Entries in Health Insurance (3)


Obama Admin. Extends Health Coverage to Federal Firefighters

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration is extending health insurance to seasonal firefighters employed by the U.S. government, following a public outcry over the lack of affordable coverage for such workers.

“Starting today, the brave men and women of our nation's federal firefighting forces, as well as their families, will have access to the health coverage they deserve. Their heroism in battling the deadly fires that have impacted states across the country this summer inspires us all,” the president said Tuesday in a written statement. “Each day, these Americans put themselves in grave danger to save the lives of people they never met, which is why I directed my administration to ensure that our nation’s firefighters can count on the care and protection they need.”  

Temporary firefighters working on wildfires across the country and their families will now have access to the same health insurance afforded to full time federal employees, the Office of Personnel Management announced.

The president directed his administration to extend coverage shortly after he toured the damage caused by the Colorado wildfires last month.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Supreme Court Will Soon Discuss Petitions on Healthcare Law

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and opponents of the Affordable Care Act should know in a little more than two weeks if the Supreme Court will rule on the national healthcare law by next year.

The high court will discuss five petitions from three appeals court decisions on the law at a conference set for Nov. 10, with its findings made public four days later.

Given its full slate of cases, the earliest the judges could hear arguments about the constitutionality of the law is late February, although late March is more probable with a ruling likely coming in June.

At the core of the case is whether the government can mandate Americans to purchase medical coverage.  If the Supreme Court strikes down this provision, the rest of the healthcare law might not stand up to legal scrutiny.

So far, appeals courts have been split on the issue.  Meanwhile, 26 Republican attorneys general have filed a petition for the court to overturn the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Health Care Battle Moves to Florida

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PENSACOLA, Fla.) -- A federal judge in Florida will begin hearing oral arguments Thursday in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the new health care law and the expansion of Medicaid.

The proceedings begin just days after a Virginia judge ruled the federal government is overstepping its constitutional boundaries by requiring Americans to carry health insurance by 2014.

What sets the Florida case apart, though, is that it's brought on behalf of 20 states and is the first court challenge against Medicaid expansion.

The new law's requirement that Medicaid be expanded to cover Americans whose incomes are at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level -- about $14,000 in 2010 for a person living alone -- has triggered a flurry of protests from some states.

Arizona's incoming state Senate president has rejected billions in federal help.  Republican lawmakers in Texas recently threatened to eliminate Medicaid altogether because of rising costs.  And incoming Florida Gov. Rick Scott has called the health care law the "biggest job killer in the history of this country."

The 20 states that are part of the lawsuit in Florida argue that Medicaid expansion will further burden their already crumbling budgets.  But the federal government is supposed to pick up much of the tab, paying $443.5 billion -- or 95.4 percent of the total cost -- between 2014 and 2019, according to an analysis by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation.  The states would contribute $21.2 billion, Kaiser said.

Under the new law, Medicaid enrollment will climb by 15.9 million more people by 2019 than it otherwise would have, and the number of uninsured will fall by more than 11 million.

Supporters say the expansion is desperately needed because the current income threshold is dismally low.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio