Affordable Care Act

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: About 525,000 Missouri residents will be eligible for premium tax credits to help them buy affordable health insurance, starting this fall, according to a study by Families USA. The number offers one answer to what happens if Missouri refuses to expand Medicaid. Some of those left without health coverage could conceivably get help under the exchange program.

Estimates in Families USA’s study are limited to individuals earning between 138 percent and 400 percent of poverty. But insurance exchange benefits can extend to individuals earning down to 100 percent of poverty.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri hospitals are expected to avoid about $27 million in cuts in federal reimbursements.

The Obama administration's next budget eliminates about $500 million nationally in what’s known as disproportionate share payments, or DSH, to hospitals under Medicaid. These payments are made to certain urban and rural hospitals that treat large percentages of poor patients lacking health insurance. Ozark Medical Center in West Plains, Mo., was among rural hospitals concerned about the cuts. It was set to lose more than $600,000 in DSH payments, starting in the next federal fiscal year, beginning on Oct. 1.

Bill Greenblatt / UPI

Gov. Pat Quinn says he is taking steps to ensure Illinois has the workforce it needs to fill thousands of new health care jobs.

Quinn says the jobs will be created as Illinois implements the Affordable Care Act, which will expand health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of people.

In a press release Saturday the governor says he's directed Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck to lead a Health Care Workforce Workgroup. The group will assess and plan for the jobs needed to serve a growing and increasingly aging and diverse population.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: William Shortall is among 50,000 Missourians who are in a bind because they don't have sufficient insurance to cover treatment for their mental health problems.

“Approximately five years ago, I was diagnosed with a mental illness, bipolar disorder,” he said. Shortal's plight isn’t unusual, pointing to federal data showing that about one in four Americans is coping with some form of mental illness. Most don’t get timely help, he says, because they lack health insurance.

(Via Flickr/Rosemary)

A Republican-led Missouri Senate committee has defeated a plan to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care law.

The Senate Appropriations Committee rejected the legislation on a party-line vote Wednesday, just minutes after hearing testimony from more than two dozen witnesses in favor of the plan.

A Republican-led House committee defeated a similar bill last month in the same fashion.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When Gov. Jay Nixon decided to visit the Metropolitan St. Louis Psychiatric Center to make a case for expanding Medicaid, few people in the audience were more pleased than Dr. Roy Wilson, the center’s medical director. He says the visit helped to shed more light on the fact that facilities like his often lack the money for services to head off the adverse consequences of being mentally ill and uninsured.

(Judy Schmidt, James Gathany / CDC)

On November 6, 2012, Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition E, which prohibited the Governor or any state agency from establishing or operating a state-based health insurance exchange without legislative or citizen approval.

The Affordable Care Act, however, moves on toward full implementation in 2014.

Host Don Marsh talked with Sidney Watson, Professor of Law at Saint Louis University’s Health Law Policy Center, and Ryan Barker, Director of Health Policy for the Missouri Foundation for Health.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder has lost another round in his battle against President Obama’s federal health care law.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the Republican Lt. Governor has no legal standing to file suit because the Affordable Care Act poses no immediate threat to Kinder’s legally protected interests.  He filed suit two years ago as an individual, not in his official capacity as Lt. Governor.  The three-judge panel’s ruling did not address the constitutionality of the federal health care law, most of which was upheld last year in a 5-4 ruling by the U-S Supreme Court.

Jennifer Boriss / Flickr

A panel of healthcare experts gathered at Washington Tabernacle today to field questions from members of the community on how the Affordable Care Act would impact their lives.

Topics ranged from small businesses to Medicaid expansion in Missouri, and a large part of the discussion focused on a ballot initiative regarding health insurance exchanges in Missouri.

(Go here for in-depth coverage on Medicaid expansion and the working poor.)

(via Flickr/hlkljgk)

A Cole County judge heard arguments Friday on whether to issue a temporary restraining order against Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D).

Carnahan and Republican leaders are sparring over the language used in a ballot initiative regarding health care exchanges.  Lt. Governor Peter Kinder and GOP lawmakers accuse Carnahan of using misleading language in order to influence voters to defeat the ballot question in November.  Attorney Jay Kanzler represents the plaintiffs.

“Secretary of State Carnahan's language talking about denying families and individuals access to affordable health care frankly doesn’t even come close to describing, in fact, what the ballot initiative would do,” Kanzler said.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Federal government will not fund reservoir repairs

The federal government has rejected a request from Ameren Missouri to receive stimulus funds for rebuilding the Taum Sauk reservoir that ruptured in 2005.

UPDATED on Friday, July 6, 2012, to add a correction from Anthem's Deborah Wiethop.

Some 588,000 Missourians will get money back from their health insurance companies this month.

The federal healthcare law requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on health care and quality improvement. The rest can go to administrative costs, marketing and profits.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Nixon defends, clarifies comments on health insurance mandate

Elana Gordon contributed reporting from Kansas City, Mo.

With a decision on the federal health law nearing, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon further defended his position yesterday regarding a federal health insurance mandate. 

With the United States Supreme Court's decision on healthcare expected to come on Thursday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon broke with his party on Monday over a key part of the legislation.

Speaking with reporters in St. Louis, Governor Nixon sounded more like a Republican when asked about the impending decision.

Referring to the Affordable Care Act as the “Washington Healthcare Law” Nixon spoke out against the key ingredient of President Obama’s signature legislation—the so-called individual mandate requiring people to purchase health insurance.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Mo. Supreme Court to decide fate of November ballot initiatives

The Missouri Supreme Court will hear arguments this morning to determine the fate of several ballot initiatives.

Election officials still have yet to determine if supporters of increasing the minimum wage and tobacco tax, and capping the rate of payday loans, have gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

Thousands of emails and letters are flooding the Missouri governor's office as he decides whether to sign health insurance legislation.

The Republican-led Legislature approved a measure stating no employer or health plan provider can be compelled to provide coverage for abortion, contraception or sterilization if those items run contrary to their religious or moral convictions.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has until mid-July to veto the bill, or it will take effect.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Around 200 people rallied at the Missouri Capitol today against President Obama’s mandate that employers provide coverage for contraceptive services.

Churches are exempt from the mandate, but religious non-profit organizations, such as schools and hospitals, are not.  John Gaydos is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City.

“Religious freedom is not merely about our ability to attend church on Sunday," Gaydos said.  "It is impossible to exercise that religious freedom and at the same time compromise the faith that inspires us to action.”

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

As the second anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act approaches, a top surrogate of President Obama says the law will survive political and constitutional challenges to have a third anniversary.

The US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, was in St. Louis on Monday, part of a coordinated effort by President Obama and his surrogates to answer criticisms of the law.

(Courtesy the Missouri Foundation for Health)

The Missouri Foundation for Health has named a new president and CEO.

Robert Hughes will assume his new post on Nov. 1, taking over from founding president James Kimmey who is retiring at the end of this year.

Hughes is an Illinois native but has spent the past 20 years in New Jersey. There, he worked for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest health philanthropy in the U.S.

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

Missouri has received a federal grant of close to $21 million to help build an online health insurance exchange.

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