News

Affordable Care Act Update

January 24, 2014

Well, we are almost one month into the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) implementation here in Ohio and our Certified Marketplace Navigator extraordinaire Stephanie has collected some reflections to share with the HPFC community.  Stephanie works with us here at Health Partners to help those in the area navigate the Healthcare.gov website exclusively.  Her hand-in-hand work with those in need of assistance allows her to truly put a finger on the pulse of ACA in Ohio.

The Affordable Care Act is consistently under construction. It seems that every day there is a new clause or statement making the legislation even more confusing and intricate. Perhaps, it may even seem that the only thing that has remained intact since its conception is the ACA’s mission to provide affordable healthcare to all Americans. Now, the idea on how to realistically do that, seems to be stuck in purgatory.

As it currently stands, the Affordable Care Act is in a pretty good place. I guess though, that view is dependent upon which side of the ACA you reside; the consumer, the provider, or the legislator. Here is a brief update on the ACA, which I have been asked to extend to you all. Hopefully it actually informs you, and does not simply baffle, confuse or anger you in any way.  If it does, well, you can probably just wait a few weeks to see how the next edition of the ACA works for ya’…

“The State of the Health Care Legislation Address”

(as of Friday, January 17, at approximately 12:00 pm EST)

•With the expansion of Ohio’s Medicaid program, a whole new group of individuals is currently flooding the Department of Job and Family Services.  Initially, one of the greatest assets of HealthCare.gov was that it was connected to other government entities, such as Medicaid, so that only one application would need to be completed. It was recently discovered, though, that there was a ‘glitch’ in the system and nothing had been sent out from the Marketplace to the state, leaving many people questioning why their local Medicaid office had no idea of their application’s whereabouts.  This is expected to be fixed by the end of the month.

  • By the numbers:

On January 16, 2014, the House passed a bill (really, they actually passed a bill, I swear) requiring weekly reports on health care enrollment numbers. On both a local and national level each report is to include, among other things, the number of visits to healthcare.gov, the number of applicants, and the enrollee totals.

– As of the end of 2013, nationally there had been 2.2 million enrollees in QHPs via both the state and federal exchanges, and at least 4 million Americans deemed eligible for Medicaid.

–    For the state of Ohio, the numbers show that 39,955 citizens had enrolled in a QHP through the federal exchange, while 9,231 Ohioans were considered eligible for Medicaid.

•  The transition many people are making as a result of the ACA can be quite trying.  Whether it is signing up for insurance for the first time, switching insurance plans, or still just trying to figure out which option works best for each individual and their family, there is a lot of information to be sorted through. Luckily, as announced in a recent Marketplace assister newsletter, on top of the educational and topical materials offered, many organizations and national “pharmacies have announced their own plans to ensure consumers have a smooth transition, including by providing them with transitional supplies of prescriptions if need.” The following businesses were listed and more information can be found either on location or on their websites.

-Walgreens

-CVS

-Rite Aid

-Kroger

-National Community Pharmacists Association

  • At this point, only 24% of those who have signed up for a QHP  are ages 18-34.  Hoping for much larger numbers from this age group, there is some concern.  As a cyclical system, the ACA’s success is based upon the buy-in of young Americans to ultimately help cover the cost of older generations’ health care.  Unless the percentage of young enrollees raises, at least to the 40% mark the administration had expected, premiums and plan costs will have to be increased.

Seemingly more important than the actual work of the ACA, is the polar vortex of public controversy that is always a swirl.  As one who finds the rhetoric of political media gone commercial quite ‘interesting’, I will present some of the more publically relatable stories that have arose recently:

Rep. Louie Gohmert drops health insurance: ‘Thank you very much, Obamacare’

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert said he’s had to drop his health care coverage because Obamacare has made it too expensive.

Cheryl Chumley

Mainstream media bias?

It was recently discovered that many of the journalists who were reporting the public’s horror stories of the ACA were often fabricating the stories.  It just so happened that an informed Texas lawmaker read the local city newspaper one morning, and saw numbers and reports that were simply impossible to be true. When confronted, the reporter claimed she was not given adequate time to fact check before publishing and that she was unaware that the individuals she had interviewed belonged to an extremist political organization.  Since this wonderful example of journalistic integrity, reports across the nation have been coming in about falsified names, misinterpreted statistics and fraudulent claims.

Steve Benen

GOP Senator sues over Obamacare subsidies for Congress

Sen. Ron Johnson said Monday he will ask the courts to make sure that Congress is treated the same way regular Americans are treated in the Obamacare marketplace, even if it means taking away his colleagues’ health care subsidies, because the financial aid is not in the Obamacare law they passed in 2010 and forces taxpayers to pay for part of lawmakers’ premiums.

Tom Howell

Don’t Tread on Me

South Carolina declares that it has found a way to ban the ACA from breaching its borders.   The foundations of their plan are making it illegal for state organizations to aid in the ACA’s implantation, making sure that all federal funds are diverted from any national insurance initiatives, and requiring that anyone who does wish to help in the ACA’s promotion go through rigorous training and pay for their licensure.  Maybe this attempt at secession will prove more fruitful for the state than their first.

Harriot McLeod

And last but not least,

Sen. Rand Paul’s Obamacare woe: Son had to go to welfare office, ‘prove his existence’

Sen. Rand Paul said Obamacare has proven a futile effort for his family after his son was dumped into Medicaid — despite his attempt to pay for his plan — and had to physically go to the local welfare office to prove he was alive.

Cheryl Chumley