Affordable Care Act

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Landon DePaulo’s manniversary is Dec. 27, 2012.

That’s when he injected his first $100 shot of testosterone. It's a steep cost to look like himself, he said.

Insurance giant Aetna will stop selling health insurance through most of the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act in 2017 because the company said it is losing money in many of those markets.

On Monday, Aetna said it will sell individual insurance policies in only 242 counties in four states, down almost 70 percent from the 778 counties in 15 states where the company markets Obamacare plans this year.

Open enrollment for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act begins in a few months. And for many, navigating the provider exchange can be a daunting task.

As he takes the stage Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine is firmly in Hillary Clinton's camp — and his party's — on the big health care issues. Now a U.S. senator from Virginia, Kaine supports the Affordable Care Act and pushed its Medicaid expansion. He also worked to overhaul the mental health system when he was governor of Virginia.

Here are highlights and a few flashpoints of controversy from Kaine's health policy record:

Mental health

The Challenge Of Taking Health Apps Beyond The Well-Heeled

Jun 23, 2016

When you hear the phrase "digital health," you might think about a Fitbit, the healthy eating app on your smartphone, or maybe a new way to email the doctor.

But Fitbits aren't particularly useful if you're homeless, and the nutrition app won't mean much to someone who struggles to pay for groceries. Same for emailing your doctor if you don't have a doctor or reliable Internet access.

Does Offering Free Contraceptives Violate Religious Freedom?

Mar 24, 2016
Jacquelyn Martin / AP Images

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week putting faith-based groups’ rights to adhere to religious doctrine up against a woman’s right to access free birth control. We’ll discuss Zubik vs. Burwell with University of Akron law professor Wilson Huhn.

Uninsured Pennsylvanians Feeling Impact Of Health Care Deadline

Dec 15, 2015
Jasleen Kaur / flickr

Tuesday is the deadline for consumers to choose a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act in order to receive coverage by January 1, 2016.

While the Pennsylvania Insurance Department ramps up efforts to make sure resources are available and accessible to families and individuals, Gov. Tom Wolf has commended the coverage expansion, which he says has dropped from 14 percent uninsured to 8 percent uninsured in two years.

The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced over three-million dollars in Affordable Care Act funding will be divided among 5 new health center sites in Pennsylvania. This funding will allow these centers to provide health care services to communities needing them most. Joining us to discuss the importance of health centers is Susan Friedberg Kalson, CEO of the Squirrel Hill Health Center, a funding recipient.

Talk Radio News Service / flickr

Allegheny County health officials say they are already in line with new White House standards to fight HIV and AIDS.

The plan unveiled Thursday updates one issued by the Obama administration five years ago. Developments since then include new diagnostic tests, a daily pill for infection prevention and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which allows for more American’s to receive treatment and testing.

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Pennsylvania has been recognizing same-sex marriages for a little over a year. With the recent decision from the Supreme Court on the nationwide legality of gay marriage, we’ll address how their ruling could affect the nation with Pitt Law Professor Anthony Infanti.

Infanti touches on the impact of public opinion and how far we as a society have come:

"If you think about what would be a, quote on quote, strict interpretation of the constitution some people would say well go back 200 years ago and see what they would have said, the answer would have been very different than the answer we got today. … It does evolve overtime and clearly the court at some level takes into account where the country is at and where the country is willing to go." -Anthony Infanti 

Also, Pittsburgh Business Times reporter Kris Mamula discusses the upholding of a key provision of the Affordable Care Act by the Supreme Court, and we take a look at increased popularity of craft beers in Pittsburgh with food columnist Hal B. Klein and author Mark Brewer.

Gov. Wolf Seeks State Authority Over Health Insurance Marketplace

Jun 2, 2015
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration said Tuesday it has formally applied to take over the operation of Pennsylvania's health insurance marketplace as the Democrat seeks a bulwark against the potential loss of health insurance subsidies for hundreds of thousands of state residents.

Health Law Brings Growth In Food Stamps In Some States

Apr 22, 2015
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

President Barack Obama's health care law has had a surprising side effect: In some states, it appears to be enticing more Americans to apply for food stamps, even as the economy improves.

New, streamlined application systems built for the health care overhaul are making it easier for people to enroll in government benefit programs, including insurance coverage and food stamps.

Governor Wolf Begins Dismantling Corbett’s Healthy PA Program

Feb 10, 2015
Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

When Tom Wolf was campaigning for Governor, he said he would do away with then-Governor Tom Corbett's Healthy PA plan, and replace it with a full Medicaid expansion supported by the Affordable Care Act.

This week Gov. Wolf officially announced plans to transition from Healthy PA to the Medicaid expansion. We'll talk about the implications of this change with Antoinette Kraus, Director of PA Health Access Network.

Kraus says that her organization is relieved to see that Healthy PA will be phased out and the Medicaid expansion will be implemented. The PA Health Access Network has worked to enroll hundreds of Pennsylvanians in Healthy PA, but she says that the program has been complicated and bureaucratic, with substantial limits on accessing care and benefits.

Tom Wolf / Flickr

Carnegie Mellon University Health Law professor Gary Kaplan joins us to talk about how Pennsylvania’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act could change under the Wolf administration.

Professor Kaplan represents private employers in advising them on health care plan options. So what do employers need to know about the UPMC and Highmark contract in 2015?

Kaplan explains that Wolf is interested in going with a different plan for the implementation of the Medicaid expansion than what Tom Corbett had planned. 

One in four people live with some form of mental illness in the United States, according to the Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania.

But Health and Human Services announced recently that seven health centers in the commonwealth will receive a total of $1,750,000 in Affordable Care Act funding.

This will be used to establish or expand behavioral health services for more than 20,900 people in the commonwealth.

The Squirrel Hill Health Center was one of the seven clinics that received $250,000.

Connor Tarter / Flickr

One quarter of Pittsburgh area hospitals closed in the first decade of the 21st Century, drastically reducing the amount of charitable care available to the poor. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Sean Hamill looks at the implications in his two-part series "Poor Health."

Hamill spent a good deal of time speaking to people in clinic waiting rooms, he says while these people know where they can possibly see a doctor, they are only seen for five minutes. Hamill says hospitals were not like this years ago.

“The big advantage to the hospitals that existed before they were torn down…was, once you came in for something more severe than a cold, it might require some specialty care, some diagnostics care, you could get that all within the same hospital. They would keep you there, they would do the triage you required through an emergency room, but they would also make sure you got that next level of care.”

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is holding its third annual Fortnight for Freedom, which promotes religious freedoms for all according to the church. This year the theme is freedom to serve the poor and vulnerable, in accordance with the Catholic teachings.

Single Payer Health Care... Not Yet for the United States

Jun 9, 2014
Andye / Flickr


What does Single Payer Health Care look like? How does it work? One need look no further than England, home to the world's largest single-payer health system. Sir David Nicholson, former CEO of England's National Health Service, provided some insight to the single payer health system and how it relates to health care questions posed in our country today.

Money for health care is collected through general taxation in England’s single payer system, which is then given to the department of health, and allocated out to the clinical commission groups. These groups then essentially purchase services from hospitals. The system treats over a million people every 36 hours, according to Sir Nicholson. 

But would this work in the United States? Sir Nicholson doesn’t believe so, but offers this advice for the U.S.-- get more help from medical groups themselves, rather than the government.

401(K) 2013 / Flickr

With less than a week until the healthcare enrollment deadline, and tax season underway, Judith Herron, a CPA with Markovitz-Dugan and Associates in Green Tree explains how the Affordable Care Act will impact filing.

How will the Affordable care Act impact individuals?

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

With just two weeks left to sign up for health insurance through state and federal online exchanges, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has declared March 17-23, 2014 to be Affordable Care Act Week in Allegheny County.

Fitzgerald said county officials are working with nearly three dozen partner organizations on “one last push to encourage residents to get all the information and be able to enroll in the marketplace.”

A new poll out from the Robert Morris University Polling Institute shows that Pennsylvania voters are more likely than average Americans to oppose the Affordable Care Act in the context of mid-term elections.

RMU asked 1,006 American adults and an additional 501 Pennsylvanians if they knew that a member of Congress had voted for the Affordable Care Act, would it make them more or less likely to vote for that person.

Enroll America

As the deadline to sign up for the Affordable Care Act approaches, the activist group Enroll America has released a series of maps it hopes will help administrators better understand where to focus their efforts.

The map of Pittsburgh shows that some of the largest concentrations of uninsured can be found in East End and Hill District.

Pennsylvania is excepting to add 720 new employees to accommodate the influx of new healthcare enrollees if Healthy PA goes into effect. 

According to the Department of Public Welfare, the additional jobs would be permanent and spread across the state. Funding for the new hires would come from the federal government.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services released Monday the latest enrollment data for state and federal health insurance marketplaces.

Nationally, nearly 2.2 million people have signed up for private health insurance plans through the marketplace, with almost 1.8 million people signing up in December alone.

For Pennsylvania, that shakes out out to about 81,000 people who have purchased health insurance through the federal marketplace since its troubled launch in October.

The Affordable Care Act goes into effect October 1st, with the threat of a government shutdown.

The House threatened the shutdown if the Affordable Care Act is not defunded and the Senate does not appear to see that as an option.

With the political tension rising, the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) wants to make sure people understand and are educated on the new health care law.

The rollout of the Affordable Care Act has been marked with website difficulties and confusion for some consumers. Some of that confusion surrounds whether some people can keep their current health insurance plans.

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine’s office is working with insurance companies asking them to either delay cancelations or help policyholders enroll in ACA compliant plans.

Lawyers for the federal government and two Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses say a central question in a lawsuit over Affordable Care Act mandates is how to define a "substantial burden" as it relates to religious beliefs.

The oral arguments took place Wednesday in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh and Erie dioceses object to the new federal health care law and are suing the federal government to seek an exemption. &

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be back on Capitol Hill Wednesday. This time she will be fielding questions from members of the Senate Finance Committee about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the failure of the launch of the website

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) is a member of the committee. He thinks the session will start with a look at why the website used to sign up for new healthcare insurance collapsed on the first day and has never fully recovered. However, he hopes it will not end there.

About 400 nurses will descend on Market Square downtown Thursday afternoon to educate people about the Affordable Care Act - each with their own story.

Michelle Boyle, a nurse at Allegheny General, believes her mother-in-law would still be alive if the Affordable Care Act had been enacted sooner.

“My mother-in-law, she was 58, and she lost her job, she lost her health insurance, and a year later, she lost her life because she kept on being denied because she had pre-existing conditions,” Boyle said.

More than a week after the federal health care exchange opened in Pennsylvania, people are turning to pen and paper to begin shopping for insurance plans under the federal health care law.

Organizations around the commonwealth say website glitches caused by high traffic have kept anyone from successfully enrolling in a plan on the Pennsylvania exchange.

Kate Kozeniewski works with Resources for Human Development, which received a federal grant to be a designated “navigator” for people using the exchange.