Affordable Care Act

Jim McClean / Heartland Health Monitor

Consumers across Kansas and Missouri appear to be selecting health plans in the Affordable Care Act marketplace at a brisk pace. Enrollment in both states is ahead of last year’s place.

Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean has the story of one area business owner who says she might not be in business if not for the health reform law. It’s a story that may sound familiar to anyone who’s heard former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speak recently.

healthcare.gov

Federal officials say that about 50,000 Kansans have signed up for health care since the Nov. 1 start of the current open enrollment period.

Nearly 130,000 Missouri consumers have done the same.

The numbers include only people who either switched plans or enrolled in coverage for the first time. Consumers who maintained existing coverage won’t be counted until the enrollment period ends on Jan. 31.

The government has extended until Thursday the deadline to sign up for health coverage starting Jan. 1 under the Affordable Care Act.

Government officials said a surge of people selecting plans over the two days before the original Tuesday deadline led to the extension. One million people left contact information after encountering delays logging onto the healthcare.gov website or reaching call centers, the officials said.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

The federal health insurance marketplace opened Nov. 1 for 2016 coverage. An effort called Cover Kansas has been branching out all across the state to help Kansans find a plan that best suits their needs. Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson paid a visit to one of their outreach events in Dodge City.

Healthcare.gov

Navigators are preparing for an event in Wichita next week to help consumers decide on a health insurance plan. Coventry insurance will no longer be offered, so consumers will need to pick another option in the federal marketplace.

Susie Fagan / KHI News

For the past three years supporters of expanding Medicaid to cover more poor Kansans have gotten nowhere in the Legislature, but they’re hoping to change that in the upcoming session by getting Kansas lawmakers to look at expansion plans crafted in other so-called red states.

Indiana’s plan was the focus at a forum held here in Wichita on Tuesday that attracted an overflow crowd, including Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean.

Healthcare.gov

The federal government says rates will increase by more than 16 percent for Kansas residents who buy middle-of-the-road "silver" health coverage plans through its online marketplace.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report Monday showing that the increase in Kansas is higher than the average for 38 states in which consumers rely on the federal exchange. The average change in those states is a 7.5 percent increase.

Silver plans pay 70 percent of costs on average.

Healthcare.gov

Kansas and two other states are suing the federal government over fees imposed on insurance companies as part of the Affordable Care Act.

In a news release issued Thursday, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said the state is seeking a $32.8 million refund from the federal government. The lawsuit, which was filed with Texas and Louisiana, also seeks to stop the collection of fees from insurance companies that manage the states' Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance programs.

States are required to reimburse the private insurance companies for the costs of the fee.

Kansas Action for Children

An annual report on child well-being in Kansas shows some positive trends, but they’re overshadowed by persistent problems.

Among the improvements cited in the 2015 Kansas Kids Count report: There are fewer uninsured children in Kansas.

Healthcare.gov

Kansans seeking health insurance in the Affordable Care Act marketplace will soon have fewer choices. That’s because a major provider is withdrawing from the marketplace. Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean has the story.

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