Affordable Care Act

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Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill said today that President Obama should’ve apologized to the millions of Americans whose health insurance was canceled because it failed to meet Affordable Care Act requirements.

“These problems are inexcusable, and it’s embarrassing,” McCaskill said. 

McCaskill’s comments follow remarks made yesterday by former President Bill Clinton, who said President Obama should find a way to let people keep their health coverage, even if it means changing the new insurance law. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - After months of lying low on the topic of Medicaid expansion, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon appears to be resurrecting the issue with Tuesday's invitation to General Assembly leaders to join him “for a discussion about reforming our state’s health-care system to provide better outcomes for patients and better returns for taxpayers.”

(Via Flickr/Rosemary)

The St. Louis-based safety-net healthcare provider ConnectCare will close its remaining facilities at the end of next week.

The Smiley Urgent Care Center, along with ConnectCare’s radiology, pharmacy, laboratory and preventative services will all close on Nov. 15.

The nonprofit organization, which served patients regardless of their ability to pay, had already discontinued outpatient specialty care and transportation services last month.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Senator Blunt | Flickr

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt says the federal government's difficulty launching Healthcare.gov this fall is not really what's wrong with the Affordable Care Act.

President Obama's administration has struggled to address a myriad of problems with the site since launching Oct. 1, including users being unable to create accounts and load web pages.

Blunt cautions residents not to consider the website as a measure of whether or not the President's signature health care plan is working.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Joyce Simms has been a St. Louis ConnectCare patient in the pulmonology program for four years.  Because she has asthma, she sees her pulmonologist, Dr. Barbara Lutey, as often as every three months.

In August, Simms received a registered letter from ConnectCare telling her that the pulmonology clinic was closing. But Simms did not experience even a hiccup in service. She learned that she would be able to continue to see Lutey, but her appointments would be at the Center for Outpatient Health, a facility run by Barnes-Jewish Hospital on Forest Park Avenue.

Brent Jones | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: By Missouri’s refusal to expand its Medicaid program, more than 193,000 adults in the state will find themselves stuck in a coverage gap, come Jan. 1.

These are uninsured adults  who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but too little to be eligible for the government subsidies that discount the price of private health insurance.

Updated on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. with details from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services blog post. 

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) says Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius should testify before a House committee on technical glitches surrounding Healthcare.Gov.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to Sebelius asking her to testify this week. She has yet to publicly respond to the request.    

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When Alexis Young, a graduate student and part-time health researcher, began looking at her own insurance exchange options, she didn’t experience nearly as much sticker shock as she had expected.

With an income of less than $14,000 a year, she had braced herself for what she’d have to shell out for premiums. The sticker price in her case turned out to be about $2,400 a year for each of two plans reviewed by the Beacon. Of that premium amount, she’d have to pay $280 a year or less out of pocket because she’d be eligible for hefty tax credits to cover the rest.

Remko van Dokkum | Flickr

Tony Arnold contributed reporting from Chicago.

Some Illinois residents trying to sign up for health insurance through the new exchange program yesterday ran  into technical glitches.

Consumers reported waits of 20 minutes or more on the hotline, or errors while trying to access the website.

Gov. Pat Quinn called the glitches an expected part of rolling out a new program this large.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Business is good at the Pilates and Yoga Center in Ladue. But an issue that continues to interrupt the peace of owner Karen Prechtl is affordable health insurance for herself and her 10 employees.

"It’s insane," she says of her skyrocketing premiums. But she takes comfort in the possibility that, starting Tuesday, relief might come when a new insurance marketplace opens in Missouri and nationwide, promising affordable health insurance for individuals, families and some small businesses. It is expected to open with plenty of promise — and glitches as well.

(Via Flickr/Rosemary)

The online marketplace for health insurance – one of the major provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act – goes live Tuesday, October 1. With the hours winding down until enrollment begins, we wanted to provide a platform for your questions to be answered.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The time for enrolling in health exchanges is now upon us. Recent polls show that the majority of Americans continue to disapprove of the health care law — the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare — enacted in 2010. But how many of us really understand what we can expect and what we will pay for this “affordable” health program? The simple fact is that most of us are just plain bewildered, not knowing how the controversial law will affect us.

Flickr Creative Commons Users/Compiled By Kelsey Proud, St. Louis Public Radio

Starting on October 1, Missourians will be able to shop for health insurance through a new online marketplace. It’s one of the biggest changes in health insurance coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act.

But there’s still a lot of confusion about how the exchanges will work.

St. Louis Public Radio's Véronique LaCapra spoke with the Missouri Foundation for Health’s Ryan Barker to try to get some answers.

How will Missourians access the new health insurance options?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Gov. Jay Nixon says a voter-approved ballot initiative limits what his administration can do to promote the federal health insurance exchange.

But unlike Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, the Democratic chief executive says the advent of the exchanges is a positive development for individuals looking for health insurance.

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

State authorities and medical professionals are warning the public to beware of con artists seeking to take advantage of the opening of Missouri’s federally-run health care exchange next week.

Dave Dillon with the Missouri Hospital Association says scammers posing as government or health care workers may try to steal people’s identities or get their banking information while pretending to provide their victims with heath insurance.

Flickr/Tax Credits

A new report released on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finds that average premiums in the new online health insurance marketplace opening Tuesday will be lower than expected in most states.

In Missouri, the average monthly insurance premium for a family of four making $50,000 a year will start at $72. That’s for the lowest level of coverage, after a tax credit.

But prices will vary depending on where in the state you live.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., announced Tuesday that he will vote for the House-passed continuing budget resolution that seeks to defund the Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – signaling a harder line, compared to his comments last week.

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Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri is criticizing Republican Senator Ted Cruz's marathon speech on the Affordable Care Act, saying he did it to promote himself.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

Lt. Governor Peter Kinder (R) blasted President Obama's (D) Affordable Care Act Monday, just over one week before Missouri's federally-run health insurance exchange is scheduled to open for business.

Kinder told reporters during a conference call that he hopes Missouri residents without health coverage will opt not to use the exchange.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Mayor Francis Slay
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | 2013 photo

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri could lose $8 billion in federal funding during the first six years of health reform if state lawmakers continue to refuse to expand Medicaid to insure more of the needy, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. She spoke during a stop in St. Louis for a meeting with St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, County Executive Charlie Dooley, health leaders and others working to help prepare consumers for the reform law’s insurance exchange marketplace, which opens for business on Oct. 1.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was in St. Louis on Thursday to talk about the Affordable Care Act.

Sebelius met with city and county officials and representatives of the local healthcare community in a closed-door session at St. Louis City Hall.

Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, Sebelius said as of October 1, Missourians will be able to purchase health insurance through a new online marketplace.

Sebelius said many of Missouri's 800,000 uninsured will be able to get coverage.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri consumers wanting to know who will sell them insurance and at what cost through the health reform law’s online marketplace system won’t have answers until Oct. 1, the day the program begins taking applications.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: It looked like a useful federal announcement, the kind that state education officials routinely pass on to local school districts and the public. The item was titled “Affordable Care Act – Back to School Materials.” It announced that the U.S. Department of Education was supporting efforts to inform the public about full implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A few years ago, Missouri had a surplus of funds for assisting visually impaired people in the state but had difficulty reaching these clients. The state sought the help of the Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging, based in Jefferson City.

State Rep. Paul Wieland could be starting a trend in Missouri with his suit that challenges the Missouri government’s new group insurance coverage that covers sterilization and contraceptives, including some birth-control drugs or devices that he says induce abortion.

Missouri State House of Representatives

 A lawsuit filed on behalf of a Missouri state representative is aimed at changing a mandate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that he says violates his religious rights.

Paul Wieland, a Republican House member from Imperial, says he and his wife are no longer able to opt out of coverage for “abortion-inducing drugs” under a group health care plan provided for legislators.

He says that option has been removed because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

Sign-up for major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, begins October 1st.

With less than three months before marketplace exchanges for health insurance go online, many questions remain about who is eligible, what the requirements are and what kind of penalties people and businesses may face if they or their employees continue to be uninsured come January 2014.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: An ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure, but finding money for prevention can be elusive when it comes to health care. Case in point is what is happening with the federal health reform law. Unprecedented spending to prevent illness and improve public health is one key promise of the Affordable Care Act.

Some health providers, administrators and volunteers got a glimpse Thursday at how they and others could help the working poor reap the benefits of medical care through an insurance exchange system that will open for business in the fall.

(Kristi Luther/St. Louis Public Radio)

Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri visited Mercy Hospital in St. Louis Monday to speak with healthcare workers about the implications of federal healthcare changes. He also received a tour of the hospital's Telehealth Services, often used to serve rural communities that don't have access to specialty or intensive care. 

Mercy SafeWatch is an electronic Intensive Care Unit(e-ICU) that serves Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Blunt learned how Mercy is able to provide an extra set of eyes and ears for doctors that can't always be there in person.

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