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May 11 - May 22, 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.

White House Moves to Fix 2 Key Consumer Complaints About Health Care Law
The White House is moving to address two of the most common consumer complaints about the sale of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act: that doctor directories are inaccurate, and that patients are hit with unexpected bills for costs not covered by insurance.

Feds ease up on wellness programs
The government has reversed itself and said employer-sponsored wellness programs don't necessarily discriminate against workers. But businesses offering the plans to their employees are still struggling to show the programs can cut health care costs.

States Scramble for ‘Plan B’ Ahead of Court Ruling on Obamacare
With less than one month to go until the Supreme Court issues a ruling in King v. Burwell -- the case that could dismantle Obamacare -- some states are preparing contingency plans to avert a disaster if the court strikes down access to federally subsidized health care for their residents.

1 in 4 adults had insurance but still couldn’t afford medical care
More than 1 in 4 adults who bought insurance for themselves or their families last year had to skip needed medical care because they couldn't afford it, according to a study released Thursday by Families USA, a consumer health group.

Yet another example of the IRS disregarding the plain text of the PPACA
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is charged with administering many key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). One might expect the IRS to follow the law when doing so.  In drafting regulations to implement the PPACA’s tax credit provisions, however, the IRS seems to have a habit of ignoring the statutory text where the IRS does not like the result.

STATES IN THE NEWS

Exchange managers propose major fee hikes to cover $54 million annual operation
Colorado health exchange managers want board members to max out a broad market assessment on health insurance customers across Colorado through 2016 while also hiking fees on exchange customers from 1.4 percent to at least 3.5 percent — and possibly as high as 4.5 percent.

Lower rate increases, more plans proposed for state health exchange in 2016
The cost of health insurance could increase 5.4 percent on average for people buying individual coverage next year — the lowest requested increase in Washington state in eight years. And there could be even greater choice for consumers with more insurance companies in the market and more plans proposed for 2016.

Health law expert promotes 'innovation waiver' for Minnesota
Minnesota should consider ways to make the federal health law work better by seeking an “innovation waiver,” a national expert on health insurance exchanges said Friday.

PR, advertising firms out as exchange shifts from consultants to full-timers
Colorado health exchange managers are gambling that big expenditures will yield big results — and ultimately long-term viability.

Vermont officials eyeing CT’s health insurance exchange
Vermont officials are considering turning to Connecticut’s health insurance exchange as an alternative to that state’s struggling Obamacare marketplace.