Obamacare

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday handed the Obama administration a major victory on health care, ruling 6-3 that nationwide subsidies called for in the Affordable Care Act are legal.

"Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," the court's majority said in the opinion, which was written by Chief Justice John Roberts. But they acknowledged that "petitioners' arguments about the plain meaning ... are strong."

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.

Two of the smallest insurers on New Hampshire’s health insurance exchange are drafting big rate increases for plans they’ll offer in 2016.

To be clear, it’s just a draft. But Maine Community Health Options is considering raising premiums about 20 percent over this year, and Minuteman Health is in the 40 to 50 percent range.

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."

In 2015, about 25 percent more New Hampshire residents bought insurance on the federal healthcare marketplace than the year before.

Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services said 53,005 people enrolled in plans in New Hampshire. The department also reports just over 50 percent of those enrollees were under the age of 35 – a target demographic for health reform advocates. 

2015 HealthCare.gov Enrollees By Type: New Hampshire

Click the bubbles above the chart to see the breakdown of re-enrollees by type:

 An insurance company and a group of medical providers are teaming up to start a new insurance company in New Hampshire.

The new company is a partnership between Massachusetts-based Tufts Health Plan and Granite Healthcare Network – the parent company for Catholic Medical Center, Concord Hospital, Wentworth-Douglas Hospital, LRGHealthcare, and Southern New Hampshire Health System.

Tufts Health Freedom Plan will begin selling insurance to employers. The company is considering selling in the individual market too, including on the federal healthcare exchange.

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.

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.

Jennifer Murrow / Flickr/CC

The second season of enrollment is now open for the Affordable Care Act’s online insurance marketplaces.  Last year’s rollout in New Hampshire was marred by technical flaws and extremely limited choice.  We’re finding out what’s in store this time, and how political and court challenges may affect the law’s future.

GUESTS:

Saturday marked the beginning of the second round of open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. And in New Hampshire that means a lot more options this time around for the nearly 100,000 residents without insurance.

Here's the problem: five insurers offering forty plans, each with varying premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and co-pays. Who could blame you for being confused?

NHPR / Michael Brindley

Open enrollment begins Saturday for those looking to sign up for health care plans on the state’s marketplace through the Affordable Care Act.

This will be the second chance for Granite Staters to enroll, after more than 40,000 residents signed up for plans during the first enrollment period.

In preparation for this weekend’s rollout, roughly 80 navigators and marketplace assistors gathered in Concord Thursday to learn about changes to the state’s marketplace.

The biggest difference this time? More choice.

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.

NHPR Staff

A new data set gives a bird’s eye view of New Hampshire’s uninsured residents – and how they stand to gain health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The data itself is not shocking. State health officials and insurers alike know New Hampshire’s most rural communities have the highest rates of uninsured. But this is the first time that information has been aggregated into a map that viewers can navigate on a county-by-county basis.

Maine Community Health Options

One of the new insurers set to begin offering plans on New Hampshire’s health care exchange next year announced its rates Thursday.

Maine Community Health Options is one of five insurance companies offering plans in 2015.

The non-profit, member-run co-op, was the first to announce its rates, saying it will offer ten different plans and will include all of the state’s 26 hospitals in its provider network.

Dr. John Yindra, the company’s Chief Medical Officer, says people with chronic conditions will be able to choose from a range of plans, and costs should be low.

Jack Rodolico

Yusuf Valera resents that he has to buy health insurance. He’s never had it, and he says he doesn’t want it now.

"I don’t have much of a choice. If I don’t do it, then they’re going to take money out of my taxes anyway," Valera says.

The irony is Valera stands to gain - in a big way - from the Affordable Care Act. Yet like most New Hampshire residents, he simply doesn't like the law.

Maine Community Health Options

A health insurance cooperative based in Maine has received $67 million federal loan to expand into New Hampshire’s healthcare exchange.

When the federal healthcare marketplace opened in 2013, Maine Community Health Options made waves when it grabbed a whopping 83 percent market share in Maine. The small cooperative outcompeted Anthem - the only other insurer on Maine’s marketplace at the time, and currently the only insurer on New Hampshire’s healthcare exchange.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

On the campaign trail Monday, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown continued to rail against the Affordable Care Act, taking aim specifically at the employer mandate.

During an event at North Country Tractor in Pembroke, Brown highlighted a part of the health law yet to kick in: a requirement that businesses with 50 or more full-time employees offer health insurance benefits.

The store’s owner says that’s why he’s stopped hiring at 47 employees.

Brown says it’s an example of how so-called Obamacare is hurting New Hampshire businesses.

Via Garcia's website

[Update near bottom in italics]

The Republican candidates gunning for federal office in New Hampshire are all trying to put the Democratic incumbents on defense over the Affordable Care Act, whose New Hampshire rollout has been rocky.

But one of the most avid critics, Second District GOP nominee, Marilinda Garcia, is declining to say how she gets coverage. 

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.

New Hampshire is getting a $1 million grant to expand a home visiting program for pregnant woman and parents with children up to age 5.

The money is going to the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program established by the Affordable Care Act.

The money will allow nurses, social workers and early childhood educators to reach more parents and families.

via WUKY

The New Hampshire Insurance Department says network adequacy requirements for health plans should focus more on making sure consumers have adequate access to different types of services rather than providers.

The state's network adequacy standards have been in the spotlight since the department approved Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield's narrow network for individual health plans sold through the Affordable Care Act.

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.

What's New With The Affordable Care Act In N.H.

Jun 16, 2014
Taylor Shaw-Adams / Flickr/CC

Expanded Medicaid for low-income adults is coming, but may be delayed.  Meanwhile, four more insurance companies say they’re ready to join New Hampshire’s marketplace for coverage next year.  And as we head into this fall's elections,  the health care law remains a major point of political contention. 

GUESTS:

  • Todd BookmanNHPR’s health reporter
  • Jenny Patterson - health legal counsel at the New Hampshire Insurance Department

CALLOUTS:

istock photo

  The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services held a public info session in Manchester Tuesday night to demystify the state’s new Expanded Medicaid plan.

About 15 people, mostly care providers, attended the Manchester session. Questions ranged from how one qualifies for the program and ‘are refugees included?’ (they are), to the application process itself.

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.

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.

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.

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