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Health Care and Insurance News Bulletin 

April 13 – April 24, 2015

The purpose of this bulletin is to compile a handful of articles relating to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that are most pertinent to LIUNA and its health and welfare funds. We hope you find this biweekly bulletin helpful and informative.

Obamacare's first tax season
Obamacare’s first tax season includes all the elements needed to ignite a political firestorm. Yet with only days to go until the filing deadline, nothing’s burning.

Financial incentives OK'd for workplace wellness programs                    
In a victory for business, federal regulators said Thursday that employers can continue to use financial penalties and rewards to nudge staff to participate in fast-growing workplace wellness programs.

Will more medical tests make us healthier?
I usually think of April as tax month, but it seems to be morphing into National Get Tested Month. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban advised Twitterers to have their blood tested for everything available -- and to do so every three months.

Is That Corporate Wellness Program Doing Your Heart Any Good?
Odds are your employer has a wellness program that prods you to exercise and eat healthy. But that program may not be doing all that much for your health, according to the American Heart Association, and attempts to measure the benefits of wellness programs often fail.

Prescription drug spending jumps 13% to record $374 billion in 2014
Driven by innovative but pricey new drugs for hepatitis C, U.S. spending on prescription drugs jumped 13% last year to a record $374 billion, according to an industry report.

Health Insurance Shoppers Look to Limited Networks to Save Money
In all the turmoil in health care, one surprising truth is emerging: Consumers seem increasingly comfortable trading a greater choice of hospitals or doctors for a health plan that costs significantly less money.

STATES IN THE NEWS

How the Affordable Care Act is measuring up
With the second round of Obamacare insurance sign-ups now closed, state officials expect to beat their numbers from last year only slightly when the final count is in, with more than 165,000 people enrolled through the Washington Healthplanfinder exchange.

Missouri Health Plans Offer Inadequate Coverage For Smoking Cessation, Report Finds
Insurers who sell plans on HealthCare.gov in Missouri are supposed to help people quit smoking but none offer adequate coverage, according to a new report by the American Lung Association.

California, Washington shine during special Obamacare sign-ups
Two states that run their own Obamacare markets—California and Washington—are blowing away the much-larger, federally run HealthCare.gov when it comes to signing up customers during a tax season grace period.