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News from Tallahassee for 12/13/13
Insurance agents feeling left out of "Obamacare" posted on 12/9/13
by Kelli Kennedy | AP
MIAMI (AP) -- When insurance agent Kelly Fristoe recently spent 30 minutes helping a client pick a mid-level health plan and the federal marketplace website froze, he called the government's hotline and tried to finish the application. But the operator refused to credit Fristoe as an agent on the application, meaning he wouldn't get the commission or be listed as the follow-up contact if his client needed help again later.
The Wichita Falls, Texas, insurance agent is one of many brokers around the country finding frustration as they try to help customers navigate the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces while earning the commissions they've long built their businesses around. Some insurers and insurance agents are calling on President Barack Obama's administration to allow them to bypass healthcare.gov and enroll consumers directly amid growing complaints about problems with enrollment information generated from the website.
The so-called `back-end' problems could mean that consumers who think they've successfully signed up for a health plan, may find themselves unable to access their coverage come January. The problems include enrollment information that's rendered practically useless by errors, duplication or garbles. Efforts to fix the issues are underway.
Will Others Get FL $ Billions? posted on 12/9/13
by staff | Health News Florida
A new study that lays out what each state stands to gain or lose in Medicaid expansion makes sober reading for Floridians. It says if the state sticks with the decision to boycott, Florida will not only forfeit billions of dollars each year but also send its own billions in tax money to subsidize health care in other states.
The analysis published by the Commonwealth Fund looked at the year 2012 and concluded:
-- If the state is participating in Medicaid expansion, it will receive $9.6 billion in federal funds to support the Medicaid expansion population. That's four times as much as the state is forecast to receive in federal highway funds and a bit more than half as much as it could get in defense contracts.
--If the state is not participating and others are, then about $5 billion in tax revenue from Florida would flow to other states to support their Medicaid expansion programs. Among the states, only Texas stands to lose more by boycotting.
--The state's share of cost for the Medicaid expansion program that year would be about $1.2 billion -- less than one-fourth as much as the state is forecast to spend to attract businesses.
The authors, a New York University professor and graduate student, concluded that in addition to providing health-care access to those below the poverty level and payment to hospitals and other health-care providers, Medicaid expansion represents a positive flow of dollars that can boost states' economies.
Medicaid Grows Without 'Expansion' $ posted on 12/5/13
by Carol Gentry | Health News Florida
Even though Florida’s Legislature turned down federal funds to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, leaving billions of federal dollars on the table, the state's health insurance program for the poor continues to grow.
Florida’s Medicaid program added about 165,000 people in October, according to a report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The growth exceeded that of any other state -- including those that voted to accept federal funds to expand their Medicaid programs.
The flow of federal funds to the states that voted to expand the program is set to begin Jan. 1. In Florida, the expansion would have affected about 800,000 people -- mostly adults -- who have incomes below the poverty level but still don't qualify under Florida's rules.
The state Agency for Health Care Administration has long predicted Medicaid will grow because of the "woodwork effect" -- uninsured people who already qualified for the program stepping forward to enroll because of heightened publicity about the requirement for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Many uninsured people may have heard that there is a financial penalty for going without coverage after March 31. Those with low incomes may not know they are exempt from the requirement.
The "Get Enrolled America" campaign waged by volunteers has been raising awareness in low-income neighborhoods around the state, encouraging people to check with their local health centers. Those centers' application counselors and navigators are mainly there to help the uninsured enroll in a plan at Healthcare.gov, but if they find someone who qualifies for Medicaid they guide them toward that program.
Negron expects no movement on Medicaid expansion posted on 12/4/13
by James Call | Florida Current
There doesn’t appear to be much chance that the Medicaid expansion stalemate between Tallahassee and Washington will break any time soon. Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius exchanged letters during the summer and there has been no communication between the Senate and HHS since.
Recent remarks by both Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, indicate expansion is not a priority item for the upcoming session. When asked if he thought there would be any movement on the issue in 2014, Senate Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, quickly said, “No.”
Two Months Into Exchange Rollout, How Obamacare Has Fared In Florida posted on 12/4/13
by MELISSA ROSS | Health News Florida
Today the Obama administration is launching a campaign to promote the benefits of the president’s signature health care law.
The push comes after widespread criticism over the technical problems plaguing the online home of the insurance marketplace, HealthCare.gov.
The White House says the web site is functioning much better now, and they’re going on the offensive to tout the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Carol Gentry, editor of Health News Florida, a subsidiary of WUSF Public Media in Tampa joined us to discuss how the implementation of Obamacare is playing out in the Sunshine State.
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