Affordable Care Act

Connecticut, like other states, launched an online health exchange -- Access Health CT -- where residents can shop for and purchase health insurance. There could be new opportunities for the unemployed or uninsured to receive health insurance. Here, we gather our coverage of changes under the new federal law.

President Obama made fun of himself at the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday, the annual nerd-ball schmooze fest where Washington's media stars get comfy with a mix of political bigwigs and Hollywood beautiful people to celebrate a year of journalism.

Obama, known for his comic timing and delivery, didn't disappoint.

A key lawmaker in the Connecticut General Assembly is embracing a White House proposal to loosen restrictions on tolling federal interstates.  Rocky Hill state Representative Tony Guerrera-- a co-chairman of the legislature’s Transportation Committee-- says that tolls are the answer to Connecticut’s declining gas tax revenues. He said it would also allow the state to reduce its high taxes on gasoline.  

Until recently, Mike Smith, 64, of Long Beach, Calif., worked 11 hours a day, Monday through Friday and then half a day on Saturday. He was a district manager for a national auto parts chain.

He dreamed of retiring early, but it wasn't an option for him because he and his wife relied on the health insurance tied to his job.

"At our age, with some pre-existing medical conditions, it would have been very costly to buy insurance on the open market — about $3,000 a month," he says.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

The Affordable Care Act is all about getting people health insurance. Once they're insured, there's another hurdle: getting them access to care. That's a particular problem for people living on low incomes.

It's even more of a problem for the poor who seek behavioral health care. 

Free Dental Clinic Continues to Draw Crowds

Apr 28, 2014
Alan Yu / WNPR

More than 2,000 people waited outside the XL Center in Hartford this past weekend to get free dental work at the Connecticut Mission of Mercy dental clinic.

There were so many people that hundreds had to line up overnight.

President Obama says that enrollment under the Affordable Care Act has reached 8 million after the March 31 sign-up deadline was extended by two weeks.

"This thing is working," he told reporters at a White House briefing on Thursday.

The president said that 35 percent of those signing up through the federal government's website were under the age of 35. The need for younger, healthier individuals to enroll in the program is considered vital to the success of Obamacare.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

In this edition of our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, we ask two big questions surrounding the 2014 race for governor. What impact will John Rowland's latest scandal have on Republicans? What impact will President Barack Obama have on Governor Dannel Malloy and the state's Democratic congressional delegation?

Also: did you join the herds of UConn basketball fans in line for $1.00 burritos?

Federal rules ensure that none of the millions of people who signed up for Obamacare can be denied insurance — but there is no guarantee that all health services will be covered.

To help make sure a patient's claims aren't improperly denied, the Affordable Care Act creates national standards that allow everyone who is denied treatment to appeal that decision to the insurance company and, if necessary, to a third party reviewer.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Now that the deadline for enrollment in Obamacare has passed, the head of Connecticut's health insurance exchange has said he learned a few lessons.

Michael Himbeault / Creative Commons

Connecticut's Obamacare enrollment website did well enough this year to attract the interest of other states. Officials from Access Health CT said they are finalizing a deal with the state of Maryland to share computer code.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

On Tuesday, former Governor John G. Rowland took to the airwaves at his usual time on his WTIC AM talk show, despite being named in federal court as an alleged co-conspirator to a campaign finance scheme. He wouldn't comment on the accusations, only to say, "I am not going to be discussing the recent news and legal developments. I am sure that you all understand. And I want to respect the process."

Slawomir Fajer/iStock / Thinkstock

President Obama said that more than seven million people have signed up for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Connecticut saw a huge surge in enrollments as Monday's deadline passed. 

This post was updated at 4:40 p.m. ET. with Obama's comments.

President Obama emerged from the White House on Tuesday to rousing applause. He announced that 7.1 million Americans had signed up for health care through the federal exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act.

"This law is doing what it's supposed to do," Obama said at the Rose Garden. "It's working. It's helping people from coast to coast."

Connecticut residents have until midnight tonight to obtain an insurance plan and avoid a federal tax penalty. Residents without health coverage can shop and compare plans at accesshealthct.com. Anyone who remains uninsured when the deadline expires will face a penalty of either 1 percent of the family's gross household income or $95 for each uninsured individual -- whichever amount is greater.

With the open enrollment deadline looming, organizations across Connecticut are helping people sign up for health insurance coverage. Health centers are open Monday in many cities, including Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Norwich, and Waterbury, with extra in-person help. 

Seven Things to Watch As the Health Care Enrollment Deadline Passes

Mar 31, 2014
scyther5/iStock / Thinkstock

Just because open enrollment for people who buy their own health insurance formally closes March 31 doesn't mean debate over the health law will take a hiatus. After more than four years of strident rhetoric, evidence about how the law is actually working is starting to trickle in. 

Gubcio / iStock / Thinkstock

As the deadline to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act approaches, the federal government now says it will give some people extra time to enroll. But that change won't apply to people in Connecticut.

Connecticut officials are discussing final efforts to enroll residents in health insurance plans before next week’s deadline. Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman appeared at the First Choice Health Center in East Hartford today along with Kevin Counihan, CEO of the state’s insurance marketplace, Access Health CT.  Those who don’t sign up will have to pay $95 or 1 percent of their income, whichever is greater.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Officials say enrollment in the state's health insurance marketplace is surging as the March 31 deadline to sign up approaches. 

This is it. The deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act this year is March 31. With time running out, the questions about how the health law and the exchanges work keep pouring in. Here are a few more to check out while the clock ticks down.

My son will be 19 in May. I claim him as a dependent on my taxes. If I don't provide for his medical coverage and he is unemployed and makes no income, how is he supposed to pay his penalty? Or are they going to take his penalty out of my tax return because he is a dependent on my return?

Mike Dunn stands inside a store in downtown New Haven, looking through the big glass windows at his future customers outside. He's not selling phones or food or clothes. He's selling Obamacare.

There's one week left to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and states have gone to great lengths to enroll as many people up as possible. In Connecticut, the exchange has opened two retail storefronts where people can walk in and sign up.

Doctors worry they won't get paid by some patients because of an unusual 90-day grace period for government-subsidized health plans.

So several professional groups for doctors are urging their members to check patients' insurance status before every visit. Consumer advocates say these checks could lead to treatment delays or denials for some patients.

"My mouse pad broke, and I had to get my great-aunt some diabetes shoes."

That's how comedian Zach Galifianakis begins his segment with President Obama in an episode of the online interview show Between Two Ferns that was posted Tuesday. It was an interview unlike any other for a sitting U.S. president, as Galifianakis probed the commander in chief's views with a range of oddball questions.

Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti sent his 100-day plan to state Transportation Commissioner James Redeker on Monday. Giulietti is promising to rebuild a culture of safety at Metro-North to serve as the railroad’s "unshakeable foundation." He agreed to a 100-day plan to improve the railroad’s safety and operational performance in meeting with Governor Dannel Malloy last month.

Insurance coverage for maternity care is required in most individual and small group plans under the federal health law, extending such coverage to plans where it used to be rare. But for women who prefer services provided by midwives and birthing centers, there are no coverage guarantees, despite the law's provisions that prohibit insurers from discriminating against licensed medical providers.

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