Affordable Care Act

A study by the Government Accountability Office – or GAO - shows that it takes over one year for the Indian Health Service to process payments to contractors in 8-percent of claims.

The Indian Health Service provides limited medical services to tribal members and outsources other treatments through the contract health services program. The GAO’s Kathleen King says some payments are delayed because decisions about whether IHS will pay for a service are made on a case-by-case basis. 

Despite the supposedly high-tech new health insurance marketplaces, it turns out the best way to sign up is in person.

Enroll Wyoming is trying to help people do that. Dialing 2-1-1 will get you to a referral line with information about where to enroll. 

But if you’re calling to try and get help navigating the federal website, you’re out of luck, according to Sara Loken, who works for 2-1-1.

How have you been impacted by the Affordable Care Act?

Oct 21, 2013

How have you been impacted by the Affordable Care Act?

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

University of Wyoming

As the federal government shutdown continues, former U-S Senator Al Simpson says the Republicans are wasting their time trying delaying or dismantling the Affordable Care Act  -- also known as Obamacare.   

The former Wyoming G-O-P Senator calls the strategy bizarre.

Wyoming residents will get to choose from roughly 16 health insurance plans as the new federal health insurance marketplace opens up today.  While Wyoming premiums will be higher than the rest of the country,  Mike Fierberg of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid says that tax credits will help offset the cost.  He says credits will be available to low-income people, all the way up to salaries that are four-times the federal poverty level. 

Wyoming Republican Senator Mike Enzi helped Texas Senator Ted Cruz hold up the Senate floor for 21 hours as they discussed defunding the Affordable Care Act.

Oklahoma Policy Institute

Starting October first, Wyomingites will be able to go online and shop for medical insurance coverage from the participating providers in the state’s insurance marketplace.

Under the healthcare marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act, Wyomingites will be able to choose from about 16 plans, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. The average premium for the cheapest, medium-coverage plan will be $489 per month. That’s the most expensive in the country.

okpolicy.org

To comply with the Affordable Care Act, Wyoming lawmakers still have to determine whether they want to provide more health insurance to people who cannot afford it, and what such a plan would look like. 
 

The legislature soundly defeated a proposal to expand the current Medicaid program, so the Wyoming Department of Health has pitched a new proposal where people could purchase a scaled-down version of Medicaid Insurance. 
 

Department Director Tom Forslund said that users would have to participate like consumers who have private insurance.

Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis says she supports efforts in the House of Representatives to de-fund the Affordable Care Act. 

Lummis says there are too many problems with the health care overhaul, starting with the individual mandate. That says everyone must purchase insurance or face a fine.  The idea is that with more people getting health insurance, health care costs will go down.  But Lummis met with a group of young male Wyoming workers who convinced her that the idea won’t work.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, a number of things are changing concerning Medicaid in Wyoming.  Jan Stahl is the eligibility and operations administrator for the Wyoming Department of Health.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck spoke with Stahl, who says the changes will take place January first.

The Wyoming Insurance Commissioner says he has no idea how the federal health insurance marketplace, also known as an insurance exchange, will change the health insurance landscape in Wyoming. Tom Hirsig says he has no idea how many companies are considering offering insurance to state residents as part of the exchange.

“Probably companies are going to have to pick the states where they do the most business to start with, but in the future we are hoping that with time there will be more activity inside the exchange or marketplace.”

St. John's Medical Center

More than 90 people gathered this week at the Teton County Library in Jackson to hear St. John's Medical Center CEO Dr. Lou Hochheiser explain health care reform.

Hochheiser told the crowd that as part of health care reform the federal government would be cutting what it pays hospitals to treat Medicaid and Medicare patients by five-to-25 percent. He said the goal is to use some of those savings to pay for expanding Medicaid coverage... essentially, paying less per patient in order to cover more people.

A Medicaid fraud recovery bill has gotten initial approval from the House of Representatives. The bill would permit the state to investigate Medicaid fraud by medical providers and recipients without involving the federal government… Currently investigations only go forward when the federal government decides to investigate.

Representative Elaine Harvey says the bill is necessary to recover millions of dollars for the state.

The State Senate has given initial approval to a bill that will allow out-of-state health insurance companies to offer policies in Wyoming.  The goal of the legislation is to encourage competition and possibly lower health insurance costs.

Wyoming consumers have limited health insurance choices and supporters hope the bill will fix this. However,  Senator Bill Landen of Casper says he is worried that the legislation could harm Wyoming insurers, by bringing in unwanted competition. 

In preparation for President Obama’s announcement proposing gun control legislation last week, Wyoming lawmakers acted fast to propose bills making any such law unenforceable in the state. Wyoming’s Congressional delegation has also said that this legislation is not the way to go.

Wyoming Representative Cynthia Lummis has said that it would be better to focus on services for mentally ill people.

Governor Matt Mead is urging legislators not to dismiss health care issues, but to study them and craft a Wyoming response to the Affordable Care Act.  During his state of the state message today, Mead asked legislators to study both the health insurance exchange and Medicaid expansion. 

Wyoming Legislature set to convene today

Jan 8, 2013

The Wyoming Legislature is set to convene at noon today for the first day of its general session, which is set to run through early March.
 
Lawmakers generally take care of housekeeping matters on the first day and won't get down to business until after Gov. Matt Mead delivers his annual state of the state address tomorrow morning.
 

The Legislature’s Joint Health and Labor Committee will once again take up the issue of Health Insurance Exchanges this week.   An exchange is an on-line marketplace where consumers can purchase health insurance. 

Under the Affordable Care Act, states have to either set up their own exchanges or the federal government will set one up for them.  Senator Dan Dockstader is among those preparing exchange legislation for the state, but he says Wyoming needs a partner if the state is to be part of a non-federal marketplace.

The Democratic candidate for Wyoming’s lone U-S House seat says that the health care overhaul known as the Affordable Care Act is nothing more than a market solution for the nation’s health care problem. 

Chris Henrichsen says it didn’t change as much as Republicans claim.

According to a study conducted for the state of Wyoming, expanding Medicaid could cost the state millions. 

Governor Matt Mead says the study shows that the Affordable Care Act will force the state to expand Medicaid coverage to some current children and adults between the years 2014 and 2020.  But if Wyoming decides to follow the federal proposal to expand even further. Mead says the state’s share of costs will be high.

“There projections are from 2014 to 2020 the cost to the state of Wyoming for Medicaid expansion could be between 53 million and 310 million dollars. “

In upholding the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court has also affirmed the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

Many Native Americans receive healthcare through the Indian Health Service, or IHS, with more than 10,000 people in Wyoming eligible for services, and 2-million nationwide.

The Supreme Court, in a five-four decision, upheld the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The justices ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional under the commerce clause, but can go ahead as a tax.

The individual mandate requires that all people must buy health insurance. For insurance companies, that means they’ll be getting a large, new pool of customers. In Wyoming, 17-percent of the population is currently uninsured, compared to a nationwide average of 16-percent.  

Analysts predict that the Supreme Court’s decision upholding most of the Affordable Care Act will strengthen President Barack Obama’s position for reelection this November. Obama’s critics had charged that the healthcare law was unconstitutional, but, the court’s ruling now effectively removes that line of argument.

Jim King is a professor of political science at the University of Wyoming. He says Republicans will continue criticizing the content of the law, but will most likely use the healthcare act as a means of energizing voters.

Wyoming's Congressional leaders are voicing their disdain for the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold most of the Affordable Care Act.

Senator John Barrasso says despite the court’s ruling, the law is unworkable, unpopular, and bad for patients, providers and taxpayers. And he urged voters to remove elected officials in order to repeal the law.

Wyoming’s largest health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield says they’re unsure what effects will be felt in the state should the Supreme Court strike down the Affordable Care Act.

Wendy Curran is with Blue Cross Blue Shield. She says the insurance giant has been working hard to get up-to-date with provisions laid out by the ACA. However, should the act be struck down, she says many of the acts provisions would likely remain. But all eyes are on one key provision:

A series of town hall meeting around the state will be held to glean public opinion on healthcare exchanges - a set of state regulated, standardized healthcare plans from which individuals may purchase insurance that’s eligible for federal subsidies.

Elizabeth Hoy serves as the Governor’s Health Policy Advisor. She says the meetings are being held because the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, requires states to create health exchanges, where consumers can shop for competitive rates for health insurance.

Hoy says many small businesses are on board with the changes.

New proposals by state and federal officials might help authorities crack down on fraudulent and insolvent insurance trusts.

On Monday, the Department of Labor announced that new regulations under the Affordable Care Act would give the agency more power to oversee associations composed of multiple employers. They’re called MEWA’s for short.

The Joint Labor, Health and Social Services interim committee will also meet to discuss a proposed bill that aims to provide the state’s insurance department more authority over health insurance trusts and plans.

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