Affordable Care Act

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Medical debt is incredibly easy to accrue. All it takes is an accident or an unexpected bill tacked onto an expected procedure or an out-of-network charge you didn’t know was out-of-network. Nationally, almost 24 percent of nonelderly Americans have past-due medical debt, according to an Urban Institute report published this week.

State-to-state, the debt rates vary widely, from a low level of indebtedness in Hawaii at about 6 percent of the population, to Mississippi at about 37 percent. West Virginia's rate is about 33 percent.

W.Va. Demonstrators Defend Affordable Care Act

Feb 27, 2017
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Appalachia Health News reporter Kara Lofton covered a rally in Charleston where demonstrators are seeking to save the Affordable Care Act and we’ll have a report about the ACA and rural hospitals and health clinics.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

After Obamacare: Rural Health Providers Nervous About Affordable Care Act Repeal

Feb 26, 2017
Photo Courtesy of Mountain Comprehensive Care

Mike Caudill runs Mountain Comprehensive Care Corporation in five eastern Kentucky counties. Many of his 30,000 patients gained insurance through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. No one knows if or when those folks might lose coverage. But, Caudill said, the impact could be considerable.

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More than 22,000 West Virginians with substance use disorders have gained health coverage through Medicaid Expansion, according to a report released earlier this month in National Health Law Program. Medicaid Expansion was a voluntary provision of the Affordable Care Act.

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Although Congress hasn't presented the American public with a clear replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act – the ideas proposed so far are unlikely to make coverage more affordable or allow everyone who has coverage now to keep it. Uncertainty surrounding the ACA is also making it difficult for health plans to stay in the marketplace because they don’t know how to price their plans for next year.

But as members of Congress left Washington today for their February recess, Republicans made it clear they still intend to repeal the ACA.

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Today is the last day to enroll in or change a 2017 insurance plan through the federal healthcare marketplace. But if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, this may be the last time people can sign up for insurance through the marketplace.

In 2016, more than 37,000 West Virginians signed up for health insurance through the ACA marketplaces. Nationwide, enrollment numbers for 2017 are up slightly from 2016 numbers – despite promises from President Trump to repeal the healthcare law.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

President Trump is four days into his first term and already has made big moves to repeal former President Obama’s signature healthcare law. A repeal of the Affordable Care Act – also called Obamacare - has the potential to affect millions of Americans. In this audio postcard, three West Virginians – a former chair of the House health committee, a college student and a small business owner – talk about how they are feeling about their healthcare coming into an era of Trump.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

At the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Clinic in Scarbro, oxygen tubes dangle from the noses of three miners slowly pedaling on stationary bikes.  All of these men have black lung – a disease caused by breathing in coal dust. Over time, the dust coats the lungs and causes them to harden. Hard lungs don’t easily expand and contract, and that makes it difficult to breath.

Doctor's Exam Room
Tinton5 / Wikimedia Commons

Health care advocates say new data analyses show that repealing the federal Affordable Care Act without a replacement would cut insurance coverage for more than 200,000 West Virginians with mental illness or addictions.

According to an Urban Institute analysis, 184,000 West Virginians would lose health coverage.

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Latest enrollment figures show that 32,855 West Virginians signed up for 2017 coverage under the Affordable Care Act as of Dec. 24, 2016. 

Steve Helber / Associated Press

During his campaign, president-elect Donald Trump promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act – a move many West Virginians say they support after facing rising premiums and deductibles.  But a repeal without a replacement plan could be disastrous for the millions of Americans who have gained health insurance under the law, including 173,000 West Virginians newly covered under Medicaid expansion and 37,000 who have bought private insurance plans through the Marketplace. And Republicans have yet to release a replacement plan.

 

 

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President Obama met with Senate Democrats today to discuss strategies to save his signature health care law. Meanwhile Senate Republicans have already introduced a budget resolution that would unravel large pieces of the Affordable Care Act with a majority vote.

Six W.Va. Stories to Watch in 2017

Dec 30, 2016
Frances Brundage / Wikimedia Commons

Front Porch hosts Scott Finn, Laurie Lin, and Rick Wilson tell us which stories they'll be following in 2017:

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This week on the Front Porch, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito gives her take on what the new Trump administration means for West Virginia.

We discuss recent resurgence of black lung among coal miners, what comes after the promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act, what can be done to build rural broadband networks, and more.

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Almost 8,000 West Virginians signed up for healthcare during the first month of Open Enrollment under the federal Affordable Care Act this year.

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Although the recent presidential election has raised questions about the Affordable Care Act’s future, West Virginia University says it will continue to operate the West Virginia Healthy Start Navigator Project. The program helps people in northern West Virginia sign up for health insurance under the ACA.

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The fourth annual open enrollment for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act begins today. Over the past year, more West Virginians than ever before have become ensured, including thousands with preexisting health conditions. But the first three years of the ACA have been far from smooth. Premiums and deductibles continue to rise, and more and more insurers are leaving the marketplace. Kara Lofton talked with Timothy Jost, an emeritus professor of law at Washington and Lee University and ACA expert about what consumers can expect for 2017.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, we profile another candidate for governor. Today we meet Phil Hudok of the Constitution Party and statehouse reporter Ashton Marra looks at the race for State Auditor.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Energy and health care. They’re the two issues in the presidential race that could have the greatest impact on West Virginians.

On this week's Viewpoint, we look at where the Democrat Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand on the two issues with a report from The Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier and an interview with Kara Lofton, West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Appalachia Health New Coordinator. 

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New studies released this week show West Virginians are experiencing slower growth in health care premiums, increased access to coverage, and higher quality of care under the Affordable Care Act.

Only 6 percent of people in West Virginia went uninsured in 2015, down from 14.6 percent in 2010, according to new Census data. That drop means 156,000 West Virginians gained coverage in five years, according to a U.S. Department of Health & Human Services press release.

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