Affordable Care Act

Mike Ledford / Flickr/CC

The US supreme court issues some huge rulings on same-sex marriage and the affordable care act. The shooting deaths of nine black churchgoers in Charleston prompts renewed political discussion of gun control, and the confederate flag. And, the republican presidential field grows ever larger.

Peter Biello / NHPR

While campaigning for the GOP Presidential nomination in Exeter, New Hampshire Thursday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio said he’s disappointed in the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. 

The Supreme Court’s decision will allow people who live in New Hampshire, as well as Senator Rubio’s home state of Florida and 32 other states, to keep their subsidies for healthcare plans purchased through Healthcare.gov. But Rubio says he disagrees with the court’s decision on the law, which he says is deeply flawed.

Jack Rodolico

The state is giving a first look at insurance networks for 2016 under the Affordable Care Act.

Every hospital in the state will be covered by at least two of the insurance plans that will be sold on Healthcare.gov in 2016. There will also be an uptick in the total number of plans over this year.

Jack Rodolico

There’s an upside and a downside to being an independent massage therapist.

Upside: no boss. You work for yourself. Downside: no boss. There’s no employer to provide health insurance.

"So then the Affordable Care Act was coming around," says Rachelle Lowe, a masseuse in Concord, "what I found was it wasn’t as affordable as I thought. And the deductibles are outrageous, so at this time I’m still not insured."

The Obama Administration has opened a special enrollment period for health insurance through the federal exchange.

The federal government is betting people who did not sign up for insurance last year are now noticing they will be paying a penalty on their 2014 taxes, which are due next month.

So the hope is by opening up a special enrollment period, those same folks will buy policies so they will not have another penalty on their 2015 taxes.

More people signed up this year for insurance through Healthcare.gov than last year. But that news comes the same day the federal government announced it accidentally sent incorrect tax information to 800,000 people who purchased plans on the website.

In New Hampshire, 52,944 residents bought insurance through the federal exchange during the enrollment period that ended this past Sunday. That’s about 13,000 more than last year.

This weekend marks the last chance for Granite Staters to sign up for insurance through Healthcare.gov.

To avoid a tax penalty, people have to purchase a plan with a starting date of March 1 by this Sunday.

Jayne Navarro, a patient navigator at Manchester Community Health Center, says she’s had steady traffic through her office for the past few weeks.

"People are now really understanding – especially now coming tax season – the importance of being able to take care of this," says Navarro.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A legislative committee overseeing implementation of the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire may be taking on new duties.

State Sen. Jeb Bradley, a Republican from Wolfeboro, is sponsoring a bill to increase the powers of the joint health care reform oversight committee to include the state's newly-expanded Medicaid program. The bill would require the committee to provide oversight, policy direction and recommendations for legislation.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon

Three New Hampshire hospitals will be penalized next year for potentially avoidable mistakes, such as patient infections and injuries.

The federal government claims Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Lebanon and Eliot Hospital and Catholic Medical Center in Manchester should have done more to protect people from a list of "hospital-acquired conditions" in 2013. Those conditions include falls, bed sores, and infections from catheters.

As a result, in the fiscal year starting next October, the feds will penalize those three hospitals one percent of their Medicare payments.

Simon Bergmann via Flickr CC

Monday marks a key deadline in the enrollment period for New Hampshire residents shopping for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The health law's second signup season ends February 15th, but Monday is the last day to enroll for coverage that starts January 1st.

As that date nears, insurance company officials are urging consumers to consider all their options given that the number of companies offering health plans has increased from one to five. The number of plans available to individuals also has jumped, from 11 to 40.

Families First Health & Support Center

Ten community health centers in New Hampshire are getting $486,000 in federal money meant to reward them for being leaders in areas such as chronic disease management and preventive care.

The money from the Department of Health and Human Services is part of the Affordable Care Act and is going to centers that have achieved the best overall clinical outcomes or have exceeded national benchmarks.

New Hampshire residents get their second chance to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act starting Nov. 15. 

The second enrollment season for healthcare.gov runs through Feb. 15. More than 40,000 New Hampshire residents selected health plans during the first enrollment period, which ended March 31. 

The Lamprey Health Care center in Newmarket is getting a $242,000 grant through the Affordable Care Act to create or expand its mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.

The grant is part of $51 million in grants announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The money is going to 210 health centers to expand services to 440,000 people around the country.

At Lamprey, the grant means the number of people in New Hampshire with access to mental health or substance abuse treatment will increase by just over 200.

Two New Hampshire healthcare centers will split nearly half a million dollars in federal grants announced on Tuesday. The funding comes from the Affordable Care Act and will be used for renovations.

Lamprey Health Care will use its $250,000 grant to make its Raymond facility more accessible for patients and doctors. The work will include redesigning the floor plan and making the entrance more accessible to wheelchairs. Michelle Gaduet, Lamprey's Communications Coordinator, says the building hasn’t been updated in 18 years.

Four health centers in the state will be sharing about $921,000 in federal funds to help people with mental illness or substance abuse...

The funds are coming through the Affordable Care Act and they’ll be used at community health centers, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services said Thursday.

Those centers are:

* Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth: $250,000.

* Harbor Homes in Nashua: $250,000.

* Manchester Community Health Center: $250,000.

* City of Manchester: $171,360.

An unexpected surge in Medicaid enrollments during the past six months is putting pressure on the state’s budget.

Medicaid has seen its enrollment jump by roughly 11,000 people since January 1. State officials attribute this to two main things: under the Affordable Care Act, there’s a streamlined application process, and that increased publicity surrounding the law brought out more applicants.

Health and Human Service Commissioner Nick Toumpas says it’s more than they expected, but that nearly 70% of the new sign-ups are children.

Hassan Holds Medicaid Expansion Kick-Off Event

Jun 30, 2014
Todd Bookman / NHPR

Enrollment in Medicaid for as many as 50,000 newly eligible residents opens tomorrow, with health benefits slated to start August 15th.

Governor Maggie Hassan held a kick-off event on Monday at the Manchester Community Health Center, where she called the bi-partisan deal to expand the state’s Medicaid program the most significant health care legislation in decades.

N.H. Insurance Department

Consumers will have more than 50 plans to choose from next year on the Affordable Care Act health exchange, according to the New Hampshire Insurance Department.

During the first of two public hearings, department officials on Tuesday said five insurance companies will compete in the marketplace in 2015.

Anthem was the only participant this year, and it’s decision to include just 16 of the state’s 26 hospitals in its network sparked frustration even among supporters of the health law.

The Suddenly Crowded New Hampshire Health Exchange

Jun 2, 2014
healthcare.gov

  Two more insurance companies say they plan to sell policies in New Hampshire’s health exchange in 2015, bringing the total to five carriers. The suddenly crowded field is a sharp contrast to this year, when only Anthem is offering policies through healthcare.gov.

Harvard Pilgrim and Minuteman Health, both based in Massachusetts, announced their intentions to join the exchange earlier this year, and now the New Hampshire Insurance Department says Assurant Health and Maine Community Health Options have also submitted plans for regulatory review.

Health Law Proves Big Business For Contractors

May 27, 2014
Josh Rogers / NHPR

There was a time not all that long ago when politicians in New Hampshire had no trouble turning away federal money tied to the Affordable Care Act.

In March of 2011, the Republican-controlled Executive Council rejected a planning grant to explore creation of a state-run health care exchange.

At the time, Republican Chris Sununu said federal money for implementing so-called Obamacare was “like crack to the states.”

Insurance Department Holds Hearing On Narrow Network

May 14, 2014
Todd Bookman / NHPR

Politicians in New Hampshire have done plenty of arguing over the Affordable Care Act. Today, lawyers were given a turn.

A long-awaited hearing was held at the state Insurance Department. At issue is a complaint filed by an East Rochester woman over alleged harm suffered at the hands of Anthem’s limited network of hospitals.

Margaret McCarthy was a bookkeeper and office manager, but now, in her early 60s, she’s content volunteering as treasurer of her church.

Sara Plourde

 The New Hampshire arm of Americans for Prosperity continues to pound away at Democrats over the Affordable Care Act.

The conservative non-profit's latest volley is a new television ad attacking New Hampshire’s 2nd District Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster for her support of so-called Obamacare.

Sara Plourde

 In the pitched political battle over the Affordable Care Act, Republicans and Democrats seem to have found common ground on one issue: Anthem’s so-called narrow network of providers.

From GOP Senate candidate Scott Brown to Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a wide array of voices have complained that Anthem’s decision to exclude 10 hospitals from its plans sold through the new federal health exchange harms patients.

On Wednesday, one of those patients, an East Rochester woman named Margaret McCarthy, will get a long-awaited hearing on the matter at the state Insurance Department.

About 10,000 New Hampshire residents whose individual insurance policies don't comply with President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law will get a chance to renew them for another year.  The Obama administration announced a two-year extension in March for noncompliant policies if states and insurance companies allow it.  Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Hampshire recently decided to allow the extension, but a company spokesman tells The Associated Press that the extension will be for only year. It will be available for anyone whose policies are due to expire between Oct.

Nearly 90% of the people who signed up for health care through the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire have paid their first month’s bill.

Anthem, the only insurance company in the exchange this year, says roughly 35,000 out of the 40,000 who enrolled through healthcare.gov are paid up.

That's a higher percent than estimates put out by Republican members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. Their report released April 30th stated that just 67% of enrollees nationally had paid their first month’s premium.

Healthcare.gov Appears To Be A Good Deal For States

May 8, 2014
via RI.gov

New Englanders are a frugal bunch, so they may want to take note that when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, healthcare.gov was more efficient than the state-run exchanges.

A new report out from a former Obama Administration official finds that the cost-per-enrollee was lower in federally-run exchanges than in state-run exchanges.

Enrollment In Obamacare Tops 40,000

May 1, 2014

More than 40,000 New Hampshire residents enrolled in health plans through the Affordable Care Act, according to new figures out from the federal government.

Nearly half the sign-ups came during a March and April surge, erasing a poor showing in the early months when healthcare.gov was plagued by technical glitches.

Even supporters of the law reacted with surprise to the final tally for the open enrollment period.

Via Flickr CC

After several stops and starts, the Insurance Department has agreed to a formal hearing on the adequacy of Anthem’s narrow network of hospitals.

The move stems from a complaint filed by East Rochester resident Margaret McCarthy. She says she’s been aggrieved by Anthem’s decision to exclude Frisbie Memorial Hospital from its network for plans sold through the Affordable Care Act.

State Awaits Approval Of Medicaid Expansion Plan

Apr 28, 2014

The state is bumping up against an intended start date for Medicaid expansion sign-ups.

The bi-partisan plan agreed to earlier this year originally called for a two-month early enrollment period beginning May 1st with coverage starting in July, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services hasn’t yet signed off on the package.

Governor Hassan says her administration continues to work closely with federal regulators.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

The Insurance Department kicked off a series of public meetings on Wednesday looking into network adequacy standards, with a focus on health plans that exclude doctors and hospitals.

Anthem’s ‘narrow network’ plans—the only option available through so-called ObamaCare this year—left out 10 of New Hampshire’s 26 hospitals, forcing some consumers to switch doctors.

The Insurance Department found Anthem’s plans met the current standards for coverage, which take into account the distance patients must travel for care.

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