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Jeffrey Young
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Jeffrey Young is a health care reporter at The Huffington Post based in Washington. He has covered health care, business, and politics for 15 years at organizations including Bloomberg News and The Hill. Jeffrey is a native of the Philadelphia suburbs and earned his bachelor's degree in English from the College of William & Mary in Virginia.

Entries by Jeffrey Young

Here's How Many People In Each State May Not Be Able To Afford Insurance If The Supreme Court Rules Against Obamacare

(127) Comments | Posted May 28, 2015 | 7:33 AM

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision in a major new lawsuit against Obamacare this June, and the health coverage for millions hangs in the balance.

This challenge to the Affordable Care Act, called King v. Burwell, came from longtime Obamacare opponents who claim...

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This Is What The Latest Obamacare Supreme Court Case Is All About

(1256) Comments | Posted May 26, 2015 | 7:31 AM

President Barack Obama’s big health care reform law is back at the Supreme Court. Justices are expected to issue a decision in June on a new challenge to the law. Depending on which way they rule, either nothing will change or people across the country will start losing their health...

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Revealed: Medicare's Most Popular And Costliest Drugs

(43) Comments | Posted April 30, 2015 | 6:23 PM

Medicare spends more than $100 billion on drugs a year, with medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol among the most commonly prescribed, according to a trove of data released by the federal government Thursday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published 23 million pieces of...

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Conservatives Argue The Obamacare Lawsuit Won't Be So Bad After All. That's Nonsense.

(349) Comments | Posted April 22, 2015 | 6:08 PM

WASHINGTON -- Get ready for a new line from the crowd that brought a lawsuit before the Supreme Court threatening to devastate Obamacare and snatch health insurance away from millions of people: The lawsuit won’t actually devastate Obamacare and snatch health insurance away from millions of people.

It may seem...

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Montana Poised To Expand Medicaid Under Obamacare

(608) Comments | Posted April 18, 2015 | 1:28 PM

WASHINGTON -- Montana is on track to join 28 states and the District of Columbia by expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income people.

Democrats in both chambers of the majority-GOP Montana state legislature have joined with enough Republicans to advance the legislation. The state Senate sent...

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Insurance Coverage Of Birth Control Is Uneven, Despite Obamacare Mandate

(103) Comments | Posted April 16, 2015 | 9:31 AM

Health insurance coverage of contraceptives like hormonal implants, patches and vaginal rings remains inconsistent for American women, even though the Affordable Care Act requires no-cost access to birth control, according to a report published Thursday.

Women who seek contraceptives other than the pill may find that their insurers charge copayments,...

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Good Riddance To One Of Congress' Dumbest Rituals: The 'Doc Fix'

(135) Comments | Posted April 14, 2015 | 9:52 PM

WASHINGTON -- It’s been called “dumb,” “bad policy” and “common-sense-defying." And that’s by the people in charge of it. It’s also called the “doc fix,” and it’s finally letting out its death rattle.

At long last, Congress on Tuesday killed off a policy with...

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Uninsured Rate Gets Lower And Lower, Thanks To Obamacare

(342) Comments | Posted April 13, 2015 | 3:05 AM

WASHINGTON-- The Affordable Care Act was designed to slash the percentage of Americans who lack health insurance, and it's working.

The uninsured rate fell to 11.9 percent during the first quarter of this year, 1 percentage point below the rate at the close of 2014, according to the findings of...

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A Case Study On Why The Obamacare Lawsuit Is Based On Mythical History

(330) Comments | Posted April 6, 2015 | 9:18 AM

WASHINGTON -- Four years ago, Alabama’s new Republican governor, along with the state's first majority-GOP legislature since Reconstruction, faced a tough, high-stakes decision: Make the best of a federal health care reform law they hated, or stiff-arm President Barack Obama.

Even in this conservative Southern state, it wasn’t...

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Here's How Obamacare Is Going To Affect Your Taxes

(60) Comments | Posted April 1, 2015 | 7:35 AM

Taxes are a pain. Health insurance is a pain. This year, Americans will suffer both when they file their income taxes. Ouch.

The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, inserted health insurance into tax season in two ways, affecting nearly all of us. The first is the law's mandate that almost...

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16 Million Fewer Uninsured Thanks To Obamacare

(834) Comments | Posted March 16, 2015 | 11:22 AM

WASHINGTON -- More than 16 million Americans gained health coverage because of the Affordable Care Act, mainly via the law's health insurance exchange and Medicaid expansion, according to an analysis published Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The government estimate is consistent with numerous surveys taken over...

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Obamacare Enrollments Hit Nearly 12 Million, Top Health Official Says

(292) Comments | Posted March 9, 2015 | 3:39 PM

WASHINGTON -- Close to 12 million people are covered by health insurance plans purchased from an Obamacare exchange, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said at the White House Monday.

More than half of these enrollees are new to the program, said Burwell, speaking at an event commemorating...

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Obamacare Subsidies To Cost Less Than Expected, CBO Says

(89) Comments | Posted March 9, 2015 | 2:17 PM

WASHINGTON -- The price tag for Obamacare will be lower than previously expected, independent federal auditors reported Monday in the latest downward revision of the cost to taxpayers of reducing the number of uninsured Americans.

Net spending on subsidies for private health insurance and greater enrollment in Medicaid and the...

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So That Happened: Scott Walker's Union Bust Delivered Behind A Wall Of Gaffes

(194) Comments | Posted March 7, 2015 | 6:30 AM

So, that happened. This week, let's talk about you. What kind of stuff do you like to read on this site, and how do we provide it when Congress takes off a day early to avoid a snow storm? Senior Politics Editor Paige Lavender explains.

Listen to this week's...

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10 Key Obamacare Supreme Court Moments--And A Moment That Wasn't

(74) Comments | Posted March 4, 2015 | 3:00 PM

For more than an hour on Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell -- a lawsuit that, if successful, could force millions of people scattered across two-thirds of the states to lose health insurance.

The crux of the dispute is the meaning of the...

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Supreme Court Obamacare Arguments Offer Small Hints Of Outcome

(1603) Comments | Posted March 4, 2015 | 11:42 AM

WASHINGTON -- A lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act received a serious hearing at the Supreme Court Wednesday as lawyers from both sides faced tough questioning from justices, making it difficult to predict how the court will rule and whether millions of people will have to relinquish their health insurance.

...
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Huge Stakes As Supreme Court Takes Third Crack At Obamacare

(1147) Comments | Posted March 3, 2015 | 8:00 PM

WASHINGTON -- Obamacare faces its strangest challenge yet when the Supreme Court takes up the law for the third time Wednesday, but the oddity of the lawsuit shouldn’t obscure the cataclysm that a loss for President Barack Obama would provoke.

The Supreme Court case is the latest legal effort by...

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Courting Disaster: How Losing Health Insurance Would Change The Lives Of One Breast Cancer Survivor And Her Mother

(2) Comments | Posted March 3, 2015 | 5:00 AM


Press play to hear Karen Hines tell her story.

Obamacare allowed Karen Hines, a three-time breast cancer survivor, to get health insurance she was denied before because of her medical history. It also gave her the financial help she needed to buy it. But if those subsidies disappear after a Supreme Court ruling in June, Hines is mostly worried about what will happen to her ailing mother.

Hines spends her days caring for her 84-year-old mother, who suffered a stroke in 2010 and has dementia, in their Virginia Beach home. Hines, 59, is able to do so because she has her own health care needs covered, but if she lost the subsidies she’d have to return to full-time work that provides health benefits. That would mean her mother would have to spend more time away at elder care and less time at home with her daughter.

“It would be tough on my mother,” Hines said. “It would be harder on her to go to day care more for a longer period of time, because she needs a break and she needs some rest.”

Finding a job that provides health care wouldn’t be easy for Hines. She left behind her career in public relations more than a decade ago to pursue graduate studies in American history, aiming to become an educator. Her third breast cancer diagnosis in 2009 and the side effects of chemotherapy interrupted her studies and teaching work, and she took medical leave in 2013. She hasn’t worked since, and subsists on the “pittance” she receives for looking after her mother.

“Look, life’s not really hopeful out there for a 59-year-old to go into the workforce again,” Hines said. “Considering that I was in graduate school and so away from my longest type of employment, my skills are not current.”

Hines pays about $250 a month for her health insurance, after a subsidy of more than $200. She got the insurance on a federal health insurance exchange because Virginia didn't set up one. The lawsuit before the Supreme Court claims only state-run exchanges can distribute subsidies. She figures she could dig deeper into her retirement savings to pay the full price for about a year, but doesn’t know how she’d cope after that.

Even during that first year, Hines would have to cut back on her coverage and her medical care, a dicey proposition for someone still at risk for cancer even after having both her breasts and her ovaries removed.

“I’ll scrimp back as far as I can to make sure that I can cover catastrophic care,” Hines said. “Everything else goes.”

For more personal stories about the real-life effects of the Supreme Court case, go to Courting Disaster: Obamacare Is Back At The Supreme Court, And These Six Lives Hang In The Balance.

The audio interviews in this feature were produced and edited by Ibrahim Balkhy and Brad Shannon.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article erroneously said Medicaid pays Karen Hines to care for her mother.
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Courting Disaster: To Keep Health Coverage, House Painter Would Work Himself Sick

(10) Comments | Posted March 3, 2015 | 5:00 AM


Press play to hear Joe Lucas tell his story.

Joe Lucas paints houses, and he’s worked for decades to set himself up for retirement. He paid off his house early, and now that he’s in his 50s, he hopes to start winding down his career and getting ready for the next phase of his life. But thanks to the looming Supreme Court decision, he might have to scrap those plans.

Health care costs were the big wild card, a fact driven home in 2010 when Lucas, who had no insurance, suffered an aortic aneurysm. The $69,000 hospital bill got paid in the end when Lucas learned he’d become eligible for Medicaid, but the episode was a wake-up call. That’s when he ran into the pre-Affordable Care Act health insurance market.

“I can’t let this happen again, so I was looking to purchase insurance,” said Lucas, 52. But his history of heart problems made him too much of a risk for the insurance companies serving his home city of Pittsburgh. “I was finding out that nobody wanted to sell me insurance.”

Lucas later signed up for a temporary Obamacare program for people with pre-existing conditions, at a cost of $279 a month. He enrolled in a private insurance policy last year through the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges that costs him about $150 a month, after a $220 tax credit.

The subsidies have made it possible “to take it just slightly easier and not have to kill myself,” said Lucas, who uses four medications daily to control his blood pressure and needs $11,000 worth of tests on his heart every year.

If the Supreme Court rules that subsidies on federally run exchanges, like the one Lucas used in Pennsylvania, are illegal, he is determined not to lose his coverage. “If I don’t have the insurance, I can’t see my cardiologist, that means I don’t get prescriptions for my blood pressure -- which is what’s basically keeping me in good health,” he said.

Lucas said he’d have to try to pile on more work, if he can find it, to keep his insurance.

“I worked 40 to 60 hours for almost 30 years. So I kind of figured that between 50 and 70, I was hoping to slow down,” he said. “It definitely would erode time off my lifespan.”

For more personal stories about the real-life effects of the Supreme Court case, go to Courting Disaster: Obamacare Is Back At The Supreme Court, And These Six Lives Hang In The Balance.

The audio interviews in this feature were produced and edited by Ibrahim Balkhy and Brad Shannon.
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Courting Disaster: 'There's No Humanity In What's Going On'

(21) Comments | Posted March 3, 2015 | 5:00 AM


Press play to hear Jared Blitz tell his story.

If the Supreme Court rules that Obamacare subsidies in more than 30 states are illegal, millions will lose their health insurance because they won’t be able to afford it. Others will keep their plans in spite of the subsidies disappearing -- and that’s a problem, too.

Jared Blitz, 33, knows he needs medical care and has a costly surgery on the horizon. Because his subsidy is small, he plans to keep his insurance even if the high court rules against the law.

“For somebody like me, I can handle it,” said Blitz, who lives in Mesa, Arizona. “I also think of health care as being one of the major priorities because I have a heart condition, so if I have to pay a higher premium, that’s something I don’t have an issue with. So the subsidies would be nice, but I can make due if I don’t have it, just because I’ll sacrifice elsewhere.”

Eliminating the subsidies will drive people out of the insurance market, and those who remain will mainly be people with costly medical conditions who need the coverage most, like Blitz. This will drive up costs for insurers and lead to rate hikes for everyone left in an increasingly volatile market.

Blitz was born with a heart condition called aortic valve stenosis, meaning one of his heart valves is too narrow. Soon, perhaps later this year, he will need another surgery to stay alive. The operation cost $200,000 when he was 17, and his next will cost about $50,000. Blitz also needs tests on his heart every year that cost up to $3,000.

Blitz went uninsured for a time after finishing graduate school as he endured rejections by health insurers. One company offered to insure everything but his heart, essentially providing useless coverage for someone with his condition. He finally settled for a plan that exposed him to unlimited out-of-pocket costs and would have left big expenses uncovered if he’d needed surgery or had a medical emergency.

When Affordable Care Act enrollment started, Blitz signed up for a plan with better coverage than his old insurance at a slightly lower cost. He gets a small subsidy that was $50 a month last year and $20 a month this year. Blitz earns about $25,000 a year as a part-time college professor. Arizona’s health insurance exchange is run by the federal government because the state declined to establish its own.The lawsuit before the Supreme Court claims subsidies are only legal in state-run exchanges, not federal ones.

What really concerns Blitz is the possibility that the Affordable Care Act’s rule that insurance companies have to cover people with pre-existing conditions will go away, something congressional Republicans favor as part of repealing Obamacare.

“They may as well line me up and kick me in the balls,” Blitz said. “That’s just brutal to do to people. I don’t get it. There’s no humanity in what’s going on.”

For more personal stories about the real-life effects of the Supreme Court case, go to Courting Disaster: Obamacare Is Back At The Supreme Court, And These Six Lives Hang In The Balance.

The audio interviews in this feature were produced and edited by Ibrahim Balkhy and Brad Shannon.
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