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affordable care act

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A proposal to prohibit basic health insurance plans from covering abortions goes before the Board of State Canvassers tomorrow.   Women would be able to buy separate abortion riders for their health insurance policies.

The Board is expected to certify that a petition drive has enough signatures to put the matter before the legislature.

Genevieve Marnon is with Right to Life of Michigan.   She says women should pay for abortion coverage themselves.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michiganders at risk of losing their health insurance because of Obamacare may be getting a reprieve.

It’s estimated that more than 200,000 policies in Michigan could be at risk of being canceled because the policies don’t meet the minimum standards of the Affordable Care Act.

After a public outcry, President Obama asked the states and insurance companies to keep those policies in effect for another year. 

Earlier this week we hosted an Issues & Ale event on the Affordable Care Act, and almost 150 people attended.

For everyone who was not able to attend, here are some of the main takeaways from the panel discussion with Marianne Udow-Phillips, the Director of the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation, Don Hazaert, the Director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, and Melissa Anders, a statewide business reporter with the MLive media group in Lansing.

What should people understand about the Affordable Care Act?

People should understand first of all that the Affordable Care Act is not a website, nor is it a "catchall for everyone's anxieties about health care," according to Hazaert, as many people have concerns about health care that have nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act. It is a law.

“This law is a law that is, in some ways, an incremental change to health care. It’s building on the existing non-system,” said Udow-Phillips. “We have a complicated and convoluted current system of health care, the law doesn’t fix that.”

Instead, it is designed to fill in the gaps, not fix it. Under the Affordable Care Act, more people will get coverage, but there will be people who end up paying more.

Also, do not wait until the website is fixed to start thinking about health care.

“There’s lots of information out there right now to help you understand what your choices are,” said Anders. “You actually can go on the website . . . and click on a link that will show you what the plans are in Washtenaw County, or wherever you’re from, and will tell you what the prices are and what you might be eligible for.”

The health plans themselves also have good websites that allow you to compare information.

Can you keep your current health care if you like it?

There has been a lot of confusion over this. Ultimately, it is up to your state insurance commissioner to decide how to implement the policy change. In Michigan, we are still waiting to hear back from our state insurance commissioner about this.

It is also up to the insurance companies. So even if the commissioner approves, individual insurance companies can still decide whether or not to extend their plans.

People on Medicare will see no change under the Affordable Care Act. Employer plans will also stay mostly the same.

The big changes will be in the individual market.

“People are paying an enormous amount right now for very bad coverage, and people are very unhappy,” said Udow-Phillips. “We did a survey last year of citizens in Michigan, and people who had coverage that they bought themselves through the individual market, 44% of them said they were happy with their coverage.”

That is lower than people with any other type of health care. Under the Affordable Care Act, more people in the individual market will get better coverage for less.

Who still won't be covered?

Undocumented immigrants will not be receiving any coverage under this law. In fact, they were purposely excluded.

Additionally, people who are exempt from penalties may not have insurance, or people may choose to pay the penalties rather than get insurance.

There are a number of other circumstances which allow for exemptions. People who cannot afford insurance, people in prison, and people who cannot have health care due to their religious beliefs will be eligible for waivers.

To hear the full discussion and the Q & A session that followed, click the audio above.

healthcare.gov / YouTube

It’s been more than a month since the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace has open, and to say the rollout has been problematic would be an understatement.

With the glitch-ridden healthcare.gov website, and the natural confusion that comes with breaking new ground, it’s no wonder that many insurance-seekers don’t even know where to begin to find health insurance under the ACA.

Enter Don Hazaert, the director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare. MCH is one of four navigator agencies in Michigan for Obamacare.

But what does a navigator do? What can’t they do? And where do Michiganders stand with their healthcare?

Hazaert met with us in the studio, to discuss how those looking for coverage for Michigan actually do it.

For more information, visit enrollmichigan.com or any of the websites below:

consumersforhealthcare.org

communitybridgesihc.com

accesscommunity.org

aihfs.org

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - State legislators are divided over a plan requiring Michigan insurers to tell policyholders the impact of the federal health care law on their premiums.

Legislation awaiting a vote in the Republican-led House would require that insurers give annual estimates of the overhaul's effect on premiums.

Republican Rep. Mike Shirkey of Clark Lake says people deserve to know the law's ramifications. He also wants to insulate insurers from being blamed for premium increases.

But Democrats say the bill is nothing more than a political ploy.

use: dougwoods / Flickr

Yesterday, the Department of Heath and Human Services released a detailed enrollment report on the number of people who looked for insurance coverage from October 1 to November 2.

The number of people who enrolled in coverage is low.

According to the report, 23,987 applications were completed in Michigan. Of those completed applications, only 1,329 enrolled in a plan.

What's the difference between 'completed application' and 'enrollment?'

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

1,300 Michiganders signed up for Obamacare in the first month of online exchange

"Health officials released a report yesterday showing that only about 1,300 Michigan residents managed to sign up for coverage through the troubled federally-run state health care exchange in its first month of operation," the Associated Press reports.

Michigan Supreme Court names Court of Claims judges

"The Michigan Supreme Court has moved quickly to name judges to serve on a revamped Court of Claims to hear major lawsuits filed against the state. A new law moves the Court of Claims from the Ingham County Circuit and makes it part of the Michigan Court of Appeals. The state Supreme Court tapped two judges originally appointed by a Republican governor and two appointed by a Democrat to serve on the new Court of Claims," Rick Pluta reports.

Senate approves bill for pot sales at pharmacies

"The state Senate has approved a bill that could clear the way for pharmacies to sell medical marijuana in Michigan. That’s if the federal government decides to regulate cannabis as a prescription drug," Jake Neher reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan officials hope to know by Christmas whether the Obama administration has accepted the state’s plan for extending Medicaid coverage to thousands of working poor people.

The state formally submitted its proposal to the federal government today.

The state wants waivers from the usual Medicaid rules so it can charge co-pays, set up health care savings accounts, and use financial incentives to encourage patients to adopt healthy behaviors.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More than 436,000 Michigan residents will qualify for tax subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, according to a report released today from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

According to the study, 17 million Americans are eligible for tax credits that will lower their cost of coverage.

Most of those eligible folks come from states with high populations: Texas, for instance, is estimated to have over 2 million residents who would qualify for subsidies.

California’s not far behind with $1.9 million.

Michigan is home to five national parks and there are lots of open spaces where you can camp, hunt and enjoy nature. But, yesterday, an Oklahoma Senator recently said two Michigan landmarks are a prime example of wasteful federal spending. We found out what’s behind the senator’s reasoning and whether there is some truth to his concerns.

 Then, we took a look at a new proposal by a group of Democrats in the Michigan House that would require the state to determine the actual cost of educating a public school student in Michigan. That got us thinking, shouldn't we already know?  We also spoke with Michigan writer Donald Lystra about his new collection of short stories. And, Ann Arbor now has its own Death Café, organized by funeral home guide Merilynne Rush. She stopped by to tell us more about it. But, first on the show, ever since the government unveiled its healthcare.gov website, the headlines surrounding the Affordable Care Act have been about the problems with the way the site was designed and the extreme difficulty Americans have had in getting on the exchange. But what about the Americans that don't need healthcare.gov? The ones who already have plans? To those consumers, President Obama has been saying this since 2009:

“If you like your current insurance, you will keep your current insurance. No government takeover, nobody’s changing what you’ve got if you’re happy with it.”

So why, then, then are some 2 million Americans - about 140,000 in Michigan - getting cancelation letters from their insurers over the past couple of weeks?

Marianne Udow-Phillips directs the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, a non-profit partnership between the University of Michigan and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan. She joined us today.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is Director of the University of Michigan's Center for Healthcare Research.
user mudowp / Twitter

Ever since the government unveiled its healthcare.gov website, the headlines surrounding the Affordable Care Act have been about the problems with the way the site was designed and the extreme difficulty Americans have had in getting on the exchange to shop for health insurance.

But, what about the Americans that don't need healthcare.gov? The ones who already have plans? Some 14 million consumers buy their own insurance individually.

And to those consumers, President Obama has been saying this since 2009:

“If you like your current insurance, you will keep your current insurance. No government takeover, nobody’s changing what you’ve got if you’re happy with it.”

So why, then, are some 2 million Americans - about 140,000 in Michigan - getting cancelation letters from their insurers?

Marianne Udow-Phillips directs the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, a non-profit partnership between the University of Michigan and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan. She joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

photo by Anna Strumillo Phuket - Thailand / www.fotopedia.com

The state and federal healthcare exchanges are, of course, a big chapter in the overhaul of the American healthcare model - a model that's very different from many other countries around the world.

The BBC's Alice Castle has lived in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. She's had the experience of being pregnant in both countries.

Click the audio above to listen to her unique perspective on the American healthcare system.

healthcare.gov

You know you’ve got a problem when people start a thread on Reddit titled, “How not to optimize a website.

One Reddit commenter writes...

Dropdowns. That's what killed Obamacare!

The online healthcare exchanges have been plagued with problems since they opened.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Abortion opponents have turned in more than 315,000 petition signatures calling on the Legislature to place new restrictions on health coverage.

The new law would require consumers to buy separate coverage for abortions.

Abortion opponents say they want to make sure that abortion coverage is not automatic when people buy insurance under the new federal healthcare law. The petition-initiated law would require consumers to buy a separate rider for abortion coverage.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The last time the government was shut down in 1995-1996, it was clear where the leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives was coming from. Then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich led the "Republican Revolution" in a showdown against former President Bill Clinton.

Today, just who the flag bearers are for the House Republicans is much less clear.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s new online healthcare exchange went live today, meaning Michiganders would now have the opportunity to check out healthcare plans and subsidies available to them under the Affordable Care Act.

But the launch didn’t go without a couple of hiccups.

As the exchanges went live on the web, consumers encountered error messages, saying the high traffic to the exchanges would mean delays with actually looking at the plans.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Democratic Senator Carl Levin says House Republican leaders bowing to the Tea Party is the reason for the federal government shutdown.

Levin accuses the Tea Party of doing what the 9/11 terrorists could not: shut down the federal government.

“We weren’t shutdown on 9/11.   We kept going.   There was a physical attack on us,” Levin told reporters on a conference call today,  “Now you got people who are doing an economic attack on us, saying they will not allow this government to function unless they get their way on a particular issue.”

healthcare.gov / YouTube

Today is the first day people can shop for health care plans at healthcare.gov

There are 73 health plans available on the exchange. These plans were approved by the federal and state governments.

Over the next six months, residents can enroll in the program. More from the Associated Press:

People earning between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty line will qualify for tax credits to offset monthly premiums. Besides the uninsured, small businesses and those who buy their own insurance may shop on the exchange. 

A former student who shares my appreciation of history told me last night that he had found one high-ranking Republican who would have opposed the government shutdown. That gentleman, who once made a famous speech in Kalamazoo, told fellow Republicans in New York “I see that some, at least, of you are those who believe that an election being decided against them is no reason why they should sink the ship.“

That’s a good and reasonable philosophy of government. Unfortunately, the man who said that, himself a former Congressman, is Abraham Lincoln, and he happens to be dead. Lincoln said those words while struggling to save the nation from breaking apart just before his first inauguration. The fault was with Democrats then.

To an increasing number of people, the shutdown of the federal government today is the fault of the Republicans. To me, the nature of what is happening ought to be pretty frightening regardless of who is to blame.

Republicans in Congress are saying they won’t allow the government to be funded unless the President and Congress agree to stop the Affordable Care Act from taking effect this year.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

On Tuesday, tens of thousands of Michiganders can start signing up for new health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

But some may find they fall victim to what’s being called the ‘Family Glitch’.

The Affordable Care Act provides subsidies for families to get health insurance if an employer doesn’t provide adequate health insurance coverage.

Courtesy of Children First

Michigan's new healthcare exchange goes live next Tuesday (October 1), and the White House put out a sneek peak of sorts.

It’s a snapshot of prices Michiganders could pay for what are expected to be some of the most popular plans.

In terms of cost, Michigan is projected to be below the national average.

user anna / Flickr

A Michigan CEO says he'll ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a law requiring employers to cover their worker’s contraceptives. 

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s one of more than 30 similar lawsuits currently making their way through the nation’s courts.

But this one could be the case that makes it to the Supreme Court.

Here’s why.

A sympathetic story?

John Kennedy is the CEO of Autocam Corp, a manufacturing company based outside Grand Rapids.

He’s also a Roman Catholic.

Diliff/wikipedia

A federal government shutdown could have a big effect in Michigan, especially for many of the state’s most vulnerable.

Many programs run by Michigan’s state government are paid for with money from the federal government.

If the White House and Congressional Republicans can’t reach a budget deal by the end of this month, the flow of federal money to Michigan will slow to a trickle.

“There are hundreds of millions of dollars that flow into the state on a monthly basis,” says John Nixon, Michigan’s state budget director.

Candice Miller's official website

All nine of Michigan’s Republican members of Congress voted for House legislation that would defund the Affordable Care Act

The bill is a part of a recent political ultimatum coming from Republican lawmakers: either cut Obamacare or shut down the government.

The language was attached to a continuing resolution — a temporary measure that allows the government to maintain the current levels of funding to federal agencies while Congress works out a fully-fledged budget plan.

The deadline for the Affordable Care Act's open enrollment period is January 31.
user striatic / Flickr

If you’re a Michigander looking for health insurance this fall, relax — help is on the way. Well, at least some help.

Earlier this August, Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody reported four groups were picked by the federal government to navigate Michigan’s uninsured — or underinsured — through the new health insurance market developed under the Affordable Care Act.

On October 1 — the day the new marketplace opens up — the aptly named “navigators” will guide Michigan residents through their choices under Obamacare.

“Navigators are entities that are working on behalf of the exchange at no cost to consumers,” said Don Hazaert, the executive director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare. MCH is one of the organizations selected to navigate Michiganders, along with Community Bridges Management, the Arab Community Center for Economic & Social Services, and American Indian Health and Family Services of Southeastern Michigan.

It's officially the law of the land.

Governor Rick Snyder signed the Medicaid expansion into law today.

The expansion will provide Medicaid services to hundreds of thousands of working-poor in the state through the federal Affordable Care Act. On today's show, what the expansion means for Michigan and what's next on the Governor's and the Legislature's agenda.

And, Brandon and Bethany Foote, the couple behind the musical group Gifts or Creatures, joined us today to talk about their music.

Also, Rivertown, a $55 million proposed development along the east riverfront in Detroit, recently won approval from the Detroit Economic Development Corporation. How are developments like this possible when Detroit is bankrupt?

First on the show, in Michigan, by state law, the day after Labor Day is Back-To-School Day.

But in some 30 districts and charter schools in Michigan, kids have already been going to school because these districts and schools are experimenting with year-round school.

It's a concept getting much attention with the realization that our traditional school schedule causes most kids to forget some of the reading and math skills over the long summer break. That forces teachers to spend the first month or more re-teaching the previous year's material.

What does year-round school look like and is there a demand for it?

For the answer, we turned to the Crosswell-Lexington Community Schools in rural Sanilac County, which is offering the option of a year-round schedule.

Superintendent Kevin Miller joined us today.

Gov. Snyder / Facebook

After months of political wrangling and debate, Governor Snyder has signed the Medicaid expansion into law. The expansion will provide Medicaid services to hundreds of thousands of working-poor in Michigan through the federal Affordable Care Act.

Chris Gautz, Capitol Correspondent for Crain's Detroit Business, and Chad Livengood, Lansing reporter for the Detroit News joined us today to talk about what we can now expect. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The effort to train people to help Michiganders navigate the new federal health insurance law is gearing up.

Starting October 1st, Michiganders will be able to use an online marketplace to choose a health care plan under the Affordable Care Act. How many plans there will be and what the plans will offer is still unclear.

But several groups are preparing to help with the process.

Don Hazaert is the executive director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare. The group received a grant to help implement Obamacare in Michigan.

It's called many things -- the

ACA, the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. As implementation of the law continues, so does the confusion. On today's show, we sat down and tried to make sense of it all. What will the law mean for Michigan and for you?

And, we spoke with the Detroit Bureau correspondent for the new TV network Al Jazeera America.

And, author Jim Tobin and illustrator Dave Coverly joined us to talk about their new children’s book.

And, public transportation can be confusing, especially for children. The Youth Transit Alliance in Detroit is looking to improve this. 

Also, Moo Cluck Moo, a fast food restaurant in Dearborn Heights, has stepped up and raised their starting wage to $12 an hour. The founder spoke with us about why he thinks fast food workers deserve to be paid more than minimum wage.

First on the show, President Obama is conditionally endorsing a Russian offer for international inspectors to seize and destroy chemical weapons in Syria. It's an effort to avert U.S. missile strikes.

President Obama addressed the nation last night amidst the continued erosion of support in Congress for military strikes. The President's speech drew mixed reactions from Michigan's Congressional delegation.

Todd Spangler, D.C. based reporter for the Detroit Free Press, joined us today from Washington.

chrt.org

We've been flooded with news coverage of the Medicaid expansion in Michigan, the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare"), and the soon-to-be unveiled health care exchanges.

But it's all confusing and challenging, even to those who work in the field of healthcare coverage.

We wanted to see if we could get a firmer grasp on what all of this means in real world terms. Who's in, who's not? What does it mean for you, the consumer?

Marianne Udow-Phillips is the director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation. It's a non-profit partnership between the University of Michigan and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan. She joined us today from Ann Arbor.

Listen to the full interview above.

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