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This is the last week to sign up for health insurance through the exchange. More than 209,000 people in North Carolina have enrolled as of the first week in December, according to the federal count. 

Mission Health announced Thursday it wants to continue accepting Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance, but only for those who receive it through the healthcare exchange set up through the Affordable Care Act.  But the insurer rejected Mission's offer, saying it's unfair to those who have Blue Cross Blue Shield through other means, such as their jobs.

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

Western North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows met face to face with supporters and detractors during a town hall debate last night near Hendersonville that was largely dominated by health care.  BPR’s Jeremy Loeb was there.

North Carolina's largest health insurance company is pulling back on its requested price increase for coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

meadows.house.gov

Republican Western North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows says the Affordable Care Act repeal bill presented by Senate GOP leaders currently lacks support in both chambers of Congress.  Meadows' remarks came during a conference call with reporters.

Much has been written about its demise, but until it is actually repealed, the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land.  The next enrollment period comes later this year.  The only insurer offering plans under the ACA in Western North Carolina, Blue Cross Blue Shield, announced premiums during the timeframe will rise on average almost 23%.  Jackie Kiger of Pisgah Legal Services spoke with BPR's Matt Bush and says while that premium rise is alarming, it doesn't mean many who buy their insurance through the ACA exchange will be paying more.

Matt Bush WCQS

Congressman Mark Meadows says “steps in a positive direction” are being made in regards to resurrecting Republican hopes of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, known to many as "Obamacare".

Matt Bush BPR

Congressman Mark Meadows says he does not take President Donald Trump’s tweets at him ‘personally’.  The Western North Carolina Republican drew the ire of the President following the failure of the GOP’s healthcare bill last week.

House Republicans in D.C. are expected to vote tomorrow/today/Thursday on the proposed bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ‘Obamacare.’  One Congressman who won’t be voting in favor of the measure is Mark Meadows.

Matt Bush BPR

As Republican leadership in D.C. introduce their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, supporters of the law in Western North Carolina are clinging to hopes nothing to it will change.

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Its future is very much in doubt, but the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land.  In North Carolina, signups for health insurance thanks to the law are at their heaviest pace since it took effect.  More than 530-thousand North Carolinians have signed up for coverage during this enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act according to Pisgah Legal Services.

Darlene Hawes lost her health insurance about a year after her husband died in 2012.

Hawes, 55, is from Charlotte, N.C. She ended up going without insurance for a few years, but in 2015 she bought coverage on HealthCare.gov, the Affordable Care Act marketplace, with the help of a big subsidy.

"I was born with heart trouble and I also had, in 2003, open-heart surgery," she says. "I had breast-cancer surgery. I have a lot of medical conditions, so I needed insurance badly."

Just as a new Republican-led Congress on Capitol Hill is discussing how to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, North Carolina's newly elected governor pledged to implement portions of the ACA that had been left behind in this state.