Affordable Care Act

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.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department is disputing a report that claims a 90% spike in individual premiums under the Affordable Care Act. The report from Morgan Stanley, which has become the latest flashpoint in the political battle over Obamacare, was based on a national survey of insurance brokers.

NHPR Staff

The state insurance department has postponed a hearing this week to consider a challenge to Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield's network of providers covered under the Affordable Care Act.

Margaret McCarthy, a patient of Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, has asked the department to require Anthem to include Frisbie in the network. 

The number of Medicaid enrollees in New Hampshire is up 4% since last October, according to new data from the federal government. More than 133,000 people were enrolled as of February, compared with roughly 127,000 recipients before the launch of the Affordable Care Act.

ACA's Deadline Day

Mar 31, 2014
Pan-African News Wire Photos / Flickr/CC

Under the Affordable Care act, Monday is the last chance for uninsured Americans to choose a plan or pay a penalty.  We’ll get the latest on New Hampshire enrollments, and other aspects of this law in the Granite State, including the newly signed Medicaid Expansion and new players coming to the state’s insurance market next year.

GUESTS:

State To Hear Complaint Against Anthem ACA Plans

Mar 30, 2014

New Hampshire's Insurance Department will hear a complaint about the exclusion of a hospital from the network of providers covered under the Affordable Care Act.   A patient at Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester says Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield's network is inadequate because it does not include Frisbie. Sixteen hospitals are in the network; 10 are not. Anthem has said the "narrow'' network keeps costs down and the state insurance department determined the network meets adequacy standards.    The department previously denied a petition by Frisbie and patient Margaret McCarthy.

It's Last Call For Health Sign-Ups In New Hampshire

Mar 26, 2014
Todd Bookman / NHPR

Time is running out for individuals looking to buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. The cut-off to start the sign-up process is March 31st, and unlike previous deadlines, it looks like this one may actually hold.

That’s got John Carland taking the process more seriously.

“I put things off,” says Carland. “I’m a procrastinator. So, I just put it off until I had to do it, I guess.”

DaleKav via Flickr CC

According to the independent investigative journalism outlet ProPublica, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield canceled the health insurance policies of close to 100 New Hampshire smokers who purchased insurance policies on the state's health exchange.  That's because Anthem incorrectly charged them non-smoker rates. 

Massachusetts-based Minuteman Health says New Hampshire’s insurance marketplace is "ripe for disruption."

House Committee Backs Medicaid Expansion

Mar 18, 2014

The plan to expand Medicaid endorsed by the state Senate has cleared its first hurdle in the New Hampshire House, gaining the approval of the Finance Committee on a 15-10 vote.

The Democratically-controlled House has already voted to expand Medicaid three times, and leaders there want to pass this version as soon as they can.

House Republicans, though, continue to put up a fight.

Daniel S. Hurd via Flickr CC

Health insurance products sold in New Hampshire’s exchange would face public hearings under a bill passed by the Senate.

Supporters say the hearings will provide transparency about what exactly the plans cover, and which doctors and hospitals are participating. The move comes in direct response to Anthem’s so-called narrow network exchange plans that leave out 10 of the state’s 26 hospitals.

New Hampshire Surpasses ACA Sign-Up Target

Mar 11, 2014
Data: U.S. Health and Human Services

More than 21,000 New Hampshire residents have signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act, according to new data released by the federal government.

In February, 4,715 enrolled in coverage, bringing the total since October above the federal government’s estimate of 19,000 total sign-ups for the state.

Women account for 55% of enrollees, and nearly 3-in-4 residents qualified for some level of financial assistance.

Senate Committee Approves Medicaid Expansion

Feb 19, 2014
Todd Bookman / NHPR

 New Hampshire lawmakers moved a step closer to expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate Health, Education and Human Services Committee voted 4-1 on Wednesday to approve a plan that includes a “premium assistance program” which would require newly eligibly Medicaid recipients to select private health insurance starting in 2016.

Republican Senator Andy Sanborn of Bedford was the lone dissenting vote.

During a Senate committee meeting in Concord on Tuesday, the public had its first chance to weigh in on the Medicaid expansion plan backed by leaders in both parties. 

A wide range of voices spoke favorably of the bill that relies on private insurance for new recipients, including medical providers, hospital executives and business owners.

Justin VanEtten of Meredith runs a private ambulance company, and says despite his philosophical opposition to Obamacare, he backs bringing federal tax dollars into the state.

NHPR News Primer: The Latest Medicaid Expansion Plan

Feb 13, 2014
Sara Plourde

Full details of a Senate plan to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act are out.

N.H. Holds Public Hearing On Provider Network Rules

Feb 10, 2014

Doctors, patients and hospital officials are urging the New Hampshire insurance commissioner to give all willing providers a chance to negotiate with the only company offering individual health insurance through the federal health care overhaul law.

Any insurance plan sold in the online exchange would first face a public hearing under a bill before State Senators. The measure comes in reaction to Anthem’s decision to cut out 10 of the state's 26 hospitals for plans sold on the new marketplace, a move many lawmakers and consumers say they were blindsided by.

The company defends the decision, saying it helped lower costs by 25%.

Jeremy Wilburn / Flickr Creative Commons

It is the rare 20-year old who sits around a dorm room comparing deductibles or provider networks.

“No, we don’t talk about health insurance,” says Colby-Sawyer College nursing student Maria Antonio.

Up until now, she didn’t much have to think about it. She was covered as a teenager through Medicaid.

“And I knew a little bit, but I didn’t pay attention to it, because I’m not a type of person that is always in the hospital. But now that I’m growing up, I know that I need to know this, just in case that something happened.”

Lawmaker Seeks To Expand Anthem's Narrow Network

Jan 28, 2014
via WUKY

As the only company participating in New Hampshire's insurance exchange, Anthem is facing additional scrutiny for its decision to exclude 10 of the state’s 26 hospitals from the plans it’s selling under so-called Obamacare. 

Anthem Gives Customers More Time To Pay First Bill

Jan 15, 2014

Customers who bought health insurance in the new exchange are getting more time to pay their first month’s bill. Anthem Blue Cross says New Hampshire consumers who signed up before the deadline for coverage starting January 1st now have until the end of the month to pay their first month’s premium. The deadline was originally today.

Last week the company’s president acknowledged that many new customers still hadn’t received their insurance ID cards and that a help line was overwhelmed with calls.

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