind Americans that they only have through February 15 to sign up this year for ObamaCare.
The video, released on February 12, shows Barack Obama speaking and checking himself out in front of a mirror. The clip is completed with silly faces and several shots with a selfie stick.
“In many cases, you can get health insurance for less than $100 a month,” Barack Obama said, following several instances in which he trips up on the pronunciation of “February”.
The video also shows Barack Obama making sketches of first lady Michelle Obama and donning aviator sunglasses.
The funny video, a follow-up perhaps to last year’s deadpan Between Two Ferns appearance with Zach Galifianakis, is the latest youth-focused effort on the part of the administration to boost sign-ups before the open enrollment period closes at midnight Pacific Time on February 15.
A second legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 healthcare law (ObamaCare) will be reviewed by the Supreme Court, the court has said.
The court will determine whether the law allows health insurance subsidies to millions of Americans.
The challenge was brought by conservatives who argue that only states, not the federal government, can pay such subsidies.
Residents of 36 states rely on the federal government for the payments.
The sweeping healthcare reform law, the Affordable Care Act, established health insurance exchanges run by the federal government and by 16 states that provide subsidies to help Americans purchase insurance premiums.
In 2014, more than eight million people signed up for coverage on the exchanges.
The Supreme Court will hear a second legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 healthcare law
The law’s conservative opponents argue a close reading of the statute only allows subsidies to be paid by states that have their own healthcare exchanges, not by the federal government, which serves residents of states that have not established their own.
Currently, 36 states do not have exchanges of their own. Should the Supreme Court find in favor of the plaintiffs, more than five million people could find their insurance costs rise dramatically.
In July, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the law’s opponents, but later threw the ruling out so it could rehear the case.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in March, with a decision in June.
On November 7, the White House dismissed the lawsuit as a partisan attempt to undermine the law.
“These lawsuits won’t stand in the way of the Affordable Care Act and the millions of Americans who can now afford health insurance because of it,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement.
“We are confident that the financial help afforded millions of Americans was the intent of the law and it is working as Congress designed.”
The ObamaCare passed with no Republican votes in 2010, and has been a focus of conservative outrage ever since.
In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the central provision of the law requiring Americans to carry health insurance or pay a penalty, in a 5-4 decision.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has thrown out a federal regulation implementing key subsidies of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, ObamaCare.
It means that participants in health exchanges run by the federal government in 34 states are not eligible for help.
The ruling deals a setback to ObamaCare, jeopardizing health insurance for four million low and middle-income people.
The White House said it is confident in its legal position on subsidies.
The ObamaCare has been under siege by opponents since it was passed in 2010.
A three-judge panel found in favor of plaintiffs who sued over tax credits for people buying health insurance.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has thrown out a federal regulation implementing key subsidies of ObamaCare
“Our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly,” Senior Circuit Judge Raymond Randolph in his majority opinion.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled on Halbig v Burwell on Tuesday, one of four lawsuits currently challenging the legality of Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-funded subsidies under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The court – considered the second highest in the nation behind the US Supreme Court – returned the case to a lower court with instructions to rule in favor to plaintiffs who had fought against the subsidies being offered in 36 states.
The IRS is said to have dispensed billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies through federal healthcare exchanges, or marketplaces.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued they were injured by the IRS actions because it triggered additional taxes for employers.
The subsidies, or tax credits, have been made available to Americans with annual incomes up to 400% the federal poverty level.
That works out to $94,000 for a family of four.
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Harry Edwards calling the lawsuit a “not-so-veiled attempt to gut” the healthcare law, and “portends disastrous consequences”.
The US Appeals Court’s ruling may impact on more than four million Americans who are currently eligible for subsidies to offset their healthcare costs.
Should this mean large numbers of people be ineligible for health insurance, it would result in higher overall premiums for non-subsidized members.
The ruling is the latest blow for the embattled healthcare law, which last month saw the US Supreme Court overturn a crucial portion regarding contraception coverage.
The US Supreme Court has ruled Christian-owned company Hobby Lobby can claim a religious exemption to a legal requirement that employers pay for their workers’ contraception.
The owners of Oklahoma-based craft supply shop chain Hobby Lobby argued the mandate in President Barack Obama’s healthcare law violated their religious beliefs.
The 5-4 decision applies only to “closely held” companies.
It does not apply to other healthcare some find morally objectionable.
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that some corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the requirement, written into Barack Obama’s signature 2010 health overhaul, that companies with 50 or more employees offer a health insurance plan that covers contraception.
The case turned in large part on whether the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which bars the US government from taking action that “substantially burdens the exercise of religion”, applies to for-profit companies.
The Supreme Court has ruled Hobby Lobby can claim a religious exemption to ObamaCare requirement to pay for workers’ contraception
“We reject [the Department of Health and Human Services’] argument that the owners of the companies forfeited all RFRA protection when they decided to organize their businesses as corporations rather than sole proprietorships or general partnerships,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court.
“The plain terms of RFRA make it perfectly clear that Congress did not discriminate in this way against men and women who wish to run their businesses as for-profit corporations in the manner required by their religious beliefs.”
The decision marks the first time the Supreme Court has found a profit-seeking business can hold religious views under federal law, analysts say.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the ruling a “decision of startling breadth”.
The ruling is a blow to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which has been beset by legal challenges since it passed in 2010.
However, it is unclear whether any women employees will actually lose birth control coverage, because the Obama administration had already devised a mechanism under which workers of non-profit organizations that object to the contraception mandate could keep coverage without the organization having to pay for it.
In the case decided on Monday, the Supreme Court ruled on challenges by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp, a wood cabinetmaker owned by Mennonites.
Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts chain, employs 13,000 full-time employees. Conestoga employs 950 people.
The owners of Hobby Lobby – David Green, Barbara Green and several relatives – had described themselves as “committed evangelical Christians” and said their religious beliefs “forbid them from participating in, providing access to, paying for… or otherwise supporting abortion-causing drugs and devices”.
The Affordable Care Act, known by critics and supporters as ObamaCare, has been subject to countless legal and political challenges from Republicans and conservatives since its passage.
Considered the largest overhaul of the US healthcare system since the 1960s, it aims to extend health insurance coverage to the estimated 15% of the US population who lack it.
The Supreme Court has already ruled on the law. In 2012, the court affirmed the constitutionality of the act’s central provision, a requirement that most individuals who do not receive health insurance from the government or their employers purchase it or face a fine.
People who have accounts on the ObamaCare enrollment website are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government’s vulnerability to the confounding Heartbleed computer virus.
Senior administration officials said there is no indication that the HealthCare.gov site has been compromised and the action is being taken out of an abundance of caution. The government’s Heartbleed review is ongoing, the officials said, and users of other websites may also be told to change their passwords in the coming days, including those with accounts on the popular WhiteHouse.gov petitions page.
The Heartbleed computer bug has caused major security concerns across the Internet and affected a widely used encryption technology that was designed to protect online accounts. Major Internet services have been working to insulate themselves against the bug and are also recommending that users change their website passwords.
Officials said the administration was prioritizing its analysis of websites with heavy traffic and the most sensitive user information. A message that will be posted on the health care website starting Saturday reads: “While there’s no indication that any personal information has ever been at risk, we have taken steps to address Heartbleed issues and reset consumers’ passwords out of an abundance of caution.”
The Heartbleed computer bug has caused major security concerns across the Internet
HealthCare.gov website became a prime target for critics of the ObamaCare law last fall when the opening of the insurance enrollment period revealed widespread flaws in the online system. Critics have also raised concerns about potential security vulnerabilities on a site where users input large amounts of personal data.
The website troubles were largely fixed during the second month of enrollment and sign-ups ultimately surpassed initial expectations. Obama announced this week that about 8 million people had enrolled in the insurance plans.
The full extent of the damage caused by the Heartbleed is unknown. The security hole exists on a vast number of the Internet’s Web servers and went undetected for more than two years. Although it’s conceivable that the flaw was never discovered by hackers, it’s difficult to tell.
The White House has said the federal government was not aware of the Heartbleed vulnerability until it was made public in a private sector cybersecurity report earlier this month. The federal government relies on the encryption technology that is impacted – OpenSSL – to protect the privacy of users of government websites and other online services.
The Homeland Security Department has been leading the review of the government’s potential vulnerabilities. The Internal Revenue Service, a widely used website with massive amounts of personal data on Americans, has already said it was not impacted by Heartbleed.
“We will continue to focus on this issue until government agencies have mitigated the vulnerability in their systems,” Phyllis Schneck, DHS deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity and communications, wrote in a blog post on the agenda website.
“And we will continue to adapt our response if we learn about additional issues created by the vulnerability.”
Officials wouldn’t say how government websites they expect to flag as part of the Heartbleed security review, but said it’s likely to be a limited number. The officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the security review by name.
Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning amid problematic launch of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, US media report.
The ObamaCare – regarded by the president’s supporters as one of his main domestic achievements – has been marked by early technical problems and delays.
Kathleen Sebelius has been health secretary since Barack Obama took office in 2009.
The reports say Barack Obama will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the current budget director, to replace her.
The New York Times reported that Kathleen Sebelius had made the decision to resign herself.
Barack Obama had resisted calls for the health secretary to stand down after the websites where people could enroll for health insurance ran into problems last October.
Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning amid problematic launch of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law
After the rocky start, the White House now points to the more than 7 million people who have signed-up for coverage on federal and state-run marketplaces sites created by the Affordable Care Act.
Barack Obama says the program was “here to stay”.
Republicans see it as inappropriate government intrusion into the healthcare industry. US residents face a tax penalty next year if they do not have some form of health coverage.
The 2010 law is intended to extend health insurance to the roughly 48 million Americans who do not receive it through their employers, the government, or a privately purchased plan.
It also aims to slow the growth in the cost of healthcare and requires private plans to meet a certain level of coverage.
Analysts say Republicans in Congress may use Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s nomination proceedings to focus on criticism of the law ahead of November’s midterm elections.
The ObamaCare remains controversial among the American public, as some people have seen their insurance costs rise or their old plans cancelled, and others object to having to purchase insurance at all.
The Obamacare enrollment period ended midnight Monday with hundreds of thousands of Americans signing up for insurance under Barack Obama’s healthcare program, in a frantic bid to beat a key deadline.
Officials believe they have reached their target of seven million sign-ups.
March 31 was the last day for most Americans to register for coverage and avoid a penalty next year.
Barack Obama’s allies say the Affordable Care Act will bring healthcare to those who need it most, but Republicans say it is a massive waste of money.
The initial launch of the system last autumn was dogged by website crashes and technical problems.
But analysts say White House officials will have been delighted with the last day of enrollment.
“What I think is important, because I know there’s been a lot of focus on glitches, is that there has been a remarkable story since the dark days of October and November,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
The Obamacare enrollment period ended midnight Monday with hundreds of thousands of Americans signing up for insurance (photo Los Angeles Times)
The Obamacare law has proved deeply unpopular among many voters, and Republicans are expected to tap into that discontent in November’s mid-term elections.
The elections will determine the shape of Congress for Barack Obama’s last two years in office.
Despite Jay Carney’s upbeat message, the federally-run health insurance marketplace website healthcare.gov was briefly out of service for several hours twice on Monday.
Visitors were initially advised the site was down for maintenance or directed to a virtual waiting room.
Spokesman Aaron Albright blamed a “technical problem”.
Meanwhile, long queues were reported at hospitals and clinics, where counselors were helping people sign up for insurance.
At a Houston community centre, immigrants from Ethiopia, Nepal, Eritrea, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and other countries were trying to enroll after having failed to register previously.
Many were waiting for interpreters to help them through the process.
Although March 31 was officially the last day people could sign up, millions could be eligible for extensions.
This includes people who had begun enrolling but did not finish before the deadline as a result of errors or website glitches.
Extensions may also be available to those prevented from enrolling because of a natural disaster, for example, or because they were subjected to domestic abuse.
The 2010 law, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is intended to extend health insurance to the roughly 48 million Americans who do not receive it through their employers, the government, or a privately purchased plan.
The Obamcare program also aims to slow the growth in the cost of healthcare through various measures and requires private plans to meet a certain level of coverage.
The health law has been vigorously opposed by the Republican Party and by conservatives in the private sector, who see it as an inappropriate government intrusion into the massive healthcare industry and an affront to personal liberty.
Obamcare also remains controversial among the American public, as some people have seen their insurance costs rise or their old plans cancelled, and others object to having to purchase insurance at all.
Healthcare.gov and similar marketplace websites run by some states are a key element of the Affordable Care Act, providing a clearing-house for people to purchase health insurance for themselves and their families, often with generous subsidies.
Those who are not covered by private insurance or government programs by the end of Monday will face a tax penalty, although the Obama administration has extended a grace period for those who can prove they have had technical issues with the site.
Total enrolment through the federal and state-run websites has jumped since the beginning of March, from 4.2 million to 6 million on Friday.
President Barack Obama has announced six million people have signed up for medical insurance under his healthcare law – dubbed Obamacare – meeting the administration’s goal.
The White House’s initial goal was seven million, but this was revised amid last autumn’s disastrous launch.
Public support for the Obamacare is at its lowest – 26% of Americans back it – found a new Associated Press-GfK poll.
The first “open enrolment” period during which Americans can sign up for a health insurance plan ends on March 31, though the Obama administration has extended the deadline for some people who continue to have trouble applying.
On Thursday, Barack Obama spoke on the phone from Italy with several thousand volunteers and workers who are guiding Americans through the often confusing process of signing up for insurance online.
Six million people have signed up for Obamacare, meeting Obama administration’s goal
“The president thanked the group for all their hard work to date and discussed the importance of building on this progress over the last four days of open enrolment,” the White House said in a statement.
“The president encouraged the navigators and volunteers to redouble their efforts over the next four days and leave no stone unturned in trying to bring affordable health coverage to as many Americans as possible by the March 31 deadline.”
Obamacare was crippled at its October rollout by technical glitches, but it seems to have largely overcome those problems.
The 2010 law, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is intended to extend health insurance to the roughly 48 million Americans who do not receive it through their employers, the government, or a privately purchased plan.
It also aims to slow the growth in the cost of healthcare.
Among its central provisions are online marketplaces called exchanges run by the states and by the federal government on which individuals can purchase health insurance plans, sometimes with generous subsidies.
Under the new law, Americans who go without health insurance in 2014 and beyond pay a penalty.
Millions of people in the US receive health insurance cover for the first time as ObamaCare healthcare reforms – Affordable Act Care – come into effect as of 1st of January 2014.
President Barack Obama’s reforms are part of his aim to ensure affordable healthcare is available to everyone.
But the policy is controversial and the roll-out of the new system has been beset with problems.
Some religious-affiliated groups won a last-minute reprieve from being forced to provide birth control cover.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor temporally blocked the government from forcing such groups to offer health insurance that would include contraception.
Sonia Sotomayor acted at the request of a group of Catholic nuns in Colorado, the Little Sisters of the Poor, who had earlier lost their request for a preliminary injunction at an appeals court in Denver.
They had argued that the ruling conflicted with the Catholic Church’s stance against the use of contraceptives.
Millions of Americans will receive health insurance cover for the first time as ObamaCare comes into effect
Under the Affordable Care Act, it is now compulsory for people to have health cover – either provided for by their employer or by buying one of the private health plans now on offer.
Those who cannot afford it will get help, but those without any insurance will be fined.
As of 1st of January 2014, health insurance companies are also no longer able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
More than 2.1 million people have enrolled so far for private health plans – short of the government’s original target.
But the phased roll-out of the new law has suffered a number of difficulties.
The Healthcare.gov website offering the new health plans was plagued with technical glitches when it was launched in October. There were long sign-in wait times, log-in difficulties, insurance account creation problems, slow page loads and outages.
Insurance companies have also announced the cancellation of millions of policies, saying they did not meet the law’s minimum requirements.
This came despite President Barack Obama’s promise that people would not be forced to move from plans they were happy with.
Barack Obama’s approval ratings fell in the wake of the problems, but the White House says things have been fixed.