Affordable Care Act

Tulane Publications via Flickr/Creative Commons

North Carolinians are waiting to hear what happens next after a pair of contradictory rulings on the Affordable Care Act.

A three judge panel in Washington shot down the law's subsidies for state's where people are enrolled in the federal exchange, not a state-run exchange. This includes North Carolina. A separate panel ruled just the opposite just hours later, saying the subsidies were, in fact, lawful.

Healthcare.gov logo
Healthcare.Gov

    

The deadline for signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act is just around the corner. By Monday March 31st, the Obama administration hopes that 6 million Americans will have begun the process of enrollment. 

North Carolina legislative building
Wikimedia Commons

Some state lawmakers met today to learn more about how the Affordable Care Act may affect North Carolina.

Speaker of the House Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger- both Republicans- created the Joint Study Committee on the Affordable Care Act and Implementation Issues back in January. Its purpose is to discuss the impact of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Today marked the first meeting of the committee.

The 'Old Well' UNC-Chapel HIll
Caroline Culler / Wikipedia

Individuals are enrolling in health care through the federal online marketplace, but thousands of North Carolinians might find themselves with employer-sponsored health plans next year.   

In January, the Affordable Care Act will require businesses to offer health insurance to full-time employees working 30 hours a week or more. This would now include graduate teaching assistants and visiting faculty at the University of North Carolina.

a pharmacist
NC Department of Health and Human Services

This week, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina announced that 6,400 people went all the way through the process of enrolling for a plan on the federal exchange, but never paid their first month's premium. Thus, they were never eligible to receive benefits. The federal government, however, has been including those people in its tally of newly enrolled individuals.

The Affordable Care Act requires that individuals pay their first month's premium before they can receive benefits.

Community Care of North Carolina

North Carolina is enrolling more uninsured people than any other state that refused to set up its own health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act.

Health care policy director Adam Searing of the NC Justice Center says the state-run Medicaid system, Community Care, has made a big difference.

The state has encouraged social and health services to cooperate to provide Medicaid patients solid care up front, and now friends and family members who don't qualify for Medicaid have affordable options and guidance for enrolling in private healthcare.

HealthServe is closing in Greensboro this week and 20,000 people will have to find a medical provider elsewhere.
Flickr.com

A total of 1,662 North Carolinians have signed up for a health plan in the federal marketplace.

That's according to numbers released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of the 30 states that have signed up individuals, North Carolina has the fourth most, behind Florida (3,571), Texas (2,991) and Pennsylvania (2,207). 

Duke Health's Raleigh Hospital
Duke Medicine

  The Affordable Care Act is reaching into every community in the United States.

Two Ob/GYN doctors review test results.
Mercy Health

Health workers who target low-income communities across the state are working to make sure their clients know they can receive health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Rebecca Whitaker is with the North Carolina Community Health Center Association. Community Health Centers are neighborhood practices in what are known as medically underserved areas. She says health care workers have been pairing up with organizations from utilities to elder care agencies who employ uninsured caregivers to get the word out.

a pharmicist
NC Department of Health and Human Services

At least two private health insurance exchanges will soon be launching in North Carolina. 

The NC Chamber and a company called Digital Benefit Advisors are opening websites next month that will act as private marketplaces for health insurance.  Leaders for both organizations say they're designed for employees of companies that might be scaling back their insurance policies.

North Carolina Chamber COO Jim Simpson says the idea is to encourage competition and decrease the cost of insurance.

http://www.house.gov/content/cao/io/images/house_floor.jpg

  Congress failed to pass a spending bill to avert a government shutdown last night.

Republican lawmakers refused to consider legislation to fund the government unless Democrats were willing to concede on implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The impasse means furloughs for many federal workers while the Affordable Care Act enrollment continues as planned.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f5/Obama_signs_health_care-20100323.jpg

  

You probably know it as Obamacare, but its official name is the Affordable Care Act. And starting Tuesday, enrollment opens for mandatory insurance.

New policies don’t actually go into effect until January 1, but in the meantime, curious shoppers can take to the health exchanges to find a deal on health insurance.

HealthServe is closing in Greensboro this week and 20,000 people will have to find a medical provider elsewhere.
Flickr.com

North Carolina is asking local health departments to work with people hired to give information about the Affordable Care Act. 

The Department of Health and Human Services sent a letter to every county last week, encouraging them to work with so-called health care navigators.  The federal government gave out about $3 million in grants to non-profits, hospitals and volunteers to hire navigators last month.

Two Ob/GYN doctors review test results.
Mercy Health

Medicare patients who are frequently admitted to hospitals are beginning to cause extra fees for those facilities. 

The White House

The state Department of Insurance has approved subsidized health care plans that will be available under the Affordable Care Act.

Several details of the plans remain sealed as trade secrets, including rates, deductibles and how many were approved.  Marni Schribman of the state Insurance Department says the plans will be part of North Carolina's health care exchange, which is scheduled to launch in October.

Warren County Free Clinic Sign
Leoneda Inge

North Carolina has one of the best networks of free clinics in the country.  Support from funders like the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation has helped take care of some of the state’s neediest patients; those who don’t qualify for Medicare of Medicaid.  Warren County – northeast of Raleigh – is home to one of the busiest free clinics in North Carolina.  But funding cuts have resulted in less service at a crucial time in the nation’s health care fight.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

State lawmakers in the House have passed a bill that would block an expansion of North Carolina's Medicaid program. It passed on third reading Thursday. Republican lawmakers are opposed to enlarging Medicaid to help cover about 500,000 uninsured residents under the Affordable Care Act. Representative John Blust says the state would end up covering too many costs.

Gov. Pat McCrory
Governor's Office

A state House committee has moved along a bill that would block any state-funded expansion of Medicaid.  The Health and Human services Committee voted to follow Governor Pat McCrory's lead saying that Medicaid should not grow to cover about half-a million uninsured residents.  States can expand Medicaid to help cover the uninsured under the Affordable Care Act..but they can also opt out of that expansion.   Governor McCrory said the program's budget is tight in a speech at the Emerging Issues Forum at N-C State yesterday.

North Carolina House of Representatives, North Carolina General Assembly
www.ncleg.net

Aside from a few lobbyists checking their cell phones, the halls of the General Assembly were quiet and free of protestors Wednesday. But in the House, legislators wasted no time getting down to business. An unemployment insurance bill many are watching closely will be discussed in a committee meeting today. It seeks to lower unemployment benefits so employers won't have to shoulder insurance increases.

North Carolina has until Friday to decide whether to build its own health exchange or let the federal government run one for the state. It's a requirement of the Affordable Care Act, which seeks to provide health care insurance to everyone. Al Delia is the Acting Secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services. He says whatever path the state chooses, there's a whole series of decisions about infrastructure that need to be made.

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