Health Care

When Sol Shipotow enrolled in a new Medicare Advantage health plan earlier this year, he expected to keep the doctor who treats his serious eye condition.

"That turned out not to be so," said Shipotow, 83, who lives in Bensalem, Pa.

Shipotow said he had to scramble to get back onto a health plan that he could afford and that his longtime eye specialist would accept. "You have to really understand your policy," he said. "I thought it was the same coverage."

Two years ago, Cheasanee Huette, a 20-year-old college student in Northern California, decided to find out if she was a carrier of the genetic mutation that gave rise to a disease that killed her mother. She took comfort in knowing that whatever the result, she'd be protected by the Affordable Care Act's guarantees of insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Updated at 1:35 p.m. ET

Americans broadly disapprove of the Senate GOP's health care bill, and they're unhappy with how Republicans are handling the efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Updated 3:30 p.m. ET

With their health care bill facing a perilous path, Senate Republican leaders have decided to push off a vote until after Congress returns from next week's July Fourth recess, GOP aides confirm to NPR's Susan Davis.

Medicaid is the government health care program for the poor.

That's the shorthand explanation. But Medicaid is so much more than that — which is why it has become the focal point of the battle in Washington to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Updated at 8:10 pm ET

Congressional forecasters say a Senate bill that aims to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026.

That's only slightly fewer uninsured than a version passed by the House in May.

Updated at 6 p.m. ET June 23

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller on Friday became the latest GOP lawmaker to voice concerns about the Senate health care bill — a development that further complicates Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

"I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes away insurance from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans," Heller said at a news conference back in Nevada.

Updated at 2:32 p.m. ET

Senate Republicans unveiled their long-awaited health care overhaul proposal on Thursday. The Senate bill, called the "Better Care Reconciliation Act," would repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The broad outlines of it look a lot like the House bill, the American Health Care Act, which was passed in May.

For the hundreds of rural U.S. hospitals struggling to stay in business, health policy decisions made in Washington, D.C., this summer could make survival a lot tougher.

The Republican effort to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has led to a standoff in the Senate.

Senate Democrats on Monday night began using parliamentary maneuvers to slow Senate business as part of a coordinated protest against the GOP push to pass an Obamacare replacement bill. A small group of Republican senators has been working in private for weeks, shielding from public view the bill and the negotiations surrounding it.

Republicans are running way behind schedule.

In the dream scenario outlined by party leaders back in January, President Trump would have signed legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, months ago. By early June, Republicans were supposed to be in the thick of overhauling the tax code.

When it comes to health care, Americans may be having buyer's remorse.

More adults approve of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, than the alternative health care bill passed this month by House Republicans, according to a poll published Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Would the House Republican health care bill impact insurance provided by employers? And why don't people without insurance just go to an emergency room for regular care? Here are answers to those and other recent questions from readers.

Will employer-based health care be affected by the new Republican plan?

Back in January, Republicans boasted they would deliver a "repeal and replace" bill for the Affordable Care Act to President Donald Trump's desk by the end of the month.

In the interim, that bravado has faded as their efforts stalled and they found out how complicated undoing a major law can be. With summer just around the corner, and most of official Washington swept up in scandals surrounding Trump, the health overhaul delays are starting to back up the rest of the 2018 agenda.

President Trump gave a eulogy on Thursday for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

"Obamacare is collapsing. It's dead. It's gone," Trump said in a news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

"There's nothing to compare it to because we don't have health care in this country," he went on.

That left some Obamacare customers scratching their heads — figuratively — on Twitter.

GOP Health Bill Penalizes Patients Who Let Insurance Lapse

May 16, 2017

Before he was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in 2015, Anthony Kinsey often went without health insurance. He is a contract lawyer working for staffing agencies on short-term projects in the Washington, D.C., area and sometimes the 90-day waiting period for coverage through a staffing agency proved longer than the duration of his project — if health coverage was offered at all.

Town hall meetings got loud for some Republican members of Congress this week, as they defended the passage of the American Health Care Act by the House of Representatives. Constituents have been asking a lot of questions, and we've been fact-checking the answers given by some leading GOP lawmakers.

Tom Reed, R-N.Y., at a town hall meeting in his district

"The pre-existing reform is not repealed by this legislation."

Fact check: That's not the whole truth

Almost 100 hospitals reported suspicious data on dangerous infections to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials, but the agency did not follow up or examine any of the cases in depth, according to a report by the Health and Human Services inspector general's office.

Most hospitals report how many infections strike patients during treatment, meaning the infections are likely contracted inside the facility. Each year, Medicare is supposed to review up to 200 cases in which hospitals report suspicious infection-tracking results.

Ryan Lennon Fines seems like a typical 2-year-old. He and his parents, Scott Fines and Brianna Lennon, flip through a picture book of emergency vehicles. Ryan is looking for the motorcycle, but a photo of an airplane catches his dad's eye.

"That's an air ambulance," Fines tells him. "You've been on one of those."

There's more grim news about inequality in America.

New research documents significant disparities in the life spans of Americans depending on where they live. And those gaps appear to be widening, according to the research.

Former President Barack Obama urged Republicans to be guided by a personal standard of ethics and integrity, not political avarice, as they forge ahead with plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act — his signature legislation.

In the Rose Garden last week President Trump and the House Republican leadership celebrated their vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as though it had actually repealed and replaced the 2010 law colloquially known as Obamacare.

It had not, of course. Several more giant steps remain in the process. And more than a few of these same Republicans may well be grateful.

After the GOP-controlled House passed a Republican-drafted health care bill Thursday without waiting for an analysis of the bill's costs and impacts by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the White House is signaling that Washington's official legislative scorekeeper could be its next political foil.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a spokeswoman for President Trump, told reporters Friday the White House feels "very confident in where the plan is, and moving it forward."

The rest of the country may be talking about health care this week, but you must be a die-hard education fan. NPR Ed has just the weekly news roundup you need. And, actually, we do have a health care note.

Health care bill would cut assistance to special education students

As soon as the House approved the GOP health care bill on Thursday, Democrats were working on using it against Republicans in next year's midterm elections.

"They have this vote tattooed on them. This is a scar they carry," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declared just after the American Health Care Act passed the House.

House Republicans approved their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act on Thursday.

Here's a rundown of key provisions in the American Health Care Act and what would happen if the Senate approves them and the bill becomes law.

Buying insurance

Updated at 5:37 p.m. ET

The House voted Thursday to narrowly approve a Republican-drafted measure that would eliminate many of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act — the first step toward keeping one of President Trump's campaign pledges and a victory for GOP lawmakers who have long railed against Obamacare, as the ACA is commonly known. The vote was 217-213.

The measure moves to the Senate, where its fate is far from certain — and where top lawmakers in both parties are already signaling that there is a long legislative process ahead.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

Republicans finally got their health care bill.

After seven years of repeal-and-replace rhetoric against the Affordable Care Act, two presidential campaigns waged for and against it and a recent high-profile failure, House Republicans passed their bill.

The trouble is this bill is unlikely to ever become law — at least in its current iteration.

Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

House Republicans are bringing their health care bill back for a vote on Thursday. The American Health Care Act was pulled from the House floor just minutes before an expected vote in March, which was seen as a stark failure of Republicans on a key campaign promise.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Wednesday evening that they are confident in having enough votes to pass the bill in its latest form early Thursday afternoon.

Updated 5 pm April 3, 2017 to include the proposed Upton amendment.

The House may yet pass its bill to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act. But Republicans' options to fulfill their seven-year effort to undo the federal health law are getting narrower by the day.

"As of now, they still don't have the votes," said Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) as he was leaving a meeting of GOP members Tuesday. King has been heavily lobbied by both sides.

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