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Affordable Care Act

Less than three weeks remain for uninsured Floridians to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act if they want coverage as of Jan. 1.  So navigators were relieved to find the federal health website running smoothly on Monday. 

Jaraux Washington is a science teacher at Tampa's Roland Park K-8 Magnet School for International Studies. So it's not surprising she turns to biology for a metaphor to describe teaching.

"Especially in seventh grade you understand that this is a process," she says, "and sometimes you're the planter and sometime you're the waterer and sometime you get to see the harvest."

In January, part-time workers who have so-called mini-med health insurance plans with very limited benefits and annual caps on payments will begin to lose that coverage.

Under the health care overhaul, they can't be renewed after the beginning of the year. For some, that may be just as well. Part-timers likely will have better options in January.

Another day brings another delay for the federal health law known as the Affordable Care Act.

On Friday, the Obama administration announced that, starting next year, it is pushing back the start of the sign-up period for those buying individual and small business insurance until mid-November, rather than mid-October. That will give insurance companies some extra time to set their premiums, given this year's difficulties.

And, as some analysts point out, the delay may also ease some political concerns for Democrats.

John Petrila's health policy class at the University of South Florida is full of undergraduate students glued to their smartphones, tablets and laptops. A perfect place, he reasoned, to test the Healthcare.gov website. 

“These folks are savvy. Every person in here is a tech savvy person whose used to being online,” Petrila said. “No one's in here thinking, ‘Well, what's the Internet?’ If these folks can't navigate this website, then that's a serious problem."

Florida has rejected an offer of more than $50 billion over 10 years from the federal government to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. So the question remains: how will health care be funded for more than a million low-income Floridians? This week on Florida Matters,  a panel discussion that was held last week at Stetson University College of Law to discuss the options. It was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative. 

Florida Blue, the largest health insurer in the state, says it will reinstate 300,000 policies it was planning to cancel, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. Bowing to pressure, on Thursday President Barack Obama announced that individual policyholders who saw their insurance policies cancelled because they didn’t meet the standards under the Affordable Care Act could in fact keep their policies if the company was willing to offer them.

A teenage girl who was injured in a Clearwater plane crash that killed her friend and friend's father has been released from the hospital and returned home to Illinois.

House Democrats say they will kill a new gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe unless it includes more games for South Florida pari-mutuels.

Without the support of the Democratic caucus' 44 members, the chamber won't be able to ratify an agreement, House Select Committee on Gaming Chairman Rob Schenck acknowledged.

"The fate of the compact is in serious jeopardy if we do not have some bipartisan support. It’s a basic principle of math," Schenck, R-Spring Hill, said.

Thirty or so attendees at St. Mary Primitive Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Fla., gathered on a recent evening to hear a presentation by the Obamacare Enrollment Team on their options to get insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

"If anybody is interested in getting enrolled, we can get you enrolled tonight," they were told.

Signs outside the church looked official: A familiar, large "O" with a blue outline, white center and three red stripes.

GI Bill Marches On, Unopposed

Oct 25, 2013

A proposal that envisions Florida creating a state version of the post-World War II GI Bill sped through the House on the opening day of the annual legislative session.

The Florida GI Bill (HB 7015), a priority of House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz, was approved unanimously Tuesday in the House. The issue now will move to the Senate, where it also is expected pass easily.

The Tampa Bay area will soon become home to a new university. It is not another state university like Florida Polytechnic. Instead, the university has a highly-specialized curriculum with a global reach.

A hub campus for the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) is under construction near the U.S. Special Operations Command on MacDill Air Force Base.

US Senate

Florida’s U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for someone’s head amidst the finger-pointing in Washington over the failure of the online health insurance marketplace that was supposed to launch the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Weeks after its startup, many people report they still can't access the HealthCare.gov website to checkout their eligibility and insurance choices.

Six House Republicans from Florida voted with Democrats to reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling Wednesday night, including two from Tampa Bay: Rep. Gus Bilirakis from Palm Harbor and Rep. Vern Buchanan from Sarasota.

Both released statements assuring constituents that they were still opposed to the Affordable Care Act and would continue to seek ways to derail or improve it. But they said they had to act to prevent a default on the national debt and end the government shutdown.

Florida's online health insurance Marketplace has been open for business since Oct. 1. But more than a week later, people are still having trouble with HealthCare.gov, the website consumers use to shop for health plans. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who swooped into Tampa for a 90-minute visit on Tuesday, said "today is better than yesterday" for the still-balky Health Insurance Marketplace. Each day the online enrollment site, Healthcare.gov, will work better than the day before, she said.

Hi, I'm Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of The Splendid Table. WUSF brings you the news you need to know -- and the stories you want to hear. Some of this station's most memorable stories are about my favorite subject: food and drink.

After three years of bashing President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, Republican governors were surprisingly mute on the first day consumers could shop for insurance policies through online marketplaces.

But in the 36 mostly Republican states that left the operation of their exchanges to the federal government, consumer interest Tuesday was high, while Democrats and advocacy groups took the lead in promoting the latest provision of the law.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and other Republican leaders have worked to block the Affordable Care Act since it was first proposed.

As Tuesday's opening of enrollment approached, Florida's Health Department said it wouldn't allow navigators and others to use its offices to educate and counsel people on the new law.

But others are eager to help. "We're ready to serve our community," says Efraim Monzon, director of a Florida Blue retail center in Miami. "We've been ready since 2010 when we heard it was coming."

With Tampa Bay area temperatures expected to drop into the low 30s tonight with wind chills even lower, cold weather shelters will open all over the Bay area. We'll update the list when we receive new information.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

The new Marketplace is supposed to open online as a shopping site for the uninsured tomorrow, but according to two new polls, plenty of people still don't know about them.  

Starting Oct. 1, millions of uninsured people around the country are going to have a new place to shop for health insurance, but many still don’t know about this provision of the Affordable Care Act. 

Take Maggie Banta, a St. Petersburg woman who works a part-time job that doesn’t offer insurance. She is likely to find affordable coverage on the Marketplace, but she said she didn’t even know that was an option.

politifact.com

Just after the House of Representatives voted to pass a temporary government spending bill  that would also defund Obamacare, Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio -- who wants the Senate to do the same -- issued a press release saying:

"The American People support defunding Obamacare and oppose shutting down the government."

A first-ever attempt at transplanting five organs in a child has succeeded far beyond the hopes of the family and doctors of 3-year-old Adonis Ortiz, who was born with his intestines outside his body. The Tampa baby and his parents went on camera at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami this week to talk about the historic transplant, carried out in October.

Nancy Pelosi Pushes for Women's Agenda

Sep 23, 2013
Yoselis Ramos

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was in Tampa today with U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor to discuss the issues surrounding women and families including paycheck fairness between men and women.

Pelosi and Castor say women make 77 cents to every dollar a man makes, so they are pitching an agenda that will change that.

When Women Succeed, America Succeeds is an agenda promoting equal pay for women, paid family and medical leave and affordable child care.

Even though the Affordable Care Act was signed into law three years ago, confusion over what it does and doesn’t do has reached a fever pitch, with both deliberate and accidental misunderstandings careening around the Internet.   Fact-checking organizations are trying to keep up.

Jay Conner / Tampa Tribune

New federal health insurance rules are inching closer to a January 1st deadline. The requirement that most Americans obtain coverage is feeling very real for the uninsured or those who buy their own policy.

The Tampa Tribune’s Mary Shedden talked to some Tampa Bay residents deciding whether the Affordable Care Act will help their health, or hurt their bottom line.

Bob Linde’s watched the Obamacare debate carefully the past five years.

Jane Meinhardt / Tampa Bay Business Journal

HealthPlan Services is bringing 1,000 new jobs to Florida, in part because the company says it will pick up a lot of new customers from the Affordable Care Act, the Tampa Tribune reports. Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most ardent opponents of the health law, was on hand to praise the company for adding new jobs in Florida.

At a community center named for Florida civil rights pioneer Carrie Meek, a few dozen members of Miami's National Church of God gathered over the weekend for a tea party — and to hear from a special guest, Monica Rodriguez of Enroll America.

The organization is working to spread the word about the Affordable Care Act, the federal law that will let people without health insurance shop for coverage starting Oct. 1.

The Obama administration has turned over to a Congressional committee the grant applications for groups that are training “Navigators,” attempting to deflect political heat away from the groups while they’re busy training enrollment advisors.

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