Affordable Care Act/Obamacare

AMY MAYER/IPR FILE PHOTO

Sen. Chuck Grassley says he hasn’t decided whether he’ll vote for or against a healthcare bill that would allow insurance companies to limit what they’d pay for certain services.

The Senate Obamacare repeal bill proposes allowing states to redefine which services insurance companies are required to cover. The concern is this could result in dollar limits for things like hospitalizations or prescription drugs.

Grassley says senators are still submitting amendments, so he’s not ready to take a position until he’s seen the final bill.

Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

Sen. Joni Ernst held a town hall meeting in Harlan before heading back to Washington from the July 4 recess. Most of the questions she fielded focused on the Senate Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said if the slim Republican majority can’t come together, a bipartisan solution might be next. Some of the town hall's attendees favored compromise.

But while speaking with reporters, Ernst didn’t seem receptive to that idea quite yet.

Flickr / William Patrick Butler

Sen. Chuck Grassley says he probably won’t support an amendment by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to the Senate’s Obamacare repeal bill.  Cruz proposes allowing insurance companies to sell two types of healthcare policies, one that is compliant with the Affordable Care Act and one that is not.

Grassley says he’s concerned how Cruz's amendment might affect people with pre-existing conditions. 

FLICKR / JENNIFER MORROW

People in 94 of Iowa’s 99 counties may have no options in 2018 for buying individual healthcare polices on the state's insurance exchange that was created under the Affordable Care Act. 

Currently nearly 48,000 people have insurance through Iowa's ACA exchange. But recently two of the three insurers providing individual plans announced they were leaving the Iowa market next year.

That left Minnesota-based Medica to be the exchange's likely sole participant. Now Medica is saying that it too may be leaving the state.

The Iowa Hospital Association says it’s important not to lose the gains made under the Affordable Care Act. The warning comes after the insurance carriers Aetna and Wellmark announced this week that in 2018, they’ll stop selling individual policies on Iowa’s healthcare exchange created under the ACA.

Iowa will soon have only two insurance carriers providing individual healthcare policies. Connecticut-based Aetna has become the second company this week to announce it will stop selling insurance policies on Iowa’s public exchange in January 2018.

Earlier this week the Iowa Insurance Commission announced that Wellmark would also no longer provide individual plans in Iowa. Wellmark says rising costs are causing its departure. Aetna cites financial risk and an uncertain market outlook for its decision to exit.

AMY MAYER/IPR FILE PHOTO

Sen. Chuck Grassley says the replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act by House Republicans will have to be rewritten. Yesterday the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released a report that found some 24 million people who currently have health insurance would not be covered by 2026 under the GOP proposal. 

Congress.gov

Iowa’s only Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives says he still doesn’t know the details of what Republicans will propose as a replacement for the Affordable Care Act.  Dave Loebsack is on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which will vote on a replacement before sending it to the full House.

“So far what I have heard is that what they have offered is wholly inadequate and it doesn’t deal with the problems that we tried to deal with in the Obamacare legislation,” he says.

Wikimedia Commons

A repeal of the Affordable Care Act could leave more than 230,000 Iowans, including 25,000 children under the age of 18, without health coverage. That’s according to the Iowa Policy Project. Peter Fisher is research director for the IPP. He says there are two ways the ACA expanded access to care in Iowa.

“About 70,000 people were covered by the Medicaid expansion, and another 47,000 received subsidies for their insurance when they purchased insurance on the exchange. So there are two ways that the ACA insured substantially more Iowans than were previously insured,” he explains.

LinkedIn

Iowa’s Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart is stepping down on the 23rd of this month. He’s served as state insurance commissioner since February 2013, overseeing the state’s Medicaid transition, as well as the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. During this River to River interview, he talks with host Ben Kieffer. 

Gerhart says that policy makers need to step back and take a look at the entire healthcare ecosystem, not just the insurance piece. 

Gage Skidmore

On this politics day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts, Tim Hagle and Justin Holmes, about President-Elect Donald Trump’s latest cabinet picks and what the current appointees may plan to do if approved by the Senate.

Trump most recently nominated Georgia Rep. Tom Price as secretary of Health and Human Services. Price has been a consistent opponent of the Affordable Care Act in Congress, and he’s developed an alternative plan to replace the ACA.

Hagle doesn't expect the popular aspects of the ACA to be abolished.

julep67 / Flickr

Tuesday marked the first day of open enrollment for Obamacare health insurance. It comes just a week after the Department of Health and Human Services announced the prices of policies sold on the exchanges would rise an average 22 percent for 2017.  Pete Damiano, Director of the Public Policy Center and of the Health Policy Research Program at the University of Iowa, says that number may be scarier in theory than it is in reality.

One year ago Iowans and Nebraskans enrolled in the healthcare startup Co-Opportunity Health found out they were losing their healthcare coverage. There are 11 other of these so-called “co-ops” that were funded by the federal government that have failed. 

The Affordable Care Act had set aside funding for these so-called health co-ops.

They enabled organizations to compete in places where there weren’t many insurers.

A year ago, Iowans enrolled in the healthcare startup Co-Opportunity found out they were losing their healthcare coverage. Since then a dozen of these so-called “co-ops” that were funded by the federal government have failed.

Clay Masters/IPR file photo

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is vowing to move aggressively in controlling gun violence.  And, in a campaign stop in Davenport today, she took a swipe at a comment Republican Jeb Bush made last week after the shootings at a community college in Oregon.

“We can’t tolerate that,” she said, “this doesn’t just happen, this isn’t stuff that happens.  We let it happen and we have to act against those people who should not have guns in the first place.”

Alex Smith for Harvest Public Media

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

screen shot

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

John Pemble / IPR

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa wants details of Co-Opportunity Health's collapse and isn't ruling out congressional hearings.

UPDATE 1/23 12:25  

The Iowa Insurance Commissioner, as the court appointed rehabilitator for CoOportunity Health, has determined that rehabilitation of CoOportunity Health is not possible and will ask the court for an order of liquidation. 

LinkedIn

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

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Climate change could double losses to crops and property by the year 2100 according to a recent report from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office. 

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.

Wikimedia Commons

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.

USA.gov

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?

asco.org

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. 

whitehouse.gov

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. 

Pages