Health Care | St. Louis Public Radio

Health Care

Open enrollment for people who buy their own health insurance starts Wednesday and ends Dec. 15. That means there are only 45 days to shop for coverage. The shorter enrollment period this year is just one of the changes to the process for buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Here are five important factors to keep in mind if you plan to sign up for ACA coverage for 2018.

1. The health law has not been repealed.

Despite the efforts of President Trump and the Republican-led Congress, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land.

Sidney Watson, the Jane and Bruce Robert Professor at Saint Louis University’s Health Law Policy Center
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Don Marsh talked with Saint Louis University health law professor Sidney Watson about the just released 2018 premiums for policies through the Affordable Care Act and discuss how Missourians and St. Louisans will fare.

This Behind the Headlines discussion was a follow-up to a conversation about what's happening with healthcare in the United States.

An illustration of prescription drugs.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Though Republicans in Congress have not passed a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump has used a series of executive orders and directives in an attempt to peel back parts of the law.

Last week, the administration announced it would stop paying cost-sharing reductions to insurance companies for individual plans purchased through Healthcare.gov, sparking fears of insurance rate hikes just before enrollment season.  

Official estimates show that losing cost-sharing payments could push some premiums up by 20 percent in states like Missouri. In the meantime, open enrollment for individual plans opens Nov. 1.  

Carla has started taking classes, hoping to make her children proud by becoming fluent in English over the next few years. St. Louis Public Radio has changed Carla’s name because she is an unauthorized immigrant. May 2017.
Jenny Simeone-Cases | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Republicans have jumped behind the latest proposal in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

A Senate bill would gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions and redistribute health care spending in the form of block grants to states. States like Missouri, which did not expand Medicaid coverage to low-income people under the 2010 health law, would see a boost in funding; states like Illinois could lose hundreds of million dollars a year.

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, speaks during a 2016 candidate forum for candidates in the 1st Congressional District.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Updated 7:25 p.m. with exclusive comments from Chappelle-Nadal — Maria Chappelle-Nadal won’t lose her seat in the Missouri Senate, the chamber decided Wednesday. But the Democrat is being censured — a move that apparently hasn’t happened before and is little more than a written reprimand.

Gov. Eric Greitens and Lt. Gov. Mike Parson said last month that the University City Democrat should be expelled for posting a Facebook comment in which she wished for President Donald Trump’s assassination. There wasn’t enough support among Senate members for that to happen Wednesday during the otherwise-quiet veto session. Instead, the GOP majority censured her by a 28-2 vote for her now-deleted post.

Peter Seay and his child
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

 

 

A group of St. Louis doctors is working to make sure transgender kids get the medical care they need.

When the Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital Transgender Center of Excellence opens today, it will be the first of its kind in a 250-mile radius. The clinic aims to provide transgender children with comprehensive health care including pediatric medicine, endocrinology, and mental health counseling.

On Thursday, U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., cast late night votes for and against the most recent health care bill making rounds on Capitol Hill.
Ryan Delaney, Gage Skidmore, Center for American Progress

After another Republican Senate loss early Friday, Missouri and Illinois senators are calling for a return to bipartisan talks to overhaul the nation’s health care law.

They include U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, who had tried to help his party’s leaders come up with the votes needed for a trimmed-back version of a bill that would have repealed key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the signature achievement of former President Barack Obama.

$1.25 million.

That’s the size of the bill that could have shuttered the only public hospital in rural Pemiscot County, Missouri in August 2013.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, speaks to reporters on July 10, 2017 about health care legislation following a tour of Chestnut Health Systems in Granite City.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The Republican effort to repeal and replace the federal Affordable Care Act could devastate drug treatment clinics by making deep cuts to Medicaid, the government-run insurance for low-income Americans, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth said Monday.

After touring Chestnut Health Systems, an opioid addiction clinic in Granite City, Duckworth told reporters that if Republicans succeed in cutting Medicaid, millions would be hurt, among them those undergoing treatment for opioid addiction. She said Congress needs to protect Medicaid and make sure that medications used to treat addiction are affordable.

Deb Lavender, May 2017
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 8,000 low-income and elderly Missouri residents entirely lost in-home health care services on Saturday and another 6,500 have had their time cut in half. That’s because Gov. Eric Greitens vetoed a bill last week that would have provided $35 million for those services.

Without the services, advocates say, some of those who lost services could be forced into nursing homes or need to visit an emergency room. The vetoed money is also likely to be the focus of a lawsuit.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans will release a discussion draft of their version of the health care bill on Thursday, with a vote likely next week.

Private health care talks have been underway in the Senate for weeks. McConnell tapped a 13-member working group last month to hash out senators' differences over the House-passed American Health Care Act. McConnell's office has since taken the lead drafting the Senate version of the party's long-promised legislation to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

In the current debates over health care, one topic rarely gets mentioned: dental health benefits. That’s because dental health has historically been separated from the rest of medicine. But today, that separation leaves many Americans with no way to prevent or treat debilitating dental health problems.

Author Mary Otto tells the story of the rampant disparities in dental health in the United States and how those play into other disparities of race, class and income in her new book, Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America.


March for Science posters for sale at Firecracker Press.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio.

“SCIENCE IS REAL,” declares a stack of printed signs in a St. Louis shop. “Reject Alt-Facts,” reads a hand-drawn poster shared on a Facebook page. Another photo shows a purple Easter egg emblazoned with a diagram of an atom.

For many scientists planning to participate in the St. Louis March for Science on Saturday, activism is an unfamiliar role. But proposals by the Trump administration to slash federal funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Health and federal science programs have been too much to accept, organizers said.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

If House Republicans pass their proposed replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act, state Medicaid programs would face some big changes, including a per-capita cap on spending.

Republicans introduced their plan Monday in the form of two budget reconciliation bills. Though the bills repeal several taxes that helped pay for the Affordable Care Act, they were sent into markup sessions before a cost estimate could be prepared by the Congressional Budget Office.

Dr. Bahar Bastani poses for a portrait at Saint Louis University Hospital on March 2, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In 1984, Dr. Bahar Bastani knew he had to leave Iran.

During Iran's cultural revolution, religious leaders closed universities and threatened academics. Bastani, then a professor of medicine in Tehran, realized he had become “unhireable” in that political climate.

“I was religious, I was doing prayers, but I could not tolerate the hardship the government was putting on people,” said Bastani, now a kidney specialist who works at Saint Louis University Hospital.

Vice President Mike Pence points into the audience after delivering remarks at Fabick Cat in Fenton, Missouri.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Vice President Mike Pence was nostalgic Wednesday, citing his teenage years working at his family’s gas station to make his point that he, like President Donald Trump, understands business.

 

“I’ll make you a promise. President Trump is the best friend that small businesses will ever have,” Pence told several hundred Republican supporters in Fenton at Fabick Cat, a family-owned business that specializes in construction equipment.

 

Alycia Wilson with her husband and daughter in Edwardsville, a few days after the election. Wilson, a Trump voter, said she hopes for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump have their eyes trained on the Affordable Care Act, which they plan to dismantle.

How they do so, and when, may affect health coverage for millions of Americans. A dramatic shift in policy could reverberate through hospitals, insurance markets and the rest of the health-care industry. At this point, say health law experts, the only thing that's certain is more uncertainty.

Last week’s election results stunned a lot of people who get health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress say they want to scrap the law, but what might replace it remains unknown.

That has left many Missouri and Kansas families in limbo, unsure what will become of their medical care.

The Witherspoon family

Most of us, at some point, will know someone who is struggling with a life-threatening illness. More than one in three U.S. residents are diagnosed with a form of cancer in their lifetime, and one in nine adults over the age of 65 are living with Alzheimer’s disease.

But when a close friend or loved one shares that they have a serious health issue, we’re often left not knowing what to do or what to say.

Tanjila Bolden-Myers, 38, stands in the hallway of Beaumont High School in St. Louis. She works as a behavioral health specialist, and was diagnosed with sickle cell disease as an infant.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Growing up, as the searing pain of a sickle cell crisis would spread through her veins, Tanjila Bolden-Myers would ask her mother if this time, it would kill her.  

“I ask her now to this day, ‘Mom, how did you look me in my face and not break? Every time I asked you that?’” said Bolden-Myers, now 38. “And she was like, ‘No, baby, you’re not going to die this time. You’re not going to die.’”

National Institutes for Health

The St. Louis County Council is the first of area political entities to consider a new tax that would support programs that help older residents.

Councilman Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur, introduced a bill that would raise property taxes by 5 cents for every $100 of assessed property. If the council passes Page's bill, the measure will go to the voters. And if county voters approve the measure in November, the proceeds from the tax increase will go into a fund that could be used for senior service programs.

WeCare Clinic director Kim White, a clinical nurse specialist, stands in the waiting room of WeCare's primary care clinic.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

A $1.08 million grant from the federal government is allowing an East St. Louis clinic to expand its services as a “one-stop shop” in a city where many struggle to manage chronic health conditions and access to care is often limited.

(Via Flickr/Rosemary)

Illinois has yet to pass a state budget, and an East St. Louis health-care facility is facing layoffs and other tough decisions as a result.

The East Side Health District, which provides services to area residents, could lay off up to 30 workers, (an amount totaling up to two-thirds of the staff) and may end up closing altogether if it does not receive state funding soon.  

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

Financial disclosures aren’t just for political candidates. New data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows that Missouri doctors received at least $71.9 million from medical device and drug companies in 2014 and the latter half of 2013. Illinois doctors pulled in $104 million during that same time period, many of whom hail from the Chicago area.  

File photo of Mercy Hospital in St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10:25 am June 25, 2015 with details of St. Louis area job cuts and comment from Mercy Health President and CEO 

Mercy Health says it has eliminated 126 positions in the St. Louis area.

The reductions are part of a previous announcement to cut nearly 350 jobs system-wide.

The Chesterfield-based health care provider has operations in several states including Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Protesters holding sign in front of Supreme Court
LaDawna Howard | Flickr

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court upheld a high-profile challenge to the Affordable Care Act that could have made health insurance unaffordable for more than 5 million people.

Gerald Roy with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services speaks at a news conferenc announcing fraud charges while Stephen Wiggington, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois looks on to the right on Thursday, June 18, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Twelve people are facing federal charges in southern Illinois for allegedly defrauding a Medicaid program that provides home care for people with disabilities.

State and federal officials announced the charges Thursday in the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Illinois as part of a coordinated national crackdown on health care fraud that brought charges against more than 240 people in 17 different federal districts.

The Rev. Jerry Paul
Provided by the Deaconess Foundation

St. Louis was named one of the nation’s 100 best cities for children in 2005 by the national organization, America's Promise Alliance. The Rev. Jerry Paul, then head of the Deaconess Foundation, balked at the commendation. The Rev. Paul died unexpectedly on Wednesday (May 20) at his home in O'Fallon, Ill., after a brief battle with liver cancer. He was 65.

(Via Flickr/Rosemary)

In recent years, advancing technology has changed the way we go about our daily lives. From reading books on tablet devices to video chatting with a friend from afar, technology has ushered in new eras in our way of life.

But, how is technology shaping the world of health care? Health care experts joined “St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh to discuss how telemedicine- virtual patient-doctor interaction- is changing the industry.

National Institutes for Health

Technology is extending the amount of time aging Americans can live in the familiar surroundings of their own home, rather than be placed in a care facility. Marjorie Skubic, director of the University of Missouri’s Center for Eldercare and Rehabilitation Technology, told members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging Wednesday, about an automated in-home health monitoring system that may allow seniors to stay in their own homes for nearly two years longer than they might otherwise be able to.

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