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Supreme Court declines to hear South Carolina attempt to block Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood



a large white building: Supreme Court declines to hear South Carolina attempt to block Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood


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Supreme Court declines to hear South Carolina attempt to block Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that blocked the South Carolina Department of Health from cutting off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood.

The high court’s rejection means that last year’s ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals will remain in effect, prohibiting the state from terminating Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider.

While it takes four justices to approve a petition, the court doesn’t publish the vote totals and it declined to hear the case without comment.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed an executive order in 2018 prohibiting abortion clinics from participating in Medicaid.

Video: ACA unlikely to be struck down; Roberts and Kavanaugh are expected to support severability: Turley (FOX News)

ACA unlikely to be struck down; Roberts and Kavanaugh are expected to support severability: Turley

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Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, generally doesn’t pay for abortions, but conservatives have longed pushed to cut any state and federal funding flowing to the Planned Parenthood, which also provides an array of other health care services.

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Under the order, South Carolina’s two Planned Parenthood Centers, which provide family planning and preventive care services, cancer screenings, and other health care, were terminated as Medicaid providers.

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, representing one of its patients, filed suit, arguing the order is a violation of federal law that says Medicaid beneficiaries may get care from any qualified provider, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

South Carolina appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the state has the right to determine what providers are “qualified” to participate in the Medicaid program.

The Supreme Court has in recent years declined to hear similar appeals from Louisiana and Kansas.

The decision Tuesday came during Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she repeatedly declined to offer her views on landmark cases establishing a woman’s right to an abortion.

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The Health 202: Republican-backed ACA lawsuit also threatens Medicaid as enrollment grows during pandemic

But the health-care law’s Medicaid expansion played a bigger role in extending health coverage – and is now enrollment is surging amid the coronavirus pandemic. Coverage for Americans enrolled in this program is also threatened by the lawsuit, a detail getting far less attention on the campaign trail. 

Nearly 4 million more people enrolled in the health insurance program for the low income between February and June. 

Medicaid enrollment grew 6.2 percent over the spring and early summer, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported this week. 

It’s an abrupt reversal of the direction enrollment had previously been moving as it trended downward over the last several years. Yet the surge isn’t terribly surprising, given the nation’s widespread job losses during the first wave of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. More than one in five Americans – about 75 million – now rely on Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program for their coverage.

Many states have seen double-digit percentage increases in their Medicaid enrollment during the pandemic. 

In Nebraska, enrollment climbed from fewer than 644,000 in February to about 731,000 through August, my colleague Amy Goldstein reported.

“That 13.5 percent increase places Nevada among at least three states, along with Kentucky and Minnesota, where the cadre of people on Medicaid has spiked that much,” Amy wrote. “But increases are widespread: Caseloads had risen on average 8.4 percent through July in 30 states for which researchers have enrollment information. And in 14 states with enrollment data through August, the average is 10 percent.”

Around 15 million of Medicaid enrollees nationwide are eligible for the program because of the Affordable Care Act, which gave states dollars to expand their programs to earners up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

The outcome of the ACA lawsuit could affect their coverage. 

Just days after the election, the court is scheduled to hear a lawsuit challenging the ACA’s constitutionality. The confirmation of conservative nominee Amy Coney Barrett – a process the Senate is embarking upon in 10 days – could increase the court’s chances of knocking down some or all of the 2010 health care law.

Some ACA advocates have noted the much broader impact of tossing out the health care law, beyond those with preexisting conditions.

Charles Gaba, an ACA analyst, has been tweeting out how many people in each state could get kicked off Medicaid expansion:

It’s understandable why Democrats are focusing on the preexisting condition protections over Medicaid expansion.

Preexisting condition protections are especially popular, with 72 percent of Americans saying it’s “very important” they stay in place.

And were the court to toss out any part of the ACA, the preexisting condition protections would be the first to go. It’s harder to imagine the court ruling that the entire law including its Medicaid expansion must fall. 

Still, rarely does presidential nominee Joe Biden speak without mentioning preexisting conditions, and the phrase shows up constantly in Democrats’ campaign ads and speeches.

“We’ll show America which party stands

Medicare vs. Medicaid: What Is the Difference? | Health Insurance

ALTHOUGH THEY WERE BORN ON THE SAME DAY, Medicare and Medicaid are not identical twins. And even though they have been around for 55 years, many people still confuse these government-backed two healthcare programs.

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the laws that created Medicare and Medicaid as part of his Great Society programs to address poverty, inequality, hunger and education issues. Both Medicare and Medicaid offer health care support, but they do so in very different ways and mostly to different constituencies.

According to the Medicare Rights Center:

  • Medicare is a federal program that provides health coverage to those age 65 and older, or to those under 65 who have a disability, with no regard to personal income.
  • Medicaid is a combined state and federal program that provides health coverage to those who have a very low income, regardless of age.

Some people may be eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, known as dually eligible, and can qualify for both programs. The two programs work together to provide health coverage and lower costs, the MRC says. And although Medicare and Medicaid are both health insurance programs administered by the government, there are differences in the services they cover and in the ways costs are shared.

Medicare is a federal health insurance program. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the program pays medical bills from trust funds that working people have paid into during their employment. It offers essentially the same coverage and costs everywhere in the United States and is overseen by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the federal government.

Medicare is designed primarily to serve people over 65, whatever their income, and younger disabled people and dialysis patients who are diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant). Patients pay a portion of their medical costs through deductibles for hospital and other services. They also pay small monthly premiums for non-hospital coverage.

Medicare has two parts. Part A covers hospital care, and Part B covers other services like doctor’s appointments, outpatient treatment and other medical expenses. HHS says you are eligible for premium-free Part A if you are age 65 or older and you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. You can get Part A at age 65 without having to pay premiums if:

  • You receive retirement benefits or are eligible to receive benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board.
  • You or your spouse had Medicare-covered government employment.

If you are under age 65, you can get Part A without having to pay premiums if:

  • You have been entitled to Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits for 24 months.
  • You are a kidney dialysis or kidney transplant patient.

HHS says that most people do not have to pay a premium for Part A, but everyone must pay a premium for Part B. This is deducted monthly from your Social Security, railroad

Expanded Medicaid begins in Nebraska after years of dispute

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska will officially offer expanded Medicaid coverage to low-income people starting Thursday after years of wrangling over it in the Legislature, a statewide ballot campaign that led voters to approve it and a nearly two-year rollout that left some people in health care limbo.

The state will provide coverage to 10,288 residents who have signed up so far, a number roughly in line with the state’s projections. State officials expect expanded enrollment to rise to about 90,000 within a few years.

“This expansion is an excellent opportunity” for people who are now eligible, said Dannette Smith, executive director of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.


Nebraska was among several conservative states where state lawmakers and governors declined to expand Medicaid, only to see the issue go to voters. Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts and his GOP predecessor, Dave Heineman, both argued that expansion would be too costly for the state, and lawmakers rejected six attempts in as many years to adopt it as an optional part of President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law.

The expansion became law in 2018 when voters approved citizen-led measures in Nebraska, Utah and Idaho. Utah and Idaho officials later attached work requirements to their programs.

In Nebraska, the Ricketts administration implemented two tiers of coverage: a “basic” plan available to all newly qualified recipients and a “prime” plan available to people who are working, in school, volunteering or caring for a relative. The prime plan includes coverage for dental and vision care and over-the-counter drugs.

State health officials have defended the expansion’s slower-than-typical launch and their two-tiered approach, calling it a massive undertaking that required numerous layers of federal approval.

Even so, the delays caused a good deal of uncertainty and stress for people who were waiting to enroll, said Molly McCleery, health care access program director for the group Nebraska Appleseed.

“It was extremely difficult for the folks we worked with,” said McCleery, whose group played a major role in bringing the issue to voters. “A lot of people we worked with had long-standing health needs that they needed to get addressed.”

McCleery said that based on the experience of other states that expanded Medicaid, Nebraska is now likely to see a reduction in personal bankruptcies caused by large medical debts. People who aren’t saddled with huge debts are also able to spend more on other goods and services that help the economy, she said.

State officials said they faced several other challenges in expanding Medicaid, including computer system upgrades for processing applicants; hiring more workers; and negotiating new contracts with the private, managed-care companies that will serve Medicaid recipients. The contractors will administer the program, dubbed Heritage Health, with a financial incentive to provide health care services while keeping costs low.

“There was a lot of work that had to go into this,” said Ricketts, who opposed the expansion but promised to follow the will of voters.

Jeremy Brunssen, the state’s interim Medicaid and Long-Term Care director,

Alaska dentist who defrauded Medicaid sentenced to 12 years

The Alaska dentist was sentenced after he was convicted on 46 counts of defrauding the federal Medicaid program.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Editor’s Note: The video above is from Jan. 21, 2020.

An Alaska dentist convicted on 46 counts of defrauding the federal Medicaid program has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Seth Lookhart, 35, was also filmed riding a hoverboard during a procedure on a patient who was under anesthesia, KTUU-TV reported Monday.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton found Lookhart guilty Jan. 17 of pressuring patients to needlessly undergo intravenous sedation to bill Medicaid for the service.

Wolverton on Monday suspended eight years of the sentence, leaving Lookhart 12 years of prison time to serve.

The state requested that the court order Lookhart to pay more than $2 million in restitution for Medicaid fraud.

A 25-second video that appeared to have been filmed using a phone showed Lookhart riding a hoverboard into an exam room before removing a tooth from a sedated patient and then pivoting and riding away.

RELATED: A dentist was filmed extracting a tooth while on a hoverboard. He was found guilty on 46 counts

Evidence presented at trial showed other patients were left unattended while sedated, had breathing and heart complications and in some cases nearly died.

Patients also testified they woke from anesthesia to discover Lookhart worked on or removed the wrong teeth or strayed from agreed treatment plans.

The judge said he was particularly struck by numerous text messages in which Lookhart bragged to friends about his crimes.

Lookhart apologized in court while reading a prepared statement.

“While I do not doubt that I was able to render care and alleviate the pain to many people who were in dire need, I also know that I could have and should have maintained better discipline and focus while serving a patient base I came to love,” he said.

Lookhart is scheduled to begin serving his sentence Dec. 7.

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