Health Care


Open Enrollment for healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act is now underway.  The nonprofit Pisgah Legal Services held a press conference this week and urged consumers to get educated before enrolling.  BPR’s Helen Chickering reports.

“Number one, the ACA is still the law, and it is working”

Preliminary numbers show 8.8 million people bought health insurance plans through the federal exchange this year nationwide. That’s 96 percent of last year’s sign-ups, despite a lot of changes to the Affordable Care Act and a shorter window to enroll. Sign-ups in the Carolinas were also close to that of last year.  

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. 

It’s early afternoon on a recent Tuesday and Dr. Francis Aniekwensi is preparing to see his twentieth patient of the day.

The former Warren Community Health Clinic in Warrenton sits empty and quiet, across the parking lot from the county health department. Until last year, the clinic served low-income patients who often were unable to pay for medical services and didn’t have Medicare or Medicaid.

There is now a disincentive for health insurance navigators to set up shop in rural areas. Navigators are those specially trained people that help consumers sign up for health insurance on the marketplace. The Trump administration has tied their funding to how many people they sign up for coverage on the marketplace. Since chances are higher of signing up more people in urban areas, navigators in South Carolina are focusing on cities at the expense of rural areas.

President Donald Trump is expressing support for an agreement struck by two leading lawmakers to extend federal payments to health insurers.

President Trump’s decision to stop paying subsidies to insurance companies means many middle class families will likely pay more for coverage. As part of the Affordable Care Act, insurers got those payments to help make health insurance affordable for customers.

U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows is calling for the elimination of the department within the Congressional Budget Office that scores bills.

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.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina filed to increase Affordable Care Act premiums by 22.9 percent next year.

President Donald Trump's defeat may be U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows's victory. The North Carolina Republican is enjoying an outpouring of support from conservatives in his home district.

Meadows represents the 11th Congressional District in western North Carolina. He is also head of the Freedom Caucus, the conservative bloc in Congress that scuttled the president's plan for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare.

The dominant insurance company in North Carolina performed far better on the Obamacare exchange last year and increased overall profits dramatically as a result.

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."

The head of the Obamacare exchanges is encouraging consumers to continue signing up for health insurance even though Republicans are promising to repeal the law. The CEO of healthcare.gov acknowledges he can't guarantee there won't be changes in coverage.

Health care in the United States has gone through major changes during the Obama administration. President-elect Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress will soon have the power to flip all that. WFAE's Michael Tomsic reports on what that may mean in North Carolina.  

The Obama administration is touting a new argument for why states like North Carolina should expand Medicaid. Federal researchers found in states that already have, the premiums people pay on the Obamacare exchanges are lower.

North Carolina is overhauling its Medicaid program to try to hold down costs while improving care. Health leaders submitted the plan to the federal government recently after adjusting it based on public feedback.

Medicaid Changes In NC Move Forward

Sep 28, 2015

It will be several years before  North  Carolina’s  new Medicaid management plan takes effect.  Governor Pat McCrory signed House bill 372 into law last week but the federal government must approve the plan.  The feds pay about two-thirds of the cost of the program.  The North Carolina Medical Society, which represents around 12-thousand doctors in the state, lobbied against the bill.  The Vice President and CEO of the Medical Society says his organization will now work to make the new law better for physicians and the nearly 2 million North Carolinians who are covered by Medicaid.  Robert