The State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) firmly believes that real government reform, innovative policy changes, and the big ideas that will solve America's problems are going to be found in state capitols and not Washington, D.C. As has been the case for several years, there is grid-lock in Washington, and Federal government spending and regulation are out of control, while our country's problems continue to be unaddressed by Washington.

Contrast this with the states, who are getting things done -- some better than others. America is at its most prosperous and productive when there is limited government, less spending, less taxes, less dictation from Washington, and less encroachment into the states.

SGLF will promote innovative reforms advocated by our conservative elected leaders and defend them when the special interest proponents of the status quo attack these elected leaders. SGLF is dedicated to educating policymakers and the public about the benefits of smaller government, lower taxes, balanced budgets, and efficiency in governing.

SGLF is a 501 (c)(4) social welfare organization and is a strategic partner to the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) - home to the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association, Republican Attorneys General Association, Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, and the Republican Secretaries of State Committee.

State health exchanges are showing mixed results

Written by PAIGE WINFIELD CUNNINGHAM for Politico on November 05, 2013Health Care
On the Obamacare racetrack, Washington, Kentucky and New York are leading the pack. Relatively free of the technical problems that have plagued the federally run insurance exchanges — but still encumbered by some glitches of their own — the 15 state-run exchanges tell a varied story. Some states are charging ahead on enrollment while others have run up against roadblocks. The leader on enrollments, so far: Washington state, with nearly 49,000 enrollees in exchange plans and Medicaid as of Monday. The state has been a leader in setting up its exchange all along, and officials say the swell of enrollments has allowed them to identify the biggest website problems early on.

The problems have ranged from error codes to difficulties reconciling state tax records with the federal government, said Washington exchange spokesman Michael Marchand. Those problems are being fixed through regular overnight weekend maintenance which will most likely continue through the beginning of December, he said. The state has set a goal of 130,000 enrollees in exchange health plans and a quarter-million new Medicaid enrollees by Jan. 1. But while things seem to be going well, officials aren’t celebrating too soon.
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Texans easily approve $2 billion water fund, other amendments

Written by DAVID BARER for The Dallas Morning News on November 05, 2013Energy & Environment
AUSTIN — Texans voted Tuesday to open the valves on water project spending for decades to come, approving a constitutional measure to create a revolving state fund for reservoirs, pipelines and conservation efforts. It was the most closely watched of nine proposed amendments on the ballot, all of which easily won approval. Proposition 6 will tap $2 billion from the rainy day fund to help finance water projects across the state. Advocates say the money should help solve the state’s water woes for the next 50 years. It capped a strong push by business and political leaders to address the issue, lest drought and booming population stall Texas’ economic growth.

“Small businesses, manufacturers, the energy industry, the conservation community, farmers and ranchers, agriculture, all came together very, very strongly,” said House Speaker Joe Straus, who headed the campaign to promote the amendment. He spoke at an Austin watch party after the posting of favorable early voting results. “The people of Texas today validated our good work with an overwhelming vote of support,” added Straus, R-San Antonio. The $2 billion will go into a new water bank that the Texas Water Development Board will control to aid in financing water projects across the state. The money will be crucial for large projects, such as reservoirs and pipelines, because they can take decades to build and cost billions of dollars, officials said.
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New voter ID law tested during Texas election

Written by Rick Jervis for USA TODAY on November 05, 2013Election Law
AUSTIN — Texas voters are going to the polls Tuesday to vote on a slew of constitutional and municipal issues, from funding water projects to granting tax breaks to aerospace companies. But a deeper question is how voters adapt to the state's new controversial voter ID law, which was enacted earlier this year and is seeing its first statewide test Tuesday. The law says voters must have a valid photo ID with a name that matches the name on the voting rolls. Those without ID could still vote using provisional ballots and have six days to return with correct identification. Texas is one of 34 states that have passed voter ID laws, though not all of have been enacted due to future implementation dates or court challenges, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
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McCrory launches teacher advisory committee

Written by Lynn Bonner for The Charlotte Observer on November 05, 2013Education Reform
CARY Gov. Pat McCrory launched a teacher advisory group Tuesday that he charged with making recommendations on issues such as teacher pay, testing and technology. At a meeting at the SAS campus in Cary, he asked the group to keep in mind the needs of businesses looking for educated workers. “This is an issue that’s going to determine the future of our state and the future of our jobs,” he said.

McCrory said improving education was “not a Democratic or Republican issue,” but public education has become a flashpoint for McCrory and the Republican legislature. The first meeting of the advisory committee – 24 K-12 teachers from across the state – was held the day after teachers and parents around the state protested per-pupil spending that has fallen to near the bottom of national rankings and low teacher pay. Even SAS CEO Jim Goodnight, in his short welcome to committee members, said he hoped the legislature “will find some money to pay you a little bit more. Some of the salary data is not very good.”
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Maine has lots of businesses, and we can get them to grow

Published in Bangor Daily News on November 05, 2013Economic Prosperity
People may often wonder: How do you actually create jobs? Well, often it starts with an entrepreneur or two. Studies have shown economic growth depends on a thriving entrepreneurial foundation made up of small enterprises. Because they are more nimble and better able to generate a return with seed funding or research and development money, small enterprises serve as an engine for job growth and productivity. Indeed, the vast majority of new businesses start small. New companies with one to four employees account for 86 percent of new firms formed each year since the late 1970s. The tricky part is to ensure those firms grow and succeed.

The entrepreneurs of Maine — and it has many — are a resource, and they need much more attention and support. Maine — which Forbes Magazine ranked worst for business — actually ranks 29th for entrepreneurship, according to the University of Nebraska’s Lincoln Bureau of Business Research, which measures states based on the income of entrepreneurs, business formation rates, technological innovation and growth in the number of entrepreneurs. And it has gotten to that level with little investment. Maine spends $11.31 per capita in venture capital investment, according to the National Venture Capital Association. Massachusetts, which is ranked No. 1 for entrepreneurship, spends $432 per capita on venture capital.
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Young Avoid New Health Plans

Early Buyers of Coverage Are Older Than Expected, Raising Expense Concerns

Published in Wall Street Journal on November 04, 2013Health Care
Insurers say the early buyers of health coverage on the nation's troubled new websites are older than expected so far, raising early concerns about the economics of the insurance marketplaces. If the trend continues, an older, more expensive set of customers could drive up prices for everyone, the insurers say, by forcing them to spread their costs around. "We need a broad range of people to make this work, and we're not seeing that right now," said Heather Thiltgen of Medical Mutual of Ohio, the state's largest insurer by individual customers. "We're seeing the population skewing older."

The early numbers, described to The Wall Street Journal by insurance executives, agents, state officials and actuaries, are still small—partly a consequence of the continuing technical problems plaguing the federally run exchanges, experts say. HealthCare.gov, the federally run marketplace serving 36 states, is suffering serious technical problems that have prevented many people from signing up. But the numbers demonstrate a real-world fallout from the digital snafus: Less-healthy customers are more likely to persevere through technical obstacles to gain coverage, insurers say. Younger, healthier customers who feel less need for insurance—but whose widespread participation is important to the financial success of the system—could be quicker to give up.
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Oregon's State Exchange May Be Worse Than Healthcare.gov

Written by Kristian Foden-Vencil for Oregon Public Broadcasting on November 04, 2013Health Care
As the federal government consumes humble pie over failures in the health insurance exchanges, some states that have set up their own exchanges are also struggling. Oregon has yet to enroll one single person, and it's been reduced to pawing through paper applications to figure out eligibility. When Cover Oregon opened Oct. 1, executive director Rocky King was excited. He’d been preparing for years. "Day one, we are accepting applications. And staff at the Oregon Health Authority and Cover Oregon are ready to process those applications," he said on opening day.

Back then, King conceded there were still glitches with the site, but he said that by mid-to-late October, they'd be worked out. Now it’s November, and it's clear a quick fix is not in the cards. So Cover Oregon has turned to old-fashioned paper applications. People can either download one off the website, or have somebody walk them through it. NPR made a request to visit a call center to see the process, but was turned down for security reasons. Instead, spokeswoman Amy Fauver explained how it’ll work. "We have on our website right now, a place where people who just want to wait, who just want do to it electronically, can give us their e-mail address, and we will e-mail them when the system is fully functional,” she said. “We also hear from a lot of people who are really chomping at the bit to get started. And they want to send in their paper application as soon as they can. Either way is fine with us. " Some consumers are frustrated.
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Health law leads to cancellation of N.D. policies

Published in The Bismarck Tribune on November 03, 2013Health Care
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Thousands of North Dakota residents who buy health insurance on their own will see their current policies canceled or changed beginning in January as new regulations take effect under the federal health care law. Health insurance companies have already sent out cancellation notices in North Dakota and other states, routing customers to new plans that comply with rules in the Affordable Care Act. Those rules make some previously optional coverage areas mandatory and set limits on out-of-pocket expenses. Plans that do not meet those new regulations will be canceled or upgraded.

About 42,500 North Dakota residents, or roughly 6 percent of the state, were covered by individual plans at the end of 2013, according to state insurance records. In North Dakota, the health care changes will wipe out virtually all the 2,500 individual plans carried by Medica and Sanford Health. Blue Cross Blue Shield North Dakota, the state’s largest insurer, covered more than 32,000 through individual plans last year, and would not disclose how many of its customers’ current plans will be discontinued. But Judd Wagner, chief marketing officer, said the changes would affect a very small percentage of its customers, including those enrolled through employer groups.
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Which Federal Appeals Court Vacancies Should Take Priority?

Written by Maggie Clark for Stateline on October 29, 2013Federal Overreach
Seven Republican attorneys general say President Obama is stacking the deck against states that sue federal agencies by filling vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit. The D.C. Circuit currently has three open seats, but also has the lowest workload of any circuit, according to data from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The D.C.-based court hears all cases against federal agencies and is a frequent stop for state attorneys general challenging federal regulations. By filling the D.C. vacancies before filling vacancies in circuits with heavier caseloads, the attorneys general argued the president is packing the D.C. court with judges who share his political preferences and will support his agencies when they’re challenged by the states. “It's inappropriate for the Obama administration to inject politics into decisions about how best to allocate judicial resources by attempting to unnecessarily add judges to the D.C. Circuit when other circuits are in much greater need," said Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The letter was signed by the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.
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Obama administration knew millions could not keep their health insurance

Written by Lisa Myers and Hannah Rappleye for NBC News on October 28, 2013Federal Overreach
President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years. Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC News that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”
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New Mexico agency pleased with Medicaid expansion enrollment so far; 13,000 apply in October

Written by BARRY MASSEY for Associated Press on October 27, 2013Health Care
SANTA FE, New Mexico — More than 13,000 New Mexicans have applied for health care services through Medicaid since enrollment opened earlier this month for an expanded program that will cover more low-income adults, according to state officials. Gov. Susana Martinez's administration and a health care advocate consider it a good start for a state with one of the highest uninsured rates in the country. Of those who submitted applications, about 79 percent, or nearly 10,500, were found to be eligible for Medicaid through Wednesday, according to the Human Services Department. Matt Kennicott, a spokesman for the department, said the pace of Medicaid enrollment since Oct. 1 is similar to what the state typically sees each month. There were about 19,600 applications for Medicaid in September. "As we pick up steam and more people become aware of it, then we'll get more people on the rolls. So I think it's fine as long we are making headway with these kind of numbers," said Barbara Webber, executive director of Health Action New Mexico.
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NM teachers unions want education department to slow implementation of evaluation system

Published in THE ASSOCIATED PRESS on October 26, 2013Labor Reform
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — New Mexico's two teacher unions want the state Public Education Department to slow its implementation of a new evaluation system for teachers and schools. The National Education Association is considering legal action, while the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico is threatening to withdraw support for renewal of a waiver that allows the state more flexibility under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Patrick Sanchez, head of the National Education Association in Las Cruces, told the Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/17PnBVw) that teachers have reached a boiling point over the department's plan. "It's pretty fierce, close to nuclear," he said. The system has provoked protests and talks of a teacher strike in Albuquerque as well as criticism from teachers and others around the state. Critics say the system places too much weight on student achievement and allows for classroom observations to be done by someone other than the school principal or assistant principal.
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New Voter ID law causing few problems

Written by ANNA M. TINSLEY for The Star-Telegram on October 26, 2013Election Law
The state’s voter ID law doesn’t seem to be creating significant problems at Texas polls so far, but election officials worry that the worst is in store. This year’s Nov. 5 election, which features constitutional amendments and proposals such as school and park bond packages, is drawing a trickle of Texas early voters to the polls, a drop in the bucket of what is expected next year. “We’ve really had no complaints, concerns or issues,” said Steve Raborn, elections administrator for Tarrant County. “But it’s only a small test given the low turnout. “Voters who turn out for these constitutional amendment and bond elections are frequent voters. They know the drill,” he said. “Next year, we probably will get a lot more voters, first-time voters or infrequent voters, and maybe they haven’t received that message.” This is the first statewide election in which Texans must show a photo ID to vote.
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HealthCare.gov fixes won’t be done until end of November, adviser says

Written by Sandhya Somashekhar and Lena H. Sun for The Washington Post on October 25, 2013Health Care
The Obama administration announced Friday that it was putting a private firm in charge of fixing its faulty health insurance Web site and set the end of November as a target date for working out all the bugs, the first indication of how long repairs may take. One day after contractors on the project publicly suggested that the federal government inadequately tested the site before its Oct. 1 launch, administration officials said that one of those contractors — Columbia-based Quality Software Services Inc., or QSSI — would take over management of HealthCare.gov. Jeffrey Zients, a former administration official selected by the White House to assess the extent of the online marketplace’s problems, told reporters the site is “fixable.” But he offered a sobering picture of the problems left to tackle, saying there are dozens of issues on a “punch list” that need to be addressed. More than 100 items are on the list, according to a person who is knowledgeable about the project and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information is not public.
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State insurance boards frustrated with Obamacare technical glitches

Written by Reid Wilson for Washington Post on October 25, 2013Health Care
Commissioners responsible for overseeing insurance industries in states relying on the federal government to run health-care exchanges are hearing from consumers who can’t log into Web sites, and some aren’t hearing back when they call Washington for answers. At the same time, the Department of Health and Human Services says its Web site, HealthCare.gov, is working better every day. More than 700,000 applications have been completed, many through the Web site, according to a department spokeswoman. HHS is pushing to enroll the uninsured in person, as well as online. The department has held more than 500 events for the health insurance marketplace since Oct. 1, one source said. And HHS is relying on the more than 60,000 agents and brokers who have been trained to sign people up, along with 12,000 certified application specialists and 2,200 so-called “navigators.”

“People are getting online, they are getting enrolled, they are completing applications, and we are seeing improvement,” said Gary Cohen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. “We have made sure that people know that there are a number of ways to fill out an application, get it completed, go through the shopping experience and ultimately get enrolled.” But in a series of interviews with insurance commissioners in several states, many told GovBeat that they weren’t getting answers when they call HHS. States that declined to set up their own exchanges are worried that some of their citizens won’t be able to sign up in time, though states running their own exchanges have had more success.
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After Insurance Industry Pow-Wow, White House Delays Obamacare's Individual Mandate By Six Weeks

Written by Avik Roy for Forbes on October 24, 2013Health Care
Yesterday afternoon, chief executives of 12 major health insurers—including Aetna, Humana, WellPoint, and Kaiser Permanente—trudged to the White House to “discuss…ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act.” The meeting was off the record, but we have a pretty good idea of what happened. Insurers were likely to urge the White House to delay the implementation of Obamacare’s exchanges until the website, Healthcare.gov, gets fixed. And it appears they got their wish. Last night, the White House confirmed that it intends to delay the enforcement of the individual mandate by as much as six weeks. “The White House is meeting with insurance industry executives,” a consultant to insurers told Ezra Klein, “and I can tell you what they’re talking about. [They’re saying] you need to get this fixed, because you’re setting us up for a real fall with our customers. [Patients are] not going to blame Kathleen Sebelius if they walk into their doctor’s office and the doctor doesn’t know who they are. They’ll blame the insurance company. And I’m sure what the insurers are telling the White House today is we will not let you put us in that position.”

I recently spoke to one of those CEOs, Bruce Broussard of Humana, at the Forbes Healthcare Summit. Broussard expressed optimism that the website would eventually get fixed. But he was more cautious about whether or not healthy and young people will pay lots more for health insurance in order to subsidize other people. “The exchanges probably are a good thing,” says Broussard. “It’s expanding coverage for people, and we think that in the long run it will be the right thing to do. In the short run, it’s got some bumps, and the industry and the government expected that. But we are focused on fixing those bumps, and to work with the government to make it both a good experience [while] driving down health care costs and improving the quality.”
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More Americans In 3 States Have Had Their Insurance Canceled Under ObamaCare Than Have Filed An Exchange Account In All 50

Written by Josh Archambault for Forbes on October 24, 2013Federal Overreach
This week the reality of the ObamaCare roll-out appeared in a set of news stories that serve as an ironic juxtaposition. Over 500,000 individuals have seen their insurance policies cancelled in just 3 states.  In all 50 states, only 476,000 applications have been “filed” in an exchange. (Even though we are still learning the true definition of “filed.”) First from Anna Gorman and Julie Appleby at Kaiser Health News: Thousands get health insurance cancellation notices “Florida Blue, for example, is terminating about 300,000 policies, about 80 percent of its individual policies in the state. Kaiser Permanente in California has sent notices to 160,000 people – about half of its individual business in the state. Insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh is dropping about 20 percent of its individual market customers, while Independence Blue Cross, the major insurer in Philadelphia, is dropping about 45 percent.”

That is far north of half a million lives dropped due to new ObamaCare regulations in just 3 states. That doesn’t even include recent reports in North Carolina of Blue Cross planning to cancel a sizable portion of their plans, or carriers doing the same in Illinois or Nebraska. Next up is Julie Pace from the AP this past weekend: “Administration officials say more than 476,000 health insurance applications have been filed through federal and state exchanges.” As I have tracked enrollment by states, many are reporting out both Medicaid and exchange enrollment at the same time. Therefore the 476,000 number is misleading. My best guess is that for the 17 states that have reported out some data, the number is closer to 193,818 applications (once you pull out he Medicaid applications that have been reported on). Of course, this number is also still too high as it is compromised by the jointly reported data.
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Common Core standards for K-12 students approved by Senate, close to implementation

Written by Kristen M. Daum for The Detroit Free Press on October 24, 2013Education Reform
LANSING — The Michigan Department of Education could begin implementing Common Core Standards for K-12 students in the state soon, now that the state Senate has given its approval. By a voice vote today, the Senate approved a resolution that allows the department to implement the national standards under certain conditions. A voice vote means each senator’s position on the bill is not recorded. The Senate’s revised version of the resolution — HCR 11 — now goes back to the House for final approval. The House approved its version in late September by an 85-21 vote. Common Core State Standards are a national set of expectations of what students need to know in order to be career- and college-ready when they leave high school. The standards have been controversial in Michigan and some other states where people expressed concern about the potential loss of local control.
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Fracking Fight Focuses on a New York Town’s Ban

Written by JESSE McKINLEY for The New York Times on October 23, 2013Energy & Environment
DRYDEN, N.Y. — This town in the Finger Lakes region is not the kind of place where one would expect a grass-roots uprising. Even its promotional brochure makes it sound sleepy, listing the main attractions as “a few large dairy farms, some crop farms and several horse ranches.” But Dryden could soon be synonymous with something more than animals and agriculture. In August 2011, the town passed a zoning ordinance effectively forbidding hydraulic fracturing, the controversial gas extraction method also known as fracking. The ordinance, passed after a feisty local lobbying effort, prompted a lawsuit now being mulled by New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, whose ruling could settle the long-simmering issue of whether the state’s municipalities can ban the drilling process.

Dryden was not the first place to act against fracking, nor the first place where such bans have been subject to legal challenges. Bans are increasingly common in cities, towns and even counties across the country, including Pittsburgh, which did so in 2010, and Highland Park, N.J., a New York City suburb, where the Borough Council outlawed fracking on Sept. 17. While some of those votes are more symbolic than substantive — Highland Park was not likely to become a gas-drilling center — in the case of Dryden, the stakes could be high. “It’s going to decide the future of the oil and gas industry in the state of New York,” said Thomas West, a lawyer for Norse Energy Corporation USA, which has sought to have the ban overturned and will file legal briefs on the appeal on Monday.
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States With Big Military, Research Facilities Hurt Most by Shutdown

Written by Elaine S. Povich for Stateline on October 23, 2013Economic Prosperity
States with large military installations and major research institutions will suffer the greatest economic hit from the 16-day federal shutdown – especially the Washington, D.C. area, New Mexico and Alabama, according to new estimates from Moody's Analytics. D.C.'s economy could take a whopping 5.59 percentage point dive in the fourth quarter. Next hardest hit: Maryland with an expected GDP reduction of 1.11 percentage points, Virginia 0.73 percentage points and West Virginia 0.64 percentage points. Outside of the capital region, Moody's Analytics projected New Mexico's economy could suffer an 0.63 percentage point drop in the fourth quarter and Alabama 0.55 percentage points. The national economy will likely be back to recovery by early 2014 after Congress and the White House reached a bipartisan deal that reopened the federal government and raised the debt ceiling, according to Steven G. Cochrane, managing director of Moody's Analytics.
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Kasich Wins Approval of Medicaid Plan That Bypasses Legislature

Written by Mark Niquette for Bloomberg on October 21, 2013Health Care
An Ohio legislative panel approved Governor John Kasich’s plan to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul over the protests of fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives. The Ohio Controlling Board, a separate legislative entity that considers agencies’ spending requests, voted 5-2 today to take $2.56 billion in U.S. funds through fiscal 2015 to add 275,000 adults to the state-federal program for the poor. Kasich, a first-term governor, turned to the panel to circumvent a vote of the full legislature after he was unable to persuade Republicans who control it. Almost two-thirds of the 60 Republican representatives, including Speaker William Batchelder, protested his Controlling Board gambit as illegal and unconstitutional.

“This offers an opportunity to really give people a hand up,” Tracy Plouck, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health representing the Kasich administration, told the panel. The board consists of four Republican and two Democratic lawmakers, plus a chairman from the state budget office named by Kasich. Under the Affordable Care Act, states can expand Medicaid to cover those earning about a third more than the federal poverty level, or $15,856 annually for an individual and $26,951 for a family of three this year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a Menlo Park, California-based nonprofit that studies health issues. It said Ohio will be the 25th state, and the eighth with a Republican governor, to take that step. The U.S. government will pay all the added cost for the first three years and at least 90 percent after that.
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States Sign Up Thousands While HealthCare.Gov Stumbles

Written by Christine Vestal for Stateline on October 21, 2013Health Care
President Obama defended the Affordable Care Act on Monday but said he could not “sugar coat” the technical problems that have plagued the federal government’s health insurance exchange website since its launch Oct. 1. “The product, the health insurance is good. The prices are good. It is a good deal. People don’t just want it, they’re showing up to buy it. Nobody is madder than me that the website isn’t working as well as it should be, which means that it will get fixed,” Obama said.

The federal health insurance exchange website – www.healthcare.gov - has frustrated millions of Americans anxious to find out what kind of deal they can get on health insurance.  More than 20 million people have visited the site, Obama said, and “more than half a million consumers across the country have successfully processed applications for individuals and entire families." The federal website serves as the starting point for purchasing health insurance in about half the states – those where governors and lawmakers decided not to launch their own websites, primarily Republican-controlled states. Meanwhile, the states that agreed to set up their own exchanges are signing up tens of thousands of people though by no means are declaring success.
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POLL: Majority believe healthcare website problems indicate broader issue with law

Written by Peyton M. Craighill and Scott Clement for Washington Post on October 21, 2013Health Care
Most Americans say the rocky start for HealthCare.gov is a harbinger of bigger problems for the Affordable Care Act, according to results of a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Fifty-six percent of Americans say the website problems are part of a broader problem with the law’s implementation while just 40 percent see the website problems as an isolated incident. Reaction to federal insurance exchange website are deeply rooted in partisanship. More than eight in 10 Republicans say website troubles are a sign of broader implementation problems, while most Democrats call it an isolated incident. Independents resemble the public overall, with 55 percent seeing broader problems with implementation. President Obama is clearly aware of that conflation and the dangers it presents for the law. “We did not wage this long and contentious battle just around a website,” he said at a speech Monday at the White House.

The bungled rollout has not soured support for the health law overall, however. Forty six percent now support it while 49 percent oppose it. That compares favorably to a 42 to 52 percent negative split last month. Support has rebounded since July among moderate and conservative Democrats, while Republican opposition has also softened. Criticism of the law is varied, with one in five opponents saying it doesn’t go far enough rather than saying it goes too far in changing the system. Fewer than half of Americans have supported the law ever since its passage but the desire for repealing it altogether is even lower. One-third of the public, 33 percent, doesn’t support the law and wants to repeal it, while 20 percent are not supporters but want to “let the health care law go ahead and see how it works.” Hard-core opposition rests mainly among Republicans, 69 percent of whom oppose the law and 60 percent who say it should be repealed.  That compares with a third of independents who want to repeal it and 10 percent of Democrats.
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Obamacare website: 6 biggest contractors

Written by Chris Isidore for CNN on October 21, 2013Federal Overreach
It cost the federal government more than $300 million for outside contractors to set up the Obamacare website that has had so much trouble in its first three weeks of operation. Most of that money has gone to six prime contractors that together have received more than $200 million in taxpayer funds, with the biggest single contractor receiving $88 million. Overall, the government has spent $394 million setting up the website and the exchanges through which the public can buy health insurance, according to a report earlier this year from the General Accountability Office, a government watchdog. While not all the money went into the troubled websites, most of it did.

The largest contractor is CGI Federal Inc., the U.S. unit of a Canadian firm CGI Group (GIB). It received $88 million through last March 31. Its original $93.7 million contract runs through December, with three one-year option periods still possible. A company spokeswoman said the terms of the contract prevent it from speaking about the details of its work. Quality Software Services Inc. received $55.1 million to set up the data hub, according to the GAO report, while National Government Services Inc. a unit of WellPoint (WLP, Fortune 500), received $31.6 million for a consumer call center and providing premium aggregations. Neither company responded to a request for comment.
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School voucher enrollment goes up 38 percent despite lawsuits, budget fight

Written by Danielle Dreilinger for The Times-Picayune on October 21, 2013Education Reform
Despite legal and fiscal uncertainty, enrollment increased in Louisiana's school voucher program this year: 6,751 students compared with 4,876 last year at this time, or a 38 percent increase, according to state data released Monday. Satisfaction with the schools appears to be strong as well, with many returning schools doubling or even tripling their voucher enrollment. Vouchers, officially called the Louisiana Scholarship Program, allow low-income students to attend participating schools at taxpayer expense. All the schools so far have been private or parochial with the exception of one Opelousas public school. Students must be either coming from C, D or F schools, or entering kindergarten. The program began as a New Orleans pilot in 2008 and is in its second year of statewide operation.

Eric Lewis, Louisiana director of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, said he was excited to see the increase. He said he was hoping for even more participants, but thought the enrollment looks good considering "all the debate that's been out there." Indeed, the voucher program has been a target of litigation in Louisiana as it has in many other places. Sign-up for this school year opened as the state Supreme Court was about to consider the constitutionality of the program. The justices ruled in May that vouchers could not be funded by siphoning money from a budget reserved for public schools, forcing Gov. Bobby Jindal to request a separate $40 million-plus line item from the Legislature.
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