Affordable Care Act

NPR's Steve Inskeep interviewed President Obama on Monday about the looming government shutdown, the upcoming debt ceiling fight and more. A full transcript of the interview follows:

STEVE INSKEEP: As you have watched what's happening in Congress, do you feel that House Republicans are coming any closer to anything that you could sign?

Today marks a milestone on the nation's long march toward universal health coverage: the launch of online marketplaces, called exchanges, designed to help people find insurance they can afford.

It's an idea pioneered by Massachusetts seven years ago. People here call their program a success, and say the state's exchange was an indispensable factor.

Chion Wolf

Today’s the day the new Affordable Care Act kicks into gear.  

The health care reform known as “Obamacare” is creating state exchanges where those without insurance can buy it.  But how do these exchanges work? Who’s eligible and who’s not? What about all the myths, mysteries and misconceptions? How much is it really costing us?

Monday's Highlights:

Only hours before a partial shutdown of the federal government would take effect, House Republicans still hadn't arrived at a temporary spending bill that Senate Democrats were willing to approve to keep government workers on the job. A closure appeared inevitable.

On Monday afternoon, Senate Democrats rejected a stopgap spending bill passed by the House over the weekend because it contained anti-Obamacare measures that Democrats found objectionable.

With just hours to go before a potential government shutdown, President Obama said there is still a window to avert it.

"There's still an opportunity, during the course of this day to avert a shutdown and make sure that we are paying our bills," Obama said in an interview with NPR.

But when asked if any proposal from the House is closer to something he would approve, Obama said flatly, "No."

Not even an hour after the House voted in favor of a bill that would avert a shutdown of the federal government, but also delay a key part of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, the Senate rejected it with a vote of 54-46.

With less than an hour before the government runs out of authority to spend money, the ball is now back in the court of Speaker John Boehner in the House.

The Affordable Care Act has been through two years of legislative wrangling, a presidential election and a Supreme Court test that took it to the brink.

Now, after yet another round of debate and argument, major pieces of the federal health law are expected to kick in Tuesday.

If all goes as planned, people who don't have insurance or who buy it on their own will be able to shop online or at various locations in their communities for coverage that will take effect Jan. 1.

The federal government has moved closer to the brink of a shutdown, as the House of Representatives approved a temporary funding bill Saturday night that the Senate and White House say has no chance of becoming law.

The House bill would avert the budget deadline at midnight Monday by funding the U.S. government into December. But it also includes a one-year delay of Obamacare — a provision that Democrats and some Republicans say has no place in a stopgap funding bill.

Tuesday is a big day for the White House. That's when new health insurance exchanges open in every state, where people can buy the insurance the Affordable Care Act requires next year. They will also see if they qualify for new subsidies to help them afford it.

Updated at 12:24 a.m. ET Sunday

The House voted early Sunday to tie government funding to a one-year delay in implementing Obamacare, sending the dispute back to the Senate, where it is certain to get a frosty reception. The House measure also repeals the Affordable Care Act's tax on medical devices.

Government Shutdown Looms

Sep 27, 2013
Diliff / Wikimedia Commons

In a rare weekend session, Congress will continue to debate how to avoid a government shutdown. The Senate voted along party lines for a temporary spending bill that would keep the government from shutting down next week. But Senate Democrats stripped a provision that would defund Obamacare, something House Republicans insist upon.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

The nation's new health care law rolls out next week. One essential part of that is a call center to both field questions and enroll people. But it's not clear how much the private company taking these calls, Maximus Health Services, is actually charging taxpayers. 

Darnyi Zsóka / Creative Commons

Connecticut is launching a new online health exchange, Access Health CT, where residents can shop for and purchase health insurance. The unemployed or uninsured may be able to receive health insurance under the new federal law. To see how it affects you, and whether you can take advantage of the health exchange, try the helpful tools below.


Most Americans don't like the new federal health care law that begins enrollment next week, according to a new national poll from the University of Connecticut. It's not that Americans don't want the government to help cover the uninsured. It's that they specifically don't like this law: the Affordable Care Act.

The Republican-controlled House has voted to keep the government funded but its "continuing resolution" comes with a poison pill to defund the Affordable Care Act that Democrats have vowed is dead on arrival in the Senate.

With the launch of new health insurance exchanges just about two weeks away, many of the questions in this month's mailbag focused less on the big picture and more on exactly how the law will operate for individuals.

We can't answer every question we get. But here is a sampling of questions that were really popular, or that would apply to a lot of people.

All across Connecticut, you can see billboards and TV ads, hear radio spots and get pamphlets about how to get insurance under the new health care law starting Oct. 1.

But the state is also using less traditional, and more expensive, ways to get the word out.

 But the hospital has apparently had a change of heart. Last month, St. Francis told the city that it would no longer fund the program. But Raul Pino, the city's health director, says the hospital has let him know it has reversed its course. "They have informed us that they are funding the program on a month-to-month basis." Pino says the hospital will also conduct an analysis of the program to see if it is running efficiently.

Thomas Good, Wikimedia Commons; SROPhotos, Flickr Creative Commo

Are you ready for the 2014 gubernatorial election? We don't know if we are, but we're wading into it anyway after Senate Minority Leader John McKinney announced his bid for the governor's mansion.

On Tuesday, President Obama announced that one-year delay for a crucial aspect of his Affordable Care Act. The delay gives businesses another year to figure out how to comply with the law.

The state has a problem. People who apply for food and medical benefits often face substantial delays before finally getting their approvals. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, it's an issue that has now twice ended up in federal court. Advocates for the poor say the solution is in the staffing.

Commercial insurers are very close to revealing the rates they’ll charge for healthcare plans under the new Connecticut healthcare exchange. It’s been a long, uncertain road to get here.

Obamacare Explained

Feb 1, 2013
courtesy Barbara Glassman Dell, MetroHartford Alliance

The Affordable Care Act is nothing if not complicated. Now a series of workshops aims to educate Connecticut employers about just how to comply. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.



Earlier this week Connecticut became one of six states to get the go ahead from the federal government to set up a health exchange, an online store for buying health insurance.

All 50 states must offer a health exchange by October as part of Obamacare.

Joining us by phone is Kevin Counihan, CEO of the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange.

With legal and political battles over the Affordable Care Act all but settled, it now appears that the health care overhaul law is here to stay. The goal of the law is to promise insurance coverage for more Americans and, if it works, increase access to care.

Chion Wolf

We get together a few times a year to talk about the issues that face small businesspeople in Connecticut.  And today's topic is Health Care.

As Connecticut officials try to comply with the Affordable Care Act and provide health coverage to the uninsured, they have a big question to answer: Just who are the state's uninsured? Jeff Cohen has this report.

Connecticut has over 300,000 people without health insurance. Of them, more than 200,000 are adults who will be able to buy insurance from the state's new online marketplace -- called an exchange -- come 2014. These are adults who aren't poor enough for Medicaid and who don't have insurance of their own.

Congressional Delegation Reacts to SCOTUS Ruling

Jun 29, 2012
Marty Stone (Flickr Creative Commons)

The Supreme Court’s validation of the health care law did nothing to end the bitter debate in Congress over the Affordable Care Act. In fact, the decision may have hardened positions.

Matt Renlund (Flickr Creative Commons)

It’s officially called the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Some detractors call it “Obamacare.” And, soon the court may call it unconstitutional.

We’ve been waiting for months to hear what the US Supreme Court will rule on the health care reform that is seen as “transformational” - even by those who don’t like it too much.

It is meant to provide health care coverage to all Americans - but the provision that mandates purchase of that coverage is what has it in front of the court.