Affordable Care Act

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.

HHS.gov & casey.senate.gov

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 HealthCare.gov.

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.

Bishop David Zubik and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh are suing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services after being forced to cover the cost of birth control methods that contradict the beliefs of the church.

Patients and those seeking health insurance under the Affordable Care Act aren’t the only ones fighting confusion. Physicians also have a lot of new things to deal with. Representatives with the Pennsylvania Medical Society say there are many confusing points, including understanding how people will be enrolled in the insurance exchanges that opened Monday.

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act begins Tuesday, and the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) wants to make sure people understand what that means to them.

PHAN is hosting a community awareness event Tuesday at the Hill House in Pittsburgh with the goal of educating Pennsylvanians on the new health care law.

Erin Ninehouser, PHAN education and outreach director, said they plan to talk about the new choices, protections and benefits that come with the law.

Sen. Casey Says Shutdown is 'More Likely Than Not'

Sep 30, 2013

As a possible government shutdown inches closer to reality, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) is hoping a last-minute resolution can avert the crisis.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

On Tuesday October 1st the health insurance exchange, a key part of the Affordable Care Act, opens for enrollment. While the various insurance plans and stipulations can be confusing, there are many resources available to offer assistance.

On Thursday September 26th, representatives from various health access groups came together at the Community Broadcast Center to talk about how the new healthcare & insurance plans will affect individuals and businesses. Listen to an edited broadcast of the forum on Tuesday October 1 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA.

Pennsylvania's Democratic U.S. Senator is warning the threatened federal government shutdown would be felt in Pennsylvania.

Sen. Bob Casey is denouncing the move by House Republicans to send to the Senate a resolution that would fund the federal government past October first, but only if the Affordable Care Act is defunded.

The stakes: a federal government shutdown beginning next month.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday that people will have more options in the health insurance marketplace and premiums will not be as high as originally thought. 

Premiums nationwide will be about 16 percent lower than originally expected.

“In the past, consumers were too often denied or priced-out of quality health insurance options, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act, consumers will be able to choose from a number of new coverage options at a price that is affordable,” Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. 

Flickr user vitualis

On Oct. 1, the health insurance exchanges that are a key part of the Affordable Care Act open. It can be confusing, however, so here is some basic information and resources to help with understanding Obamacare. You may also want to read a Q&A from NPR's Morning Edition about the ACA. 90.5 WESA's daily magazine program Essential Pittsburgh will host public forum on the topic Thursday.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

In Clarion County’s Licking Township there are vibrant green hills, windy narrow roads and traffic signs posted just as much for the trucks and tractors as for the horses and buggies.

It's a small, rural farming community north of Pittsburgh.

When you pull up to Emmanuel Schmidt’s home, you see acres of land, his woodworking shop and carriages. The 49-year-old Amish farmer knows Obamacare is coming, but he doesn’t quite know what that means.

"I’ve wondered, I’ve really wondered what’s going to happen with the health care, I don’t know," he said. 

90.5 WESA

Governor Tom Corbett’s medicaid expansion plan sounds like “a step in the right direction” according to Erin Ninehouser, the Education and Outreach Director for Pennsylvania Health Access Network, but she does have some reservations.

A state Senate committee has passed a proposal to restrict abortion coverage in health insurance plans provided through Pennsylvania's federally mandated exchange.

Last session, similar measures passed the House and Senate independently, but neither one made it through the entire legislative gauntlet.

But with the 2014 operational date for health care exchanges right around the corner, Senate GOP spokesman Erik Arneson said this measure may go to the finish line.

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