Entries in obamacare (55)


House Votes To Avoid Shutdown With A One-Year Delay In Obamacare

iStockPhoto/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The House of Representatives has voted 231-192 to avoid a government shutdown with a one-year delay of key parts in Obamacare. The temporary budget resolution is unlikely to pass in the Senate.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Under Obamacare, Nearly Half of Americans Could Receive Tax Credits

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A new study by the Kaiser Foundation says that half of Americans who purchase their own health insurance could face higher premiums next year under President Barack Obama's health care law.

The report from the Kaiser Foundation says that approximately 48 percent of those who currently have individual market coverage would be eligible for tax credits next year. The credits would average $5,548 per family.

The tax credits, intended to assist families in adjusting to higher premiums would only be available to those who buy their insurance in the new marketplaces, don't have access to other affordable coverage and make between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

Many Americans who are not currently insured would also be eligible for larger tax credits due to their, on average, lower income.

New insurance policies are expected to cost more due to a wider range of services.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obamacare Offers Slight Improvement to Medicare Outlook

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A new government review shows that the passage of the Affordable Care Act -- also known as Obamacare -- has extended the life of the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund by nearly a decade.

According to a press release from the Department of the Treasury, the Medicare HI Trust Fund now has sufficient funding to cover its obligations through 2026, two years later than was projected last year. In the last report issued before Obamacare was passed, the trust fund was expected to run out in 2017.

A separate review from the Social Security Board of Trustees determined that the Old Age, Survivor's and Disability Insurance fund will last until 2033. The Department of the Treasury's press release points out that at that point, annual revenues from the dedicated payroll tax would be enough to fund approximately 75 percent of the scheduled benefits through 2087.

Despite the improvements, both Medicare and Social Security face added difficulty as the baby boom generation begins to retire. Because of that, both Democrats and Republicans have put forth proposals to extend the lives of the two entitlement programs.

The two sides remain far apart, however. Republicans hope that any budget agreement will include deep spending cuts, while Obama is seeking a deal including cuts in government spending, such as reductions in entitlement programs, but also tax increases.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Latest GOP Attempt to Repeal Obamacare Fails Again

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Thirty-five times up, 35 times down.

That's how often Capitol Hill Republicans have tried to quash funding for the Affordable Care Act, the signature achievement of President Obama's first term, but have failed to do so.

The latest attempt to overturn what the GOP derisively call "Obamacare" came Wednesday as Senate Republicans proposed an amendment to defund the law that was attached to a bill intended to avert a possible government shutdown.

However, with Democrats in control of the Senate, the amendment proposed by Texas Republican Ted Cruz, a Tea Party darling, was defeated by a 52 to 42 vote.

Nonetheless, Republicans signaled they would not give up the fight to overhaul or eradicate the healthcare law deemed constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remarked, "There’s no way to fix this thing.  It needs to be pulled out by its roots."

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, a major proponent of the legislation, dismissed the latest GOP move, saying, "The American people basically have said, 'it’s time to move on.'"

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Christie Joins GOP Governors in Expanding Medicaid 

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie -- an opponent of  the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare -- announced Tuesday that his state will participate in Medicaid expansion that is a centerpiece of the law’s attempt to give health insurance to the uninsured.

Christie is the eighth Republican governor to buy into the Medicaid expansion, which was made optional by the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Obamacare.

“While we already have one of the most expansive and generous Medicaid programs in the nation, including the second-highest eligibility rate for children, we have an opportunity to ensure an even greater number of New Jerseyans who are at or near the poverty line have access to critical health services beginning in January 2014,” Christie said at the State House Tuesday during an address on the New Jersey budget.

Half of the states have agreed to participate in Medicaid expansion, according to the Advisory Board, a health consulting firm.

The program will get its funding from the federal government for its first three years and begin contributing 10 percent of the costs in 2020, Christie said.

The announcement came as a bit of a surprise as Christie has often criticized the Affordable Care Act, but it also comes in the wake of an announcement from the Obama administration that states can lower their Medicaid payments to doctors and health care providers.

The New Jersey governor was quick to distance himself from Obama’s signature health care legislation Tuesday.

“I am not a fan of the Affordable Care Act,” Christie said. “I think it’s wrong for New Jersey, and I think it’s wrong for America.”

The governor twice vetoed state legislation that would have created health care exchanges under the ACA, saying the federal government had not made clear how much such a system would cost his state.

But Tuesday he reasoned that if New Jerseyians refused the Obamacare funds in the Medicaid expansion program, they would simply be spent on health care ventures in neighboring states.

“I will make all my judgments as governor based on what I believe is best for New Jersey.”

The New Jersey Star-Ledger first reported Christie’s plans hours before his press conference.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Health Care Deadline Looms: How States Are Setting Up the Exchanges

Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- All of the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," doesn't go into effect until 2014, but states are required to set up their own health care exchanges or leave it to the federal government to step in by next year. The deadline for the governors' decisions is Friday.

The health insurance exchanges are one of the key stipulations of the new health care law. They reportedly will offer consumers an Internet-based marketplace for purchasing private health insurance plans.

But the president's signature health care plan has become so fraught with politics that whether governors agreed to set up the exchanges has fallen mostly along party lines.

Such partisanship is largely symbolic because if a state opts not to set up the exchange, the Department of Health and Human Services will do it for them as part of the federal program. That would not likely be well-received by Republican governors, either, but the law forces each state's chief executive to make a decision one way or the other.

Here's what it looks like in all 50 states and the District of Columbia:

20 states that have opted out -- N.J., S.C., La., Wis., Ohio, Maine, Ala., Alaska, Ariz., Ga., Pa., Kan., Neb., N.H., N.D., Okla., S.D., Tenn., Texas and Wyo.

Several Republican governors have said they will not set up the exchanges, including Chris Christie (N.J.), Nikki Haley (S.C.), Bobby Jindal (La.), Scott Walker (Wis.), John Kasich (Ohio), Paul LePage (Maine), Robert Bentley (Ala.), Sean Parnell (Ark.), Jan Brewer (Ariz.), Nathan Deal (Ga.), Tom Corbett (Pa.), Sam Brownback (Kan.), Dave Heineman (Neb.), John Lynch (N.H.), Jack Dalrymple (N.D.), Mary Fallin (Okla.), Dennis Daugaard (S.D.), Bill Haslam (Tenn.), Rick Perry (Texas), and Matt Mead (Wyo.).

3 States Out, But a Little More Complicated -- Mont., Ind. and Mo.

The Montana outgoing and incoming governors are both Democrats, but the Republican state legislature rejected the Democratic state auditor's request to start setting up a state exchange. So a federal exchange will be set up in Montana as well.

The Indiana outgoing and incoming governors are both Republicans and outgoing Gov. Mitch Daniels deferred the decision to governor-elect and U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, who said his preference is not to set up a state health care exchange, paving the way for the feds to come in too.

In Missouri, Gov. Jay Nixon is a Democrat, but Prop E passed on Nov. 6, which barred his administration from creating a state-based exchange without a public vote or the approval of the state legislature. After the election, he sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services saying he would be unable to set up a state-based exchange, meaning the federal government would have to set up its own.

One State Waiting for the White House -- Utah

Utah already has a state exchange set up, a Web-based tool where small-business employees can shop and compare health insurance with contributions from their employee. In a letter Republican Gov. Gary Herbert sent to the White House Tuesday, he asked for its exchange, called Avenue H, to be approved as a state-based exchange under the Affordable Care Act as long as state officials can open it to individuals and larger businesses.

Norm Thurston, the state's health reform implementation coordinator, says authorities there, "haven't received an official response" from the White House, but, "we anticipate getting one soon."

19 State-Based Exchanges – Calif., Colo., Conn., Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Ky., Md., Mass., Minn., Miss., Nev., N.M., N.Y., Ore., R.I., Vt. and Wash.

Six Partnerships -- Ark, Del., Ill., Mich., N.C. and W.Va.

Two Undecided -- Va. and Fla.

That makes 23 states that will have federal exchanges, 19 states will have state-based exchanges (including the District of Columbia), six are planning on partnership exchanges between the federal government and the state, Utah is waiting on an answer from the federal government, and two states have not officially announced their decision: Virginia and Florida.

A representative for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said an official announcement is likely to come Friday, but the Republican governor has repeatedly said he will likely reject the state-based exchange, paving the way for the federal government to come in.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott indicated last month that he was considering implementing a state-based exchange. He has made no official announcement either way and the Republican governor's office told ABC News they had no update on a decision, despite being a day away from the deadline.

Renee Landers, a professor of law at Suffolk University Law School in Boston who has written extensively on the new law, says if the remaining states don't make an official announcement by Friday, it's likely they will default to the federal exchange.

"If they don't decide to do it themselves, the default is the federal government will set it up," Landers said.

Landers boils down the decision by the nation's governors as this:

"If you want to wash your hands of [the ACA] as much as you can, entirely a federal exchange is your choice. But if you want as much control as possible, then the state exchange is the way to go; and the partnership, well every partnership is complicated," Landers said. "Sometimes it's nice to have the help, but on the other hand, you don't always get your way."

The Five Who Broke Party Lines:

Not all of the country's Republican governors rejected the state-based exchanges: Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, Idaho Governor Butch Otter, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval all decided to assert more control over the plan and, despite some grumbling, will set up the state-based exchanges.

"If the state really believes in federalism and state control, then operating its own exchange is the best way," Landers said."Its appeal is that it relies on competition in the market for health care coverage instead of a public system."

Landers says the new law also tells states they can form inter-state compacts and run exchanges by region, though none of the states decided to so. But "the federal government, in areas where they have contiguous states with a lot of shared markets, you can see the federal government saying, 'We won't have two infrastructures for those states, we will have one,'" the professor said.

One example could be New Jersey and Pennsylvania, two states that will have federal exchanges and are next to each other.

"I think it's funny that governors who purportedly want to be in charge of their own fate don't want to be involved [in setting up the exchanges]," Landers said.

"But then they have no responsibility for things that go wrong and there will be things that go wrong, mistakes will be made and they will have deniability."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Health Care Law: GOP Govs Opt Out of State Exchanges

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Despite President Obama’s victory, Republican governors say they’re not caving in on carrying out the Affordable Care Act -- or as they’ve derisively dubbed it, “Obamacare.”

Several governors have announced that they would not up state health care exchanges from which residents can select a health care plan, a requirement of the signature piece of legislation from Obama’s first term, even though Obama’s re-election made the Affordable Care Act the law of the land and any refusal to set up the exchanges is largely symbolic.

States have until Nov. 16 to decide whether they will set up these exchanges, and this week several governors announced they’re opting out.

On Thursday, South Carolina governor and rising Republican star Nikki Haley sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius saying that South Carolina, “should not and will not set up a state-based health care exchange.”

Several other Republican governors, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a GOP leader who is frequently cited as a potential candidate in 2016, and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, announced that their states would also not set up an exchange.

“I am not going to set up a state-based exchange that will create a tax burden of up to $50 million on the people of Alabama,” Bentley said Tuesday.

Other states where the governors have made similar declarations include Kansas and Alaska. In Missouri, the Democratic governor announced on Thursday that the state would not set up an exchange either, but that announcement resulted from a ballot measure that forbade the governor from moving forward with an exchange without the approval of the state’s legislature, and Republicans control Missouri’s state legislature.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has said that he will make his announcement on Friday.

So what do these refusals mean for the future of the health care law? Not much, it seems, as the health insurance exchanges will be set up in these states anyway.

Under the law, if a state falls behind or opts not to set up the exchange, the federal government, specifically the Department of Health and Human Services, steps in and sets up the exchange. That would not likely be well-received by Republican governors either, but the law forces each state’s executive to make a decision one way or the other.

“If the state decides not to establish an exchange, then the federal government establishes the exchange for them. So it’s kind of a pick-your-poison scenario, if you will,” said Renee M. Landers, a professor of law at Suffolk University Law School in Boston.

The potential for state executives to opt out of this portion of the law had been anticipated for some time. Almost immediately after the Supreme Court announced its ruling on the Affordable Care Act last June, several governors, including Jindal and Walker, said they would wait until after the election to take any sort of action on the law.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pearl Jam Guitarist Makes Plea for Obamacare

David Becker/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Mike McCready, the lead guitarist for the ’90s grunge band Pearl Jam, tells a personal story of his own pre-existing medical condition during a video in which he urges voters to cast their ballot for President Obama on Nov. 6.

McCready suffers from Crohn’s disease, a chronic illness of the gastrointestinal tract. In a video released Monday on Pearl Jam’s official YouTube channel and entitled “Life is a Pre-existing Condition,” he speaks about his personal struggles with insurance companies and how the Affordable Care Act has affected him.

“I’ve been denied coverage two times in my life,” McCready says, as he wanders through a wooded area. “And it’s after I’ve been in a big, successful rock band. I have met a lot of people who have been denied coverage who don’t have the resources to fight insurance companies, and they shouldn’t have to do that.”

“Because of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, we’re about to have health care for everyone. It really means that, you know, for myself, I have a pre-existing condition and I feel like I have some hope. Anybody that doesn’t have the kind of means that I have will have it too,” he said.

The video was produced with McCready’s friend, filmmaker Jesse Dylan. It ends with encouraging voters to end discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions by casting their ballots on election day.

McReady isn’t the only Pearl Jam member supporting Obama. Last month, lead singer Eddie Vedder was spotted at a $20,000 per plate Obama fundraising dinner in Florida.

McCready went public with his illness in 2003 while he was on tour promoting Pearl Jam’s album Riot Tour.

Speaking to the Northwest Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America in 2003, McCready described what it was like to live with Crohn’s while on the road.  “Playing onstage, I’m always aware of where the bathrooms are,” he admits. “When Crohn’s hits, I have to run, or it won’t be pretty.”

But the issues surrounding chronic illness have become especially salient this election cycle with Republican Mitt Romney promising to dismantle the Affordable Care Act without clarifying if he would keep the protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

Romney’s website says the candidate will fight to “prevent discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage.” There is still confusion on whether or not this will keep in place the protections for people who are currently uninsured, as they have not had continuous coverage.

Romney said in the first debate that he had a plan to deal with pre-existing conditions, but did not go into detail on how it would address those who have had significant gaps in their coverage.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fact Check: Mitt Romney on ‘Obamacare’ and Pre-Existing Conditions

JD Pooley/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Mitt Romney said Sunday he doesn’t want to get rid of all of “Obamacare,” a statement that at first seemed to indicate he’d softened his position on President Obama’s health care law.

“Well, I’m not getting rid of all of health care reform,” Romney said on NBC’s Meet the Press. "Of course, there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I’m going to put in place.  One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage.  Two is to assure that the marketplace allows for individuals to have policies that cover their family up to whatever age they might like.  I also want individuals to be able to buy insurance, health insurance, on their own as opposed to only being able to get it on a tax advantage basis through their company.”

But the Romney campaign later confirmed that the GOP candidate had not changed his position on coverage for pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies have covered people with pre-existing conditions as long as they had continuous health care coverage.

The Affordable Care Act, on the other hand, created special health care plans in 2010 for people who have pre-existing conditions, and by 2014 it will prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to anyone because of a pre-existing condition.

It is not a small population who would be cut from health care coverage under a proposal similar to what Romney has suggested. A Health and Human Services report, published in January 2011, estimated that between 50 million and 129 million people currently have a pre-existing condition in the eyes of  insurance companies. Twenty-five million of those do not have health insurance, according to the report.  That number does not take into account those who have had gaps in coverage, suggesting a much larger number of people have pre-existing conditions but have not had continuous coverage.

Those gaps would be important under Romney. Earlier this year, Romney suggested that people with pre-existing conditions who didn’t already have health insurance shouldn’t get any special treatment.

“If they are 45 years old, and they show up and say, ‘I want insurance because I have heart disease,’ it’s like, ‘Hey guys. We can’t play the game like that,’” Romney told Jay Leno during a March appearance on The Tonight Show.  "You’ve got to get insurance when you are well, and then if you get ill, you are going to be covered."

“People who have been continuously insured, let’s say someone’s had a job for a while and been insured, then they get real sick and they happen to lose a job, or change jobs, they find, ‘Gosh, I got a pre-existing condition. I can’t get insured,’ I’d say no, no, no.  People with pre-existing conditions, as long as they have been insured before, they are going to be able to continue to have insurance,” he said.

On the day the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, Romney said his plan would let people with pre-existing conditions “know they will be able to be insured and will not lose their insurance,” but he did not address what happens to those who have pre-existing conditions but no health insurance.

His campaign has not been more specific about Romney’s health care plan, nor does his website go into detail.

The website lists as one of his priorities: “Prevent discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage.”

Continuous coverage generally means having nonstop coverage.  Gaps of no more than 63 days can be allowed when changing insurance companies.

But as the Washington Post pointed out, people who have health insurance and a pre-existing condition are largely protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA, which was enacted in 1996, and limits how employer-sponsored plans can deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, and how far back they can search for them.

“Under current laws there are strong protections on pre-existing conditions if you’re going into a group plan,” said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “There are some protections on pre-existing conditions if you’re going onto the individual market,” she said.

Many group health insurers have stopped denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions altogether rather than parse through HIPPA’s requirements. And for people without group or employer-sponsored coverage, many states have high-risk pools that provide insurance to those with pre-existing conditions. But the cost is often prohibitive.

The Affordable Care Act created a new $5 billion high-risk pool that has provided insurance. It has covered 77,000 people, still a small fraction of the uninsured who have pre-existing conditions.

The full ban on denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions goes into effect in 2014, along with controls on how much more insurance companies can charge those who have pre-existing conditions.

But some people look at that generally low enrollment in the state and federal high-risk pools and wonder if the number of uninsured with pre-existing conditions is as large as 25 million.

It’s like saying everyone who lives on the Gulf Coast is at risk of dying whenever there is a hurricane, said Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow in health policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Haislmaier does not know what, specifically, Romney would suggest to fix the problem of uninsured people with pre-existing conditions.

But Haislmaier has written extensively on the subject, and said the best way to do it would be to extend the HIPPA protections to the rest of the insurance market, which he said have worked for people in employer-sponsored health insurance plans.

The flaw was that Congress didn’t extend those HIPPA protections to the individual market, Haislmaier believes.  "That’s what the conservative solution would be,” he said. “Some reasonable changes to the rules, which are essentially finishing what was left undone when you fixed 90 percent.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


President Obama Suggests 'Romney-Doesn’t-Care' as New Name for Obamacare

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages(AMES, Iowa) -- President Obama coined a new nickname for a potential action by a hypothetical President Romney Tuesday, playing off the “Obamacare” nickname for health care legislation that his administration initially used, then rejected as pejorative, then reclaimed.

To a crowd of roughly 6,000 at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, the president said Tuesday, “It’s up to you whether we go back to a health care system that let insurance companies decide who to cover and when. Governor Romney promised that sometime between taking the oath of office and going to the inaugural ball, he’d sit right down, grab a pen and kick seven million young people off their parents’ plan by repealing health reform,” the president said, referring to Romney’s pledge in June to “act to repeal Obamacare” on his “first day if elected president of the United States.”

“That’s what he says he’s going to do,” the president said. “You know, maybe we should call his plan ‘Romney-Doesn’t-Care’ because I do care. I do care.”


video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

The president said, “This law is here to stay. Now’s not the time to refight the battles of the last four years. Now’s the time for us to go ahead and move forward. And I’ll work with anybody who wants to make our health care system better, but I’m not going to stand by and let folks talk about how we should go back to the days when ordinary folks who were working really hard suddenly find themselves losing their homes, losing their savings just because they get sick.”

Pivoting to abortion rights, the president said Republicans “can choose to refight the battles that were settled 10 years ago or 20 years ago or some time in the last century. You know, I think women should be trusted to make their own health care decisions.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio