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States suing over health care law collect funding

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Federal officials announced Tuesday they are awarding more money to help states carry out President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. So what's the surprise?

Seven states that are suing to overturn the landmark law are also on the list for funding.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said 13 states will split grants totaling nearly $220 million to help set up health insurance exchanges. Millions of uninsured Americans will be able to buy private coverage through these online supermarkets starting in 2014, with taxpayer-provided assistance to cover the cost of premiums.

"States are moving at their own pace to get their exchanges up and running," said Sebelius.

The exchanges represent half of Obama's strategy for expanding coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people. While the middle-class uninsured will pick a plan through their state exchange, low-income people will be covered through an expanded Medicaid program.

Although opponents challenge the constitutionality of "Obamacare," some states led by conservatives are hedging their bets.

The seven that are suing and also getting money: Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan and Nebraska. Three other plaintiff states — Indiana, Mississippi and Nevada — previously got funding.

Accepting the money does not commit a state to follow through and actually establish a health insurance exchange.

But it is a sign that federal officials recognize a state is making significant progress. The money can be used for a variety of purposes, including tackling such challenges as the kind of technology a state will use to sign up its citizens.

Under the law, if a state fails to set up an exchange, the federal government will step in and do it for them.

"We continue to encourage all states to establish their own exchanges," said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, HHS director of coverage policy. "We think states are in the position of understanding best what they need for their own residents."

States are all over the place in their preparations for the health overhaul.

Some are on the sidelines, waiting for the Supreme Court to rule. Others, like California, are forging ahead to set up their exchanges. Vermont even wants to run a statewide single-payer system loosely modeled on Canada's. Many have made varying degrees of progress. In most states, pivotal health care decisions will be made in next year's legislative sessions.

Also receiving grants Tuesday were Delaware, Hawaii, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Vermont.

Rhode Island earned the distinction of becoming the first "Level Two" grant recipient, meaning the state has made a formal commitment to set up an exchange and is receiving multi-year funding.

Counting those that previously received funding, a total of 29 states have now received advanced planning grants.

Also Tuesday, federal officials released guidance for the state on technical issues involving coordination between different levels of government in the operation of the exchanges.

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  1. President Obama has referred to the ACA as "Obamacare" any number of times; one thing it is not, if you don't qualify for a subsidy, is "affordable".

  2. One important correction, Indiana does not have an ag-gag law, it was soundly defeated, or at least changed. It was stripped of everything to do with undercover pictures and video on farms. There is NO WAY on earth that ag gag laws will survive a constitutional challenge. None. Period. Also, the reason they are trying to keep you out, isn't so we don't show the blatant abuse like slamming pigs heads into the ground, it's show we don't show you the legal stuf... the anal electroctions, the cutting off of genitals without anesthesia, the tail docking, the cutting off of beaks, the baby male chicks getting thrown alive into a grinder, the deplorable conditions, downed animals, animals sitting in their own excrement, the throat slitting, the bolt guns. It is all deplorable behavior that doesn't belong in a civilized society. The meat, dairy and egg industries are running scared right now, which is why they are trying to pass these ridiculous laws. What a losing battle.

  3. Eating there years ago the food was decent, nothing to write home about. Weird thing was Javier tried to pass off the story the way he ended up in Indy was he took a bus he thought was going to Minneapolis. This seems to be the same story from the founder of Acapulco Joe's. Stopped going as I never really did trust him after that or the quality of what being served.

  4. Indianapolis...the city of cricket, chains, crime and call centers!

  5. "In real life, a farmer wants his livestock as happy and health as possible. Such treatment give the best financial return." I have to disagree. What's in the farmer's best interest is to raise as many animals as possible as quickly as possible as cheaply as possible. There is a reason grass-fed beef is more expensive than corn-fed beef: it costs more to raise. Since consumers often want more food for lower prices, the incentive is for farmers to maximize their production while minimizing their costs. Obviously, having very sick or dead animals does not help the farmer, however, so there is a line somewhere. Where that line is drawn is the question.

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