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health care

Republicans plan to turn control of Medicaid over to the states as part of their replacement for the Affordable Care Act, according to an adviser to President Donald Trump.

On Wednesday, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., goes before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in his first grilling since he was nominated to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. This isn't an official confirmation hearing. That comes Jan. 24, before the Senate Finance Committee. But with outspoken senators such as Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on the HELP committee, Price is certain to face tough questions.

Here are five things to look out for:

Obamacare

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This week, President-elect Trump called for a quick repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The majority of Texans get healthcare through their employers, but over the past few years the number of people in Texas who’ve signed up through the Affordable Care Act has grown. Changes in the White House and Congress will affect both groups of Texans.

In a study that is sure to rile male doctors, Harvard researchers have found that female doctors who care for elderly hospitalized patients get better results. Patients cared for by women were less likely to die or return to the hospital after discharge.

Previous research has shown that female doctors are more likely to follow recommendations about prevention counseling and to order preventive tests like Pap smears and mammograms.

Since Republicans have plans to repeal the federal health law, should consumers still sign up for next year's coverage? And if the health law marketplaces disappear, might Medicare eligibility be expanded? Here are answers to some recent questions from readers.

It sounds like Republicans plan to repeal the health law in January once Donald Trump is sworn in. Since open enrollment goes until the end of January, should I just wait and see what happens before signing up?

A program that helped women in rural parts of Texas navigate the state’s complicated health care system is being phased-out next year.  That’s even though a new study out of UT Austin shows the program helped increase breast and cervical cancer screenings in those areas.

President-elect Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan agree that repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with some other health insurance system is a top priority.

But they disagree on whether overhauling Medicare should be part of that plan. Medicare is the government-run health system for people age 65 and older and the disabled.

Trump said little about Medicare during his campaign, other than to promise that he wouldn't cut it.

Ryan, on the other hand, has Medicare in his sights.

The Future Of Medicare

Nov 15, 2016
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For half a century, Americans age 65 and older have relied on Medicare to pay for health care. Rising costs, though, have some wondering if the program will last.

In North Texas, we’re all about convenience. The drive-through Starbucks, burger joint, even drive-through bank. Still, there aren’t any drive-through health clinics. But there are clinics on wheels — they’re run by Parkland Health & Hospital System. The clinics have been crisscrossing Dallas for more than a decade, serving the people in the community who need it most.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

People in Texas are significantly more likely than adults nationwide to report that it has gotten harder to see a doctor in the past two years. That’s one finding in a new poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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Some good news for coffee drinkers.

Healthcare.gov

The White House is challenging Dallas to beat out 19 other communities in reducing the number of people without health insurance. If the city wins, it would get a visit from the President. The deadline to sign up for 2016 health insurance plans on healthcare.gov is Dec. 15th. 

About 1 million Texans have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act since enrollment efforts began in 2013. That might sound like a lot, but Texas still has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country.

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The Supreme Court has upheld the nationwide tax subsidies under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, in a ruling that preserves health insurance for millions of Americans.

About 1.2 Million Texans Signed Up Through Health Exchange

Feb 18, 2015
Lauren Silverman / KERA News

FORT WORTH-- Nearly 1.2 million Texans have signed up or were re-enrolled for health insurance through the federal marketplace by a February 15 deadline.

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The deadline to sign up for health insurance for the New Year through healthcare.govis Monday, Dec. 15th.

A warning: Research shows consumers often choose a plan that’s not the best deal. We’ve got some tips for shopping health care.

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In this edition of Vital Signs – beer. It has health benefits, provided you don’t drink too much of it. Navin Hariprasad, a dietitian with Parkland Hospital System, has details.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Despite a very rocky start to open enrollment last year, more than 733,000 Texans bought insurance through the federal marketplace.

Still, Texas remains the state with the highest percent of uninsured people in the country. Will open enrollment this year change that? 

KERA

Ron Anderson, the doctor who ran Dallas County’s largest medical center for nearly 30 years, died Thursday night. The 68-year-old health-care pioneer left the Parkland Hospital job two years ago, and had been suffering from advanced liver cancer. 

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.

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.”

Some of the poorest seniors in Texas live in Hidalgo County in the Rio Grande Valley.

Many only speak Spanish and don’t have access to the basics, like food or medical care. But a Texas A&M professor and his team of community health workers – or "promotoras de salud” – are trying to find ways to help seniors along the border improve those conditions. 

They're working in places like the colonia border town of Progreso, near the Mexican border. Progreso is  one of the poorest places in the one of the poorest counties in the United States. The unemployment rate is more than 10 percent.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

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

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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.

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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What does the health care marketplace have in common with the Dewey Decimal Classification System? First, they both can seem extremely confusing. Second, the library is the place to go for answers.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT Radio

AUSTIN -- Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has promised to review the performance of contractors who helped build a foundering website intended to help people buy health insurance.

Sebelius, who visited Austin on Friday, was on damage control as she's been criticized for the website's rocky rollout. She promised that problems with Healthcare.gov would get fixed. She said she would make sure taxpayers got their money's worth from the private companies contracted to build the website.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

If and when the technical problems on the online health insurance marketplace clear up, millions of people are expected to enroll. Not Jackie Sawicky.

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Okay, I know. Remembering birthdays, bill payments, and where you left your keys is hard enough. But there are a few dates you should keep in mind now that the Health Insurance Marketplace is up and running (sort of) in Texas. Here’s a breakdown, courtesy of the Texas Medical Association’s “Hey Doc” educational campaign.

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