Obamacare

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.

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

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.

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.

Courtesy photo - Creative Commons

“There’s no question the law has worked well in some areas and it’s still struggling in others.”

That’s the response from former Secretary of Health and Human Services and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to a question about the signature initiative of the Obama administration.

“We definitely need in the future to have more competition in the states,” Sebelius said in a telephone interview with KCUR 89.3 on Thursday.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

In his third and last stop of the day, Missouri gubernatorial candidate Eric Greitens made a campaign appearance in Kansas City Sunday night, after stops in both Springfield and St. Louis.

In what campaign workers described as one of the more crowded rallies of the day, over 130 people gathered for the event, with women making up about half of the crowd, many holding pink campaign signs reading "Women for Greitens."

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker joined Greitens on the campaign trail.

Republican Roy Blunt has represented Missouri in Washington, D.C., for 19 years. After seven terms in the House of Representatives, Blunt moved to the Senate in 2010. Now, Blunt finds himself in a tight race against Democrat Jason Kander that may cost his party control of the U.S. Senate. Also, Brian McTavish presents the latest Weekend To-Do List.

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

A recent national report credits the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, for helping to reduce racial and ethnic inequalities in health insurance coverage. But Kansas has not made as much progress as other states.

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.

www.healthcare.gov

A major provider of health insurance in Kansas is pulling out of the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Two companies under the same corporate umbrella — Coventry Health & Life Insurance Co. and Coventry Health Care of Kansas Inc. — are withdrawing from the marketplace just two weeks before the Nov. 1 start of the next open enrollment period.

Rohan Hutchings, a Coventry spokesperson, said company officials made the decision after reviewing a range of business factors, including the company’s competitive position in the 17 states in which it offers marketplace plans.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of the latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act preserves federal tax subsidies that nearly 270,000 consumers in Kansas and Missouri used to help them purchase health insurance.

If the decision handed down Thursday had gone the other way, those consumers, many of whom were previously uninsured, might have been forced to drop their coverage.

RELATED: High Court Upholds Health Law Subsidies 

Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

Meridith Berry and her team learned a valuable lesson at an event where they were encouraging Hispanics to purchase coverage through the health insurance marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act: don’t use green card stock.

A Missouri consumers group has sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over its alleged failure to disclose health insurance rates insurers propose to charge in Missouri in 2015.  

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court in St. Louis by the Consumers Council of Missouri, comes just six weeks before the enrollment period for coverage under the Affordable Care Act begins on Nov. 15.

Consumers in Missouri and Kansas should see more companies offering coverage through the health insurance marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act, according to preliminary estimates released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved will get a $468,000 federal grant to lead the state's efforts again to get residents signed up for health insurance on the online insurance exchanges.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Monday announced $60 million in "navigator" grants to 90 organizations nationwide, including KAMU.

Federal officials are sending notices to more than 300,000 people — including about 1,800 Kansans — warning them that the health insurance plans they bought on the federal online marketplace will be revoked unless they provide documents that resolve "data inconsistencies" with their citizenship or immigration status.

Bigstock

Kansas was one of just three states that saw their rates of people without health insurance go up since last year, according to a new survey.

And, if the poll results are accurate, Kansas was the one whose rates went up the most.

The data, collected as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, show that the uninsured population in Kansas rose from 12.5 percent in 2013 to 17.6 percent by midyear 2014 — a whopping increase of 5.1 percentage points.

David Goehring / Flickr -- Creative Commons

 

Conflicting federal court rulings are raising questions about whether consumers in Kansas and Missouri will continue to be eligible for subsidies when purchasing private health insurance through the federal insurance exchange.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said Tuesday that only consumers purchasing coverage through state-operated marketplaces are eligible for federal tax credits.

A new report analyzing health plan enrollment through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace shows that most people who signed up — about 70 percent — are paying less than $100 a month for coverage after their advance tax credits are accounted for and nearly half those who enrolled are paying less than $50 per month.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill visits Kansas City on Wednesday and Thursday as part of her 'McCaskill on Main Street' tour.  

She’s fresh off a big legislative win in the Senate where her version of a bill dealing with sexual assault in the military won out over a competing measure.

In the second part of Wednesday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with Sen. McCaskill about sexual assault in the military and her opinions on progress made as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Guest:

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited Kansas City Monday morning, drumming up interest in Obamacare.

In the first segment of Monday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with the head of Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City about insurance available through the Affordable Care Act and ongoing efforts to connect people to it.

Guest:

  • Dr. Bridget McCandless, president and CEO, Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City

Missouri will allow health insurance companies to continue offering policies that otherwise would have been canceled under the terms of the new federal health care law.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday that the state will let insurers sell individual and small-group policies in 2014 that were to be canceled because they didn't meet federal coverage requirements taking effect next year. 

The open enrollment period for Medicare prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans got underway Monday.  The Kansas Insurance Department says people need to be alert for potential scams.

The concern is heightened this year because the Medicare signup period coincides with the opening of the insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.