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Posts tagged "Department of Health and Human Services"

breakingnews:

Associated Press: Transgender people receiving Medicare may no longer be automatically denied coverage for sex reassignment surgeries, a US Department of Health and Services review board ruled Friday in a groundbreaking decision that recognizes the procedures as a medically necessary and effective treatment for individuals who do not identify with their biological sex.

Ruling in favor of a 74-year-old Army veteran whose request to have Medicare pay for her genital reconstruction was denied two years ago, the agency’s Departmental Appeals Board ruled that a three-decade-old HHS rule excluding such surgeries from the procedures covered by the national health program for the elderly and disabled was unjustified.

h/t: Jennifer Bendery at Huffington Post

The Family Research Council has caught wind of a new theory percolating in the right-wing blogosphere and in certain circles on Capitol Hill: that the Department of Health and Human Services is using a new Obamacare rule to empower the long-defunct ACORN to commit voter intimidation and fraud.

The new rule in question is HHS’s solution to the problem of signing up 30 million uninsured Americans on the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges. Under the rule, HHS will recruit “navigators” to walk uninsured people through the process of finding an insurance policy on their state’s exchange. According to the Washington Post, “Groups such as unions, chambers of commerce, health clinics, immigrant-service organizations, and community- or consumer-focused nonprofits can use the grants to train and employ staff members or volunteers to provide in-person guidance — especially to hard-to-reach populations — and to provide space for them to work.”

Boustany’s fears were then picked up by Breitbart.com, which announced this week, “HHS resurrects ‘ACORN’ through Obamacare.”

Yesterday, the Family Research Council picked up this story and ran with it in its daily email, warning that an “army of ACORN, Planned Parenthood, and union activists” will use their roles as insurance navigators to “influence people’s party affiliation.” The email adds: “With this administration, it isn’t a question of whether they would abuse their power—but when!”

The rule, which is available for public comment for the next few weeks, also includes a “voter registration provision,” leading many—including Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.)—to question how this army of ACORN, Planned Parenthood, and union activists would twist their access to influence people’s party affiliation. With this administration, it isn’t a question of whether they would abuse their power—but when!

ACORN, of course, disbanded in 2010 after a right-wing smear campaign accused it of large-scale voter fraud – accusations that turned out to be completely false. But that hasn’t stopped 49 percent of Republican voters from believing that ACORN stole the 2012 election for President Obama – an illusion gleefully perpetuated by groups like the FRC.

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

Late last week more than a dozen Republican governors declared that they will not build the insurance market exchanges called for by the Affordable Care Act, including prominent names like Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, John Kasich of Ohio, Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Perry of Texas.

On Monday, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma joined them, declaring in a statementthat it “does not benefit Oklahoma taxpayers to actively support and fund a new government program that will ultimately be under the control of the federal government.”

The original deadline for states to notify the Department of Health and Human Services on whether they intend to build their own exchange was last Friday, but the administration extended it to Dec. 14. About a dozen Republican governors are weighing their options, including Chris Christie of New Jersey, Rick Scott of Florida and Terry Branstad of Iowa.

The decisions carry important implications for the long-term arc of Obamacare, which supporters and opponents alike agree is here to stay now that President Obama has been re-elected. The Obama administration wants states to build the exchanges so they have an incentive to make the law work. If the federal government takes over, state-level Republicans have a scapegoat in case things go wrong.

The more states stonewall the exchanges, the more it complicates the task of the federal government. One challenge is that the law lacks an automatic funding mechanism for HHS to set up state exchanges. Enrollment is slated to begin next October, and the exchanges are scheduled to start functioning by January 2014.

Twenty-three states, mostly Democratic, and Washington, D.C. have said they’ll move forwardwith the exchanges, either on their own or in partnership with the feds.

Propelling the GOP governors’ stance is a desire to protect themselves politically from accusations of abetting a law that conservatives fervently oppose. Some governors argue that the regulations are too stifling and provide little flexibility for them to construct the marketplaces in accordance with their states’ needs.

h/t: Sahil Kapur at TPM