Understanding Obamacare

HealthCare.gov

Health insurance premiums for nearly 600,000 Floridians could increase more than 10 percent next year, according to proposed rates released Monday on the federal healthCare.gov website.

Costs for Florida consumers buying individual plans could increase as much as 60 percent for companies such as UnitedHealthcare, the proposed rates show.

Economy, ACA Boosts Travel Nurse Demand

May 28, 2015
Courtesy of Cherisse Dillard

With her children grown and husband nearing retirement, Amy Reynolds was ready to leave behind snowy Flagstaff, Ariz., to travel but she wasn’t ready to give up her nursing career.

She didn’t have to.

For the past three years, Reynolds, 55, has been a travel nurse — working for about three months at a time at hospitals in California, Washington, Texas and Idaho, among other states. Her husband accompanies her on the assignments. “It’s been wonderful,” she said in May after starting a stint in Sacramento. “It’s given us a chance to try out other parts of the country.”

A Supreme Court ruling due in a few weeks could wipe out health insurance for millions of people covered by President Barack Obama's health care law. But it's Republicans — not White House officials — who have been talking about damage control.

A likely reason: Twenty-six of the 34 states that would be most affected by the ruling have Republican governors, and 22 of the 24 GOP Senate seats up in 2016 are in those states.

Older, Uninsured Adults from 12 To 8 Percent

May 26, 2015

The health law’s expansion of Medicaid coverage to adults with incomes over the poverty line was key to reducing the uninsured rate among 50- to 64-year-olds from nearly 12 to 8 percent in 2014, according to a new analysis.

“Clearly most of the gains in coverage were in Medicaid or non-group coverage,” says study co-author Jane Sung, a senior strategic policy adviser at the AARP Public Policy Institute, which conducted the study with the Urban Institute.

U.S. House of Representatives

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi predicted Wednesday that Republicans will "rue the day" if the Supreme Court buys their arguments and invalidates tax subsidies for millions of people under President Barack Obama's health care law.

Republicans have said they will try to ensure people don't lose insurance if the high court rules this summer against tax subsidies for health care coverage in certain states. But they haven't said how they would do it.

Five years after the Affordable Care Act passed, the law's provision allowing the expansion of Medicaid coverage to more people is still causing huge fights in state legislatures.

Associated Press

Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott says he and the Obama administration are still far apart on health care financing issues that have paralyzed the state's efforts to pass a new budget.

After meeting privately with federal Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell on Wednesday, Scott said the two "had a good conversation," but added, "we don't have resolution."

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Federal health officials have awarded more than $5 million in grants to 10 health centers in Florida to serve newly insured patients under the Affordable Care Act.

The grants are expected to serve about 46,000 patients, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The “Access Point” grants are going to:

Banyan Community Health Center, Inc.                 Miami                   $703,602

Congressional Republicans have yet to unite behind any of the growing number of proposals for responding to a Supreme Court ruling that could void federal subsidies that millions of people use to buy coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law. The decision is expected by June.

Those proposing plans include:

Thursday, April 30 is the last day for people in Florida and the three dozen other states that use the federal health insurance marketplace to buy a health insurance plan on HealthCare.gov.  

Federal health officials had extended enrollment for a few weeks under a for people who didn't know they could face a tax penalty for not having health coverage.  

The penalty for going without insurance in 2015 is $325 dollars, or 2 percent of your income, whichever is greater.  

People in Florida and the three dozen other states that use the online federal insurance marketplace at HealthCare.gov have a little time left to shop for health insurance.

This special enrollment period for insurance plans under the federal health law runs through Thursday, April 30.

It’s for people who didn't know -- or understand -- that they could face a tax penalty for not having health coverage, according to federal officials.

More than three-quarters of a million Floridians live in a health care gap. The gap was created by the national Affordable Care Act and Florida's rejection of an expanded Medicaid program. In between the two policies is a gap in medical insurance coverage where 850,000 Floridians find themselves.

As the fog surrounding healthcare in Florida thickens, some observers say there’s a way out of the storm…if lawmakers can ever make it there.  Here's a look at some of the possibilities for a resolution to the legislature’s healthcare funding impasse.

'Young Invincibles' Demand Medicaid

Apr 19, 2015

  The "Young Invincibles" is an ironic demographic designation for young people who think they will never get sick, will never buy health insurance and will therefore bring down Obamacare.

  With special enrollment all but concluded in this year’s Affordable Care Act health insurance sign up period, Miami-Dade County has claimed nearly 400,000 enrollments, more than any county in Florida and 43 entire states, according to federal data.

The state is a record breaker, too, leading nationwide enrollment with 1.6 million sign ups, surpassing expert projections for 2015.

Megan Milanese

When President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act five years ago, he visualized a time when the political hyperbole would be silenced and ordinary people would see that the health care law improved their lives.

The White House ceremony on March 23, 2010, was an applause-filled celebration. "When I sign this bill," Obama said, "all of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform."

The Affordable Care Act turns five this week, and Florida leads the nation in the number of consumers buying health insurance.

While about 1.6 million residents already have signed up for coverage, the number signing up for Obamacare could grow even more, thanks to income tax season.

Floridians who didn’t buy health insurance off the federal HealthCare.gov marketplace for this year are getting a second change buy coverage. Kind of.

HealthCare.gov

Florida ranks No. 2 in the nation in the rate of residents without health insurance, but that figure has declined since 2010.

Figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday show that Florida had an uninsured rate of 24.3 percent in 2013. Only Texas had a higher rate at 24.8 percent.

The lowest rate was 4.3 percent in Massachusetts.

Despite the high ranking, Florida's uninsured rate has declined since 2010 when it was 25.3 percent.

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

The need to reduce patient readmission rates is leading hospitals across Florida to share ideas with one another.  

HealthCare.gov

Several million Americans hit with new federal fines for going without health insurance are getting a second chance to sign up, and that could ease the sting of rising penalties for being uninsured.

But as the enrollment window reopened on Sunday in Florida and the 36 other states that use the federal health insurance marketplace at HealthCare.gov, it’s unclear how many know about the time-limited opportunity, let alone will take advantage of it.

Georgetown University Health Policy Institute

A plan to provide health care coverage to 800,000 Floridians faces an uphill battle after unanimous approval by the Senate Health Policy Committee.

HealthCare.gov

Nearly 8 million people could lose up to $24 billion a year in health insurance subsidies in a Supreme Court case threatening President Barack Obama's law, according to a government report released Tuesday.

The estimates by The Associated Press show what's at stake in the case. The biggest potential loser would be Florida, with nearly 1.5 million residents getting an average of $294 a month. That works to $440 million a month currently, or up to $5.2 billion a year for the state. The subsidies are delivered in the form of tax credits.

Boss May Be Able To Force You To Buy Insurance

Mar 10, 2015

Under the health law, large employers that don’t offer their full-time workers comprehensive, affordable health insurance face a fine. But some employers are taking it a step further and requiring workers to buy the company insurance, whether they want it or not. Many workers may have no choice but to comply.

Some workers are not pleased. One disgruntled reader wrote to Kaiser Health News: “My employer is requiring me to purchase health insurance and is automatically taking the premium out of my paycheck even though I don’t want to sign up for health insurance. Is this legal?”

The Florida Senate is getting ready to debate expanding Medicaid in Florida. The issue has been a major contention point between the House and Senate for the past three years.

The U.S. Supreme Court this week hears a challenge to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. If successful, the lawsuit would cripple Obama's prized domestic achievement, a program that has brought the U.S. as close as it has ever come to universal health care.

The Affordable Care Act passed Congress in 2010 without a single Republican vote in favor.

An explanation of the legal case:

Four Words Determine the Law's Future

hma.com

Alan Levine, a favorite health policy wonk among Republicans, is offering some advice to the Florida Legislature: exercise a waiver, and get around much of the Affordable Care Act, Florida Politics reports. 

healthcare.gov

  Doctors treating patients with Obamacare plans are encountering a lot of consumer misinformation, increased paperwork, heavier patients loads and the worry of unreliable reimbursements and payments, the Miami Herald reports.

South Florida doctors say they’ve had to turn away patients with HealthCare.gov plans to avoid these problems or have lost patients because of their misunderstanding of co-pays and deductibles, the Herald reports.

U.S. Supreme Court

A U.S. Supreme Court decision expected this summer could quickly change how Floridians with insurance through HealthCare.gov pay for coverage.

Arguments being held in the case of King v. Burwell this week will decide whether low- and moderate-income Floridians and residents in 36 other states can get tax credits for plans they buy through the federal government.

The impact of the ruling could be seen within 30 to 60 days of a decision, said Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia.

Governor Rick Scott says he’s disappointed the federal government won’t extend a billion-dollar program to reimburse hospitals that treat low-income Floridians. But the move by the feds to stop the program is not unexpected.

King v. Burwell May Be GOP Wake-Up Call

Feb 24, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

Republican efforts to replace the federal health law have been given new urgency by the Supreme Court.

As soon as this spring, the court could invalidate health insurance subsidies available to nearly a million Floridians and many other Americans if it rules for the challengers in a case called King v. Burwell.

Those pushing the case argue that language in the law limits help to pay for insurance to residents of states that have established their own health insurance exchanges. 

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