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USHL NEWS & Updates

On March 5, 2014, CMS announced that it would allow insurers to extend some health plans until October 2016 even if the plans do not meet new healthcare reform standards.

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The USHL Metal Plan lineup is now available for Indiana groups.

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Standard Analytical Service, Inc. (SAS), publishers of independent insurance reports, recently released its 2014 annual comparative report of the 25 leading domestic health insurance providers. USHL received a favorable ranking.

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USHL recently introduced its Wellness Resources Center, a convenient one-stop health and wellness information library on the USHL website which visitors can reference for a variety of objectives.

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News
  • Senate Unanimously Approves McDonald To Lead The VA
    7/30/2014

    Robert A. McDonald, the 61-year-old former chief executive of Procter & Gamble and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, will take over the embattled VA after a scandal related to wait-time data led to the resignation of Eric Shinseki.

    The New York Times: Senate Confirms Obama’s Choice To Lead V.A.
    The Senate voted unanimously on Tuesday to confirm Robert A. McDonald, the 61-year-old former chief executive of Procter & Gamble, to take the helm of the sprawling and embattled Department of Veterans Affairs after a scandal over the manipulation of patient wait-time data led to the ouster two months ago of Eric Shinseki (Oppel Jr., 7/29).

    The Wall Street Journal: Senate Confirms McDonald As VA Secretary
    The Senate confirmed Robert McDonald to head the Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday, one day after congressional leaders cobbled together a $17 billion funding bill to help reform the agency and expand care. Mr. McDonald takes over as VA secretary after little debate or opposition and a 97-0 confirmation vote on the Senate floor. Last week, he faced a friendly hearing before the Committee on Veterans' Affairs where he fielded few questions and was lauded by many on the panel (Kesling, 7/29).

    The Washington Post: Senate Unanimously Confirms Robert McDonald As VA Secretary
    Tuesday’s vote represented a rare example of swift, bipartisan action by the Senate to address pressing problems. Obama nominated McDonald on June 30, and the Senate Veterans Affairs gave him a warm reception during his confirmation hearing last week (Hicks, 7/29).

    Politico: Senate Approves Robert McDonald For VA
    He’ll take the post from acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson, who was elevated in May when former secretary Eric Shinseki resigned over reports that the department was manipulating records to hide that veterans were at times waiting months to see doctors (French, 7/29).

    Reuters:  U.S. Senate Unanimously Confirms McDonald To Head Veterans Agency
    McDonald, 61, replaces former Army general Eric Shinseki, who resigned in late May amid a scandal over cover-ups of long waiting times for health care appointments at VA hospitals and clinics across the country. The 97-0 vote to confirm McDonald comes a week after he pledged to bring corporate-style discipline and accountability to the agency, refocusing its 341,000 employees on serving veterans. McDonald, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who served as P&G CEO from 2009 to 2013, is widely expected to start his new job with an extra $17 billion at his disposal to reduce months-long health care wait times in new legislation slated for passage by Congress this week (7/29).

    Meanwhile, legislation to address the veterans' health care issues is making progress, though negative press reports about the system continue -

    The Associated Press: Bill To Overhaul VA Heads To Full House, Senate
    House and Senate negotiators have approved a $17 billion compromise bill to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs. The vote by the 28-member conference committee late Monday sends the bill to the full House and Senate, where approval is expected later this week. The bill is intended to help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat them, and make it easier to fire executives at the VA (7/19).

    USA Today: VA Manipulated Vets’ Appointment Data, Audit Finds
    Internal VA documents show the depth of fraudulent scheduling, manipulation of data and in some cases intimidation of staff to hide delays in medical care to veterans in the 6-million patient national system. Auditors found at least one appointment scheduler at 109 VA medical centers who said wait times for veterans had been falsified, according to a USA TODAY analysis of internal VA survey data made public Tuesday. To keep evidence of delayed care out of the VA's official electronic tracking system, secret lists were maintained at 110 facilities, the analysis shows (Zoroya and Hoyer, 7/30).

  • Legal Challenge To Health Law Taxes Rejected By Appeals Court
    7/30/2014

    The lawsuit brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation and a small business owner argued that the overhaul was in violation of the Constitution's Origination Clause.

    The Associated Press: Appeals Court Rejects Tax Challenge To Obamacare
    Rejecting the latest effort to sidetrack “Obamacare,” a federal appeals court turned away a challenge by a conservative group that said Congress imposed new taxes unconstitutionally when it created the Affordable Care Act. Pacific Legal Foundation and a small-business owner, Matt Sissel, argued that the Affordable Care Act is a bill for raising revenue and that it violated the Origination Clause of the Constitution because it began in the Senate, not the House. The Constitution requires that legislation to raise revenue must start in the House (7/29).

    Politico: Court Throws Out An Obamacare Tax Law Challenge
    Obamacare watchers broadly expected the suit to fail, although its profile was raised this spring after the Washington Post’s George Will wrote a column saying it would doom Obamacare (Norman, 7/29).

    Meanwhile, in news about other challenges to the health law -

    Bloomberg:  West Virginia Sues Over Obamacare Non-complying Plan Rule
    West Virginia’s attorney general sued the Obama administration over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, claiming rules for the health-care law’s transition rendered millions of insurance plans unlawful. Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, faulted President Barack Obama for an “administrative fix” last year that burdens states with the cancellation or approval of health-care plans that don’t comply with the new law. Shifting that responsibility to states violates provisions of the health-care overhaul and constitutional limitations on the powers of the U.S. government, according to the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Washington (Rosenblatt, 7/30).

    The Associated Press: GOP-Led House Ready to OK Lawsuit Against Obama
    Republicans are ready to muscle legislation through the House authorizing an election-year lawsuit against President Barack Obama that accuses him of exceeding his powers in enforcing his health care law. A party-line vote — and plenty of sharp partisan rhetoric — were expected when the GOP-led chamber considers the measure Wednesday. Democrats dismiss the proposal as a legally groundless exercise that could end up costing taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees and other expenses (Fram, 7/30).

    The Washington Post: Obama To Lash Out At Republicans Over ‘Stunt’
    President Obama will lash out at House Republicans on Wednesday for their plans to sue him over his use of executive authority, the White House said, in what appears to be part of a burgeoning effort to highlight what Democrats see as outlandish acts by Republicans in an election-year. The White House and Democratic candidates have been showering attention on the potential lawsuit by House Republicans and chitchat in Washington over potential impeachment proceedings as a way to portray the GOP as out-of-touch with the concerns of ordinary voters and infatuated with political theatrics (Goldfarb, 7/30).

    Fox News: Emails Show White House Adviser Intervened on Obamacare ‘Bailout’ After Industry Appeals
    Newly released emails show a key White House adviser intervened on behalf of the health insurance industry after an executive repeatedly warned that massive premium hikes were coming unless the administration expanded an ObamaCare program that Republicans call an industry "bailout." The insurance industry ultimately got a more "generous" offer from the administration -- one that Republicans warn could transfer potentially billions of taxpayer dollars into the Affordable Care Act to bail out insurance companies (Berger, 7/29).

  • Advocates Press Fla. Lawmakers On Medicaid Expansion To Help Working Poor
    7/30/2014

    About 800,000 residents of the state are stuck in a "coverage gap" because they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid since the state did not expand its program under the health law but they don't earn enough to qualify for federal tax credits.

    Miami Herald: Florida's Working Poor Fall Into Affordable Care Act 'Coverage Gap'
    Angel Cardenas is one of about 800,000 Floridians who are stuck in the so-called "coverage gap," in which they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to be eligible for federal tax credits under the ACA. She took part Tuesday in a conference call, part of an effort by healthcare advocates to persuade Florida legislators to expand the state’s Medicaid program, which now sets an annual income eligibility ceiling of roughly $6,930 for a family of three and denies any assistance to individuals and families without dependent children, regardless of how low their income may be. Under the ACA, Medicaid could be expanded to Florida residents with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $27,310 for a family of three. So far, Florida legislators have declined to act (Madigan, 7/29).

    In other Medicaid news -

    Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Moving Children From CHIP To Exchange Plans Would Increase Costs: Study
    Cost sharing would increase and the number of child-specific services covered would decline if millions of low-income children now enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) were forced to receive coverage through the health law’s insurance exchanges, according to a study released Tuesday (Carey, 7/29).

    Modern Healthcare: Uninsured Rate Drops Faster In States That Expanded Medicaid
    Americans lacking insurance coverage are becoming more concentrated in states that have opted not to expand Medicaid, according to the latest survey data from the Urban Institute's Health Policy Center. Residents of southern states, Spanish-language speakers and high school dropouts are also a growing portion of the uninsured. As of June, 60.4% of individuals lacking coverage lived in the 25 states that have opted not to expand Medicaid eligibility to residents with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level, as encouraged under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Demko, 7/29).

  • Political Cartoon: 'Pie Chart?'
    7/30/2014

    Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Pie Chart?" by Lee Judge.

    Meanwhile, here's today's haiku:

    SURVEYING THE GOLDEN STATE

    California picks
    the low-hanging uninsured
    Some still out of reach
    -Anonymous 

    If you have a health policy haiku to share, please send it to us at http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/ContactUs.aspx and let us know if you want to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.

  • Hawaii Weighs Efforts To Fix Online Health Marketplace
    7/30/2014

    The state set up its own exchange, but it's losing money, and officials are considering options for a long-term fix or a switch to the federal marketplace instead. Also, new reports examine how the uninsured view the marketplaces and young adults' deliberations on health insurance.

    The Associated Press: Hawaii Health Care Faces Federal Threat
    The problem starts with the Hawaii Health Connector, a federally mandated insurance marketplace that's losing money. A temporary funding plan went into effect this month, but once that money runs out, lawmakers will need to settle on a long-term fix that officials characterize as a choice between propping up a failing system at the expense of taxpayers, or turning control over to federal authorities at the risk of unravelling the state's comprehensive Prepaid Health Care Act (Bussewitz, 7/29).

    Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Survey Finds 1 In 5 Uninsured Don't Want Coverage
    Though millions of people gained health coverage this year as a result of the Affordable Care Act, millions more remain unaware of their options or have no interest in getting insured, a new survey has found (Galewitz, 7/30).

    Fox News: Cost Trumps 'Invincibility' For Millenials Enrolling In Obamacare
    During the 2014 enrollment period, a big question mark hung over the success of the law: would young people's [invincibility-mentality] discourage them from signing up? Turns out, the price tag was more of a deterrent. According to a new report from Deloitte, costs played a more important role in the decision-making process among enrollees ages 18 to 34 when signing up for coverage than the invincibility factor (Rogers, 7/29).

    In other news, a report on how hospital emergency departments are faring under the health law -

    Marketplace: ERs Are Still Busy, Affordable Care Act And All
    One of the arguments in favor of the Affordable Care Act was that it would reduce dependency on emergency rooms by covering more people with basic preventive care. Now, millions of people are newly covered by Obamacare. So are emergency departments seeing a slowdown? Not so much (Wallace, 7/29).

  • California Health Premiums Soar, Leading To Health Law Talk And Statewide Ballot Initiative
    7/30/2014

    State insurance commissioner Dave Jones predicts that insurers and the California health exchange will take steps to temper premium increases for the coming year.

    Los Angeles Times: Health Premiums Soared, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Says
    The cost of health insurance for individuals skyrocketed this year in California, with some paying almost twice what they did last year, the state's insurance commissioner said. But Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones predicted that insurers will ease up in the coming year to prevent California voters from approving tough new rate controls on the November statewide ballot as Proposition 45 (Pfeifer, 7/29).

    The Associated Press: California Health Premiums Rose Significantly in 2014
    California's insurance commissioner released a report Tuesday showing the cost of health-care premiums increased significantly this year, as he pushes for more authority to regulate those costs. California's four largest insurers raised premiums for individuals from at least 22 percent to as much as 88 percent, depending on factors such as age and location, according to the annual report released by Commissioner Dave Jones, a Democrat first elected in 2010. Those figures were calculated comparing the price of an insurer's mid-quality standard plans in 2014 to the insurer's most popular plans in 2013 (Nirrapil, 7/29).

    The Sacramento Bee: Jones: Fearful Of Voters, Insurers Will Temper Health Rate Hikes
    California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who is pushing a ballot measure to give him the power to regulate health insurance rates, released an analysis Tuesday showing that health insurance costs for individuals increased dramatically over the last year. But Jones said he suspects health insurers and the California health exchange, Covered California, will temper premium increases for the coming year in an effort to to avert possible public outcry as the Nov. 4 election approaches. “I fully anticipate that the degree of increases will be modest at best … because Proposition 45 is on the ballot and they are very concerned about creating any sort of backlash from Californians,” Jones said Tuesday. “But after 2015, I think, essentially, the sky is the limit (Cadelago, 7/29).

    Meanwhile, in Connecticut -

    The CT Mirror: Insurance Department Rejects Anthem Rate Hike, Lowers Others
    The Connecticut Insurance Department has rejected proposals by two insurance companies to raise health insurance premiums next year, and rejected the rates proposed by a third company new to the individual market. Regulators approved plans the insurer HealthyCT to lower its rates. In the case of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the department deemed the proposal to raise rates by an average of 12.5 percent to be excessive, and directed the carrier to submit new rate proposals for review. Similarly, the department asked UnitedHealthcare to submit new proposals for plans it intends to sell in 2015. The company doesn’t sell policies in the state’s individual market this year (Becker, 7/29).

  • IOM Study Finds U.S. Medical Training May Not Be Meeting Needs For Care
    7/30/2014

    The comprehensive report calls for major changes in doctor training and points out that it is difficult to track how the $15 billion spent by the federal government is being used.

    The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: The U.S. Spends $15B A Year To Train Doctors, But We Don't Know What We Get In Return
    If you were spending $15 billion, you'd probably want to know what you were getting as a return on that investment. Especially if it was on something as important as the nation's health care. Yet, a new comprehensive report finds that we don't have a good system of tracking the $15 billion the United States spends each year on training new doctors — a particularly pressing topic as 11,000 baby boomers become Medicare-eligible each day and about 25 million uninsured are projected to gain new coverage in the next few years under the Affordable Care Act. Further, our publicly financed program for training doctors doesn't ensure that the new crop of physicians will be positioned to meet changing demands for care, according to independent experts at the Institute of Medicine (Millman, 7/29).

    Kaiser Health News: Expert Panel Recommends Sweeping Changes To Doctor Training System
    An expert panel recommended Tuesday completely overhauling the way government pays for the training of doctors, saying the current $15 billion system is failing to produce the medical workforce the nation needs  (Rovner, 7/29). 

    Bloomberg:  Tighter Rules Urged On $15B For Doctor Training
    Tighter oversight is needed for more than $15 billion spent yearly on doctor training in the U.S., according to a new report that’s already under fire from medical centers that provide the education. The report, by the U.S. Institute of Medicine, calls for per-resident funding based on outcomes that address strategic needs in health care, such as the looming shortage of family doctors in some areas ... The Association of American Medical Colleges, which represents 400 of the nation’s more than 1,000 teaching hospitals, opposes the recommendations, saying they would funnel federal dollars away from Medicare patients, and create uncertainty for their members (French, 7/29).

    Also, another news story looks at osteopathic medical training -

    The New York Times: The D.O. Is In Now
    Inside, [the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine] seems indistinguishable from a conventional medical school — what doctors of osteopathic medicine, or D.O.s, call allopathic, a term that some M.D.s aren't much fond of. A walk through the corridors finds students practicing skills on mannequins hard-wired with faulty hearts. They dissect cadavers. They bend over lab tables, working with professors on their research. And, unlike their allopathic counterparts, they spend roughly five hours a week being instructed in the century-old techniques of osteopathic medicine, manipulating the spine, muscles and bones in diagnosis and treatment (Berger, 7/29).

  • Federal Court Rejects Miss. Law Targeting State's Only Open Abortion Clinic
    7/30/2014

    A federal appeals court blocked a Mississippi law from taking effect that would have caused the state's only abortion clinic to close because it would impose "an undue burden" on women.

    The Wall Street Journal: Federal Court Blocks Mississippi Law Threatening Abortion Clinic
    A federal appeals court on Tuesday blocked a Mississippi abortion law from taking effect, a ruling that appears to conflict with a decision earlier this year by the same court. Combined with other legal challenges of similar state laws, the move could set the stage for the Supreme Court to revisit the issue of abortion rights, legal experts said (McWhirter, 7/29).

    NPR: Court Rejects Law Threatening Mississippi's Last Abortion Clinic
    A federal appeals court has rejected a Mississippi law that would have forced the state's only abortion clinic to close. In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday turned aside arguments that women seeking to have an abortion could have the procedure done in a neighboring state (Greenblatt, 7/29).

    Politico: Ruling Keeps Mississippi’s Only Abortion Clinic Open
    Mississippi’s only remaining abortion clinic will stay open following a federal appeals court ruling Tuesday against a state law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. After doctors at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization sought and were denied admitting privileges at seven area hospitals, the state notified the clinic that its license would be revoked. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that by forcing the facility to be closed, the law would impose an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to seek an abortion in Mississippi (Winfield Cunningham, 7/29).

    The New York Times: Judges Block Abortion Curb In Mississippi
    By a 2-to-1 vote, the panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that by imposing a law that would effectively end abortion in the state, Mississippi would illegally shift its constitutional obligations to neighboring states. The ruling is the latest at a time when states, particularly in the South, are increasingly setting new restrictions that supporters say address safety issues and that critics say are intended to shut clinics (Robertson and Eckholm, 7/29).

    The Associated Press: U.S. Appeals Panel Strikes Down Mississippi Anti-Abortion Law
    A U.S. appeals court panel ruled Tuesday that a Mississippi law that would close the state’s only abortion clinic is unconstitutional. The case is the latest in the decades-long struggle by some social conservatives to chip away at a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion. The issue remains one of the country’s most sensitive, politically and otherwise, with various challenges in a number of states (Wagster Pettus, 7/30).

  • Survey Offers Progress Report On California's Enrollment Efforts
    7/30/2014

    The survey of uninsured people within the state, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found that nearly six of 10 gained insurance during the first open enrollment period -- but reaching the remaining holdouts will become more difficult.

    The New York Times: More Californians Sign Up For Health Plans, Survey Says, But Holdouts May Be Hard To Get
    While a new survey of the uninsured in California shows that nearly six out of 10 people were able to obtain coverage in the last year, the findings offer fresh insight into just how difficult it may be to sign up the people who remain uninsured, even after the introduction of the new state marketplaces (Abelson, 7/30).

    Kaiser Health News: California Makes Significant Progress In Enrolling Previously Uninsured, Survey Finds
    A significant portion of previously uninsured Californians gained medical coverage through the nation’s health care law – about six in 10 during the state’s first open enrollment, according to a survey released Wednesday. All told, about 3.4 million people who didn’t have health insurance before sign-ups began last fall are now covered, according to the survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation (Gorman, 7/30).

    Los Angeles Times: Number Of Californians Without Health Insurance Drops Sharply
    A Kaiser Family Foundation survey examining the state's progress under the federal medical care overhaul said more than 80% of those still uninsured hadn't had coverage in two or more years, including 37% who reported never having coverage before. Foundation Chief Executive and President Drew Altman said though large numbers of Californians gained insurance during the first open enrollment period, “expanding coverage gets harder from here” (Karlamangla, 7/29).

    The Sacramento Bee: Survey: In California, More Than 3 Million Newly Insured In Health Coverage
    About 3.4 million previously uninsured adults have obtained health insurance coverage in California in the past year, according to a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. It found that nearly 60 percent of residents who lacked coverage reported signing up for health insurance since last summer. ... While most of the formerly uninsured were able to acquire coverage through Medi-Cal (25 percent), 12 percent got it through an employer and 9 percent through the state exchange, called Covered California, the survey said (Cadelago, 7/29).

    Politico Pro: Survey Looks At California Coverage Gains, Challenges
    About 6 in 10 Californians who were uninsured last summer now have health coverage, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That amounts to 3.4 million newly insured Californians, most of whom talk positively about their plans. But signing up the remaining uninsured may be tough, the survey indicates. Many people have never had coverage or haven’t had it in several years. Many are also undocumented immigrants whose legal status is a separate barrier (Villacorta, 7/30).

    KHN looks into the experience of one Californian who gained coverage in 2014 -

    Kaiser Health News: As Ballet Stretches Her Body’s Limits, Insurance Brings Peace of Mind
    The annual injury rates at ballet companies run between 67 and 95 percent, according to a study by the American Journal of Sports Medicine. But ballerinas and their male counterparts often dance through the pain. … Despite her tough-it-out training, she’d prefer to have insurance. So by the time the Affordable Care Act took effect, allowing her ballet company to buy a plan, Noelle was eager to sign up (de Marco, 7/20).

  • Several Insurers Report Lower Profits
    7/30/2014

    WellPoint and Humana say higher expenses kept profits down in the second quarter.

    The Wall Street Journal: WellPoint Profit Slips, But Boosts Outlook
    WellPoint Inc. on Wednesday said its second-quarter profit slipped as the health insurer recorded higher expenses, masking a boost in revenue and enrollment. Still, the company again raised its earnings outlook for the year, saying it now expects adjusted per-share profit to top $8.60, compared with its prior forecast for earnings of more than $8.40 a share. WellPoint reiterated its expectation for operating revenue above $73.5 billion. WellPoint in January said the people enrolling in new health-law plans were skewing older than its previous individual consumers, but they appeared to match the less-healthy pool the company predicted when it set its prices (Prior, 7/30).

    Reuters: Humana Says Profit Fell On Health Reform, Drug Costs
    U.S. health insurer Humana Inc said on Wednesday that second-quarter profit fell due to investments in the exchanges created under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law as well as costly new hepatitis C drug treatments. Humana said membership growth and a lower share count due to stock buybacks had helped offset some of the new costs. The company said net income fell to $344 million, or $2.19 per share, from $420 million, or $2.63 a share, a year earlier. That was in line with analysts' estimates. Most of Humana's revenue is from Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D, the privately run medical and drug plans under the government health program for older people and the disabled. Humana said revenue rose 18 percent to $12.2 billion. Both Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D added new customers, and the company's individual customer base increased 122 percent to more than 1.1 million members (Humer, 7/30).

    The Wall Street Journal: Benefit Costs Pare Humana's Profit
    Earnings met analysts' expectations, but the top line exceeded them. Humana said its profit declined, as expected, because of its investments in health care exchanges and state-based contracts, while higher costs associated with specialty hepatitis C treatments also weighed on results (Calia, 7/30).

    Reuters: Aetna Says Medical Costs Rose, Insurer Shares Dropped
    Aetna Inc., the third-largest U.S. health insurer, reported a rise in medical costs on Tuesday, raising investor concerns that a long run of low growth in such costs might be ending and pushing shares in the industry lower. U.S. insurer profits have benefited from several years of relatively low use of medical services by their members due to an economic downturn and higher out-of-pocket costs for patients. Aetna said its medical spending rose in the second quarter due to an expensive new treatment for hepatitis C made by Gilead Sciences and the higher costs of covering patients who bought insurance under President Barack Obama's healthcare law for the first time (Humer, 7/29).

    A major hospital company also reported its earnings -

    The Wall Street Journal: HCA Holdings Profit Rises 14%
    In a recent preview of its second-quarter results, HCA had said admissions to its hospitals rebounded and that greater-than-expected benefits from the health-care reform law contributed to the company's performance. At the time, HCA also raised its estimate of the Affordable Care Act's benefit to adjusted earnings this year by one percentage point, from to 2% to 3%. HCA Holdings reported a profit of $483 million, or $1.07 a share, up from $423 million, or 91 cents a share, a year earlier (Stynes, 7/29).

    The Associated Press examines the pricing of the hepatitis drug that insurers are concerned about -

    The Associated Press: $1,000 Sovaldi Now Hepatitis Treatment Of Choice
    Even with insurers reluctant to pay, Sovaldi prescriptions have eclipsed those for all other hepatitis C pills combined in a matter of months, new data from IMS Health indicate. The promise of a real cure, with fewer nasty side effects, has prompted thousands to get treated. But clinical and commercial successes are also triggering scrutiny for the drug’s manufacturer, California-based Gilead Sciences Inc., which just reported second-quarter profits of $3.66 billion, or a net margin of 56 percent. Two senators have unearthed documents that suggest the initial developers of Sovaldi considered pricing it at less than half as much. The health insurance industry is publicly scolding Gilead, and state Medicaid programs are pushing back (Alonso-Zaldivar, 7/29).