Affordable Care Act | St. Louis Public Radio

Affordable Care Act

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The U.S. Supreme Court recently passed monumental decisions on same-sex marriage and upheld a high-profile challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

Mercy Health lays off 126 in St. Louis

Jun 25, 2015
 Mercy Hospital in St. Louis.
File photo | 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.

Supreme Court Rules Obamacare Subsidies Are Legal

Jun 25, 2015

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday handed the Obama administration a major victory on health care, ruling 6-3 that nationwide subsidies called for in the Affordable Care Act are legal.

"Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," the court's majority said in the opinion, which was written by Chief Justice John Roberts. But they acknowledged that "petitioners' arguments about the plain meaning ... are strong."

Adrian Clark | Flickr

2016 will be the third year that Missouri goes without Medicaid expansion, as Republicans have stayed firmly against it in the General Assembly.

Connie Chapman, who worked at the Sac-Osage Hospital in Osceola, Mo.,for 40 years, looks over a nearly empty room in the hospital.
Todd Feeback|Heartland Health Monitor

Chris Smiley spent most of Tuesday moving the last of the boxes out of Sac Osage Hospital in rural Osceola, MO. In the months after the small town’s only hospital closed for good, the facility’s CEO has been selling off supplies and making arrangements to transition her patients’ care to other places. The building itself is set to be demolished.

“We arranged to have another facility take over our clinic,” Smiley said. “There will be ambulance service in the community. There’s a heli-pad that will be maintained by the ambulance bay.”

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Hospitals are pushing for Medicaid expansion in Missouri. Physicians say it’s crucial. And yet, lawmakers in favor of expansion have been unable to offer a proposal that the legislature’s Republican majority will accept. 

Adrian Clark | Flickr

The numbers are in: 253,969 people in Missouri signed up for health insurance on Healthcare.gov this year, or were automatically re-enrolled in their plan. That’s about 100,000 more than last year’s open enrollment period.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Administrators for Missouri’s Medicaid program told members of their oversight committee that they are getting closer to fixing their processing delays for new applicants. But the wait can still take months.  

“We are now under 13,000 pending applications. I think we will get into that normal, historical range within the next week,” said Family Support Division Director Alyson Campbell at an oversight committee meeting of MO HealthNet, the social services division that administers Medicaid in Missouri.   

Uninsured Last Year? You May Pay A Penalty On Your Taxes

Jan 25, 2015
Rachel Bingham, a single mother, earns too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to afford health insurance for herself and her daughter.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

While rolling silverware at the City Diner in St. Louis, waitress Rachel Bingham recalled her attempt to buy health insurance for herself and her five-year-old daughter last year. She said when she signed on to Healthcare.gov, she realized she couldn't afford it. 

"They were wanting $231 a month. That was not doable," Bingham said. She’s been paying out-of-pocket for doctor’s appointments ever since: $60 for primary care, $200 for the dentist. Luckily, her daughter’s a healthy kid, she said.

Area Lawmakers Ready For New 114th Congress

Jan 6, 2015
Wikipedia

From naming local post offices for fallen service members to changing the president’s signature health-care law, area lawmakers are beginning the 114th Congress ready to introduce a wide array of legislative proposals.

Every session of Congress sees far more bills introduced than could ever be considered, and most legislative proposals last only about as long as it takes a lawmaker to issue a news release announcing the bill’s introduction.

Decision Nears On St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Move

Dec 11, 2014
President and CEO, Maryann Reese, stands in front of St. Elizabeth's Hospital in downtown Belleville, IL. The current building was completed in 1954.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Update 12/16/14: St. Elizabeth's Hospital has asked the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to delay their planned vote over the hospital's move because not all board members will not be present at their December 16 meeting. The board's next meeting is January 27, 2015.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Less than a month into the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period, there are some questions, but nowhere near the problems that were seen a year ago at this time.

“Compared to last year, it is going much smoother. The first day, about 500,000 people logged on and 100,000 people actually signed up for coverage, compared to last year when it took us over a month to get the website working,” said Sidney Watson, a Saint Louis University Health Law Policy Center professor.

Ryan White, the Indiana teenager who, after contracting AIDS at age 13, advocated for a more considered approach to those facing AIDS-related illnesses.
(via Wikimedia Commons/Wildhartlivie)

For people who live with HIV/AIDS, the cost of anti-retroviral medications, doctor’s visits and other medical care can quickly amount to thousands of dollars each month. Health insurance can keep these costs affordable, and the federal Ryan White program pays the cost of insurance for Missourians who meet certain income guidelines. 

But choosing a plan that works for people living with HIV can still be a challenge, and it’s a process Tom Kribben knows well.

Year Two Of ACA Health Insurance Enrollment Begins

Nov 15, 2014
U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay speaks with Rhonda and John Kiely at the health insurance resource fair at the St. Ann Community Center on Saturday, November 15, 2014.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay says he hopes more Missourians sign up for health insurance this year, now that the second year of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act has begun.

More than 150,000 Missourians signed up for insurance last year—about half of those eligible. 

To mark the first day of open enrollment, the congressman visited a resource fair Saturday at the St. Ann Community Center in north St. Louis County. On-site navigators helped people sign up for health insurance, as vendors sold barbecue and salsa music played.

Missouri Under the Affordable Care Act: Where Are We?

Nov 14, 2014
Dara Taylor of Community Catalyst.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

On Saturday, open enrollment season for Healthcare.gov begins. For the second time around, public health organizations and insurance "navigators" are holding outreach events, running ads, and looking for the remaining uninsured Missouri residents.

But who are those uninsured Missourians? And how have the changes implemented through the Affordable Care Act affected the state?  

Hundreds of thousands of people in Missouri are uninsured. Who are they?

Andre Wilson, an inclusive health advocate and transgender man, will speak at Washington University in St. Louis on Nov. 13 and 14.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

Andre Wilson lived as a woman for the first 43 years of his life. It was excruciating, he said.

“I lived a life of depression, suicidality. I couldn’t even explain to myself, let alone others, what the barriers were,” Wilson said. “One lives a life of never having access to the core self.”

When Wilson began hormone therapy to transition into becoming a man, everything changed.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

On Monday, Missourians had their first glimpse at the health insurance rates they can choose from on the federal exchange. According to some, that shouldn't have been the first time the information was public.

Missouri is one of only a few states that does not have a state entity tasked with reviewing health insurance rates before they are finalized. Consumer groups say that means Missourians might be paying more for health insurance on the federal exchange than they should be. 

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Even though open enrollment doesn't start for several days, Healthcare.gov began on Monday to allow visitors to take a peek at the individual health insurance plans and rates that will be available for 2015. 

In the St. Louis area, two additional insurance companies  — Cigna and UnitedHealthcare — began offering plans on the federal exchange. For zip codes in St. Louis, the marketplace lists 41 plans with varying monthly premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

Ryan Barker of Cover Missouri said the additional competition likely led to a slight decrease in plan prices.

Dara Taylor of Community Catalyst.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

At a YMCA in North St. Louis, Nancy Kelley of the Missouri Foundation for Health coached about 50 navigators on how to encourage people to purchase health insurance this year.

“In some ways, we got the easy people last year. Maybe they were motivated, maybe they had some knowledge about the marketplace. So we need to get creative,” Kelley told the crowd.

152,335 people bought health insurance on the federal exchange last year, according to the Cover Missouri Coalition. The organization’s goal is to bring the amount of uninsured Missourians below 5 percent in five years.

Rep. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial
Provided

The lawyer for state Rep. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, predicts that his suit against mandated contraceptive coverage will help launch an avalanche of court challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s provision requiring insurance companies to offer such benefits.

But first Wieland needs to persuade a federal appeals court to reinstate his case. A lower court had tossed it out.

Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis
provided by Barnes Jewish Hospital

A health industry report published Thursday suggests federal programs that tie hospital quality scores to Medicare reimbursements are giving St. Louis hospitals a reason to improve.

Seventeen St. Louis area hospitals received bonus payments this year from Medicare thanks to programs in the Affordable Care Act that reward hospitals for providing a high quality of care. At the same  time, 25 were penalized for low scores, high readmission rates or failing to improve between 2011 and 2012.

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting decisions that could have major ramifications for the future of the Affordable Care Act.

The controversy hinges on whether people in the 36 states that opted NOT to set up their own health insurance exchanges can qualify for subsidies (really, tax credits) on their health insurance premiums. Missouri and Illinois are among those 36 that don't have state-run exchanges.

(Credit: Nora Ibrahim, St. Louis Public Radio Intern)

Paramedic Jaclyn Kloecker has experienced her share of tension, turmoil, rising adrenaline and blaring sirens. She's been responding to 911 calls and rushing the sick or injured to emergency rooms for 15 years. 

On a recent rainy morning, however, Kloecker wasn't responding to an emergency. Rather, she was on a calmer, quieter mission, performing medical screenings aimed at reducing the number of 911 calls that Christian Hospital’s Emergency Medical Service system handles.

In his hospital room at Touchette Regional Hospital in Centreville, patient Steven Glispie finishes signing the paperwork to enroll in Medicaid.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

For years in most states, Medicaid eligibility had been limited to disabled adults, seniors needing long-term care and very low-income parents with their children.

Then along came the Affordable Care Act. It was designed to grow health insurance coverage across the board. One of its tenets was to expand Medicaid coverage beyond the extremely poor and disabled to include all adults earning up to 138 percent of federal poverty levels.

But in 2012, the Supreme Court gave states the chance to opt out Medicaid expansion.

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

The Obama administration says it will give people more time to sign up for health insurance through the federal online marketplace.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Last week, people all over St. Louis – and all over the Midwest and East Coast, probably – celebrated the official start of spring. They celebrated because the winter has been unusually long and cold and, somehow, darker than usual. And they celebrated with a tinge of worry that the brutal winter could give way to an equally brutal, hot summer.

If that does happen, be prepared for a lot of talk about climate change. 

Nanette Hegamin

The first open enrollment period for insurance under the Affordable Care Act ends March 31, and individuals who don’t have insurance by that deadline could face penalties.

Joining us to discuss enrollment, the deadline, and those penalties were three guests who are experts on what the Affordable Care Act provisions mean for Missourians:

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tried to put a price tag and a face on the government’s health reform push in Missouri when she visited the Grace Hill Water Tower Health Center on Friday. 

The price tag: $5 million a day. That’s how much she says Missouri is losing by refusing to expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.

The face: a local resident who praised the law for the help it is providing his family while he attends law school.

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

As of January 1st, the first Americans enrolled in health insurance via the Affordable Care Act began receiving coverage.

According to Professor Sidney Watson of the Saint Louis University Health Law Policy Center, a little more than 33,000 Missourians have signed up for plans through the federal Marketplace so far, leaving another 467,000 Missourians eligible to enroll. Almost 26,000 Missourians have enrolled in Medicaid.

“We think most of them are children,” Watson said. “Parents were going to the Marketplace and realizing their children were eligible.”  

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