Affordable Care Act | KUOW News and Information

Affordable Care Act

Jess Marie

When you think of young invincibles, as the government calls those who haven’t signed up for health insurance, you may think of the dude recklessly riding his skateboard in traffic.

Northwest News Network Photo/Jessica Robinson

Washington’s health care exchange got off to a rocky start one month ago Friday: from the temporary shut down on its first day to the recent errors calculating tax credits. Even so, Washington state has fared well compared to the federal Website and even has some fans.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

It’s Friday — time to talk over the week's news with The Stranger's Eli Sanders, Joni Balter of the Seattle Times and Crosscut's Knute Berger.

Questions over who knew what and when about the latest NSA spying revelations and troubles with the Affordable Care Act rollout dominate Washington, D.C. The panel weighs in on those stories and takes one last look at state and local races before Tuesday's election. Plus, we get post-Halloween action items from Live Wire host Luke Burbank.

Marcie Sillman checks in with Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler to find out the truth behind the “discontinuation and replacement notices” that health insurance companies are sending Washingtonians.  And she’ll get an explanation on the battle between Seattle Children’s Hospital and Premera Blue Cross that is playing out over the new health exchange.

Flickr Photo/John Boren (CC-BY-NC-ND)

It’s Friday — time to talk over the week's news with Joni Balter of the Seattle Times, Crosscut's Knute Berger, and C.R. Douglas of Q13 FOX News.

The City of SeaTac is debating whether to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Seattle is considering two proposals that would impact City Council races and we take another look at the Seattle mayoral race with less than two weeks to go before Election Day.

Plus, we talk over the Affordable Care Act's glitchy start and check in with Live Wire host Luke Burbank.

Flickr Photo/Daniel Rehn

Congressional Republicans begin a series of hearings today on the problematic rollout of the federal government’s health exchange website. Since its launch earlier this month, healthcare.gov has been plagued by a number of technical issues and the Spanish language version hasn’t even launched yet.

Here in Washington, the health exchange rollout had a glitchy start, but overall, it’s fared much better than the federal website.

Bill Schrier is the former Chief Technology Officer for the city of Seattle. He currently serves as senior policy advisor to the chief information officer of Washington state. He talks with Marcie Sillman about what the other Washington did wrong, and what Washington state did right.

As part of implementing the Affordable Care Act, state and federal health exchanges kicked off three weeks ago. The launch has been no walk in the park. State-run exchanges and the federally-run, Healthcare.gov, have been plagued with website problems: failed-log ins, long wait times and, in the case of Washington’s own wahealthplanfinder.org, a non-functioning website for the first few days.

Despite its glitchy start, Washington has been touted as one of the best functioning state marketplaces. Marcie Sillman talks with spokesperson Michael Marchand from Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange.

Washington state’s health exchange is one week old. To date, more than 9,400 people have enrolled for health coverage. More than half of them will be newly eligible for Medicaid when the program expands in January. In addition, 10,000 more people have filled out applications but have yet to hit the purchase button.

The (Head) Doctor Is In: Physicals Would Include Mental Health

Oct 3, 2013

The US faces a shrink shortage: An estimated 62 million Americans will become eligible for mental health benefits under the Affordable Care Act, but there aren’t enough psychiatrists to treat them.

What to do?

PeaceHealth And The Affordable Care Act

Oct 3, 2013
From PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center's Facebook page.

The battle over the Affordable Care Act has brought the federal government to a partial shutdown, but changes to our health care system due to the law have already begun reshaping the industry.  This includes private hospitals and public ones, for-profit and nonprofit, secular and faith-based institutions

PeaceHealth is a Catholic-affiliated nonprofit that runs nine hospitals and 73 medical practices in Alaska, Oregon and Washington. The company has entered into partnerships with public hospitals in Skagit and Snohomoish counties and recently agreed to send patients with complex issues to UW Medical facilities.

The ACA and the relationship between hospitals that operate under sometimes contradictory directives are top of mind for Alan Yordy, PeaceHealth’s chief mission officer. He talks with Steve Scher about what he calls one of the greatest social experiments in the history of developed nations around the world.

It was a rocky start to Obamacare in Washington. The state’s new health insurance website is up now, but it was shut down for most of the day because of technical glitches.

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

Tuesday marks  a big milestone for the Affordable Care Act; it’s the day a major centerpiece of the law comes to life. Washington, along with 15 other states, has spent years planning and developing an online market where consumers can shop for health insurance. Tuesday, the health exchanges make their live debut.

With just hours to go before a potential government shutdown, President Obama said there is still a window to avert it.

"There's still an opportunity, during the course of this day to avert a shutdown and make sure that we are paying our bills," Obama said in an interview with NPR.

But when asked if any proposal from the House is closer to something he would approve, Obama said flatly, "No."

Not even an hour after the House voted in favor of a bill that would avert a shutdown of the federal government, but also delay a key part of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, the Senate rejected it with a vote of 54-46.

With less than an hour before the government runs out of authority to spend money, the ball is now back in the court of Speaker John Boehner in the House.

The new fiscal year starts October 1, so a bill to fund the government must be passed by both chambers in Congress and signed by Obama by midnight tonight. Republicans blame Democrats and Democrats blame Republicans about the current stalemate.

According to Chris Vance, there is more than enough blame to go around. Vance is the former Republican Party state chairman for Washington and the co-chair of the Washington chapter of the Campaign to Fix the Debt. He joins David Hyde to discuss negotiations, or the lack thereof, by both parties in our government.

The Affordable Care Act has been through two years of legislative wrangling, a presidential election and a Supreme Court test that took it to the brink.

Now, after yet another round of debate and argument, major pieces of the federal health law are expected to kick in Tuesday.

If all goes as planned, people who don't have insurance or who buy it on their own will be able to shop online or at various locations in their communities for coverage that will take effect Jan. 1.

Washington Health Insurance Exchange Set To Open

Sep 27, 2013
Stethoscope
Flickr Photo/Alex Proimos

Starting October 1, uninsured people will be able to shop online for private insurance in health insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges. In Seattle, nonprofits and other organizations have been out educating people about how to sign up for insurance through the exchange.

This week the Department of Health and Human Services released a ton of information about how insurance sold in 36 states under the Affordable Care Act will work.

Most of it came in the form of data showing the number of carriers and their premium prices in hundreds of regions.

Until now we've seen information on subsidized policies to be sold through online marketplaces released in trickles by states that are creating their own online portals.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee.
Facebook Photo/Governor Jay Inslee

Despite Republican efforts to block the health care reform plan known as Obamacare, Washington Governor Jay Inslee said he’s confident the plan is moving forward.

Speaking today on KUOW’s The Record, Inslee said the state is ready to roll out a major component of the Affordable Care Act. Next week, the state’s online marketplace for health plans will open for enrollment. Inslee said that the state is ready to push the green button on October 1.

The Republican-controlled House has voted to keep the government funded but its "continuing resolution" comes with a poison pill to defund the Affordable Care Act that Democrats have vowed is dead on arrival in the Senate.

Washington state’s Health Benefit Exchange officially opens for enrollment October 1. Last month, state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler approved plans from only four insurance companies. But last week, following negotiations with several insurance companies, Kreidler doubled that number. In total, 46 individual insurance plans from eight different companies will be available on the marketplace.

What will more choices mean for consumers seeking health coverage? Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler talked with Ross Reynolds.

KUOW Photo/Madeline Ewbank

This week state and county officials met with local ethnic media. They hope the media will help them get the word out to non-English speakers about health care changes coming this fall.

The briefing was part of a statewide campaign to let consumers know that beginning in October, there will be 31 new health plans available for purchase at the state’s online marketplace. But the challenge for organizers will be more than just language barriers.

Cutting Through Obamacare Rollout Confusion

Aug 13, 2013

 The pace of implementation for the Affordable Care Act, known by critics and the president himself as Obamacare, is picking up this fall. Starting October 1 you can start shopping for a health plan in Washington state's new insurance exchange called Healthplanfinder. Obamacare is supposed to be fully in place by early next year. But there’s still a lot of confusion. Ross Reynolds tries to cut through some of that confusion by talking with Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and taking listener calls.

What You Need To Know About Long Term Care Insurance

Jul 8, 2013

  Long term health care insurance is becoming harder to come by. The number of providers is shrinking and premium costs are soaring. Obama’s Affordable Care Act doesn’t provide a solution either. The administration abandoned efforts to include affordable long-term care after concluding it was too expensive. So as baby boomers age, many are left with few options for long term care.  What to do?  Aaron Katz, a professor at University of Washington's Department of Health Services, spoke about it with KUOW’s Ross Reynolds.

About a million Washington residents are now without health insurance. Come October, the state hopes to get many of them enrolled in a plan. That’s when Washington’s Health Exchange is scheduled to launch. But signing people up for health insurance is not as easy as it sounds. There’s still a lot of misinformation about Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Jim McDermott And Rite Of Spring

May 29, 2013
Wikipedia Photo

News From Congress: Rep. Jim McDermott
Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington's 7th District in Congress joins us to discuss how congressmen and woman have become essential advocates for safer infrastructure after a crisis hits their district. McDermott is calling for more resources to avoid disasters like the Skagit River bridge collapse. Also, the latest on the IRS, the Affordable Care Act and the Alaska Pebble Mine. 

Rite Of Spring
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Paris premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” with choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky.  The performance provoked a riot.  Critics and audience members wrote afterwards there was so much noise that the dancers couldn’t hear the music over the audience boos.  What made "Rite of Spring" so provocative?  Why has its centennial been marked by contemporary artists and academics around the world? Marcie Sillman and Dave Beck explore the history and legacy of "The Rite of Spring."

What You Still Don’t Know About Obamacare

May 21, 2013
Flickr Photo/401(K) 2013

 Over 40 percent of Americans don’t know Obamacare is the law according to a non-partisan study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Even more Americans don’t know what’s in the law or how the Affordable Care Act will affect them. To clear up the confusion, Ross Reynolds speaks with Mike Kreidler, the Washington state insurance commissioner about what the Affordable Care Act means for you.

From The Front Lines Of Mexico's Drug War

Jan 17, 2013
El Narco
Courtesy Bloomsbury Press

Since 2006, more than 40,000 soldiers, police officers, traffickers and citizens have died in Mexico’s bloody drug war — from the mountains where pot and poppies are grown to the streets of Mexico City. Journalist Ioan Grillo tracks the rise of the cartels and their increasing influence north of the border in his book, "El Narco." He joins Steve Scher with a report from the front lines of the Mexican drug war.

Jay Inslee
Candidate's Facebook page

Democrat Jay Inslee made his first public appearance since he won the election. The Governor-Elect spoke Wednesday at a health care policy conference in SeaTac. He reiterated his commitment to change health care in Washington state through the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act is enacting big changes in the nation’s health care system. Here in Washington state, a health care exchange called HealthPlanFinder is scheduled to open in October. It’s supposed to guarantee everyone can get health insurance. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler talks with Ross Reynolds about the new facets of health insurance reform arriving in 2013.

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