Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

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A federal appeals court ruled against a southeastern Michigan natural foods company that claims it should be exempt from the contraception provision in the federal health care law. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion today.

The Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide workers with insurance that covers contraception.

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.

getoverit.org

Michiganders will begin signing up for health care coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act in one month.

But state officials are warning that scammers are already at work using Obamacare to defraud people.

Caleb Buhs is with the Department Insurance and Financial Services.   He says his department is already hearing about scammers trying to convince people they need ‘new Obamacare or Medicare’ cards.

The scammers try to get social security numbers and bank account information.

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Few things have been more politicized than the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

There’s a lot of misinformation and disinformation about the insurance program. We’re going to try to put politics aside and find out just what’s happening now and what will happen as it continues to be phased in.

Helen Levy is a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, the Institute for Social Research, and the Ford School of Public Policy. Thomas Buchmueller is a health economist and professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

They joined us today to talk about the insurance program.

“The goal is to reach as many as we can of the approximately 50 million people who have no health insurance. And so the way we’re trying to do that is by expanding access to individual health insurance coverage for people who could by their own coverage but don’t have an employer policy,” said Levy. “And we are also trying to target the uninsured and give them coverage by expanding the Medicaid program in some states.”

It is currently unknown as to whether or not Michigan will be one of those states.

Still not sure what the Affordable Care Act means or what it does or doesn’t do? You’re not alone. Politics aside, we took a closer look at Obamacare and what it all means for you.

And, the unseasonable cool weather in Michigan is probably good for you, but not so good for the crops. Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joined us today to talk about what is causing it.

And, a Detroit native joined us today to tell us how he sees the city's bankruptcy as a new opportunity.

Also, the fourth annual Upper Peninsula book tour is about to begin. We spoke with a couple Michigan authors who will be participating.

First on the show, by now you’ve heard a bit about Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing. About half of Detroit’s nearly $20 billion in debt is due to shortfalls in the funds for retiree benefits. According to emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s estimates, the pension funds are behind by about $3.5 billion. Unfunded health care obligations are pegged at about $5.7 billion.

Detroit is not unique in its unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations. Other municipalities in the state are also behind.

Anthony Minghine is the chief operating officer of Michigan municipal league.  He joined us today.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Federal prosecutors reached a multimillion-dollar, out-of-court settlement this week with a Jackson cardiologist in a health care fraud case.

It’s the latest in a string of Medicare and Medicaid fraud cases in Michigan. Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Michigan have filed nearly 300 charges of health care fraud during the past five years. Half the time, defendants have pled guilty or were convicted. And the pace of prosecutions has picked up during the past few years.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan business owners say they still need answers to how the Affordable Care Act will affect their businesses.

About 200 people attended a seminar on "Obamacare" today in East Lansing.

The federal health care law takes effect January 1st.  Businesses with more than 50 employees will have to provide health care insurance to their employees or pay a penalty.

Ed Harden is the VP of Sales for McLaren Health Plan. He says business owners have just one question for him, “How much is this going to cost?”

billschuette.com

On the heels of the Supreme Court decision upholding the majority of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, U.S. House Republicans are poised to vote to repeal it. But the effort is largely symbolic.

According to the Associated Press, the White House says the repeal would cost millions of American families the security of affordable health coverage and that President Obama would veto a repeal.

nyaltnews.com

Critics of the Affordable Care Act are winning the media battle.  That's according to research by the Pew Trust.

The study says opponents of the health care overhaul had effective messages about what they call "big government." It says those messages were more effective than supporters' warnings about what they call "greedy insurance companies."  The study also mentions that most of the news coverage focused on politics rather than explaining what the law actually does.

Pete Souza / whitehouse.gov

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was in Detroit this morning to announce an expansion of community health centers in over 40 states, along with Washington DC and Puerto Rico.

From the Associated Press:

Sebelius announced $128.6 million in awards Wednesday at Covenant Community Care in Detroit.

The grants are from the Affordable Care Act and will go to 219 health centers, increasing access to more than 1.25 million additional patients.

About 5,640 doctor, nurse, dental provider and support staff jobs are expected to be created.

Last month, the department announced $21 million in grants for expansion projects at five community health centers in Kansas and nearly $3.5 million for two centers in Utah.

Sebelius says the health care law is making "community health centers stronger and ensuring more Americans get the care they need."

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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Michigan is one of 26 states challenging federal health care reforms in a case that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court today. But there is also a stalemate in state government over moving ahead with an online healthcare exchange that is part of the law that would help consumers shop for coverage.

Deadlines set up in the health care law are drawing near.

The state Senate has adopted a measure to create the exchange. The House has put the question on hold until after the case is decided.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says the state should wait.

“I would caution people, there’s no rush. I think the healthcare exchange should not go forward and I think a lot of people in the Legislature agree with me.”

But Governor Rick Snyder, also a Republican, does not. He says the healthcare exchange is a good idea that would save consumers money regardless of how the Supreme Court rules. He says - if Schuette’s challenge fails - the delay could also cost Michigan millions and force the state into a federal bureaucracy instead of a system of its own design.

Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear legal arguments over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The federal health care law has come under fire for a variety of reasons, including changes to the way Americans will get their health care.