Healthcare News June 27, 2013

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: DOMA ruling affects ObamaCare, Medicaid eligibility

    The Supreme Court’s ruling Wednesday on the Defense of Marriage Act has big implications for healthcare benefits.

    The court struck down the central piece of DOMA, which said same-sex couples could not obtain federal benefits, even in states that recognize same-sex marriage.

    So in the 13 states that have legalized same-sex marriage, same-sex couples will now be treated as a family by the federal government — just as opposite-sex couples have been. The classification makes a big difference in calculating couples’ eligibility for federal benefits, including Medicaid and tax credits under ObamaCare.

    Earlier in the DOMA litigation, some states complained that the marriage law was costing them money on Medicaid. The federal government was counting each person in same-sex couples separately, and sometimes they were both individually eligible for Medicaid. But if they had been counted together — as they will be now — their income would have been too high to qualify for Medicaid benefits.

  • Proposal would streamline access to home healthcare

    New bipartisan House legislation would allow medical professionals other than doctors to order home health services for seniors under Medicare.

    Current rules prohibit physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and certified nurse midwives to order home healthcare for older patients, though these professionals may order nursing home care and prescribe medications.

    Lawmakers behind the new measure said this prohibition on ordering home care services doesn’t make sense for Medicare patients, particularly those without access to physicians.

  • New bill would pay seniors for staying healthy

    New bipartisan legislation introduced Wednesday would allow Medicare to pay seniors if they improve and maintain their health.

    The measure from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) would create a new program within Medicare to pay seniors hundreds of dollars for meeting certain health criteria.

    The Medicare Better Health Rewards program would measure seniors’ wellness using six criteria: blood pressure, cholesterol, tobacco use, body mass index, diabetes indicators and up-to-date vaccinations and screenings. 

  • GOP lawmakers lament ObamaCare as threat to jobs

    House Republicans blasted the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday as a threat to job creation at a hearing involving small businesses.

    Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said ObamaCare forces business owners to make “gut-wrenching” decisions about hiring, firing, employee hours and whether to provide health insurance.

    “These are not hypothetical issues,” Upton said in committee. “These are real questions businesses are facing right now.” 

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