Health Insurance

Lobbying campaigns and legislative battles have been underway for months as Congress tries to solve the problem of surprise billing, when patients face often exorbitant costs after they unknowingly receive care from an out-of-network doctor or hospital.

As Congress considers various plans and negotiates behind the scenes, data is trickling in from states that have been test-driving proposed solutions.

State of New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed two new laws that have taken effect immediately.

The Empire Center / Facebook

A budget watchdog group says New York’s budgeters used a sleight of hand to make it to seem as though the state was adhering to a legal cap on the growth of health care spending, by shifting a Medicaid payment from last fiscal year to this year.

Independent Health says personal patient information from thousands of members was inadvertently sent to a single individual two months ago.

National Public Radio

New York State has fined 10 health insurers, including two of the largest in Western New York, $509,000 for violations related to contraception coverage.

In 2017, Susan learned that she carries a genetic mutation that may elevate her lifetime risk of developing breast cancer to 69 percent.

New York State has cut many of the  health insurance increases proposed earlier this year by insurance companies.

File photo / WBFO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he has ordered his Department of Financial Services to reject requests by health insurance companies to raise rates in response to actions by the Trump administration to weaken the Affordable Care Act.

The Trump administration said Saturday that it is temporarily halting billions of dollars of payments designed to help insurers meet the Affordable Care Act requirement that they provide coverage regardless of whether a person is healthy or sick.

Health insurers across New York have submitted their requested rates for 2019, with an average 24 percent hike for individuals.

Most retired employees of the Buffalo school district enjoy a benefit not enjoyed by their counterparts in suburban school districts: lifetime health insurance.

Members of Congress have said they want to loosen rules for health savings accounts. Did they do it in the latest spending bill? Do people who were uncovered for one month in 2017 owe a tax penalty? And how can immigrants who move to the U.S. to retire get insurance? These are the questions I'm tackling for readers this week:

I heard that health savings account rules would be loosened under the new spending bill passed by Congress last month. Did that happen?

No. In fact, the standards have become slightly tighter this year.

Updated at 8 p.m. ET

CVS is preparing to buy the health insurance giant Aetna for $69 billion, the companies say.

Having failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Congress is now working on a tax overhaul. But it turns out the tax bills in the House and Senate also aim to reshape health care.

Here are five ways the tax legislation could change health policy:

1. Repeal the requirement for most people to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET

Less than a week after President Trump said he is cutting off subsidies to health insurance companies, lawmakers announced Tuesday that they had a deal to restore the money and take other actions that could stabilize insurance markets for next year.

WBFO's Mike Desmond

Buffalo Public Schools are chipping away at the vast costs of health insurance for current employees and retirees, saving millions of dollars.

New York State

The Trump Administration is cutting funding to programs that promote the Affordable Care Act – by a lot. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a statement detailing major changes to budgets for advertising and grants to nonprofits that employ navigators to help people sign up for plans.

Creative Commons (see below)

Transgender New Yorkers should now have a greater chance of getting medical services covered by insurance.

NY State of Health

New York State has announced health insurance rates for individuals and small groups in 2018. The result is a premium hike, but not as high as insurers had requested. However, the state said rates will actually decrease after adjusting for inflation and federal tax credits.

National Public Radio

Experts are warning that the President's threats to "hurt" health insurance companies by withholding federal Cost Sharing Reduction payments could destabilize the marketplace and cause premiums to spike.

The GOP's latest proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act hews closely to the earlier bill that didn't win enough support among lawmakers to bring to a vote.

Perhaps the biggest change in the document released Thursday is that it leaves in place the Affordable Care Act taxes on wealthy individuals. It uses that money to reduce the number of people left without insurance coverage by the law's changes. This latest version adds $70 billion to a fund for states — bringing the total to $132 billion — to help support coverage of low-income people.

No corner of the health care system would be harder hit than Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor, if Republican leaders in Congress round up the votes to repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act.

GOP lawmakers have proposed winding down the Medicaid expansion that added 17 million people in 31 states and the District of Columbia under the ACA, and also eventually capping the program's spending per capita.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office weighed in on the Senate health care bill on Monday, saying that 22 million people would lose health coverage in the next 10 years under the Senate's plan. Of those, 15 million would lose Medicaid coverage. It's projected to lower the deficit by billions over 10 years, and also cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare. The long-awaited plan marks a big step toward achieving one of the Republican Party's major goals.

Updated at 9:48 p.m. ET

The White House issued an ultimatum to House Republicans on Thursday: Vote for the current GOP health care replacement plan or leave the Affordable Care Act in place and suffer the political consequences.

After years of waiting, it's finally here.

Doctor on Demand / National Public Radio

A new benchmark survey finds the use of telemedicine across Upstate New York very low, but the vast majority of those who have used it say they liked it.

No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, health care under the Affordable Care Act is going to change in the next few years. The Republican-led Congress has vowed to "repeal and replace" the health law known as Obamacare.

That has left many people anxious and confused about what will happen and when. So NPR's Morning Edition asked listeners to post questions on Twitter and Facebook, and we will be answering some of them here and on the radio in the weeks ahead.

Avery Schneider / WBFO News

For the third year in a row, a bill is traveling through the New York legislature with the goal of creating a statewide single-payer healthcare system – more commonly known as ‘universal healthcare.’ Similar bills passed the state Assembly in 2015 and 2016, but failed to gain Senate approval. With the repeal of the Affordable Care Act on the horizon, advocates see this year’s attempt as more important than ever.

Univera Healthcare

As the new presidential administration continues to push forward on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies are left wondering what the future of their industry will look like. Art Wingerter, President of Buffalo-based Univera Healthcare, said even with dozens of position papers crossing his desk on what could happen, there’s no true insight into what will happen.


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