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How Does The Obamacare Launch Compare With Medicare's Debut?

Oct 1, 2013
LBJ Presidential Library / YouTube / Public Domain

Open enrollment for health coverage under the federal health law began Tuesday.  Millions of people who may have had trouble getting insurance now have new options. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone reports on how the roll out of the Affordable Care Act compares to the last time the federal government made coverage available to millions.

Ever since the Affordable Care Act passed, health policy makers have been comparing it to another moment in history.

OBAMA: Is this, the most important step that we’ve taken towards health care since Medicare? Absolutely. 

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This week on Valley Edition we take a look at issues that have an impact both in Central California and the rest of the state. Starting off the program host Joe Moore speaks with Fresno Bee Editorial Page Editor Bill McEwen about the state of politics in the region. 

Covered California TV Campaign Uses 'Welcome' Message

Sep 3, 2013
Covered California

California’s new health insurance marketplace will start advertising through TV commercials this week. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento has more on the choice of messaging.

One of the Covered California ads features images of road signs, and shows a family driving down the California coastline with smiles on their faces and wind in their hair. 

Hospitals in California are commending the state’s decision to prevent Medi-Cal rate cuts to rural hospitals with nursing facilities. Some of them have been at risk of closure. 

Republican State Assemblymember Brian Dahle says these medical providers are main employers in communities he represents in Northern California.

“We have folks who travel a long ways to those hospitals. And if we lose those hospitals we’re going to lose tour communities. And it would be hundreds of miles to get to the next facility so that’s very critical for our areas,” says Dahle.

Another in a series of Q&A columns answering consumers’ questions about the Affordable Care Act.

Q: My youngest child is 21 and graduated from college in May. My other daughter is 24 and is still a college student in Stockton. What are my options with them under the Affordable Care Act?

A: The good news, Simona, is that your daughters may have several options and their coverage could fall into place easily.

Or not.

Let’s cross our fingers and begin with “could fall into place easily.”

Max Pringle / Capital Public Radio

California’s health insurance exchange board has taken a step toward adding children’s dental insurance to the health plans it will offer under the Affordable Care Act. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

The Covered California board wants to give consumers dental insurance options other than as stand-alone plans. To that end the board has voted unanimously to explore ways to add the coverage to its medical insurance plan by 2015. Elizabeth Landsberg with the Western Center on Law and Poverty says low income parents need a variety of affordable options. 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The push to change California law to allow nurse practitioners more independence from doctors suffered a major setback today in an Assembly committee. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more.

The Assembly Committee on Business, Professions and Consumer Protection voted down the measure, but the bill’s author says he wants it reconsidered.  Democratic State Senator Ed Hernandez says lifting restrictions on nurses would help meet a new demand for primary care under the Affordable Care Act, especially in areas without enough doctors.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A provision of federal healthcare reform may make it easier for immigrants to deal with language barriers.

Under the Affordable Care Act, California is eligible to receive $270 million to set up an interpreter program for Medi-cal patients.

The state would have to contribute 30 million dollars. The money would fund the program for three years.

Maximus Weikel is with Interpreting for California, which is urging the state to put up its share of the money. He says it would cover common languages, and those that are less well known in the United States.

What does Obamacare mean for you? With the expansion of coverage just months away, we asked Emily Bazar,  senior writer with the California HealthCare Foundation’s Center for Health Reporting at the Annenberg School For Communication and Journalism at USC. She's the author of a regular column called "Ask Emily" which aims to answer questions about the complex and sometimes confusing law, also known as the Affordable Care Act. She joined us on Valley Edition to talk about issues like:

Help! What Can Obamacare Do For Me Now?

Jul 30, 2013

 Another in a series of Q&A columns answering consumers’ questions about the Affordable Care Act.

Q: I am a married, 62-year-old female unable to obtain health insurance. I am retired and financially comfortable and in general good health. My husband is on Medicare/Anthem Blue Cross supplemental, so he is taken care of.

Who can I contact by phone to walk me through the process correctly? I have had several insurance salesmen contact me, and they each tell me something different.

The new health insurance marketplace known as Covered California is getting ready to launch a $240 million dollar marketing and outreach campaign.

The exchange says about a third of that money will go towards TV, radio and digital media advertising.

Dana Howard of Covered California says enrollment counselors and educators will be spreading the word too.

California Department of Insurance

California’s Insurance Commissioner says the Obama administration’s decision to delay the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act means more people will have to buy their own health insurance in a few months. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

The Department of Insurance says the vast majority of California’s large companies already offer their employees health coverage. But about one and a half million Californians are in companies with 50 or more workers, and no insurance options.  

Covered California Starts Training Health Care 'Educators'

Jul 17, 2013

More than two-thousand Californians are being trained this month to educate people about getting coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

Several dozen people affiliated with labor unions, local government and non-profits filled a room at UC Davis School of Medicine to hear about the federal health care law. 

They’re part of a $37 million effort by Covered California to educate people about the benefits of buying insurance through the new state health insurance marketplace. 

Medi-Cal and Obamacare: More Confusing Twists

Jul 16, 2013

Another in a series of Q&A columns answering consumers’ questions about the Affordable Care Act.

Q: If my family of six qualifies for Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act, do we have to sign up for that? Or can we still buy subsidized health care plans through Covered California? … I have real concerns about the quality of care we would get on Medi-Cal. I’m hoping for a positive answer!

A: Sadly, I’m about to disappoint Beth from Modesto and others in her situation.

The summer is a slow time for many occupations, but not for people working to make fundamental changes to the health care system. Millions of uninsured Americans are expected to buy coverage through new health insurance marketplaces called exchanges. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone  has more about how neighboring states are trying to achieve the same end by different means. 

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