Affordable Care Act

Uncertainty surrounds the Affordable Care Act, as some Republicans have vowed to repeal and replace it. Today, a former Obama administration official discusses possible changes to the law. Then, Brian McTavish presents a Thanksgiving version of his Weekend To-Do List.

Some Americans Elect To ‘Opt Out’ Of Obamacare

Nov 17, 2016
HealthCare.gov

This story was originally published by Kaiser Health News and is reprinted with permission.

Steven Lopez has gone without health insurance for 15 years, and the Affordable Care Act hasn’t changed his mind. Once again this year he will forgo coverage, he said, even though it means another tax penalty.

Last tax season, the 51-year-old information technology professional and his family paid a mandatory penalty of nearly $1,000, he said. That’s because they found it preferable to the $400 to $500 monthly cost of an Obamacare health plan.

Courtesy Missouri Hospital Association

Medicaid expansion probably wasn’t in the cards in Missouri before Tuesday’s elections. And now that the Missouri legislature is expected to lurch even further to the right, it appears to be dead on arrival.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, however, proponents of expanding Medicaid eligibility haven’t given up hope that health coverage can be extended to thousands of Missourians currently going without.

File photo

Medicaid expansion advocates in Kansas say they’ll move forward with legislation despite national election results that signal a repeal of Obamacare.

But they are a lot less optimistic about their chances than they were before last week.

Click here to read about a Kansas City family's growing anxiety about Obamacare's repeal

Alex Smith / Heartland Health Monitor

Last week’s election results stunned a lot of people who get health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress say they want to scrap the law, but what might replace it remains unknown.

That has left many Missouri and Kansas families in limbo, unsure what will become of their medical care.

Obamacare 'Replacement' Might Look Familiar

Nov 10, 2016
PBS News Hour

This story was originally published by Kaiser Health News and is reprinted with permission. 

The Affordable Care Act transformed the medical system, expanding coverage to millions, injecting billions in tax revenue, changing insurance rules and launching ambitious experiments in quality and efficiency.

The history of brewing beer in KC, then a look at healthcare in KC's music community.

Guests:

Heartland Health Monitor file photo

Open enrollment for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act starts Tuesday. People in Kansas and across the country will be able to log in to the online marketplace, healthcare.gov, and purchase plans for 2017 with federal subsidies based on income.

Kansas families who buy health insurance through the online marketplace for 2017 could pay $20,000 or more if they have serious medical problems, according to federal data.

Most families likely won’t pay that much because they qualify for subsidies, but the information shows that even low-premium plans can become costly.

Oregon.gov

When individual health insurance plans go on sale on healthcare.gov next week, many Missourians will probably be more than a little shocked to see some rate increases as high as 40 percent.

Similar increases are popping up nationwide, but different states have different powers to address them.

Take Oregon, for example.

Each year around late April, insurance companies send the state their proposed rates, starting a conversation about what’s fair based on the cost of health care and the health of customers.

HealthCare.gov

Kansans who get their health insurance through the federal Affordable Care Act website can’t buy yet — but they can look.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has opened what agency officials call a “window shopping” option on healthcare.gov, ahead of the official Nov. 1 open enrollment start date.

A green button on the site’s homepage allows users to “Preview 2017 Plans and Prices” by entering their ZIP code and some personal information.

Jim McLean / Heartland Health Monitor

Former Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger says members of Congress should set aside partisan differences and fix problems with the Affordable Care Act.

Failing to do so, she warns, could hasten consideration of a single-payer system.

Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2015

The uninsured rates in Kansas and Missouri continue to drop.

But they’re declining faster in states that have expanded Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities.

New data out Tuesday from the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Kansas’ uninsured rate dropped to 9.1 percent in 2015, down from 10.2 percent the year before and 12.3 percent in 2013.

U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

A new analysis from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says headlines about anticipated premium increases on the Obamacare health insurance marketplace overlook an important point: Most Americans, including two-thirds of Kansans and three-quarters of Missourians, still will be able to find a plan for $75 a month or less.

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

Since the Affordable Care Act took effect, Wyandotte County has seen the number of its uninsured fall from 26 percent to 18 percent, one of the biggest drops in the country.

But it’s one thing to boast of boosting the ranks of the insured, another to steer them through a complicated and, at times, bewildering health care system.

With a $1.9 million grant from the United Health Foundation, announced today by county officials at the offices of the Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, the county is now in a better position to do that.

Healthcare.gov

Almost nine out of every 10 Kansans and Missourians who selected health insurance on the federal online marketplace paid for at least the first month of their coverage this year, offering one bit of stability in the sometimes-turbulent marketplace.

Critics of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, questioned whether people who signed up for coverage actually would pay their premiums after the exchanges’ troubled rollout in late 2013 and early 2014.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

Rural Americans are gaining health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act at rates outpacing their urban counterparts, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Mark Andes is among those in rural Kansas who have benefited. Andes was living and working in McPherson last year when he began having some scary health symptoms.

Missouri Department of Insurance

Starting in 2018, Missouri will no longer be the only state in the country barred from collecting information on health insurance rates.

Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday signed legislation requiring health insurers to file proposed rates with the Missouri Department of Insurance and the department to determine if they’re reasonable or not.

If the department finds them to be unreasonable because they’re excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory, the law authorizes it to disclose that to the public, which can then comment on the proposed rates.

The cost of a premature birth was the beginning of a controversy involving the price of health care, AOL’s CEO and the baby's mother. The dispute sparked a national debate about the value of a human life.

Guests:

File photo

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer announced Thursday that two companies have filed to sell health insurance plans in Kansas on the individual market, including the federal Affordable Care Act’s online marketplace.

UnitedHealthcare’s announcement that it would be pulling out of the marketplace in 2017 opened the possibility that Kansans who shop there would be left with only one choice of insurer.

Bigstock

The departure of UnitedHealthcare could leave Kansans shopping on the federal online marketplace with only one choice of insurer, but Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer is working to bring in more.

Deputy Commissioner Clark Shultz says Selzer has for several months been in talks with other insurance companies about joining the marketplace in 2017, and those discussions appear close to yielding results.

“It’s too early to announce that and we don’t have it secured, but there are some very positive developments,” Shultz says.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

A federal judge says that Obamacare navigators may dispense advice to those looking for insurance under the federal health reform law.

U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith on Wednesday struck down provisions of a Missouri law that bars insurance navigators from giving advice about health plans. He ruled that the law is preempted by the federal Affordable Care Act.

NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

A new poll from NPR, Harvard University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation explores Americans’ experiences with the health care system in the two years since the Affordable Care Act was fully implemented.

Kansas was one of seven states singled out for closer scrutiny. And while much of what Sunflower State residents said followed national trends, there were some notable exceptions.

KHI News Service

Some supporters of Medicaid expansion say that Gov. Sam Brownback’s rural health task force is little more than political cover. They say that in an election year Republican lawmakers opposed to expansion need to be seen as doing something about the financial pressures that forced a hospital in southeast Kansas to close its doors and that are threatening others.

But Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, the person appointed to lead the group, says the governor’s critics have it wrong.

The enrollment period for the federal health insurance marketplace closed Monday night, with higher enrollment than last year in Kansas and Missouri.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said 101,555 Kansans enrolled before the deadline. That’s about 5,000 more than the 96,197 Kansans who enrolled before last year’s deadline.

HHS provided numbers for several population centers:

Alex Smith / Heartland Health Monitor

With Wyandotte County struggling to address a shortage of primary care physicians, a discussion exploring how that shortage affects doctors, patients and the health of our communities. Plus, what does it mean to be healthy, anyway?

Guests:

Jim McLean / Heartland Health Monitor

A Lawrence businesswoman has become something of a poster child for the Affordable Care Act.

Meg Heriford, owner of the Ladybird Diner, didn’t seek the spotlight but has been thrust into the role by former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. 

Sebelius, who also served two terms as Kansas governor, still has a home in the state as well as one in Washington, D.C.

More than 80,000 Kansas residents and more than 250,000 Missouri residents have signed up for 2016 coverage through the federal insurance marketplace, putting both states on track to exceed last year’s enrollment figures. 

The Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved reported 84,631 people in Kansas and 253,099 in Missouri had enrolled through healthcare.gov as of Saturday. The enrollments were close to the totals for last year’s sign-ups.

Bigstock

The government has extended until Thursday the deadline to sign up for health coverage starting Jan. 1 under the Affordable Care Act.

Government officials said a surge of people selecting plans over the two days before the original Tuesday deadline led to the extension. One million people left contact information after encountering delays logging onto the healthcare.gov website or reaching call centers, the officials said.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Mayor Sly James met with health care counselors and members of the public at Samuel Rodgers Health Center Saturday to promote enrollment on the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

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