Affordable Care Act

FL Should Resolve to Expand Medicaid

Jan 12, 2015

In spite of massive conservative efforts to derail the Affordable Care Act, the train continues to lumber down the track. The Washington Post writes that at least 7.1 million people so far have enrolled in 2015 health plans. Somewhat short of projected enrollment with many states such as Florida instituting effective sign-up obstacles, the plan known as Obamacare marches on.

Fourteen states running their own alternative sign-ups can claim 633,000 enrollees. Florida projections suggest more than 1 million will be signed up through government exchanges by the deadline, February 15.

Sign-ups under President Barack Obama's health care law grew slowly but steadily over the New Year's holiday, as the share of Americans still lacking coverage hit its lowest level in years.

The Obama administration reported Wednesday that nearly 103,000 people signed up last week in the 37 states where the federal government is running online health insurance markets, bringing total enrollment for 2015 to 6.6 million in those states. The remaining states are running their own exchanges.

On the new Congress' first day, the House unanimously approved Republican legislation Tuesday making it easier for smaller companies to avoid providing health care coverage to their workers by hiring veterans.

The measure was approved 412-0 and is the first of many expected GOP bills aimed at President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, which was enacted over uniform Republican opposition.

Docs Face Pay Cuts, Patients May Pay The Price

Jan 6, 2015
Kaiser Health News

Andy Pasternak, a family doctor in Reno, Nev., has seen more than 100 new Medicaid patients this year after the state expanded the insurance program under the Affordable Care Act.

But he won’t be taking any new ones after Dec. 31. That’s when the law’s two-year pay raise for primary care doctors like him who see Medicaid patients expires, resulting in fee reductions of 43 percent on average across the country, according to the nonpartisan Urban Institute.

FL Leads in Marketplace Enrollment

Jan 2, 2015

What a difference a year makes.

With its technical troubles largely behind it, Healthcare.gov enrolled 1.9 million new customers for health insurance between Nov. 15 and Dec. 18.

Florida by far led the nation in that enrollment, with 673,255 people selecting plans on Healthcare.gov. That’s nearly double the signups in Texas, the other large state using the federally run marketplace.

FL Senate Could Reconsider Expansion

Dec 18, 2014
MyFloridaHouse.gov

  Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner is leaving open the possibility that his chamber will consider an expansion of health care coverage for low-income Floridians.

“Intriguing" was the word Gardiner used on Wednesday for a plan from business and hospital leaders that would accept billions of dollars under the federal Affordable Care Act and provide coverage through private insurers. The plan, called "A Healthy Florida Works," was introduced last week.

Nearly 2.5M In FL, 36 Other States Pick Plans on HealthCare.gov

Dec 17, 2014

More than 1 million people selected a health plan during the fourth week of the health law’s open enrollment and nearly 2.5 million have done so since it began Nov. 15, federal officials said Tuesday.

“And this was before an extremely busy weekend,” said Andy Slavitt, principal deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the federal online marketplace used by 37 states.

Tuesday’s report did not include enrollment for the final three days before the Dec. 15 deadline for people to enroll if they want coverage to begin Jan. 1.

It's the second year of enrollment for health insurance plans under the federal health law on HealthCare.gov, the website that Floridians, and people in dozens of other states, use to shop for health insurance.

As of Dec. 15, we have passed a key deadline, the deadline to buy a plan to have coverage that starts Jan. 1. But open enrollment runs through Feb. 15, 2015, and we have gathered a panel to talk about what consumers be doing now if they still need to get health insurance coverage to comply with the federal health law known as Obamacare.

Megan Milanese

Christian Ward lounges on a couch in the University of South Florida student center in Tampa. He props crutches against the armrest and stretches out his leg, which is covered in a cast up to his thigh.

Like a lot of college students, Ward’s parents handle his health insurance. He'll tell you that having it definitely came in handy during his moment of need.

healthcare.gov

When Olivia Papa signed up for a new health plan last year, her insurance company assigned her to a primary care doctor. The relatively healthy 61-year-old didn't try to see the doctor until last month, when she and her husband both needed authorization to see separate specialists.

She called the doctor's office several times without luck.

"They told me that they were not on the plan, they were never on the plan and they'd been trying to get their name off the plan all year," said Papa, who recently bought a plan from a different insurance company.

AP

  Expanding health care coverage, solving water problems, improving education and handling issues like legalizing medical marijuana and gambling were among the topics Florida leaders discussed during a summit Friday.

The idea was to bring together a bipartisan mix of political, business and education leaders to look at the major issues facing Florida in the immediate and distant future and to brainstorm on how the state should tackle them.

Florida Health Choices will start selling health plans that are compliant with the Affordable Care Act the week of Dec. 15, Christine Jordan Sexton of SaintPetersBlog reports. This soft rollout is scheduled to start on the last day consumers can buy a plan for coverage that starts on Jan. 1. The privately-run health marketplace, which previously only offered limited benefit plans, will spend $75,000 to advertise its new products.

The Florida Health Choices marketplace, first established as a mandate-free health care marketplace, is poised to start selling plans that are compliant with the Affordable Care Act, Christine Jordan Sexton of SaintPetersBlog reports. Florida Health Choices CEO Rose Naff has asked federal health officials to help establish a means to allow shoppers who qualify for federal tax credits offered through the federal exchange to buy on the Florida site.

When it comes to children getting insurance, there’s good news and bad news. The good news: the number of uninsured children in Florida has dropped—as it has across the county. The bad news: Florida remains near the top of states with the number of kids who don’t have health insurance.

If Subsidies Struck Down, ACA Could Unravel

Dec 2, 2014

Exactly what would happen to the Affordable Care Act if the Supreme Court invalidates tax credits in the three dozen states where the federal government runs the program?

Legal scholars say a decision like that would deal a potentially lethal blow to the law because it would undermine the government-run insurance marketplaces that are its backbone, as well as the mandate requiring most Americans to carry coverage.

Another U.S. Supreme Court case involving the Affordable Care Act will likely deter Florida’s Republican-led Legislature from considering changes during its 2015 session, the Miami Herald reports.

Competition Restrains Marketplace Premiums

Dec 1, 2014

A surge in health insurer competition appears to be helping restrain premium increases in hundreds of counties next year, with prices dropping in many places where newcomers are offering the least expensive plans, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of federal premium records.

KHN looked at premiums for the lowest-cost silver plan for a 40-year-old in 34 states where the federal government is running marketplaces for people who do not get coverage through their employers. Consumers have until Feb. 15 to enroll for coverage in 2015, the marketplace’s second year.

Hep C Drugs Behind National Spending Jump

Nov 20, 2014

After several years of modest increases, American spending on medications is projected to shoot up by 12 percent this year, pushing the nation’s drug bill to between $375 billion and $385 billion, according to a report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

Several factors are driving the spending spike, including the introduction of expensive new hepatitis C drugs and fewer drug patent expirations than in previous years, the report found. Such expirations typically lead to savings as cheaper generics replace brand-name drugs.

Enrollment Push Moves To The Pulpit

Nov 18, 2014
Abe Aboraya / WMFE

This weekend marked the beginning of open enrollment season, the time when uninsured Floridians can sign up for health insurance on HealthCare.gov. 

An estimated 1.5 million Floridians don’t have insurance. 

At Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville, Renard Murray, the regional administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services came from Atlanta to address the congregation of more than 300.

When asked who knows someone with high blood pressure, asthma or diabetes, almost everyone at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church raised a hand.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

From a tailgating party with Gator fans in Gainesville to a beer festival in Pensacola, Floridians had plenty of opportunities Saturday to get in-person help signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. And as the second year of enrollment kicks off, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell is making a swing through Florida today to help get the word out.  

Burwell will make a stop in Tampa Monday morning at the Navigation Lab at the University of South Florida; she will be in Miami this afternoon.

Insurance Exchanges Launch With Few Glitches

Nov 17, 2014

A Los Angeles furniture store worker who had never had health insurance enrolled in a plan for $75 a month that will cover both him and his son.

An unemployed accountant in Charlotte, N.C., who tried and failed to sign up last year found coverage for $11.75 a month.

A self-employed house contractor from West Palm Beach, Fla., found a health plan that will cost him nothing.

Many of the 7 million consumers who got insurance under President Barack Obama's health care law will see their premiums rise next year unless they switch to another plan, independent analysts said as the government released details Friday.

The Health and Human Services department released a massive computer file of 2015 premiums one day ahead of the start of open enrollment. Those numbers will take time to fully analyze.

Megan Milanese

Open enrollment on the federal health insurance marketplace starts on Nov. 15. The Health News Florida team is kicking off a series about the second year of open enrollment under the federal health law.

First, we take a look at HealthCare.gov, the website that people in Florida and 36 other states use to buy a health insurance plan.  This year, open enrollment runs for three months, until Feb. 15, 2015.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

    

Editor's note: Open enrollment on the federal health insurance marketplace started on Saturday, Nov.  15. The Health News Florida team is kicking off a series about the second year of open enrollment under the federal health law. First, we take a look at HealthCare.gov, the website that people in Florida and 36 other states use to buy a health insurance plan.  This year, open enrollment runs for three months, until Feb. 15, 2015.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

With sign-up season launching this weekend, officials sharply dialed down expectations Monday for the second year of President Barack Obama’s health insurance law.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said she’s aiming to have 9.1 million paying customers enrolled in 2015 for subsidized private coverage through HealthCare.gov and state insurance markets.

That’s more than now, but well below the 13 million that the Congressional Budget Office had projected.

Consumer Guide: SCOTUS Action on ACA Subsidies

Nov 10, 2014

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a case on a subject that’s important to millions of people who receive subsidies to help purchase coverage under the health-care law. Friday’s decision follows earlier action in July when two U.S. appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on the issue.  KHN’s Mary Agnes Carey answers some frequently asked questions about those court decisions and how they impact consumers.

Q: What did the Supreme Court do?

Once again the Supreme Court will decide whether the Affordable Care Act lives or dies.

Defying expectations, the court announced Friday it has agreed to hear a case that challenges the heart of the law: subsidies that help people pay their insurance premiums. In about three dozen states, the federal government runs the online marketplaces (exchanges) where individuals can find health plans.

Supreme Court Will Hear New ACA Challenge

Nov 7, 2014
U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear a new challenge to President Barack Obama's health care law that threatens subsidies that help millions of low- and middle-income people afford their health insurance premiums, including Floridians.

The justices said they will review a unanimous federal appeals court ruling that upheld Internal Revenue Service regulations that allow health-insurance tax credits under the Affordable Care Act for consumers in all 50 states. Opponents argue that most of the subsidies are illegal.

Scott Win Lowers Medicaid Expansion Odds

Nov 6, 2014
Associated Press

Tuesday’s re-election of Republican governors in closely contested races in Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin, Maine and Kansas dims the chances of Medicaid expansion in those states.

Advocates hoping for Democratic victories in those states were disappointed by the outcomes, but Alaska, which also has a Republican incumbent, remains in play as an independent challenger holds a narrow lead going into a count of absentee ballots.

Hospitals Taking Cues From Hospitality

Nov 5, 2014

Two years ago, Inova Health System recruited a top executive who was not a physician, had never worked in hospital administration and barely knew the difference between Medicare and Medicaid.

What Paul Westbrook specialized in was customer service. His background is in the hotel business – Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton, to be precise.

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