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Obamacare

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.

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. 

commerce.gov

As you've listened to or watched or read coverage of the government shutdown, how many times have you heard the situation in Washington referred to as a standoff, or an impasse or a stalemate?

Well, there's no doubt about it being a shutdown.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Two Florida lawmakers were in Washington, D.C. Wednesday morning to share their perspective on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. 

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.

Business Leaders Push for Medicaid Expansion

Sep 17, 2013
Rolla Al-Abbasi / WUSF

Businesses and healthcare industry leaders on Tuesday publicly urged Florida lawmakers to use billions of dollars in federal funds to provide health coverage for about 1 million low-income adults in the state. 

Convincing state lawmakers to reconsider Medicaid expansion is a top priority for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, said its president and CEO Bob Rohrlack at a news conference organized by the League of Women Voters of Florida. Rohrlack said the federal money would have a huge impact on the economy. 

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.

Pinellas County officials say the state Department of Health has agreed that Affordable Care Act enrollment advisors can operate within the same buildings as the local health department staff.

And DOH staff can refer uninsured patients to the advisors, called Navigators, for help in enrolling in a health plan on the Marketplace when it opens Oct. 1. 


"What the state said was that we could not hire Navigators, but that we could refer people to county offices within our buildings," said DOH/Pinellas spokeswoman Maggie Hall. She said it amounts to a "compromise."

The county and state agency were able to reach it because Pinellas County owns the buildings that the state DOH rents for its local operations. The Navigators cannot operate within the same offices as DOH staff, under the dictates from Tallahassee, which still stand. But they can be stationed nearby, providing one-stop-shopping to those who seek treatment at the health department.

Earlier this week, an outreach worker from Moffitt Cancer Center was invited to speak at the White House.

Eight groups that are hiring and training "navigators" to help uninsured Floridians enroll in Obamacare have been sent letters by a U.S. House committee seeking information on their activities  -- a letter that some have called "intimidating."

Two of the groups are public entities: University of South Florida and Pinellas County Board of Commissioners.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act rallied hundreds of conservatives at a Tampa hotel Wednesday night with a call for the Republican House to strip funds for the law out of next year's budget.

The budget vote is scheduled for right after Labor Day, in time for the 2014 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

"Can we defund Obamacare? Yes, we can!" declared Mike Needham, CEO of the host group Heritage Action for America. The crowd applauded heartily at his use of President Barack Obama's campaign slogan.

Health policy and political consultants say that for the Affordable Care Act to succeed, politically and substantively, organizing efforts must focus on three states with large numbers of uninsured: Florida, Texas and California. Unfortunately for Democrats and the law’s supporters, as Politico reports, two of those states are run by Republicans who are trying to hamper the enrollment effort.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

When the new online health insurance marketplace opens Oct. 1, millions of people will be able to buy insurance at the click of a mouse. The federal government has a website and a hotline people can call for help. But they'll also have people who can help face-to-face. They're called "navigators." During a stop at the USF Tampa campus last week, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said "navigators" will assist many people who have never been enrolled in a health plan before.

A key part of the Affordable Care Act takes effect on Oct. 1. That's when Americans shopping for health insurance can begin enrolling in the program.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was on the University of South Florida Tampa campus Thursday afternoon to hand out $7.8 million in grants to help Floridians with the Affordable Care Act. 

The money will be given to eight organizations around the state to hire staff to help consumers enroll in a health insurance plan. Starting Jan. 1, almost all Americans will be required to buy health insurance under the ACA.

politifact.com

The state of Florida has not exactly been warm and welcoming to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- better known as Obamacare.

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