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Barack Obama

WBEN Extra: Ready for Health Care Changes?

(WBEN/AP)  President Barack Obama argues that his signature health care law is already benefiting most Americans even if they don't know it. But with six months to go before the major provisions of his signature effort kick in, most Americans aren't even sure the law exists any more, a new survey says.

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Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico.com

John Bartimole,  WNY Healthcare Assoc.


At The Bottom of this Page

Do you understand how the health reform law will impact you and your family,
( 15% )
( 85% )

The latest from the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation found the uninsured are the uninformed- least aware of how it could help them. The survey also says those that have insurance now have the greatest fears.

  And over half of the nation say that the opposition- primarily House Republicans - should continue to block the law.

With 6 months to go before full implementation the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation has found :

  • Four in ten Americans (42%) are unaware that health care reform  is still the law of the land, including 12 percent who believe the law has been repealed by Congress, 7 percent who believe it has been overturned by the Supreme Court and 23 percent who say they don’t know enough to say what the status of the law is.
  • About half the public (49%) says they do not have enough information about the health reform law to understand how it will impact their own family.
  • The share of the public who says they lack enough information to understand how the ACA will affect their family is higher among two groups the law is likely to benefit most – the uninsured (58% of whom say they lack enough information) and low-income households (56% say so).
When it comes to where they are getting information about the law, Americans most commonly cite friends and family (named by 40%), “newspapers, radio news or other online news sources” (36%), and cable news (30%). About one in ten report getting information from a health insurer, a doctor, an employer, or a non-profit organization. Similar shares say they have gotten information from “federal agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services” (9%) or “state agencies such as your state Medicaid office or health department” (8%).

"We think there is going to be a real outrage and a very real concern for employers,"

-Colleen DiPirro,  Amherst Chamber of Commerce


" (There is) Major confusion and it's not just from the subscribers standpoint," says Colleen DiPirro, Executive Director of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce, adding that she expects the early confusion to eventually be replaced by anger at higher premiums. 

" Carriers have different opinions of what the implication of different aspects of Health Care Reform are going to mean. and a great example is how premiums are going to be predicated on your 2012 tax return. What if someone files an extension? No one knows the answer to that today," DiPirro says.

DiPirro's chamber is training staff so it can open an insurance brokerage and still serve small business groups that currently band together through chambers of commerce to buy group insurance policies. And under reform, she predicts premiums will soar for such groups.

"We are very concerned because we currently have about 1,800 subscribers and about 60 to 70 percent of those people think that come January 1 they're not going to have to pay health care premiums anymore.  And we are looking at premiums going up anywhere from 20 to 40 percent with a huge deductible.," Di Pirro says.

The president says despite what he calls "sky is falling" predictions, the Affordable Care Act's provisions are already in place for those with health insurance.

He says what's left is to help those Americans who don't have health care coverage to obtain it. He acknowledged that is "a big undertaking" and predicted there could still be some glitches as the details are worked out.

Obama was speaking at a news conference Tuesday at the White House.


If you're uninsured, getting on Medicaid clearly improves your mental health, but it doesn't seem to make much difference in physical conditions such as high blood pressure, according to a new study.

(AP) The counterintuitive findings by researchers at Harvard and MIT, from an experiment involving low-income, able-bodied Oregonians, appear in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine. The study offers a twist for states weighing a major Medicaid expansion under President Barack Obama's health care law, to serve a similar population of adults around the country.

"The study did not generate any evidence that Medicaid coverage translated to measurable improvements in physical health outcomes over a two-year window," said lead researcher Katherine Baicker of the Harvard School of Public Health. "It did generate robust improvements in mental health and enormous reductions in financial strain and hardship."

That leaves policymakers with "a much more nuanced and complex picture" of the potential benefits of expanding Medicaid, said Baicker, an economist.

It also debunks a widespread perception that having Medicaid is no better, and maybe even worse, than being uninsured. A federal-state partnership, Medicaid covers more than 55 million low-income and severely disabled people, ranging from poor children to nursing home residents. It pays providers less than Medicare or private insurance.

Obama's health care law envisioned expanding Medicaid to anyone making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or nearly $15,860 for an individual. About 15 million people - mostly adults with no children living at home - could eventually be covered if all states expand. But the Supreme Court last year gave states the right to reject the expansion without jeopardizing the rest of their federal Medicaid funds.

The study found that having Medicaid reduced rates of depression by 30 percent and virtually eliminated catastrophic medical expenses due to a serious accident or the sudden onset of a life-threatening illness. People with Medicaid had better access to doctors, preventive care, prescriptions and hospitals. They also used their benefits, consuming about $1,200 a year more per person in health care services than do the uninsured.

But Medicaid had no significant effect on blood-pressure readings, high cholesterol or elevated blood sugar levels, although it did increase the probability that people with diabetes would be diagnosed.

The study is unusual because it took advantage of a state policy decision to create a natural experiment. A 2008 Medicaid expansion in Oregon used lottery drawings from a waiting list to determine who would get coverage. That created two populations: those who got in, and those left out - a control group of people who remained mostly uninsured. Comparing the two randomly selected groups gives the research a high degree of scientific rigor.

Obama administration officials, in a written reaction published alongside the study, suggested that two years might not be enough time for differences to emerge in physical health results, particularly for patients with chronic conditions influenced by lifestyle choices. They also noted that the Oregon group was relatively small, about 12,000 people, compared to the millions who will gain coverage next year. The Oregon pool might not have been large enough to tease out valid results, they suggested.

"This study did not or could not address many important health benefits of health insurance, including early detection of cancer, a reduction in sick days from school or work, and a reduction in mortality," wrote Richard Kronick and Andrew Bindman, health policy experts with the federal Health and Human Services department.

Lead researcher Baicker said it's possible that having insurance alone isn't enough to get control of lifestyle-related health problems like high cholesterol. "That said," she emphasized, "there are known treatments for these conditions, and the clinical literature suggests improvements are gettable within less than two years."

Expanded Medicaid will be available starting Jan. 1, and uninsured people can start signing up this fall. So far, 21 states plus Washington, D.C., have accepted the expansion, while 14 states have turned it down. Another 15 states are still weighing options.

Nearly all the states refusing are led by Republicans. Several of the states accepting have Republican governors, but most are led by Democrats. Washington will pick up the entire cost of the expansion for the first three years, and 90 percent over the longer haul. It's estimated that less than $100 billion in state spending could trigger nearly $1 trillion in federal dollars over a decade.


05/02/2013 6:09AM
Health Care Reform
Please enter your comments below.
05/02/2013 6:46AM
I have to admit I was rather naïve when it came to health care reform.
I have to admit I was rather naïve when it came to health care reform. I actually believed it would curve the cost of medications and services making it affordable for everyone. However that wasn’t the case at all, it is very costly for the unborn and those who provide a voice for the innocent victims’ of infanticide. No American should be forced by the federal government to pay for abortion drugs and other immoral medicines in their health care! no taxpayer monies (state and federal level) should be used for abortion services. The money trail has made it quite clear abortion services are being masked under so called “health care” provisions.
05/02/2013 7:17AM
Single payer is the correct solution
Do you simply seek the truth and facts WBEN? Or are you shilling for a special interest group?
05/02/2013 9:19AM
Health care reform
All medical suppliers are now required to pay a 2 1/2 percent tax on EVERYTHING! It's called a medical device tax. How many other hidden taxes are in the health care reform bill? I'm sure our wallets will eventually find out.
05/02/2013 9:19AM
Which one?
Lesseee... which special interest do you think they are shilling for? The Non partisan Kaiser Foundation? The oft-left leaning Politico.com, the middle of the road Hospital Assoc, or the righty Chamber of Commerce? Looks like balance to me on this page, hater.
05/02/2013 9:25AM
No public option means higher costs. DUH
All the uber-conservative rhetoric we've heard from WBEN and others who put party over country has done nothing but misinform people. You scared people into believing that a public option was a government takeover of healthcare---which was so idiotically untrue. It provided leverage against private insurance. Now that the fear-mongers got rid of that option, NOW we have a nice gift for private insurance: NO lower cost competition! Thanks WBEN and everybody else who poisons the nation's discourse with misinformation!
05/02/2013 10:50AM
Your station carries Rush Limbaugh every day. The king of hate. Irony smiles at you.
05/02/2013 1:20PM
ACA Disaster
"Four in ten unsure whether ACA remains law of land". How could at least 80% of this country not know that the ACA is law?--perhaps too pre-occupied with reality shows and video games? If this is the case we have some very serious problems in this country. I can't wait until the ACA is fully implemented and hits everyone in the pocketbook more so that it already has. Hopefully the next time an activist marketing genius wants to be President people will give some serious thought about who they are electing. It is no wonder how Obama got a first and second term. Idiots!
05/02/2013 3:09PM
You voted for George W Bush. You therefore forfeit the privilege to call anyone an idiot.
05/02/2013 5:06PM
If you believe what Limbaugh says
then Glenn Beck's got some seeds to sell you.
05/03/2013 5:14AM
re: ACA Disaster
"Hopefully the next time an activist marketing genius wants to be President people will give some serious thought about who they are electing. It is no wonder how Obama got a first and second term. Idiots!" --says the guy who likely voted for Sarah "the uneducated moron" Palin to be VP.
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