Affordable Care Act

Once again the Supreme Court will decide whether the Affordable Care Act lives or dies.

Defying expectations, the court announced Friday it has agreed to hear a case that challenges the heart of the law: subsidies that help people pay their insurance premiums. In about three dozen states, the federal government runs the online marketplaces (exchanges) where individuals can find health plans.

Health Costs Inch Up As Obamacare Kicks In

Sep 12, 2014

Doctors and hospitals treated more patients and collected more payments in the spring as millions gained insurance coverage under the health law, new figures from the government show.

But analysts called the second-quarter increases modest and said there is little evidence to suggest that wider coverage and a recovering economy are pushing health spending growth to the painful levels of a decade ago.

A new poll finds a majority of Kentuckians aren’t happy with the Affordable Care Act, but they do like benefits the legislation made possible.

According to the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky study released Thursday, this disconnect is consistent throughout the state, although people in the more urban areas—Lexington and Louisville—were at least nearly 10 percent more favorable of the ACA.

The foundation’s President Susan Zepeda says the poll found nearly half of people disapprove of the ACA while nearly 4 out of 5 like one of the benefits.

“The biggest difference we found was the number of Kentuckians who strongly supported the expansion of Medicaid that was made possible by the Affordable Care Act,” she said.

Zepeda adds this could be good or bad news for some.

Pair of New Insurers Interested In Joining 'Kynect'

Jun 17, 2014
Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services

At least two new health insurance companies say they want to sell policies on Kentucky's health insurance exchange.

The exchange, named kynect, is the website where people can sign up for the state's Medicaid program or purchase discounted private health insurance plans, depending on their income.

Ohio-based CareSource and Florida-based WellCare have filed paperwork with state regulators indicating their interest in selling policies through kynect. Both companies provide Medicaid plans in Kentucky but have not sold on the individual market.

Paul Not Sure What Would Happen To State Exchange

May 30, 2014
WKU Public Radio

If Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said he did not know what would happen to the 413,000 Kentuckians who have health insurance through the state's health exchange.

The Republican senator and possible 2016 presidential candidate told reporters Friday he favors repealing all of the federal Affordable Care Act. But he acknowledged there is no easy answer to what would happen to those who are insured through the state exchange, which was made possible by the federal law.

Paul's comments come after fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said last week he thought the state's health exchange was unconnected to the Affordable Care Act. McConnell later said state officials would determine the fate of the exchange.

New numbers and demographic information released by the White House Thursday reveal some telling details about the 8 million people who selected new health insurance through HealthCare.gov and state marketplaces.

We learned last week the number of Kentuckians who signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act surpassed 400,000.  Thursday, the federal government released numbers for Kentucky’s neighbors to the north and the south.  

Kentucky was aggressive in promoting Kynect, but neither Tennessee nor Indiana chose to set up a similar state exchange, directing residents instead to the federal  site.  On Thursday, the federal government said signups in Tennessee totaled 151, 000 about 23 percent more than forecast, boosted by a surge of sign-ups in March, the final month to enroll. In Indiana, meantime 132,000 residents signed up through the Affordable Care Act.

Numbers show that’s only about half of those who were eligible to do so.

With a bit more than a month left for people to sign up for health insurance plans set up under the Affordable Care Act, the federal website known as HealthCare.gov finally seems to be working smoothly — in 36 states.

But what's happening in the 14 states that are running their own exchanges?

January was a miserable month for weather, but the wintry blasts in much of the country weren't enough to stop people from shopping for health insurance.

More than 1.1 million people signed up for coverage through state and federal health exchanges in January, according to a just-released report, bringing the total to just shy of 3.3 million people.

Now that the problems with the balky HealthCare.gov website are largely fixed, the Obama administration is finally feeling comfortable enough to launch some of the outreach it planned for last fall.

Its top target: young adults, specifically those between 18 and 35.

The Kentucky Access program is closing to make way for the Affordable Care Act.

The 14-year-old program was created to provide affordable health coverage to high-risk Kentuckians. It's ending because of a provision in the ACA that requires insurers to provide coverage to those people  regardless of pre-existing conditions.

Louisville Rep. Steve Riggs sponsored legislation that created the program in 2000. He says Kentucky Access isn't needed now that the ACA is implemented.

“It’s redundant, yeah. Duplicative. So that’s why the Department of Insurance is phasing it out, because now you can get that same type of coverage with the ACA, with Kentucky KYnect, and in many cases I understand it’s less expensive."

Kentuckians who obtained insurance through the program will now have to sign up for coverage under the state’s health insurance exchange, KYnect, before April or they will face tax penalties.

At its peak, Kentucky Access enrolled about 4,800 people.

Kevin Willis

Kentucky's Second District Congressman believes the problems with the rollout of Obamacare make it more likely major changes will be made to the law.

Bowling Green Republican Brett Guthrie is sponsoring a ten-point bill that includes the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Speaking Friday to a gathering of area business leaders, Guthrie said while a repeal isn't likely, the public is getting a glimpse of the problems related to greater government involvement in health care.

Guthrie also said Republicans missed an opportunity to highlight those points when the federal government was shut down.

"I think what would have been better for us, as the government shutdown was happening is not just, ‘let’s repeal Obamacare, and if not the government shuts down.’ Why don’t we say, ‘here’s our alternative to address people in the insurance market that are being priced out of the market without affecting it for everybody else.'”

Since the Affordable Care Act's health care exchanges launched to a long series of error messages Oct. 1, most of the "what went wrong" fingers have been pointing at software developers.

But some say there's more to it than that — that politics has played a role as well.

Remember how that fight over the budget was all about Obamacare?

Seems like ancient history now, but House Republicans ostensibly shut down the government 17 days ago, demanding first a defunding, and, when that failed, a year's delay in the health law.

Creative Commons

  More than 16,000 applications for health insurance have been started in Kentucky since enrollment began this week under the state's new online marketplace, prompting Gov. Steve Beshear to declare that the state has become the "gold standard" for implementing the federal health care overhaul. 

The governor's office said nearly 11,000 applications had been completed by early Friday, and 4,739 individuals or families had picked health plans and signed up for coverage.

More than 137,000 people had browsed the website and 93 percent of them went through pre-screenings to determine if they qualify for subsidized coverage or Medicaid.

Also, 166 small businesses had started applications for health insurance for employees, it said.

"That tells me that there is not only a pent-up demand, but there is an eagerness to get affordable health insurance," Beshear said.

Kentuckians who sign up before Dec. 15 will start receiving coverage on Jan. 1.

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