Affordable Care Act | KERA News

Affordable Care Act

A new study from Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Episcopal Health Foundation finds the cost of health insurance on the new federal marketplace varies widely in Texas.

Researchers found almost half of Texans eligible for a tax subsidy for health insurance said plans were still too expensive. The Episcopal Health Foundation’s president, Elena Marks, says she and her colleagues went back to see what was unaffordable to many people.

Mark Graham/Cooper Neil / The Texas Tribune

The candidates for governor are back on the campaign trail after mixing it up in their first debate Friday night. On Saturday Democrat Wendy Davis sat for an hour-long interview in Austin. Republican Greg Abbott stayed in the Rio Grande Valley, hoping to attract Latino votes.

Shelley Kofler / KERA News

Two key state lawmakers from opposing parties say they haven’t given up on creating a plan that would allow Texas to collect billions of federal Medicaid dollars tied to the Affordable Care Act.

The Supreme Court has ruled that family owned and other closely held companies can opt out of the Affordable Care Act's provisions for no-cost prescription contraception in most health insurance if they have religious objections.

The owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of arts and crafts stores and those of another closely held company, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., had objected on the grounds of religious freedom.

The ruling affirms a Hobby Lobby victory in a lower court and gives new standing to similar claims by other companies.

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In today's All Things Considered local block from the KERA newsroom: How did Texas stack up in federal healthcare signups? Lauren Silverman breaks down those numbers, and also looks at an innovative approach Parkland Hospital is taking to keep hospital re-admissions down. And on this edition of The Big Screen, Stephen Becker and Dallas Morning News movie critic Chris Vognar talk about the lasting influence of the original rom-com, It Happened One Night.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Americans procrastinated enrolling in health care — and Texans are no exception. With just a month left to sign up, more people enrolled after March 1 than in the first five months of open enrollment. The total number of Texans to sign up through the federal marketplace is 733,757.

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The Obama administration says about eight million people have signed up for the Affordable Care Act through online exchanges – not counting those who bought plans “off-exchange” through insurance carriers. That’s a lot of people who will need to choose a primary care physician.

Lyndsay Knecht / KERA News

Update, 6 p.m. Monday: KERA's Lauren Silverman has the latest on the looming healthcare deadline:

Interest in the federal health insurance marketplace might have started slowly, but things were racing Monday. The deadline to sign up for 2014 insurance at healthcare.gov is 11:59 p.m.

“We have quite a few people here today,” said Bob Reed, vice president of patient access at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. “Too busy to bean count. … We’ve just been trying to survive a little bit.”

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

The deadline to get insured this year under the Affordable Care Act is the last day of March. The main challenge for advocates is getting young people and minorities to buy in. But an effort is underway to encourage them. 

Workplace wellness is already a six-billion-dollar-a-year industry, and it’s growing. Employers are searching for programs that are both good for the beltline and the bottom line. The result? They’re gamifying corporate wellness programs.

Dane Walters / KERA News

When you don’t have a decent savings account or wiggle room in your budget, sometimes all it takes is an expense you haven’t planned for to push you over the financial edge. That’s reality for one in three North Texans, and that’s what just happened to Natalie Berquist.

The single mom living in Lewisville is one of the people we’re following in our series One Crisis Away. Natalie has a steady job, but because of a new monthly bill, she’s giving up her apartment.

Nearly A Quarter Of Health Marketplace Enrollees Are Young Adults

Jan 13, 2014

Nearly a quarter of the 2.2 million people who’ve enrolled in health coverage in the health law’s insurance marketplaces are young adults — the population that’s hardest to reach and yet most vital for the long-term financial stability of the new exchanges, the Obama administration announced Monday.

U.S. Senate

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has once again criticized the Affordable Care Act, this time at a conservative conference.

“Obamacare has single-handedly been an illustration in lawlessness at a breath-taking scale,” Cruz said Friday in Austin at the Texas Public Policy Foundation policy orientation.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

How did Obamacare affect North Texans in 2013? It depends on whom you ask.

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Under Obamacare, nearly every American has to have health insurance or pay a penalty. One of the few exceptions is for people who are members of what’s called “health care sharing ministries.” The two largest sharing ministries – Samaritan and Medi-Share – have both nearly doubled their membership in Texas since the Affordable Care Act.

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Texas cities are ramping up efforts to get people enrolled in President Barack Obama's health care exchange as they face a deadline for insurance coverage to begin Jan. 1.

People who want their plans to begin Jan. 1 have to enroll by Monday. Open enrollment continues through March 31.

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured in the country.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

In the first two months of Obamacare, 14,000 Texans purchased insurance. One of them was Misty Parker. This so-called “young invincible” has a premium of $38 a month.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

“Who are the navigators?” That’s the title of a House Oversight Committee hearing in Dallas Monday looking at the people who help Texans sign up for health insurance through the federal exchange.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Last minute shoppers are streaming in to Los Barrios Unidos Community Clinic in West Dallas, seeking help to enroll in health insurance before the Dec. 23 deadline — that’s the date people have to buy insurance through the federal exchange so coverage starts Jan. 1.

Justin Turveen

Last year North Texas hospitals created more than 265,000 jobs and pumped more than 14 billion dollars into the economy. That’s according to a new report from the Dallas Fort Worth Hospital Council.

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The Texas Department of Insurance decided Friday to postpone the closure of the high-risk health insurance pool, according to the Texas Tribune. That pool serves 23,000 Texans who have trouble finding health insurance due to pre-existing health conditions, like cancer or diabetes.

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So who’s on healthcare.gov? Turns out it’s not just people searching for health care. The site is also attracting hackers — a Department of Homeland Security official told lawmakers there’s been “a handful” of attempts so far. National cyber security expert Fred Chang, who’s now a professor at SMU in Dallas, has been called to examine concerns about lack of privacy of users of the website.

Oregon Shines On Medicaid, As Texas Stalls On Sign-Ups

Nov 16, 2013

Oregon might be seen as a complete failure or a surprising success when it comes to its health insurance exchange.

One the one hand, the state's website has yet to allow a single person to enroll. That's a big problem for the folks who are hoping to qualify for subsidies and buy insurance that will start Jan. 1.

President Obama announced Thursday that Americans who have had their health insurance plans canceled because of his Affordable Care Act can keep those plans for another year if they wish.

Those cancellations — most effective on Jan. 1 — have sparked intense criticism of the ACA, in part because the president pledged many times that if Americans liked the health plans they had, they wouldn't have to give them up under the terms of his program.

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President Obama announced this morning that Americans who have had their health insurance plans canceled because of his Affordable Care Act can keep those plans for another year if they wish.

Those cancellations — most effective on Jan. 1 — have sparked intense criticism of the ACA, in part because the president pledged many times that if Americans liked the health plans they had, they wouldn't have to give them up under the terms of his program.

Healthcare.gov

Less than 3,000 Texans managed to enroll for health insurance last month on the problem-plagued federal online exchange that's a centerpiece of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
 
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday that 2,991 people in Texas had selected a plan from the insurance marketplace.

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Update, 3:33 p.m.: James O’Keefe is a conservative activist who uses undercover cameras to expose what he calls corruption and dishonesty. His efforts, though, have been criticized.

This week, his group, Project Veritas, released a new video that he says shows North Texas “navigators” who are signing up people for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

In the heavily-edited video, the navigators appear to tell a potential consumer to lie about whether he smokes.

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The day after President Obama visited Dallas to talk health care, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced nearly $6 million in Affordable Care Act funds will go to Texas health centers to expand access to care.

In this round of federal grants, there are 10 Texas health centers on the list, most in the Houston area. In September, a Dallas health center, Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Clinic, received $275,000 in Affordable Care Act money.

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: A Cowboys legend has a brain disease, a group with Arlington ties gets a YouTube award, a recap of the president's visit to Dallas and more.

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President Obama arrived in Dallas shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday and left around 9 p.m. KERA provided updates on 90.1 FM, as well as this blog.

Update, 9:03 p.m.: Air Force One has left Dallas Love Field. President Obama spent four hours in Dallas, making a speech at Temple Emanu-El to talk with volunteers who are helping people sign up for health care through the Affordable Care Act. He expressed frustration that Healthcare.gov has experienced technical issues, but says the website is improving. Later, Obama appeared at two private fundraisers. KERA's Lauren Silverman covered the president's Dallas visit and has more details.

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