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Affordable Care Act

With open enrollment for health insurance ending in just two weeks, the push is on to get everyone who qualifies signed up. But some of the uninsured are balking, and it’s not only the so-called “young invincibles” who think they don’t need it.

Gary Babcock of Clearwater, for example, is neither young nor invincible.  He’s 55, with diabetes so severe he has to give himself daily insulin shots.

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 The Obama administration is moving closer to its goal of 9.1 million people signed up for private coverage under the president's health care law.

Florida leads the federal marketplace states, with 1,270,995 people enrolled. Texas has nearly 920,000.

The Health and Human Services Department says at least 400,000 people signed up last week. That brought total enrollment in the 37 states served by HealthCare.gov to more than 7.1 million.

Are you thinking about tax day yet? Your friendly neighborhood tax preparer is. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen declared this tax season one of the most complicated ever, partly because this is the first year that the Affordable Care Act will show up on your tax form.

Tax preparers from coast to coast are trying to get ready. Sue Ellen Smith manages an H&R Block office in San Francisco, and she is expecting things to get busy soon.

"This year taxes and health care intersect in a brand-new way," Smith says.

Federal health officials say 1,190,922 Floridians have signed up for health insurance through the federal marketplace since this year’s open enrollment period started.

That figure announced Wednesday is by far the most in any state using the federal health care marketplace and includes first-time enrollees and some who are renewing their insurance this year.

FL Leads in Marketplace Enrollment

Jan 2, 2015

What a difference a year makes.

With its technical troubles largely behind it, Healthcare.gov enrolled 1.9 million new customers for health insurance between Nov. 15 and Dec. 18.

Luis Alejandro Larrorte has lived the past two decades in the United States -- all of it without health insurance.

But the 56-year-old who sells cable satellite plans as a contractor was diagnosed with eye cancer. And the Pembroke Pines resident was eager to sign up on the federal healthcare marketplace.

Senate President 'Intrigued" By Proposal to Expand Health Coverage

Dec 17, 2014

Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, left open the possibility Wednesday that his chamber will consider an expansion of health coverage for low-income Floridians.

Gardiner described as "intriguing" a proposal that would accept billions of dollars available under the federal Affordable Care Act and provide coverage through private insurers.

A coalition that includes business groups and hospitals is pushing the proposal, and Gardiner was asked about it at a meeting with reporters.

It's the second year of enrollment for health insurance plans under the federal health law on HealthCare.gov, the website that Floridians, and people in dozens of other states, use to shop for health insurance.

As of Dec. 15, we have passed a key deadline, the deadline to buy a plan to have coverage that starts Jan. 1. But open enrollment runs through Feb. 15, 2015, and we have gathered a panel to talk about what consumers be doing now if they still need to get health insurance coverage to comply with the federal health law known as Obamacare.

Lottie Watts

  

The deadline has passed to buy a health plan on HealthCare.gov for coverage that starts Jan. 1, 2015.

But open enrollment goes through Feb. 15, 2015, and this week on Florida Matters on WUSF 89.7 FM, we talk about what consumers should do if they need to buy a health plan. The show airs on Tuesday, Dec. 16 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 a.m. 

Monday’s an important deadline for Floridians shopping for insurance on HealthCare.gov.

Nearly a million residents signed up on this federally run marketplace last year. Now those wanting to re-enroll -- or sign up for the first time for coverage -- must select a plan by Monday if they want to be covered starting at the beginning of the New Year.

Christian Ward lounges on a couch in the University of South Florida student center in Tampa. He props crutches against the armrest and stretches out his leg, which is covered in a cast up to his thigh.

Like a lot of college students, Ward’s parents handle his health insurance. He'll tell you that having it definitely came in handy during his moment of need.

It's been two weeks since HealthCare.gov opened for a second year of business. And a leader in Florida's signup efforts says about half who have visited so far are return customers.

Those renewing their coverage seem most interested in the kind of medical coverage they can get and are not just selecting the same policies, Jodi Ray, director of Florida Covering Kids & Families at the University of South Florida, said Wednesday. 

She says cost of premiums seems to come second.

Brooke and Andrew Lee can't imagine being without health insurance.

So for the past seven years, that's meant digging deep into the earnings of their video production agency in St. Petersburg. It’s expensive, but Brooke Lee says the alternative is worse.

The nation's top health official says the ongoing legal dispute over the Affordable Care Act won't stop people who want insurance from signing up.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced it will consider a challenge to the law, which could eliminate subsidies for individuals who purchased plans in Florida and dozens of other states via the online marketplace known as HealthCare.gov.

Floridians who buy their own insurance can start shopping for 2015 plans on the federal marketplace on Saturday, but a sneak peek of prices is available now.

HealthCare.gov -- the website for residents in Florida and 36 other states -- opened for window shoppers over the weekend. In Florida, 10 different companies offer plans.

Supreme Court Will Hear New ACA Challenge

Nov 7, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear a new challenge to President Barack Obama's health care law that threatens subsidies that help millions of low- and middle-income people afford their health insurance premiums, including Floridians.

HealthCare.Gov EZ Form Not for Immigrants

Oct 27, 2014

HealthCare.gov's simpler online application is being touted as a big win for consumers. But it can't be used by immigrants in the United States legally and naturalized U.S. citizens, who represent millions of potential new health insurance customers.

That's prompting worries that many Hispanics and Asians will end up in long enrollment queues when the second sign-up season for coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law gets underway next month.

Bay News 9

Florida's candidates for Attorney General met for their first and only debate earlier this month in the studios of Bay News 9.

We will bring you the highlights of the debate, co-moderated by the Tampa Bay Times, this week on Florida Matters on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 26  at 7:30 a.m. on WUSF 89.7 FM.

More than 35,000 Florida residents have lost the health insurance they enrolled in under the federal health law because they didn’t prove U.S. citizenship or legal residency status by Sept. 5, the Miami Herald reports. 

Medicaid expansion is an issue in the race for Florida’s Senate District 22, a swing district that covers most of Pinellas County and extends to South Tampa.

"This is an issue that propelled me into the race because I am running against the only senator that voted against the Medicaid expansion,” Democrat Judithanne McLauchlan said.

Democratic candidates were the only ones to show at a legislative forum organized by the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative. And each one said Florida needs to take federal funding to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Florida, Texas Expand Medicaid – For Kids

Sep 29, 2014

Republican lawmakers in Florida and Texas snubbed the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion for adults, but their states did broaden the program this year -- for school-age children.

The number of health insurance companies offering plans in the marketplaces this fall will increase by 25 percent, giving consumers more choices for coverage, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced Tuesday.

When the marketplace enrollment reopens in November, 77 new insurers will be offering coverage in the 44 states for which HHS had data, which includes the 36 states that use the federal marketplace and eight states that run their own, the department reported.

The rate of Floridians without health insurance stayed the same in 2013 from the previous year, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Twenty percent of Floridians lacked health insurance last year, down slightly from a rate of 20.1 percent in 2012. But the change was within the margin of error, rendering it insignificant.

Nationwide, the rate was 14.5 percent.

Thousands of consumers risk losing financial aid for health care premiums under President Barack Obama's law unless they clear up lingering questions about their incomes, administration officials said Monday.

The Health and Human Services Department said some people who got coverage have reported incomes that don't square with what the government has on record. At least 279,000 households with income discrepancies face a Sept. 30 deadline to submit documentation. If not, their premiums will be adjusted up or down in November.

More than 200,000 immigrants who bought insurance through President Barack Obama's health care initiative could lose their coverage this month if they don't submit proof this week they are legally in the country, but language barriers and computer glitches are hindering efforts to alert them.

The government mailed letters in English and Spanish last month notifying about 300,000 people that if immigration and citizenship documents aren't submitted by Friday, their coverage under the Affordable Care Act will end Sept. 30.

politifact.com

Health insurers want to raise rates in 2015 -- but Florida's insurance regulators are pretty much powerless to stop that.

And the Republican Party of Florida says that's Obamacare's fault.

Is that true?

Obamacare Still 'Red Meat' for GOP

Aug 25, 2014

Beverly Hires, a former nurse running for Congress in Jupiter, one of the nation’s rare competitive House races, ticks off her problems with the federal health care law: higher premiums, cancelled policies and employers cutting full-time jobs.

Florida looks to lose more federal money set aside for Medicaid than any state that has opted out of expanding the health care program for the poor, says a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute.

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