Affordable Care Act | KERA News

Affordable Care Act

Senate Democrats, who are divided on abortion policy, are instead turning to health care as a rallying cry for opposition to Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

Specifically, they are sounding the alarm that confirming the conservative U.S. Court of Appeals judge could jeopardize one of the Affordable Care Act's most popular provisions — its protections for people with pre-existing health conditions.

The Trump administration said Saturday that it is temporarily halting billions of dollars of payments designed to help insurers meet the Affordable Care Act requirement that they provide coverage regardless of whether a person is healthy or sick.

Almost the same number of Texans who signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during the last enrollment period signed up this time, according to the federal government. The figure took experts by surprise because there were federal cuts in funding for outreach and assistance.

A day after President Trump said the Affordable Care Act "has been repealed," officials reported that 8.8 million Americans have signed up for coverage on the federal insurance exchange for 2018 — nearly reaching the 2017 number in half the sign-up time.

That total is far from complete. Enrollment is still open in parts of seven states, including Florida and Texas, that use the federal HealthCare.gov exchange but were affected by hurricanes earlier this year.

Open enrollment on the federal health law's marketplace — HealthCare.gov — ends Friday, and most people who want a plan for next year need to meet the deadline.

But some consumers who miss the cutoff could be surprised to learn they have the opportunity to enroll later.

"While a lot of people will be eligible ... I am still worried that a lot of consumers won't know it," says Shelby Gonzales, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

As Congressional Republicans prepare to send a tax overhaul to President Trump's desk, health care advocates worry about a possible repeal of the individual mandate, the part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires everyone to have health insurance. 

A possible repeal of the mandate could affect a lot of people in Texas, which has the highest percentage of people paying a tax penalty for not having health insurance, according to a New York Times analysis of IRS data.

When Monica Spalding got the renewal letter from her health insurance company with premium details for the upcoming year, she couldn't believe her eyes. The insurer estimated that the share of the monthly premium that she and her husband would owe for their marketplace silver plan would go up from the current $28 a month to $545.

Photo courtesy of Oliver Wyman

It’s the second week of open enrollment for health care on the federal marketplace.

While people across North Texas are deciding which plans to sign up for, some of the people who design those very plans are meeting in Dallas. And they’re talking about what health care might look like five or 10 years from now at the Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Summit.

Krunja / Shutterstock

Starting Wednesday, Texans can enroll in health care coverage for 2018 on healthcare.gov through Dec. 15.

Open enrollment for health plans through the Affordable Care Act starts Nov. 1. But, this year, cutbacks in federal money for outreach efforts for potential enrollees could mean fewer people signing up for health insurance in Texas.

That gap in federal outreach means the work of getting people signed up could fall squarely on local advocates like Vitoria Ortega of Foundation Communities.

Updated at 4:06 p.m. ET

A proposal in the Senate to help stabilize Affordable Care Act marketplaces would ensure that subsidies paid to insurance companies benefit consumers rather than padding the companies' profits.

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET

Less than a week after President Trump said he is cutting off subsidies to health insurance companies, lawmakers announced Tuesday that they had a deal to restore the money and take other actions that could stabilize insurance markets for next year.

The Trump administration has made a number of changes to health policy in the past two weeks, raising questions about how consumers will be affected. Will the new rules for birth control coverage affect access to an intrauterine device? Might an association health plan help bring down costs for workers at small businesses? And if you're healthy, doesn't a short-term health plan that is cheaper than marketplace coverage make sense? Here are some answers to those questions.

The reaction has been swift since President Trump announced late Thursday that he was cutting off Affordable Care Act subsidies to insurance companies.

The White House argues that the payments are illegal.

Back in March, after the first Republican legislative failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, during the Trump presidency, President Trump went before cameras in the Oval Office and revealed some of his thinking when it comes to the politics of health care.

"I've been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode," Trump said. "It is exploding right now."

Updated at 11:29 a.m. ET

President Trump's decision Thursday to end subsidy payments to health insurance companies is expected to raise premiums for middle-class families and cost the federal government hundreds of billions of dollars.

Updated at 11:40 p.m. ET

The Trump administration said Thursday that it would end the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing reduction payments designed to help low-income Americans get health care. Not paying the subsidies, health care experts have warned, could send the health insurance exchanges into turmoil.

President Trump signed an executive order Thursday that is intended to provide more options for people shopping for health insurance. The president invoked his power of the pen after repeated Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, have failed.

"The competition will be staggering," Trump said. "Insurance companies will be fighting to get every single person signed up. And you will be, hopefully, negotiating, negotiating, negotiating. And you will get such low prices for such great care."

President Trump is poised to sign an executive order that he says will make it easier for people to join together as a group and buy health insurance from any state.

The president tweeted about his plans on Tuesday morning.

"Since Congress can't get its act together on HealthCare, I will be using the power of the pen to give great HealthCare to many people — FAST," he wrote.

Updated 4:52 pm

The Trump administration is rolling back the Obama-era requirement that employer-provided health insurance policies cover birth control methods at no cost to women.

According to senior officials with the Department of Health and Human Services, the goal of the new rule is to allow any company or nonprofit group to exclude the coverage for contraception if it has a religious or moral objection.

Nora Chovanec showed off the chickens in her backyard last March while talking about a newly proposed Republican health care bill to replace Obamacare.

The 29-year-old was on a health care plan through the online marketplace created by Obamacare. It allows people who don’t get insurance through an employer to buy a plan on their own.

Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana defended their namesake health care bill Monday even as the measure ran into potentially fatal opposition from a third Senate colleague.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, came out against the bill, joining fellow Republicans Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona. That leaves the GOP majority at least one vote short of the 50 votes needed to pass the bill over unified Democratic opposition.

If Senate Republicans vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act this week, it would affect the health care of pretty much every American.

Here's a recap of four key flash points in the health overhaul debate with links to NPR coverage over the past six months, and our chart laying out how the Graham-Cassidy bill under consideration in the Senate addresses those issues compared with the Affordable Care Act.

John McCain on Friday imperiled Republicans' latest Affordable Care Act repeal and replace effort when he said he "cannot in good conscience" support the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill. But McCain did also say he could at some point support the substance of his fellow Republicans' proposal.

"I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Sens. [Lindsey] Graham and [Bill] Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment," McCain said. "But that has not been the case."

Senate Republicans' latest plan to overhaul the U.S. health care system ends with a massive shift of federal money from states that expanded Medicaid — and are largely dominated by Democrats — to those that refused to expand.

Republicans' complex health care calculations are coming down to simple math.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs 50 of the chamber's 52 Republicans to vote for a bill that aims to repeal most of the Affordable Care Act and drastically reshape the Medicaid system. McConnell's office is planning to bring the bill up for a vote next week.

There's a chance Republicans wouldn't be so close to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act if former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania hadn't dropped into the Capitol barbershop this spring.

"I was up on the Hill, I happened to just go by the barbershop to see if I could get a haircut, and Lindsey was in the chair," Santorum said. "And Lindsey asked me what I was doing, and I thought to myself, 'Well, let me just bounce it off Lindsey.' "

It wasn't that long ago that the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act died once and for all in the Senate.

Oregon, Texas Lay Down Markers On Abortion Coverage

Aug 23, 2017

Federal health insurance rules are a moving target, and it's unclear whether Republicans will take another run at replacing the Affordable Care Act. In the meantime, some states are staking out strong positions on coverage of abortion, regardless of how the federal landscape changes.

From Texas Standard:

A coalition of rural Texas hospitals says small-town hospitals in the state are facing a "closure crisis" after those in Crockett and Trinity ceased operations over the summer.

The group says the recent closures bring the total number of closed rural hospitals in the past four years to nearly 20. And if the Texas Legislature and the U.S. Congress don't act, more rural communities will be left without immediate access to quality health- and emergency care.

 

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