Affordable Care Act | KCUR

Affordable Care Act

Seg. 1: Medical Debt Collection | Seg. 2: Health Insurance Finance

Oct 21, 2019

Segment 1: Even though debtors prisons were outlawed in 1983, the threat of jail is being used to pursue unpaid medical bills.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

A private insurer’s 2018 premiums in Kansas ran too high — at least compared to the medical bills it had to pay for customers that year.

That means thousands of Kansans get money back this fall because they got overcharged last year.

Governor Mike Parson signed an executive order earlier this summer creating a task force to look into something that could bring big changes to how Missourians get—and pay for—their health care. 

Segment 1: Could a retail model make health care in America more affordable?

As the country grapples with the ever-increasing cost of health care, we consider a model that minimizes the government's role and cuts out many middlemen. Two scholars describe a retail system that would subsidize care for the poor, allow consumers to make their own purchasing decisions, and help people focus on the care they want and value.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

A deal to clear the way for Medicaid expansion next year that some Kansas lawmakers thought they had brokered in the waning hours of their just-finished legislative session appears to be unraveling.

Instead, the conservative leaders and moderate rank-and-file Republicans find themselves splitting in an intra-party fight.

Jason Domingues

Patients who are fed up with the bureaucracy of the health insurance industry are ditching the copays and high deductibles for a different way to get primary care.

One such patient is self-employed attorney Dan Hobart, who struggled to find insurance because of his pre-existing conditions. Even after Affordable Care Act went into effect, doctor visits were still too costly for him to get the care he needed.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

In a recent national survey, farmers said the biggest threat to their livelihoods wasn’t low commodity prices or global trade policies. It was the rising cost of health insurance.

It’s one of the reasons why state farm bureaus have jumped into the insurance game in Iowa, Tennessee and Nebraska, and are trying to in Kansas.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

The stakes run high for 130,000-some low-income Kansans who stand to gain from expanding Medicaid coverage — and for the political players who will decide the contentious issue.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly made expansion a centerpiece of the election that put her in office. Two Republican leaders — Senate President Susan Wagle and Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning — could see their elevation to higher office also turn on the issue.

PATIENTCARETECHNICIANSALARY.NET / FLICKR - CC

Even as it seeks to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional, the Trump administration on Monday reported that about 11.4 million people signed up for coverage in 2019 on the act’s state- and federally run exchanges.

That represents a dip from about 11.8 million in 2018, defying fears of a more precipitous drop after the Trump Administration cut promotion and outreach efforts and Congress eliminated the tax penalty for not having coverage.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

The Kansas Legislature is in the meat of its 2019 session. Not quite halfway through, but well into the “getting down to business” part.

As such, there are consequential conversations happening throughout the Statehouse. Some occur in hearing rooms. But far more take place out of public view — in offices, hallways and the many convenient alcoves tucked into the building’s less-trafficked spaces.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

The word audacious has a double meaning.

Depending on whom you talk to, either definition might apply to the way the Kansas Farm Bureau is proposing to rescue farmers and ranchers priced out of the health insurance marketplace set up under the federal Affordable Care Act.

It’s either a bold and daring move. Or, it’s presumptuous, bordering on brazen.

The powerful ag lobbying organization is petitioning lawmakers for what amounts to carte blanche authority to develop and market health coverage free of state and federal oversight.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s Medicaid expansion proposal is a retread.

It’s virtually the same bill that former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed in 2017.

An attempt to override that veto in the House failed, but only by three votes.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Falling through the cracks

At best, from 2016 to 2017, states kept the number of children without insurance stable.

Most did worse than that.

Kansas saw 5,000 more kids fall into the uninsured category in that year.

Madeline Fox reports that researchers at Georgetown University say the increases in uninsured rates across the country reflected uncertainty about the Children’s Health Insurance Program (aka CHIP) and the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

file photo / Kansas News Service

If elections have consequences, the top-of-the-ticket win for Democrats in Kansas likely carries no more obvious upshot than the probable expansion of Medicaid in the state.

After years of unyielding opposition from former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and his successor — Gov. Jeff Colyer — Democratic Gov.-elect Laura Kelly looks positioned to broaden public health insurance coverage to tens of thousands more Kansans.

patientcaretechniciansalary.net / Flickr - CC

Segment 1: What health care coverage is right for you, and what to do if you need help enrolling.

More coverage options have been added to the health insurance marketplace — some as part of the Affordable Care Act and some not — and premium costs this year are expected to remain the same, or even decline in some states. Today, we answered open enrollment and coverage questions to help listeners make the best choice for themselves and their families.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

A once-obscure health insurance buzzword — pre-existing conditions — is taking over the U.S. Senate race in Missouri. And the seemingly narrow issue could have a wider effect on the federal health care law, depending on whether Republicans maintain control of the Senate after the Nov. 6 midterm election.

File photo

Sheri Wood, the longtime CEO of KC CARE Health Center, is stepping down.

Wood oversaw the expansion of what was essentially a mom-and-pop health clinic in midtown Kansas City into three locations across the city.  

When Wood began at KC CARE 22 years ago, it had a staff of 18 and a budget of $1.2 million. Today it boasts a staff of more than 150, a budget of about $16 million and more than 700 volunteers.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

MKGA

On the eve of the Kansas Republican primary for governor, President Donald Trump tweeted his endorsement of Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Little more than a week later, when Kobach could finally claim victory, he stood at the foot of the state Capitol and promised to do for Topeka what Trump’s done for Washington. Trump, he promised, was coming to campaign for him.

This week, that campaign promise looks pretty strong.

www.HealthCare.gov

Kansans seeking health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s federally run exchange will have the choice of three insurers in 2019.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer said in a statement that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Medica Insurance Co. and Ambetter from Sunflower Health Plan will offer 23 separate plans for individuals through HealthCare.gov, the federal government exchange.

Grey keyboard with "Healthcare" printed on green return key.
BigStock

Segment 1: Kansas refusal to expand Medicaid has delayed access to medical care and left many poor residents uninsured.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt acknowledges that a multi-state attack on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, could wipe out some popular consumer protections.

But, Schmidt said, he believes Congress will step in to preserve certain parts of the law if he and 19 other Republican attorneys general succeed in striking down the individual mandate — that everybody buy coverage or face a fine on their tax return — as unconstitutional.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Like many people who can’t afford medical care, Larissa Shively-Vitt of Shawnee, Kansas, has been spending a lot of time online lately, trying to tell her story and raise money through crowdfunding.

Medical expenses are the category most often used on GoFundMe, which is the largest crowdfunding platform. And in recent years, campaigns have snowballed for one particular kind of medical care: gender confirmation surgery.

Missouri Department of Social Services Children's Division

Segment 1: Controversy in Missouri and Kansas foster care. 

The foster care systems in Missouri and Kansas have been making headlines lately. In Missouri, the prescribing and administering of psychotropic drugs is at the center of litigation that just became a class action case. In Kansas, the Adoption Protection Act allows smaller agencies to deny potential parents adoption or fostering based on the agency's religious beliefs. We got an update on what's happening on both sides of the state line. 

agilemktg1 / Creative Commons-Flickr

Insurance customers in Kansas City will have an additional option on the Affordable Care Act marketplace starting in 2019.

Medica, an insurance company based in Minneapolis, announced Monday it will sell individual plans on the exchange to customers in Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte counties in Missouri. It began selling insurance plans on the exchange last year to Kansas customers in Johnson and Wyandotte counties. 

The insurer's coverage is mainly limited to providers in the Saint Luke's Health System.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3 / Senator Claire McCaskill / Flickr - CC

Segment 1: Attorney General Josh Hawley on the resignation of Gov. Greitens and preparing for midterm elections.

As Gov. Eric Greitens gets set to resign this afternoon, Missouri's attorney general maintains he did everything within his jurisdiction to investigate the governor’s alleged indiscretions. In an interview recorded on Thursday, Josh Hawley defended his conduct in the Greitens saga, and explained why he thinks Sen. Claire McCaskill has lost touch with Missouri voters.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3 file photo

After the resignation of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on Tuesday, months of turmoil in Jefferson City might finally be coming to an end. And Republicans such as Attorney General Josh Hawley are eager to shift focus to ousting the state's top Democrat in this year's midterm elections.

On Thursday afternoon, Hawley sat down with KCUR's Up To Date to discuss the historic resignation, his role in prosecuting the governor's alleged misdeeds, and, especially, the record of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Creative Commons

Missouri will have to cough up more than $300,000 in attorney's fees after losing a case over a state law barring insurance navigators from giving advice about health plans.

Although he sliced about $128,000 from the bill, U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith ruled that Missouri must pay the legal fees of the victorious plaintiffs.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Missouri and Kansas have joined 18 other states in seeking to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional following Congress’ repeal last year of the tax penalty associated with the individual mandate.

In a lawsuit filed late Monday in federal court in Texas, the coalition of 20 mostly red states claimed that the elimination of the tax penalty for those who don’t buy health insurance renders the entire healthcare law unconstitutional.

Allison Shelley

Longtime health reporter Julie Rovner is chief Washington correspondent for Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit news service providing in-depth coverage of health care policy and politics. Before joining KHN, Rovner was a health reporter for 16 years at NPR, where she helped lead coverage of the enactment and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. 

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Entrepreneurs Keely Edgington and Beau Williams, owners of a Westport bar called Julep, say that the Affordable Care Act has been an easy, inexpensive way for them to get health insurance. 

Having insurance has been critical for the married couple. Their daughter Lula was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 when she was nine months old. Even with insurance, the family needed help from friends and family to pay her medical costs.

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