ACA

Programs that help people sign up for Affordable Care Act plans in Florida will have their funding cut by 81 percent this year.

This week, we're tackling questions from readers who are worried about health insurance roadblocks in the face of a serious illness or medical crisis.

Q: I think genetic testing could be a great tool for physicians. My fear is what the insurance industry will do with the information, especially in today's political climate. Could they decide that you have a pre-existing condition and charge a higher rate, or not cover you at all?

The Trump administration said Saturday that it is temporarily halting billions of dollars of payments designed to help insurers meet the Affordable Care Act requirement that they provide coverage regardless of whether a person is healthy or sick.

The Trump administration is close to finalizing a health insurance option for small firms and self-employed people that would cost less but could cover fewer benefits than current plans, congressional officials and business groups said.

The Trump administration is refusing to defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act, essentially arguing that federal courts should find the health law's protections for people with pre-existing conditions unconstitutional.

The federal lawsuit hinges on the ACA's individual mandate, or the requirement to get health coverage or pay a penalty. The mandate has long been a sticking point for conservatives, who argue that the government should not be telling individuals what coverage they must have.

Premiums for health insurance plans sold on the federal marketplace are expected to increase by nearly 16.9 percent in Florida next year due to changes in the Affordable Care Act, according to a new analysis.

Released on Friday by the Center for American Progress, the analysis estimates that a decision by Congress and President Donald Trump to repeal the mandate that people buy health insurance, coupled with proposed changes to the types of policies that can be sold, will increase premiums for Floridians by $1,011.

Vision Care Lags, With Blind Spots In Insurance Coverage

May 15, 2018

Every day, a school bus drops off as many as 45 children at a community eye clinic on Chicago's South Side. Many of the kids were referred to the clinic after failing vision screenings at their public schools.

Clinicians and students from the Illinois College of Optometry give the children comprehensive eye exams, which feature refraction tests to determine a correct prescription for eyeglasses and dilation of their pupils to examine their eyes, including the optic nerve and retina.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has this pen. It's not all that remarkable looking, but he held it up multiple times Monday at a briefing with reporters.

"This pen," he said, "has a lot of power."

And he said he is prepared to use it.

Azar was making the point that in the area of drug prices, the head of HHS — which runs the Medicare and Medicaid programs and buys about $130 billion in prescription drugs each year — can make a lot of changes in the pharmaceutical market. And he doesn't need congressional approval to do it.

A Vermont health care organization working to keep patients healthier while reducing costs is being closely watched because of its rate of success — it was within 1 percent of meeting its financial target in its first year and has now been expanded to cover about 18 percent of the state's population, officials said.

The Trump administration has made clear it would like to remake the American health care system. There's been the protracted battle over the Affordable Care Act. Now, there are some new moves on the future of Medicaid.

On Monday, the federal government released decisions on requests from two states to change the way they administer the health care program for low-income people.

The first decision came on lifetime caps. Kansas wanted to cut off Medicaid benefits for some people after 36 months.

When Republicans muscled legislation scuttling the Obamacare health care law through the House a year ago Friday, Democrats waved sarcastically and giddily serenaded them with chants of, "Nah nah nah nah, hey hey, goodbye."

Object to abortion? You may be able to get an exemption from the Affordable Care Act tax penalty for people who don't get health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act very nearly failed to become law back in 2010 because of a dispute among Democrats over how to handle abortion in the bill.

Now a similar argument between Democrats and Republicans is slowing progress on a bill that could help cut soaring premiums and help stabilize the ACA.

At issue is the extent to which the Hyde Amendment — language commonly used by Congress to prohibit most federal abortion funding — should be incorporated into any new legislation affecting the health law.

As congressional Republicans and the Trump administration keep chipping away at the Affordable Care Act, a number of states are enacting laws that aim to safeguard its central provisions.

The GOP tax plan approved by Congress in the last days of 2017 repealed the ACA penalty for people who fail to carry health insurance, a provision called the individual mandate.

But before that federal change happens next year, some states are working to preserve the effects of the mandate by creating their own versions of it.

Health plans that don't meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act; work requirements for Medicaid coverage; changes to Medicare's approved drug lists: As the ground continues to shift on health care coverage, I'm answering readers' queries this week about these three different types of plans:

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