SCOTUS Rules for Hobby Lobby
June 30, 2014

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that for-profit employers with religious objections can opt out of providing contraception coverage under Obamacare.

The decision could open the door to other employers seeking to withhold coverage for other medical procedures at odds with firm religious beliefs.

Former Senator Bond Now Pushing for Missouri Medicaid Expansion
January 25, 2014

(AP) – As a Republican senator, Kit Bond voted against the federal health care overhaul. Now lobbying for a prominent business group, Bond is pushing Republican legislators in his home state of Missouri to embrace a key provision of the law by expanding Medicaid eligibility.

Bond said Friday that the potential to reap billions of dollars more in federal funding is simply too important for Missouri to pass up, especially for hospitals that otherwise could get stuck with higher costs for treating the uninsured.

“While I was and still am one of the loudest opponents of Obamacare, I’m getting involved in Medicaid reform now because if our State sits on the sidelines, I’m concerned hospitals in rural and inner city Missouri won’t survive,” Bond said in an email.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry declined to say how much it is paying Bond’s consulting firm. But chamber President Dan Mehan said Bond already has met with Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon about the potential to expand Medicaid eligibility.

“He understands the issues very well, and we’re trying to capitalize on his stature, his relationships that he has and his reputation as a one of the best statesmen that this state will ever have,” Mehan said.

Bond voted against the federal health care law when Congress passed it four years ago. He said in December 2009 that President Barack Obama’s health care plan would fail to lower costs or improve the quality of health care. He also criticized the legislation as being “chock full of political payoffs” for Democratic senators so that the party could obtain the votes necessary to stop a Republican filibuster.

Bond chose not to seek re-election in 2010 after serving in the Senate for 24 years. He previously served as state auditor and two terms as governor.

Bond’s consulting firm said he has long supported a strong social safety net and has consistently fought for Missouri to receive a healthy share of federal funding. As a senator, for example, Bond worked to increase the amount of money Missouri’s highway department received from federal fuel taxes.

Even with Bond’s involvement, Medicaid expansion remains a longshot in Missouri.

Over the past year, Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature has repeatedly rejected proposals from Nixon and Democratic lawmakers to extend Medicaid eligibility to an estimated 300,000 additional lower-income adults. States that expand Medicaid eligibility under the terms of Obama’s health law can receive enhanced federal Medicaid payments for those new enrollees

Obama Signs Up
December 23, 2013

President Barack Obama has signed up for health insurance through an Affordable Care Act exchange, the White House said Monday.

Over the weekend, Obama selected a bronze plan through the District of Columbia exchange, an official said, in a “symbolic” move since he, as president, he receives care from the military.

Obama “was pleased to participate in a plan as a show of support for these marketplaces which are providing quality, affordable health care options to more than a million people,” the official added.

Challenge Starts to Missouri Healthcare Navigators System
December 3, 2013

ST. LOUIS (AP) – A coalition of medical organizations and health care advocates has sued Missouri over its requirement that only state-licensed counselors can serve as navigators in a program aimed at helping consumers sign up for coverage under the new online health insurance marketplace.

A new Missouri law requires insurance counselors to receive at least 30 hours of training and pay a small fee in order to help online shoppers negotiate the federal insurance exchange. The law also compels insurance “navigators” to refer individuals who bought their health insurance from a licensed agent back to those agents when considering private coverage. Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature opted against setting up a state-run exchange.

A lawsuit filed on Nov. 25 in U.S. District Court in Jefferson City said the state requirements “directly conflict” with the federal Affordable Care Act and place groups like the nonprofit St. Louis Effort for AIDS in an “untenable position,” restricting their constitutional rights to free speech. The plaintiffs include Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri; Missouri Jobs for Justice; former Democratic state lawmaker Jeanette Mott Oxford, who is now executive director of the Missouri Association of Social Welfare; a physician in Independence; a retired doctor in St. Louis County; and a Kansas City community organizer.

The Affordable Care Act “provides clear and controlling rules for the scope, role and duties of navigators and other consumer assisters,” said Jane Perkins, legal director at North Carolina-based National Health Law Program and one of five attorneys representing those challenging the state law. “Missouri’s law goes the unnecessary step to block the ability of consumer assisters to serve their intended function under the (federal law) which is to help consumers navigate the new marketplace and get enrolled in a qualified health insurance plan.

Improved Obamacare Website Due Saturday
November 30, 2013

It’s deadline day for the repair of, a psychological milestone that could revive confidence in the embattled health law or send it into a political tailspin.

The administration is taking pains to not characterize Saturday as a deadline. The site, officials acknowledge, will still struggle at times. Repairs and upgrades will go on for months. But the public and many politicians see Nov. 30 as pivotal for both the policy and politics surrounding Obamacare.

The six-week “tech surge” touted by a bruised President Barack Obama needs to show results or risk permanently damaging enrollment efforts – and the already-shaken confidence of endangered Democrats. And several million people facing cancelled health plans are counting on a functional website to find new Obamacare insurance so they aren’t uncovered come Jan. 1.

Even if performs reasonably well Saturday – after an 11-hour extended-maintenance shutdown Friday night – the partisan slugfest won’t fade. Republicans can pounce on inevitable glitches as signs that the law is a failure. Obamacare supporters want to put their technology woes behind them so they can turn to the challenge of covering the uninsured.