Affordable Care Act

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Ahead of Sunday's deadline, officials say consumers are stepping up enrollment for 2015 coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law. The President's top health official was in Austin Friday to encourage more Texans to enroll.

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

The end of the open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act is less than a month away. In Austin, city leaders are pushing hard to get the word out.

At City Hall Thursday, some Austin City Council members reminded people they have until Feb. 15 to sign up.

"I just want to join my colleagues in this great group in getting the message out to folks that now is the time to do it," Austin Mayor Steve Adler says. "It’s easier than you think, and there’s more assistance available than you might think."

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Hundreds of thousands of previously uninsured Texans have signed up for health insurance since the federal government began requiring it last year.

Still, Texas continues to have the highest rate of uninsured people in the country. The state doesn’t spend any money to promote the federal health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.

Last year, nonprofits spent much of the enrollment period educating people on the ACA. Their efforts were slowed by the botched rollout of the healthcare.gov website. In the second year of the insurance marketplace, some Texas nonprofits are changing their strategy, and insurers, hospitals, and city governments are also doing more to help people enroll.

healthcare.gov

People who qualify for health insurance through the federal marketplace should keep in mind some looming deadlines – like today, for people wanting coverage to start Feb. 1.

Open enrollment will end soon for those who qualify for a health insurance plan on the federal marketplace. That deadline is Feb. 15 for coverage that begins on March 1.

People who want their coverage to start Feb. 1 must enroll and pay for their health insurance plan by the end of today, Jan. 15.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the nation, and last legislative session, lawmakers did have some discussion on how Texas could draw down federal dollars to insure more people, but only if the options don't include expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

At least one of the bills filed already would allow Medicaid expansion, but that doesn’t mean any will make it to the floor of the House or Senate for discussion.

healthcare.gov

Enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is underway. If you’ve ever shopped for insurance, or had insurance, you know this involves lots of technical terms that might be confusing.

KUT News

The first day of a new open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act is Nov. 15 and lasts three months, through Feb. 15.

This time around, Central Texas consumers have 115 plans to choose from, up from 80 last period, and nine insurance companies are participating in this rating area. Rating areas are usually based on counties.

Courtesey of Dell Medical School

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act starts Nov. 15. In Texas, questions remain about the law and its effects.

On Nov. 18 at 6 p.m., KUT will host a discussion on how the law is changing health care in Texas and what's ahead for the second year of the health insurance marketplace.

healthcare.gov

Open enrollment for health insurance on the federal marketplace begins on Saturday. A new report suggests that if they buy a plan through the marketplace, Texas residents in big cities will pay slightly more than those in more rural areas.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Starting next week, people can once again start enrolling for health insurance on the federal marketplace. Consumers should expect a number of differences when they go on healthcare.gov this time.

Brookings Institution

People shopping for health insurance on the federal marketplace in Texas will have more options when the enrollment period begins again later this year.

Sixteen companies will offer health insurance plans in Texas through the federal marketplace this time around, when open enrollment begins Nov. 15 for coverage starting in 2015. At the Brookings Institution on Tuesday, U.S. Health and Human Services Department Secretary Sylvia Burwell spoke about changes in the marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.

healthcare.gov

The number of people in Texas without health insurance has declined by less than half a percentage point since implementation of the Affordable Care Act, according to a new report out by the Census Bureau. The number dropped from 22.5 percent in 2012 to 22.1 percent in 2013.

Now, some of the people who recently got coverage may lose it.

Liang Shi for KUT News

Today, the Texas Senate Affairs Committee heard testimony on the Affordable Care Act – from enrollment numbers to costs to identity theft concerns. The public hearing comes after Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst asked lawmakers to study what he called “emerging negative impacts” of the law.

About 734,000 people in Texas signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act during the first enrollment period, and with another one about to begin, the Texas Department of Insurance says Texas has roughly 200 state-certified navigators who help people use healthcare.gov after taking federal and Texas-specific training courses.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Ahead of the next legislative session, state senators are talking about one of the most politically divisive federal programs – Medicaid. Or more specifically, how to avoid expanding Medicaid eligibility in Texas and still get more people insured.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Texas has at least two options for insuring more people. One is expanding Medicaid eligibility in Texas. The state’s Republican leadership doesn’t support that option.

A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday dealt a significant blow to the Affordable Care Act, when it threw out an IRS regulation that governs subsidies. But before the ink dried on that decision, another three-judge panel hearing a similar case issued a decision that was completely opposite.

healthcare.gov

We’re learning more about the type of health insurance plan most Texas consumers purchased through the federal marketplace and how much they’re paying ,through data released today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Consumers can choose from four tiers of health plans – platinum to bronze. The most expensive ones contain the most benefits, while the lower cost plans with fewer benefits.

Most consumers in Texas chose the lowest or second lowest plans within the mid-level silver tier. Here's several examples of silver level plans from  Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas.

The Senate has voted to confirm Sylvia Mathews Burwell to the post of secretary of health and human services, where she will replace Kathleen Sebelius, who presided over the troubled rollout of the HealthCare.gov website.

In a 78-17 vote, Burwell, who served most recently as White House budget director, was approved Thursday.

In a statement released by the White House press office, President Obama said he applauded the confirmation of Burwell.

Nick Cowie for Texas Tribune

The debate over Medicaid expansion in Texas came up at the Capitol today in a new way: there’s concern about how to pay the rising costs of health care for prison inmates.

Costs related to infectious diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV are on the rise in the Texas correctional system. Another number on the rise: the amount of Texas inmates older than age 55.

State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, says it’s another reason why the state should consider expanding Medicaid eligibility as offered by the Affordable Care Act.

Last year, the Republican playbook for keeping control of the House of Representatives in 2014 and winning the Senate consisted of a fairly simple strategy: Run against Obamacare.

But now that the 2014 races are starting to take shape, that strategy isn't looking quite so simple. Democrats are fighting back. They're focusing on Republican opposition to the health law's expansion of Medicaid as a part of their own campaigns.

Sure, you can still hear congressional Republicans talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act.

But there's clearly something different about the current climate, and the GOP approach to Obamacare. The thrill of repeal may not be gone for Republicans, but much of the urgency of repeal is.

For starters, the House GOP doesn't have more repeal votes lined up for these weeks after the spring recess.

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