This Week's Health Care Reform Headlines

It's a topsy-turvy time for health care reform. Fights break out at the federal and state level about Affordable Care Act provisions. Details of plans come into focus. And investors sit back to see who's going to benefit where from what.

Here's a look back at the reform news making headlines this week.

Federal news
House Republicans back a new bill requiring private health insurers to include details about ACA-related taxes in the annual letters to customers. The thinking is that the disclosures would illustrate how the costs of health care reform will drive up customer premium price, a common Republican counterargument.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats met with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to discuss problems with how the ACA changes will roll out. Sebelius met with the Senate Finance Committee and one-on-one with its members.

State news
About 17 states currently plan on having health insurance exchanges in place next year. States that don't meet the exchange creation deadlines -- or that don't plan to make one -- will still have access to a general federal exchange. With continued legislative problems, the feds might need to cover more states than previously anticipated.

Minnesota's House passed a reconciliation proposal on Friday. The move could help iron out Congressional differences on the state's health insurance exchange in time for the March 31 deadline. The state parties have fought bitterly over the exchange.

While Oklahoma continues to fight the constitutionality of the ACA, Florida received word that the feds would negotiate with the state on a Medicaid expansion alternative. The Sunshine State's been going back and forth on the issue for weeks, and may seek a waiver similar to Arkansas. But that requires legislators to formulate a defined plan. 

Private insurers
The New York State Psychiatric Association and affiliated patients filed suit against UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH  ) on Monday, citing insufficient coverage for mental health. If the allegations hold true, UnitedHealth has violated the requirements for a number of state and federal laws -- including the ACA.

Medicaid provider Centene (NYSE: CNC  ) shares slipped more than 5% Thursday after JPMorgan downgraded the stock from overweight to neutral. The move followed analysis of the ACA's Medicaid plans and the continued reluctance of states to sign-on for expansion.

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