GQ had an article about how Republicans are still lying about the Affordable Care Act. Republicans have spent the years since the ACA was passed spreading lies about the bill. Paul Ryan has said that it’s bankrupting Medicare, when in fact the truth is just the opposite. Literally the exact opposite is true. This comes from FactCheck.org.

As for Ryan’s claim that Obamacare had worsened Medicare’s financing, that’s not the case, either. In fact, the law both expanded Medicare funding—adding a 0.9 percent tax on earnings above $200,000 for single taxpayers or $250,000 for married couples—and cut the growth of future spending. Additional revenue and savings actually extend the life of the trust fund. The trustees’ 2010 report estimated that the ACA had added 12 years to the life of the Part A trust fund.

The ACA has PROLONGED Medicare’s life. But the worst of the lies that Republicans have trotted out is the trusty old “Death Panels”, or the idea that a government panel would decide if elderly people weren’t worthy of care anymore. This blatant lie has been debunked over and over again.

Well, that’s not stopping some GOP officials from trotting that idea out in the debate over the potential repeal of Obamacare.  Take for instance this amazing moment from a town hall in Florida when local Republican official Bill Akins tried to use “Death Panels” as an argument for the repeal of a law that gives 20 million people healthcare.

Obamacare is more popular today than it has ever been before.

The Kansas City Star had a great article about the groundswell of support by voters now that Obamacare is on the chopping block.  Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, contending that “nothing concentrates the mind like a hanging.  However, Obamacare has never been more popular.  A Fox News poll found that 50 percent of voters feel favorably, compared to 41 percent who felt favorably about the law the last time the network polled on it, in the summer of 2015.

Ahead of a congressional recess next week, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate are asking their members to host rallies, visit hospitals and talk to enrollees in their districts over the next week in a bid to keep the successful health care law alive.

The call for action, along with a grassroots movement that is staging rowdy protests at Republican town halls nationally, is complicating Republican efforts to move swiftly on their threats to repeal the 2010 law.

 

 

 

Florida Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, says she’s held events “constantly” and plans to hold an event Saturday to boost social media activism. She and a number of Democrats also plan to bring Obamacare enrollees as their guests to President Donald Trump’s first address before Congress on Feb. 28.

“It’s unlike anything I’ve seen,” Castor said. “Phones are ringing off the hook. The Republicans have no plan and that’s created a lot of fear back home.”

Antipathy to Donald Trump’s election also plays a considerable role for many Americans who otherwise may have been neutral on the health care law, Mellman said.

Indeed, congressional Republicans have already heard an earful from groups loudly voicing opposition to Trump – and in some cases efforts to repeal Obamacare – at district town halls across the country.

Mcknight’s reported that the family of a deceased Kentucky nursing home resident will not have to arbitrate a dispute with the facility following a federal court’s ruling. The Kentucky case involves the son of Judith VanArsdale, a former resident of a Preferred Care facility. He filed a suit in state court claiming her death was caused by negligence.

Preferred Care filed a case in federal court seeking an order to compel arbitration of VanArsdale’s claims.  The facility where VanArsdale lived was taken over by Preferred Care two years after she was admitted. As part of that transition VanArsdale’s son, who had power of attorney, signed an arbitration agreement on her behalf.

The state court found that the arbitration agreement signed by VanArsdale’s son was not enforceable since Kentucky law did not give him authority to enter such an agreement on his mother’s behalf. The court also stayed the provider’s federal action pending the conclusion of the state suit. Preferred Care then sought an injunction from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed with the District Court’s decision to decline the provider’s injunction, citing the previous opinion that VanArsdale’s son lacked the authority to sign the arbitration agreement. The appeals court’s ruling puts the federal case on hold until the state case is resolved. This is the second arbitration-related court case involving Preferred Care in recent weeks. The Sixth Circuit last Wednesday denied a request from a resident’s estate seeking to appeal a lower court decision that required them to arbitrate their dispute.

CNN reported on an interesting bit of blatant hypocrisy from the Republicans on Obamacare.  Three years ago, House Republicans sued the Obama White House to block the administration from diverting funds to pay health care insurers to help cover low-income Americans. The House argued that that the cost-sharing reduction payments were illegal because Congress — not the executive branch — had control over allocating spending, and Congress had not appropriated the money.

They won the lawsuit and now control the White House and Congress. But that means they’re facing a deadline to determine how they will do what they sued to stop: spending taxpayer money to insurers to subsidize insurance for low-income Americans.
Republican leaders are acknowledging that they will need to allocate billions of dollars in what are known as cost-sharing reduction payments. They also have to act fast — they need to update the judge in the lawsuit tomorrow — and figure out how to placate insurers and skeptical conservatives.
One of the issues with cost-sharing reductions is that if they aren’t paid, insurers can leave the Obamacare marketplace. Without many choices, that would drive up costs for consumers and likely have devastating political consequences.
Some conservatives say that allocating the money at all would be disingenuous after members railed against the payments for years. They argue that if the market collapsed because the House refused to appropriate CSR payments that would not be the Republicans’ fault.

Time Magazine reported that more than 12.2 million people have signed up for coverage nationwide this year under the Obama-era health care law.  AP’s analysis showed that a clear majority of those enrolled — nearly 64 percent — live in states that Trump carried in November.

The federal Health and Human Services Department reported last week that 9.2 million people signed up in the 39 states served by the HealthCare.gov website, which offers subsidized private health insurance to people who don’t have job-based coverage.  AP checked with the remaining 11 states, and Washington, D.C., and found an additional 3 million enrolled, for a national total of 12.2 million.

Under the health care law, the nation’s uninsured rate has fallen to a historic low of about 9 percent, with some 20 million people gaining coverage since its passage in 2010. In addition to the subsidized private plans available through HealthCare.gov and state marketplaces, the law offers states the option of extending Medicaid to cover more low-income adults.

“These numbers demonstrate that there’s a demand for this insurance, and that people see value in the financial protection that comes from health insurance and the access it gives you to health care,” she said.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that Harry E. Yruegas, caregiver at the Heinzerling Developmental Center on the West Side admitted to raping a 47-year-old, severely disabled female patient at the nursing facility.  Yruegas pleaded guilty to one count each of rape and sexual battery for the assault, which was witnessed by another employee who walked into the patient’s room.  The co-worker told police that she walked into the woman’s room and saw Yruegas on the woman’s bed “with his penis exposed”.  Three employees of Heinzerling reported inappropriate behavior by Yruegas with the patient on three other dates.

The victim has “profound mental retardation” and other debilitating conditions and is unable to walk or speak, Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Rausch told the judge.

In an interview with police, Yruegas referred to the patient as “super cute” and admitted that he had fondled her before the other employee walked in.  He also told officers that he had engaged in sexual conduct with the patient on several other occasions.

 Yruegas was indicted for eight counts of rape and eight counts of sexual battery, with most of the counts based on his interview with police.

 

 

Vanity Fair reported a rift emerging within the Republican Party over how to dismantle President Obama’s signature health-care law without suffering the consequences at the ballot box.  With public support for Obamacare at an all-time high, Republicans are struggling to craft an alternative that reconciles a number of extensive promises Donald Trump has made—that no one will lose coverage under his plan; people with pre-existing conditions won’t be denied coverage; that the Medicaid expansion under the A.C.A. won’t be rolled back—with classic conservative principles, namely lower taxes and smaller government. But these challenges may prove intractable. And as Republicans’ simple “repeal and replace” narrative has grown more complicated, some conservatives are beginning to worry that the window of opportunity to kill Obamacare is closing.

Hard line conservative Republicans want a repeal without any replacement.  While Paul Ryan’s “plan” would utilize the budget reconciliation process to pair repeal with several stop-gap replacement provisions, members of the Freedom Caucus are advocating a pure repeal bill—similar to one that passed both houses in Congress in 2015—creating a sort of “Obamacare cliff” that would leave lawmakers with little choice but to come up with a quick alternative.  A few reasonable Republicans understand that would be political suicide.

At the root of the growing divide G.O.P. divide is the fact that, despite having railed against the Affordable Care Act for seven years, the party is no closer to rallying around a replacement plan.

“If we just passed what we did in 2015? Nobody is seriously proposing that because it doesn’t have any replacement,” Lamar Alexander, the Senate Health Education, Labor, and Pensions chairman, told Politico, highlighting the greatest source of tension that has emerged between congressional Republicans and constituents. The G.O.P.’s failure to identify an alternative to the A.C.A. has put the party on the defensive, as uncertainty over the future of the $3 trillion health-care industry has gripped the country.

KSPR reported on a proposal to keep residents safe, and to deter theft, fraud, and abuse, by allowing video cameras in Missouri nursing homes.  Under the proposed law, families can choose to put a camera in their patient’s room, at their own expense and would be able to view the cameras at any time.

Supportive lawmakers say families could monitor how much and how often medications are given and how their loved one is being taken care of overall. Rep. Andrew McDaniel backs the bill after his staff says they received hundreds of complaints about abuse, neglect, rape and fraud.

Nursing home lobbyists claim they are concerned about patients’ privacy, and their lobbyists have killed similar bills in past legislative sessions. However, McDaniel says the camera can be turned off during baths or if a patient is exposed.

 

Arbitration clauses in nursing home agreements attempt to include wrongful death but the majority of states do not hold that the beneficiaries are bound by the agreement.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has recently addressed this issue in Taylor v. Extendicare Health Facilities, Inc., 147 A.3d 490 (Pa. 2016). In that case, the resident’s family members sued the nursing home for the wrongful death of their loved one and as representatives of the resident’s estate.

In the wrongful death action, the plaintiffs sought compensation for the emotional harm they sustained from losing their loved one prematurely. The survival suit relates to the resident’s compensation for pain and suffering and other harms sustained from the neglect.

The agreement between the resident and the nursing home contained an  arbitration clause that covered any resident’s suit against the nursing home. However, this clause applies to the survival action only, but not to the wrongful death suit filed by the nonparties to the agreement.

The wrongful death action must go to court. The survival action goes to arbitration.

The Court reasoned that –

“We recognize that Rule 213(e) is a procedural mechanism to control case flow, and does not substantively target arbitration. However, the Supreme Court directed in Concepcion that state courts may not rely upon principles of general law when reviewing an arbitration agreement if that law undermines the enforcement of arbitration agreements. We cannot require a procedure that defeats an otherwise valid arbitration agreement, contrary to the FAA, even if it is desirable for the arbitration-neutral goal of judicial efficiency. See Concepcion, 563 U.S. at 351, 131 S.Ct. 1740 (“States cannot require a procedure that is inconsistent with the FAA, even if it is desirable for unrelated reasons.”). Declining to bifurcate the wrongful death and survival actions against Extendicare in the interest of efficiency would nullify the ADR Agreement, a result not permitted by the Supreme Court’s FAA jurisprudence. …. Collectively, Moses H. Cone, Dean Witter and KPMG instruct that the prospect of inefficient, piecemeal litigation proceeding in separate forums is no impediment to the arbitration of arbitrable claims. Indeed, where a plaintiff has multiple disputes with separate defendants arising from the same incident, and only one of those claims is subject to an arbitration agreement, the Court requires, as a matter of law, adjudication in separate forums.”

 

McKnight’s reported that the Trump Administration will continue the Obama Administration’s policy of discovering and punishing waste, fraud, and abuse in the nursing home industry.  However, based on Trump’s history of fraud himself, and the fact that he chose Tom Price as Secretary of DHHS, it does not appear that discovering and punishing health care fraud is on the top of the agenda.

Attorneys and former DOJ officials interviewed by Bloomberg BNA predicted that the new administration is likely to preserve several Obama-era policies in place. Those include the use of data analysis in fraud investigations, and the Yates plan to prosecute more individuals.

The department’s efforts to combat fraud in post-acute care will also likely remain a top priority, said Zane David Memeger, an attorney with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. That may include the the DOJ’s regional nursing home task forces, launched last year to target “grossly substandard” facilities.

“We have an aging population, and nursing homes and home health, they’re vulnerable to fraud,” Memeger said.

He also indicated that fraud in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries will continue to receive DOJ scrutiny.