Affordable Care Act

Recent Articles

Affordable Care Act sign-up deadline: Mar. 31

Enroll now or wait until October to get health insurance
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Open enrollment for health coverage through MNsure ends March 31. According to officials, enrollment has increased 54 percent — about 56,000 new applications since December 31 — and its call center staffing has increased, with an average hold time of three minutes as opposed to an hour at the end of December. President Barack Obama told state and local elected officials during a February 24 conference call that he remains committed to work with them “to educate their residents about the importance of enrolling in health care before March 31,” said a White House press release. Despite its critics and misinformation about the law, along with the start-up problems last fall, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has “created new pathways” for uninsured individuals and families to get health coverage, said Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) officials. KFF officials spoke about the ACA and what it means for African Americans February 25 during an exclusive media conference call with National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) reporters, including the MSR.

“It’s likely in all states that more people who already were eligible for Medicaid before the ACA but not enrolled will likely now be covered,” said KFF Disparities Policy Project Director Samantha Artiga. Continue Reading →

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Millions of Blacks left uninsured by states opting out of Affordable Care Act

By Freddie Allen

Contributing Writer

 

As the Obama administration makes strides to improve the functionality of HealthCare.gov, the flagship website for the Affordable Care Act, Republican lawmakers continue to block federal funds that would help millions of poor Blacks get health insurance coverage. A progress report on the improved performance of HealthCare.gov cited hundreds of software bugs that generate errors and hardware and infrastructure ill-equipped to handle any significant volume of traffic to the site. “For some weeks in the month of October [2013], the site was down an estimated 60 percent of the time,” stated the progress report. Two months later, after insiders revealed that the site crashed on a test run with just a few hundred concurrent users, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials said the site is more stable and can handle 50,000 users at a time. Anton Gunn, director of external affairs in the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs (IEA) at HHS, said that in the first two months, 1.2 million Americans selected marketplace health insurance plans or they received a determination that they were eligible for Medicaid or the children’s health insurance program. Continue Reading →

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Administration defends Obamacare against critics

Millions of Blacks expected to benefit
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), despite sign-up problems and the constant criticism leveled against it, has benefited many U.S. Blacks and will benefit many more according to the White House and Health and Human Services officials — potentially “an estimated 7.3 million African Americans with healthcare coverage and their families,” said White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett on a recent media-only conference call, including the MSR, about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). “Providing access to affordable, quality health care has always been, and remains a top priority for the president and the Democrats,” said Jarrett. She cited a new Health and Human Services (HHS) report that shows six out of every 10 uninsured Blacks, or an estimated 4.2 million, “could be eligible for assistance through Medicaid, tax credits or the Children’s Health Insurance Program” in the 25 states and the Distinct of Columbia that has expanded Medicaid “with the federal government providing 100 percent of the funds for the first three years of the program, and never less than 90 percent thereafter.”

“We encourage all the states to take advantage of the opportunity to expand Medicaid,” said Jarrett, noting that this would benefit even more Blacks. [As of January 1, 21 states are reportedly opting out of the ACA. Minnesota is not among them.] Added U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.), “These [non-participating] states are doing themselves a great injustice by not participating in the Affordable Care Act.”

Health and Human Services External Affairs Director Anton Gunn adds that the ACA website “is night and day from where it was October 1. Continue Reading →

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The MSR 2013 year in review

The local Black press continues to publish stories “from our own lens”
 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

This year, 2013, was historic as well as a year-long full of highs and lows: Two MSR reporters were among the national and international press that covered America’s first Black president’s second inauguration in January. Said Atlanta Daily World reporter Kenya King, a member of the Black press who was covering the Obama inauguration for the second time, “I’m here to capture…the moment of this historic occasion [and] to make sure that the message that should get across, does get across.”

A ‘new Black agenda’ was discussed by the Council on Black Minnesotans and others during the organization’s Lobby Day at the State Capitol on March 19. The MSR asked several Blacks in attendance that day if they felt new voices and perhaps a new message is needed from Black Minnesotans. “I think it is time for new voices to be heard,” believed Greater Friendship Missionary

Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Billy Russell in our March 28 front-page story. The MSR also continued its coverage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the introduction of MNsure, the state’s new health-insurance exchange program and how the new healthcare law will benefit Blacks. Continue Reading →

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WWRDH: What would Republicans do on healthcare?

 

 

 

 

 

 

By George E. Curry

Guest Columnist

 

Many ardent conservatives are critical of the Affordable Care Act or what they derisively call “Obamacare.” But what are they proposing that proves that they care about uninsured Americans? The Tampa Bay Times’ “Pundit Fact” team discovered some interesting findings when they approached that question indirectly. Specifically, the newspaper looked at the main Republican alternatives to the Affordable Care Act and the patient diagnosis under the GOP proposals was not encouraging. “Not all but most of the nine bills on our list use the tax code to put more money in citizens’ pockets on the condition that the money will be spent on health care,” the newspaper stated. “We found three basic approaches that potentially address insurance affordability.”

1. Continue Reading →

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Is President Obama a ‘lame duck’?

You be the judge
 
In the last 20 days, discussion on both the left and the right has been about the failures of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the real name of what both sides call “Obamacare,” long a term of pride for Democrats and one of derision for Republicans, and now one of confusion for both. With the elections of 2014 and 2016 looming, both parties are nervous, with the most scared trying to summarize it all in the term “lame duck.” This is another way for both sides to not address the problems they fear: health care, education, housing, immigration, foreign affairs, entitlement programs, etc. “Lame duck” won’t work. Obama has the courage and determination to persevere. One of two things will happen to the ACA: (1) repealed and replaced, or (2) kept but greatly modified. Continue Reading →

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Black clergy push ‘Obamacare’ enrollment as glitches get fixed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Hazel Trice Edney

Guest Commentator

 

A team of African American preachers has sent a letter to President Barack Obama affirming their ”commitment to the Affordable Care Act” even as the president has ordered the website overhauled. ”We believe that access to quality health care is a fundamental civil and human right in America. Historically, over seven million African-Americans have been uninsured and denied access to care with devastating consequences. The Affordable Care Act provides African-Americans, along with Americans of all nationalities, access to desperately needed quality health care,” states the letter, signed by 14 Black preachers, all of whom lead major clerical or civic organizations. Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner and Rev. Dr. C. T. Vivian are among 14 leading Black preachers who sent a letter to the President this week assuring they will organize and push to get African Americans signed up for the Affordable Care Act. Continue Reading →

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National, local controversy greets opening of new state health exchange

Critics say Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox ad campaign misfires with communities of color
 
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange program, debuted the signup process on October 1. Officials during an October 4 conference call with reporters, including the MSR, estimated that 5,000 accounts were opened during the first week. “We think it’s been going very well,” remarked MNsure Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov. She added that many people did “anonymous shopping” but did not disclose specific numbers. “Minnesota is unique,” said Todd-Malmlov. Continue Reading →

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Minnesotans will begin choosing ‘Obamacare’ health plans October 1

State officials say MNsure will help address health disparities
 

By Charles Hallman
Staff Writer

 

Minnesotans soon can find competitive health insurance plans through MNsure, the state’s new health insurance marketplace, say State officials, who claim the program will help all Minnesotans, especially those from historically disadvantaged communities. “Minnesota today has the lowest average insurance rates in the country” compared to other state exchanges, proclaimed State Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman last week during a Sept. 6 press conference at the State Capitol. His office has approved five companies — Blue Cross Blue Shield, Group Health, Medica of Wisconsin, PreferredOne and UCare — to offer 141 health plans, 78 of them for individuals and families and 63 for small businesses, through MNsure beginning October 1, when open enrollment begins. Under MNsure’s four levels of plans, the monthly premium rates range from $90.59 (bronze) to $120.91 (silver), $141.16 (gold), and $150.75 (platinum). Continue Reading →

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How the new healthcare law benefits you

Because of the Affordable Care Act, the 85 percent of Americans who have insurance have more choices and stronger coverage than ever before. And for the 15 percent of Americans who don’t have insurance, or families and small businesses who buy their coverage but aren’t happy with it, a new day is just around the corner. Soon, we take a critical step forward when a new online Health Insurance Marketplace will provide millions of families and small businesses who currently don’t have insurance, or are looking for a better deal, a new way to find health coverage that fits their needs and their budgets. Open enrollment in the Marketplace starts October 1, with coverage starting as soon as January 1, 2014. But families and small business can visit HealthCare.gov right now to find the information they need prepare for open enrollment. Continue Reading →

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