Affordable Care Act

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If you’re in the market for fluorescent light bulbs, you might talk to Chris Smiley.

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The deadline to sign up for insurance under Iowa’s health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act is Sunday. 


The state insurance commissioner is taking over a co-op that was financed by the Affordable Care Act. 

IPR/John Pemble

The result of an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case may stop federal subsidies to some 30,000 Iowans who have bought insurance on Iowa’s state-federal partnership exchange.

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Medical schools are accepting more applicants into their programs, but training programs for doctors after medical school aren't keeping up. 

Nicholas Eckhart

Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of Hobby Lobby can be seen as "narrow" or "broad" - depending on how it's looked at. Today on River to River, we ask a political scientist and a legal expert what implications this ruling has for the future.

Today's guests include: Scott Peters, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Northern Iowa, and Mark Kende, Professor of Law at Drake and the Director of the Drake Constitutional Law Center.

On Tuesday, six states held nominating contests and the Republican establishment scored big wins. Are the results a bellwether for Iowa’s primaries in less than two weeks?  Political analysts Dennis Goldford of Drake University and Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa give us their thoughts on the primaries for open congressional seats here in Iowa.  Host Ben Kieffer asks how the issues of minimum wage and the Affordable Care Act are being talked about by Iowa's GOP candidates for U.S. Senate.

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

In a small room stuffed with cubicles at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, a team of patient advocates answers phones, enters data, and determines who is eligible for financial assistance.

When a patient at Mercy is faced with a hospital bill they can’t pay, they come here. Team leader Karla Vaquerano-Serio says many times, it’s only a matter of helping a patient sign up for a federal program they didn’t realize they qualified for.

401(K)2012 / flickr

Four years after the Citizens United ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has made a landmark decision that frees the nation's wealthiest donors to have greater influence in federal elections. Today on politics day, analysis of the court's decision.

Host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts Stephen Schmidt and Timothy Hagle.

Also, a last-minute enrollment surge enabled the White House to meet its original sign-up target for the Affordable Care Act, a surprising victory for the Obama administration. How does this change the political landscape?

The Affordable Care Act or Obamacare is expected to provide millions more Americans with health insurance coverage. But a new report says the ACA alone may not solve disparities in cancer care. The University of Iowa partnered with the American Society of Clinical Oncology recently and released the State of Cancer Care in America: 2014.

Just outside the spotlight of these Olympic games in Sochi, Russia and the U.S. are navigating a tense point in their relationship.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College and Tim Hagel, Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Iowa about the tension and the ongoing cooperation between the U.S and Russia.  They also reflect on the U.S.

A new U.S. State Department report raises no major environmental objections to the possible construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, but the report is being treated differently by Democrats and Republicans.  That and other political news; analysts for this Politics Day include Steffen Schmidt from Iowa State University and Bruce Nesmith from Coe College.

Jaroslav A. Polák

For our weekly news buzz program, we get a review of the pending U.S. farm bill that is moving through Congress, how businesses are dealing with the Affordable Care Act, modern humans have a surprising amount of genes that come from Neanderthals, an important piece of art is returning to Iowa, a new  smartphone app designed in Iowa with which users can hear and see how to pronounce certain foreign language sounds, and we hear from a couple mayors of towns on this year’s RAGBRAI route. 

John Pemble / IPR

More than twenty states have refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, leaving many Americans below the poverty line with few health insurance options. Some states are coming up with their own low-income health plans which would give them some of the federal money set aside for Medicaid expansions while writing their own rules. Federal authorities approved Iowa’s alternative proposal. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports… the rest of the country is taking note. 

Christopher Penn

Two months after its disastrous launch, government officials say is now working 90 percent of the time and can handle the promised capacity of 50,000 users at any given time. Today on River to River, host Ben Kieffer checks in with public policy experts, Pete Damiano and Dan Shane, as well as Wellmark's Blue Cross Blue Shield CFO David Brown. Then, Des Moines psychiatrist Dr. Joyce Vista-Wayne discusses the mental health provisions added to the Affordable Care Act.

Broadlawns Medical Center

Even if the rollout of the federal health law had gone off without a technical hitch, getting millions of Americans to sign up for insurance would still be a tall order. That’s why the law includes funding for workers trained to help people find their way around the new system. But in rural states like Iowa, with populations spread across hundreds of miles, those workers face an especially daunting challenge.

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

While support to reduce prison sentences has been growing, Iowa State University sociologist Matt DeLisi recently testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that for certain offenders this would be a mistake. 


November 1 marks a month since the launch of the federal health insurance marketplace under Obamacare.  

As has been widely reported, the website has been plagued by problems from the start, and many Americans area struggling to get information.


Amid allegations that the U.S.

Politics Day

Oct 23, 2013
Ben Kieffer / Iowa Public Radio

President Obama has vowed to fix the Affordable Care Act's online insurance exchanges after an embarrassing launch, but what of the pending political fallout?

Also, will U.S. Rep. Steve King (R.-Iowa) have a challenger within the Republican Party for his seat next November and what are U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R.-Texas) prospects for a 2016 presidential run?

Sarah McCammon / Iowa Public Radio

As we continue our look at the rollout of Obamacare in Iowa, we now turn to the implications of the new law for seniors. One of the key tenets of health reform is making coverage more accessible, by requiring everyone to get insurance – and spreading the risk among the young and old, the healthy and the sick.  Experts say this means some younger, healthier workers will now pay more for their insurance. But for some older Iowans not yet eligible for Medicare, the rates will be within reach for the first time.

Clay Masters / IPR

 Editor Note: The Millennials in the piece were found because they signed up for the IPR Insight Network. Please consider signing up today and lending your expertise and experience to some of our reporting.

Obamacare could be tough sell in rural areas

Oct 7, 2013
Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The Affordable Care Act, often called “Obamacare,” took a big step forward Oct. 1, despite being a factor in the federal government shutdown, when new health insurance marketplaces opened for enrollment. Rural families are more likely to qualify for subsidized coverage, but reaching them to sign up will be part of the challenge.

So, will farm country take advantage of new health insurance subsidies? That’s the question in Nebraska.

Almost 200,000 Nebraskans don’t have health insurance. Nearly half of them are spread across the state’s rural areas.

CALI / flickr

Today is the opening of the Affordable Care Act's "Health Exchange Marketplace," but many Iowans are still confused about their options. Today on River To River, we clear up misconceptions and answer the questions  Iowans have while venturing into a new health care landscape.

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   October 1 is an important milestone in the rollout of health reform. The new insurance marketplace – where Iowans can select health coverage – goes live on October 1st. Iowa Public Radio’s Sarah McCammon and Clay Masters have an overview of what to expect on the health exchange.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Reconciliation, military rule or civil war--the three possible paths for Egypt. What can, or should, the U.S. do in regards to the Egyptian crisis? 

Iowa Rural Health Assocation website

At times, people living in rural Iowa struggle for access to medical specialists. The nearest pediatrician or cardiologist may be hours from a patient's home. River to River examines the state of rural health care in Iowa and now that health care is the law of the land, how will health care change in Iowa?

Office of Governor Branstad / Facebook

The Affordable Care Act calls on states to let federal officials know by Friday if they plan to launch their own healthcare exchanges. As Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports, Governor Branstad’s office says meeting the deadline will be challenging.

Bill Leaver is CEO of Iowa Health System, the state's largest network of hospitals and clinics.  He says the ruling will pave the way for more streamlined and prevention-focused healthcare.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the health care mandate proposed by President Obama. Today on "River to River", we hear what Iowans have to say about the decision. We also speak with political science professor, Dennis Goldford, on how the ruling may affect Iowa voters. Later in the program, Drake University President David Maxwell joins us as part of our summer series of conversations with Iowa university and college presidents. We’ll talk about what private universities can do to be attractive and affordable during a challenging economy.