Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin

  • Will states accept Obama’s insurance exchange fix?

    Will states play along with President Barack Obama and his new plan to allow people who like their health insurance plans to stay on them an additional year?

    The proposed fix, which Obama announced Thursday under intense pressure from his own party, was meant to address criticisms that he had lied to the American people when he said “if you like your plan, you can keep it” while campaigning for the health care overhaul. Between 7 million and 12 million people were set to receive cancellation notices because their plans don't meet the minimum standard of coverage required under the new law.

    The uproar forced Obama to backpedal. He’ll now allow health insurance companies to continue to offer plans that do not meet his law’s standards for an additional year, to give people more time to transition to the new federal marketplace.

    But Obama’s fix does not actually guarantee that millions of people will be able to keep their plans. Insurance is regulated at the state level, and state officials

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  • What Obama’s health care announcement means

    On Thursday, President Barack Obama announced that health insurance companies are no longer required to kick people off their coverage if it doesn't meet Obamacare’s new standards. The president is offering a one-year “grandfather” extension for the plans.

    The announcement, made under intense pressure from his own party, was made to address criticisms that the president had broken his promise to the American people that “if you like your plan, you can keep it” under his 2010 health care reform law. Between 7 million and 12 million Americans were to be sent cancellation notices for 2014 because their plans did not meet the minimum coverage requirements set up under the law.

    The people who received cancellation notices were expected to go to the federal insurance marketplace and buy coverage there. But the website, HealthCare.gov, has been plagued with difficulties, and some of those covered would owe more in premiums in the marketplace than they did on their older, canceled plans. (The

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  • Police turn routine traffic stops into cavity searches

    Timothy Young had just turned into a gas station in Lordsburg, N.M., at 10 p.m. and was about to fill up his pickup truck when several police cars pulled up behind him. The officers from the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office accused him of failing to use his turn signal, and asked him whether he was using or carrying drugs.

    According to a complaint filed Friday in a federal court in New Mexico, what happened next in the October 2012 incident was nothing short of a six-hour nightmare. Young, 31, was forced to strip from the waist down in a public parking lot and then submit his body to an X-ray and anal penetration at a nearby hospital, all under the supervision of peace officers searching for contraband.

    The invasive search that Young alleges he was subjected to is not an isolated incident, his lawyers say, and is part of a larger pattern of cops, eager to make drug busts, crossing the line in order to try to uncover drugs and money at all costs.

    “They’re really pushing the envelope on

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  • Food stamp cuts hit 9 million elderly and disabled people

    Cuts to the nation’s food stamp program hit 48 million Americans this week, including more than 9 million elderly and disabled people.

    Nearly one in seven Americans uses the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which has doubled in cost since 2008 when Congress increased the benefits as part of the economic stimulus bill. Both Democrats and Republicans allowed the temporary benefits boost to expire on Nov. 1, and Republicans are pushing for far steeper cuts to the $80 billion program.

    The average monthly decrease for a one-person household is $11. That doesn’t sound like much, but the vast majority of food stamp recipients say the assistance runs out in the first three weeks of each month, leaving them to cobble together food from other sources in the final week. The cuts amount to 16 meals a month for the average family of three, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Thrifty Food Plan.

    “Even though it might sound little, for some people that’s a couple of meals that

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  • From soft on crime to socialist, the attacks on de Blasio that didn’t stick

    The New York Post slammed de Blasio for his 1980s-era visit to the Soviet Union.

    Bill de Blasio has been called a Cuba-loving socialist, soft on crime, two-faced and even an irresponsible late sleeper over the past six months of his campaign to lead the nation’s largest city.

    But nothing quite stuck.

    On Tuesday, de Blasio is expected to sail to victory over Joe Lhota, his Republican rival and the former chairman of the city’s transit system, to become the next mayor of New York City. De Blasio, a former city councilman and current public advocate, emerged victorious in a crowded Democratic primary in September, brushing off accusations that his self described "progressive" views will return New York City to its graffiti-covered, crime-ridden past.

    The lines of attack against de Blasio have fallen into two major camps: that his staunch opposition to the way the city police force has used “stop and frisk” means he is soft on crime, and that his liberal beliefs are too extreme for New York. De Blasio has said on the campaign trail that income inequality has divided

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  • Appeals court swipes contraceptive mandate, likely headed to Supreme Court

    Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate illegally infringes upon the religious freedom of two Catholic grocery store owners in Ohio, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday.

    The court’s ruling means Francis and Philip Gilardi do not have to provide contraceptives in their employees’ health care plans pending the resolution of their case. The Gilardis, who own Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics, are among at least 39 for-profit corporation owners who have sued the federal government over the 2010 health care reform law’s provision that says large employer health plans must include all FDA-approved contraceptives without co-pays.

    Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote for the majority that the mandate put the Gilardis, both devout Catholics, in an impossible position to provide health coverage for their 400 employees. “They can either abide by the sacred tenets of their faith, pay a penalty of over $14 million, and cripple the companies they have spent a lifetime building, or they become

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  • Bloomberg Businessweek mocks Obamacare glitches

    Bloomberg Businesweek Obama glitch cover

    Bloomberg Businessweek poked fun in its new issue at the tech problems that have plagued HealthCare.gov since it opened for business Oct. 1. 

    "One year — and one epic fail — into his second term, Barack Obama needs a reboot" the cover reads, next to a photo of a half-loaded image of Obama's face. 

    The Obama administration says the website — where uninsured people in 36 states are expected to purchase coverage over the next five months or pay a fine on their taxes — will be fully functional by the end of November.

    Obama's job approval rating hit an all-time low of 42 percent in a WSJ/NBC poll this week, as October's government shutdown and glitch-filled health care exchange rollout has frustrated the public. 

    The magazine also provided some of its discarded cover ideas, below.

    potential covers

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  • Obamacare court challenge: Do corporations have religious freedom rights?

    A major legal challenge to Obamacare making its way to the Supreme Court could allow for-profit corporations to opt out of a key piece of the law by asserting freedom of religion.

    Hobby Lobby, a “biblically founded” crafts store chain based in Oklahoma, is one of 39 for-profit companies suing the federal government over the law’s contraceptive mandate. The company argues that the federal government cannot infringe upon its religious rights by forcing it to provide contraceptive coverage in its health plan.

    The case asks whether Hobby Lobby can refuse to comply with Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate on the grounds that allowing its 13,000 employees access to birth control — specifically the morning-after pill and intrauterine devices, or IUDs — would violate the company’s freedom of religion.

    The case is novel because religious freedom typically has been thought to apply to individuals, churches and other religious nonprofits, not corporations. Lower courts have split on the issue, and

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  • Obama to stress Massachusetts’s health care example in Boston speech

    Following another week of tech problems marring the rollout of his signature health law, President Barack Obama will tout Massachusetts’ 8-year-old health care overhaul in a speech in Boston on Wednesday.

    Obama will argue in his speech at Faneuil Hall — where then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed the state’s health care reform bill in 2006 — that uninsured people were slow to enroll in Massachusetts’ exchanges when they first opened, before a flood of applicants rolled in at the last minute.

    The White House is expecting a similar show of procrastination to give way to a surge of applications to the Obamacare exchanges shortly before Dec. 15 — the deadline to sign up for coverage to start Jan. 1. The open enrollment period ends on March 31, and uninsured people who don’t purchase coverage by that date will have to pay a fine on their 2014 taxes.

    Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economics professor and an architect of the Massachusetts health care law, told reporters on a conference call organized by the

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  • White House: Half of young adults can get coverage for $50

    The Obama administration released a report Monday evening saying that half of single, uninsured adults will be able to purchase coverage for under $50 a month under Obamacare.

    More than 1 million single adults between the ages of 18 and 35 will be able to purchase the lowest cost bronze plan on the new insurance exchanges for under $50, the report from the Health and Human Services agency says. That’s about 46 percent of uninsured young adults in the 34 states that provided information to the agency. An additional 1 million single, uninsured young adults would qualify for Medicaid in these states, due to the expansion of the program.

    The Obama administration released the findings the same day NBC News reported that 50 to 75 percent of people who currently buy health insurance on individual markets will receive a cancellation letter within the year because their plans do not meet new standards in the health care reform law. Some of those consumers will face higher costs when they

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