Affordable Care Act | KUOW News and Information

Affordable Care Act

Patients receive dental care during the Seattle/King County Clinic on Thursday, October 26, 2017, at Key Arena in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

This week insurance companies in Washington announced their 2018 rates for individual health plans. On average, prices are going up 36 percent.

Some experts say it didn't have to be this high.

Updated at 3:55 p.m. ET

A bipartisan coalition of 24 senators — 12 Republicans and 12 Democrats — has signed on to health care legislation to prop up the individual insurance market and keep premiums down. With the expected support of all Senate Democrats, it could have the votes to pass the chamber. But questions remain over when it might actually get a vote, as well as whether President Trump and House Republicans would bring the bill over the finish line.

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET

Less than a week after President Trump said he is cutting off subsidies to health insurance companies, lawmakers announced Tuesday that they had a deal to restore the money and take other actions that could stabilize insurance markets for next year.

President Trump signed an executive order Thursday that is intended to provide more options for people shopping for health insurance. The president invoked his power of the pen after repeated Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, have failed.

"The competition will be staggering," Trump said. "Insurance companies will be fighting to get every single person signed up. And you will be, hopefully, negotiating, negotiating, negotiating. And you will get such low prices for such great care."

FILE: Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell smiles as he leaves the chamber after announcing the release of the Republicans' health care bill Thursday, June 22, 2017.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Bill Radke talks to Mary Agnes Carey, senior correspondent covering health reform and federal health policy for Kaiser Health News, about how healthcare policy changes will affect patients. 

Health premiums for Washington state residents who buy into the state exchange can expect an average rise of 24 percent next year.

People who buy individual health insurance in Washington state can expect another round of rate hikes next year.

“I’d say double-digit [increases] are almost a certainty,” state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said in an interview Thursday on TVW’s “Inside Olympia” program.

The Capitol Hill health care fight sure seemed dead. After Republican proposals to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, failed to pass a Republican-controlled Congress, lawmakers looked poised to move on to other topics, like a tax overhaul. But this week, proposals from both the left and the right are grabbing headlines.

Senator Patty Murray in the KUOW offices, Jan. 2016.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Bill Radke talks to Sen. Patty Murray about the hearings she has planned with Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander. They hope to come up with a bipartisan fix to the Affordable Care Act. 

Betting that thin is in — and might be the only way forward — Senate Republicans are eyeing a "skinny repeal" that would roll back an unpopular portion of the federal health law. But health policy analysts warn that the idea has been tried before, and with little success.

The Senate voted Tuesday to begin debating a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. It remains uncertain as to what that replacement might look like. No formal legislation has been drafted. But senators moved to take the procedural first step, known as a "motion to proceed." The vote was 51-50, with Vice President Pence casting the tiebreaking vote.

Debate will now begin, most likely on a measure to fully repeal the law, also known as Obamacare.

The Senate Health Care Vote, Simplified

Jul 24, 2017

The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to advance health care legislation to the Senate floor. That would open up debate on an Obamacare repeal and/or replacement plan.

The importance of the vote was highlighted by Sen. John McCain's decision to return to Washington to take part. He announced last week that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer.

Nelly Kinsella of the Washington State Health Exchange Benefit Exchange shows a reporter how to navigate the new online market system, September 30, 2013.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Residents in every Washington county will have at least one insurance option through the state health exchange next year. Just a couple of weeks ago, that wasn't the case.

Updated at 2:32 p.m. ET

Senate Republicans unveiled their long-awaited health care overhaul proposal on Thursday. The Senate bill, called the "Better Care Reconciliation Act," would repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The broad outlines of it look a lot like the House bill, the American Health Care Act, which was passed in May.

For the hundreds of rural U.S. hospitals struggling to stay in business, health policy decisions made in Washington, D.C., this summer could make survival a lot tougher.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans will release a discussion draft of their version of the health care bill on Thursday, with a vote likely next week.

Private health care talks have been underway in the Senate for weeks. McConnell tapped a 13-member working group last month to hash out senators' differences over the House-passed American Health Care Act. McConnell's office has since taken the lead drafting the Senate version of the party's long-promised legislation to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

Broken teeth are all too often a punchline in conversations about poor people in rural places. But for Heather Wallace, dental problems are anything but funny.

"Basically it's just like a nerve pain. Your whole body locks up; you have to stop for a second to try to breathe," she said. "And sometimes if it hurts bad enough, you might cry."

Christine Mathews says she couldn't afford health insurance without the ACA subsidies. She was at a rally last month outside  Congresswoman Suzan DelBene’s district office in Bothell.
KUOW photo/Amy Radil

Remember that time back in the 1990s when Washington state had Obamacare?

Okay, it wasn't exactly the same, but the health insurance law the Legislature passed in 1993 had a similar goal: Get more people covered by health insurance.


President Trump gave a eulogy on Thursday for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

"Obamacare is collapsing. It's dead. It's gone," Trump said in a news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

"There's nothing to compare it to because we don't have health care in this country," he went on.

That left some Obamacare customers scratching their heads — figuratively — on Twitter.

At a town hall meeting in Willingboro, N.J., on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur was confronted by angry constituents who demanded to know how the Republican health care bill that he helped write would affect rape victims.

A young man named Joseph said he understood that the bill would allow insurance companies to deem rape a pre-existing condition and deny coverage to people who have been raped.

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives are back in their home districts for a recess this week. After seeing the reception some of their colleagues got in previous town hall-style meetings following the election of Donald Trump, most House Republicans are skipping them.

But a handful are diving in headfirst.

On Monday night, a few days after voting in favor of the House bill to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Elise Stefanik, 32, from Northern New York, held a town hall at a public television station.

At a news conference at Harborview Medical Center, Sen. Patty Murray says 'Trumpcare is headed straight to a dead end in the Senate.' With her are Sen. Maria Cantwell (left) and Harborview chief Paul Hayes.
KUOW photo/Kate Walters

Seattle's Harborview Medical Center could lose $627 million in annual revenue by 2026 under the GOP health care bill passed by the House.

That’s according to Harborview executive director Paul Hayes who said Friday that patients were likely to suffer if the bill becomes law.

'Week in Review' panel Chris Vance, Bill Radke, Erica C. Barnett and Knute Berger.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Two Washington state Republicans voted against President Trump's health care bill, one voted in favor and one has better things to do and skips it altogether.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray denies new allegations that he paid for sex.

Spokane Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers says the current Republican health care bill is only part of a larger plan.
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/e4kQ16

Most Washington state lawmakers are dismayed about the House vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. State insurance officials say it could lead to thousands of people losing their health insurance.


Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

Republicans finally got their health care bill.

After seven years of repeal-and-replace rhetoric against the Affordable Care Act, two presidential campaigns waged for and against it and a recent high-profile failure, House Republicans passed their bill.

The trouble is this bill is unlikely to ever become law — at least in its current iteration.

Christine Mathews says she couldn't afford health insurance without the ACA subsidies. She was at a rally last month outside  Congresswoman Suzan DelBene’s district office in Bothell.
KUOW photo/Amy Radil

Efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act are ramping up again. Some GOP leaders are hoping for a vote this week on their amended plan to replace Obamacare.

And that has Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler worried.


New data from the U.S. Census Bureau present the most detailed picture yet of the dramatic rise in the number of people covered by health insurance since the Affordable Care Act went into effect.

County-level data going back to 2010, when the law was signed, show a patchwork of people living without health insurance that ticked down slowly for the first three years under the ACA. But once the online insurance exchanges opened at the end of 2013 and Medicaid expanded, the population living without coverage dropped noticeably.

Repeal and replace is on-again, off-again, but that doesn't mean the rules affecting your insurance will stay the same in the meantime.

The Trump administration late Thursday issued a final rule aimed at stabilizing the existing health law's insurance marketplace that could have rapid, dramatic effects — perhaps as soon as early summer — on people who do not get insurance through work, and buy it on the Affordable Care Act's exchanges instead.

The Affordable Care Act's worst enemies are now in charge of the vast range of health coverage the law created. They're also discussing changes that could affect a wider net of employment-based policies and Medicare coverage for seniors.

Although Republicans failed last month in their first attempt to repeal and replace the ACA, President Donald Trump vows the effort will continue. And even if Congress does nothing, Trump has suggested he might sit by and "let Obamacare explode."

Dental assistant Kim Weston updates a chart at the Odessa Brown Children's Clinic in Seattle. Weston has worked at the clinic for more than a decade.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Last week while lawmakers in Washington, D.C., were gnashing their teeth over what health insurance in the U.S. should look like, patients and providers in King County were wrestling with some of the same challenges they faced before the Affordable Care Act was in place.

Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Flickr Photo/camknows (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bill Radke talks to Anne Newcombe, the clinical director of emergency services at Harborview Medical Center, about what the hospital has seen since the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, was implemented.   

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