Affordable Care Act

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

About half of Americans say they don’t know how they and their families will be affected by the Affordable Care Act. That’s according to a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll done last month.

So what exactly do Texans need to know about the health insurance marketplace that launches next month?

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

The federal government is spending millions to promote new health insurance plans being sold through online marketplaces as part of the Affordable Care Act.

CDC/ Debora Cartagena

Texas continues to lead the country in the percentage of uninsured people under 65. That has been a trend for at least the last five years.

The latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show more than one in four people under 65 did not have health insurance – that was more than 5.7 million people in 2011.

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is spending some time in Texas as the August recess winds down. Today’s stops included a visit to National Instruments in Austin, where he’s calling for people to join his effort against the Affordable Care Act. 

He's urging the public to sign an online petition aimed at influencing members of the U.S. Congress to vote to get Obamacare defunded in a government appropriations bill.

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

He's already a Houston physician, Republican campaign donor, radio talk show host and litigant in a federal lawsuit against the roll-out of "Obamacare." Now Dr. Steve Hotze may be adding aspiring pop star to that list. 

So you know all that talk about how the boatload of money going to health care will bankrupt the nation if something isn't done soon?

Well, it turns out that while politicians were bickering, the problem started taking care of itself. Well, a little bit.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The state of Texas has not joined in the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. At the Conservative Political Action Conference late last week, Gov. Rick Perry said he would not let Texas join the expansion unless the federal government tailored the program for this state.

Perry gave a list of requirements for Texas to join the Medicaid expansion. Many were items he’s demanded in the past, but one in particular caught the ear of those who support expansion.

“We need to asset-test to make sure care is there for those who really need it most,” Perry said at CPAC.

Mike Martinez via Facebook

Supporters of Texas expanding access to Medicaid, among them representatives of Planned Parenthood, marched up Congress Avenue Tuesday to the Capitol steps.

They’re calling on Texas lawmakers to accept Federal money as part of the Affordable Care Act to get healthcare to more than a million Texans who otherwise would not have it.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

House Republicans on Monday agreed not to expand Medicaid as called for under the federal Affordable Care Act — but left the door open to doing it if the Obama administration grants Texas enough flexibility.

“The current path as proposed is unsustainable from a fiscal standpoint,” said caucus chairman Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe. He said the caucus would continue to “propose solutions on the issue, which we’re formulating and will continue to do so throughout the session.” 

Governor Rick Perry is adamant, Texas will not make Medicaid available to more Texans by taking part in a federal program. But recently other Republican governors in Nevada and Arizona have changed their minds, saying they can’t ignore the billions of federal dollars they’d lose by opting out.

Lawmakers in Austin are now debating what Texas should do, including a senator from  Greenville who also wears a stethoscope.  

Two years and $8.4 billion into the government's effort to get doctors to take their practices digital, some unintended consequences are starting to emerge.

One is a lot of unhappy doctors. In a big survey by Medscape, an online site for doctors, 38 percent of the doctors polled said they were unhappy with their electronic medical records system.

Online insurance markets set to begin selling health coverage to consumers next October may be hampered by software delays.

State regulators learned late last week that an electronic system most insurers will use to submit their policies for state and federal approvals won't be ready for testing next month, as originally planned. The lag is being blamed on the wait for several regulations from the Obama administration that are needed to update the software.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Ahead of a Friday deadline to decide, Gov. Rick Perry's office has reaffirmed that Texas will not implement a major tenet of federal health reform — a state-based online marketplace for consumers to purchase coverage.

That means the federal government will have to roll out a program for Texas instead. Every state must have an exchange by 2014, the year “Obamacare” — which many Republicans had hoped would be repealed if Mitt Romney won the presidency — requires most Americans to carry coverage.

Allison Castle, Perry’s spokeswoman, said Texas won’t design its own exchange because there is “really no such thing as a ‘state exchange.’”

With Obama's Victory, Health Law Stays On Track

Nov 7, 2012

After a shaky few years, President Obama's health care legacy looks secure.

His health overhaul law barely made it through Congress and to his desk. Then there were the legal challenges, launched when the ink of his signature was barely dry, that were resolved by a surprising Supreme Court ruling in June.

You can barely listen to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney make a speech or give an interview without hearing some variation of this vow:

"On Day 1 of my administration, I'll direct the secretary of Health and Human Services to grant a waiver from Obamacare to all 50 states. And then I'll go about getting it repealed," he told Newsmax TV in September 2011.

Monik Marcus/flickr http://bit.ly/ODQleE

Starting today, millions of women are going to receive birth control coverage at no upfront cost, a change supporters say gives women greater access and control over their own health care.

Through a provision in the Affordable Care Act, “non-grandfathered” insurance plans must provide eight new, free prevention-related health services for policies renewed or issued on or after September 23, 2012.

The new services, provided with no cost-sharing, include: well-woman exams, screening for gestational diabetes, HPV DNA testing, domestic violence screenings and counseling, HIV screenings, breastfeeding supplies, contraception and family counseling services. 

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

As if perfectly cued to election season, multimillion-dollar rebates are being doled out across America by insurance companies thanks to a new rule in the federal Affordable Care Act, or ACA. Although the much-maligned “Obamacare” remains a prime target for Texas Republicans on the campaign trail, Democrats and other political consultants say the tangible benefits of the ACA now taking effect could change voters’ perspectives on President Obama's signature legislative package. 

“The hardest part politically for ACA has always been that it will take a while for the program to kick in and even longer for people to realize benefits,” Mark McKinnon, a political consultant and former media strategist for George W. Bush, said in an email. “These rebates will be a welcome surprise to a lot of consumers and help reduce angst about ACA.”

A new report from the Congressional Budget Office finds that the Supreme Court ruling on President Obama's health care law will save the government $84 billion over the next 11 years.

While the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Healthcare Act, it also said it was up to states to choose whether to participate in an expansion of Medicaid.

That $84 billion in savings, the non-partisan CBO explained, comes from predictions that fewer states will enroll in the program.

Few governors have been as vocal and as unequivocal in their opposition to the federal health care law as Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Perry, a Republican, has vowed not to expand Medicaid and not to create an insurance exchange. Consumer advocates in Texas say the Perry administration has also been dragging its feet when it comes to insurance rate review.

Flickr user Images_Of_Money, bit.ly/LeSsiT

The cost of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act – which Texas Gov. Rick Perry has long opposed – has been dramatically reduced.

Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs told members of the Texas House Appropriations Committee the cost of expanded Medicaid services under the ACA would be $15 to $16 billion – some 40 percent less than an original estimate of $26 to $27 billion.

While a recent Supreme Court decision upheld the bulk of the Affordable Care Act, the court found states could not be denied existing Meidcaid funds if they opted-out of the Medicaid expansion the act allows for – instead, the states would be denied new Medicaid funds associated with the expansion.

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