Affordable Care Act

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A new "fee" tacked on customers’ bills by a Southern restaurant chain could be a preview of things to come.

Several Gator's Dockside restaurants across central Florida have added what they’re calling an "Affordable Care Act Surcharge" of 1 percent to all customers' bills. It is claimed that the surcharge will help pay the healthcare costs for their 500 full-time employees.

Some believe the move may be politically motivated, while others contend it demonstrates “transparency”: instead of just raising prices, patrons see exactly why they're paying a little bit more.

Consumers and small businesses have until March 31st to enroll in New York’s state health exchange under the Affordable Care Act, New York State of Health.

Bob Cohen is Policy Director of Citizen Action of New York and Public Policy and Education Fund, one of the organizations that serves as a “healthcare navigator” to assist individuals in enrolling.

WAMC’s Lucas Willard spoke with Cohen about New York’s approach to the Affordable Care Act, and what he’d like to see changed.

For more visit: http://citizenactionny.org/

Andrew Coates: The Urgency For Health Reform Returns

Feb 28, 2014

This week NY State of Health, also named "The Official Health Plan Marketplace," put out a press release to celebrate a milestone.

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In an effort to protect consumers from big surprise medical bills, the Cuomo administration has proposed extending out-of-network coverage requirements for emergencies and specialists to all health insurers in New York.

According to the state Department of Financial Services, the requirements currently apply to health maintenance organizations and 16 insurance plans in New York's new health exchange.

The state's new health exchange reports more than 800,000 New Yorkers have completed applications for insurance while more than 501,000 of them have now enrolled for specific coverage.

The health department says enrollment for individual and family coverage since October includes 276,681 New Yorkers in the 16 commercial and nonprofit insurers in the exchange and 224,524 in government-funded Medicaid.

WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

Stressing that there's only about five weeks until the deadline to enroll for health insurance coverage through the New York State of Health marketplace, the Democratic mayors of Albany, Schenectady and Troy joined community advocates this week at Citizen Action of New York's Albany storefront headquarters to encourage sign-ups.

Leon Brooks

Governor Andrew Cuomo says New York needs a Medicaid funding infusion first requested in 2012 to support hospital overhauls and expanded primary medical care to meet growing patient demand under the state's new health insurance exchange.

The exchange has enrolled more than 412,000 New Yorkers for health insurance coverage since October.

Meanwhile, state officials are pursuing a waiver to use up to $2 billion annually from Medicaid over five years to help struggling hospitals cut beds and admissions in a shift to more primary and outpatient medical care.

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Massachusetts has received a three-month extension from the federal government to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The extension comes a week after the state adjusted its approach to fix its troubled health care insurance website.

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Following a scathing report, Massachusetts is altering course as it attempts to deal with its health insurance website.

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Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has altered the state’s course in its attempts to fix its problem-plagued health insurance website.

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As the March 31 deadline approaches and the website problems have been ironed out, more and more New Yorkers are signing up for health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act. The state health department reports 587,000 completed applications have been filed, and enrollment is up 43 percent since December 24. Heather Howard is the program director for the state network, which is funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to encourage people to enroll. She recently spoke to WAMC’s  Brian Shields.

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The monthly update from Families USA on the progress of five state-sponsored health insurance plans was held this afternoon.

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Health care providers in western Massachusetts are offering their assistance and encouraging people to enroll in insurance plans under the federal Affordable Care Act, which has garnered negative since its rolling out on October 1.

NY Health Exchange Insures Thousands More

Dec 31, 2013

The state's new health exchange reports nearly 481,000 New Yorkers have completed applications for insurance while more than 241,000 of them have enrolled for specific coverage starting January 1.

The Health Department says enrollment for individual and family coverage since October includes 175,146 New Yorkers in the 16 commercial and nonprofit insurers in the exchange and 66,376 in government-funded Medicaid.

Blair Horner: Obamacare Gets Implemented

Dec 30, 2013

The beginning of 2014 heralds the full implementation of the federal health care reform law – the Affordable Care Act.  For most New Yorkers, the new law will have no noticeable impact.  For the 2 plus million New Yorkers who lack health insurance or who pay for it themselves, the new law offers dramatic changes.

Thousands Get 2014 Insurance From NY Exchange

Dec 24, 2013

With insurance through New York's health exchange starting next year, thousands of policyholders have to change coverage while even more uninsured are signing up for new policies.

Facing a late influx of applications, the exchange has pushed back enrollment deadlines twice, most recently to midnight Tuesday for policies effective Jan. 1.

Unlike the federal exchange operating in many states, New York established its own, which has had some but far fewer software problems.

Richard Iannuzzi: As to Babies and Bathwater

Dec 19, 2013

Tales from medieval times tell us that water was stored in barrels for bathing.  The male head of the household — most likely a farmer or tradesman — would bathe first.  He would be followed by his wife and their many children, in order of their birth.

The administrators of several state health care exchanges offered an update on the status of enrollments and operations Wednesday afternoon. 

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New York Congressman Bill Owens of the 21st District held a telephone town hall Thursday evening focused on one issue: the Affordable Care Act. 

Medical staff at Nathan Littauer Hospital
Nathan Littauer Hospital

Two start-up insurers in the New York health exchange, one promising unlimited telemedicine, say customer queries have been rising rapidly and they expect enrollment spikes by the new Dec. 23 deadline for coverage next year.

The state reports 27,000 more approved applications over the past week, bringing the total to 284,440. About one-third have enrolled in plans, 50,119 with the 16 commercial and nonprofit insurers and 40,984 in Medicaid.

WASHINGTON – If the US Supreme Court sides with business allowing it to make decisions as to what health coverage an employee will have under Obamacare, it will spell trouble, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D, NY17) said Tuesday.

She was reacting to the court’s decision to take up challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that for-profit corporations include contraception coverage in employees’ insurance plans.

Rep. Paul Tonko
Lucas Willard / WAMC

New York Congressman Paul Tonko, a Democrat representing the Capital Region, says his Republican colleagues could face political fallout if the bumpy rollout of the Affordable Care Act gives way to a successful program in the long term. Tonko spoke on WAMC’s Congressional Corner program.


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A new report by Families USA finds less than one percent of the non-elderly U.S. population is at risk of losing its current insurance plan and paying more for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Families USA has been a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act and has worked to counter negative public opinion during the botched rollout that had President Obama apologizing earlier this month. The organization's executive director, Ron Pollack, says the ACA prevents insurers from selling substandard plans.

www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov

Amid federal rollout troubles surrounding the online marketplace healthcare.gov., state health exchange directors gathered on a conference call today to counter the negative publicity.

President Obama promised to fix the broken promises and broken website stemming from his Affordable Care Act.  Observers say the flawed rollout of the federal website in six weeks accomplished what Republicans failed to do in three years: undermine support not only for Obamacare but for Obama the president.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney is accusing President Barack Obama of being "dishonest" about his health care law.

Romney says Obama knew people would lose their private insurance coverage under the law. He criticizes Obama for promising that people could keep their existing plans if they wished.

In an interview on CBS This Morning  Friday, Romney said several times that Obama had been "dishonest." He says, quote, "What starts twisted, stays twisted."

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New York's new online health exchange reports 197,011 New Yorkers have completed applications to get insured, while 48,162 have subsequently enrolled in plans, nearly half in the government-funded Medicaid program for low-income New Yorkers.

Jim Levulis / WAMC

Massachusetts U.S. Congressman Richard Neal made it out to the westernmost portion of his district today.

The Democrat spoke to members of the Pittsfield Rotary Club on a wide range of topics including what’s ahead for the federal government in terms of the economy and the debt ceiling.

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New York state's web site for people seeking health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s new exchange appears to be working again. Just after noon today, a message that new applications could not be processed had been taken down. Meantime, Families USA held a teleconference with state exchange officials and navigators to get an update on progress in enrolling citizens.

Today commentator Blair Horner of NYPIRG compares the federal healthcare program with the exchange in New York.

Once the antics ended over the shutdown of the federal government and a possible national default, all eyes focused on the implementation of the federal health care reform law; the Affordable Care Act.

And the picture has been ugly.

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