Among the many significant parts of the Affordable Care Act, one of the most important for consumers is the requirement that health insurers cover preventive-care services at no cost to patients. That provision is facing a significant legal challenge in a Texas court that could take months or years to resolve, according to legal experts.
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3 reasons it’s significant that the percentage of uninsured Americans hit an all-time low
The percentage of Americans who lack health insurance hit an all-time low of 8% in the first quarter of this year, reflecting an increase of 5.2 million people who gained coverage since 2020, according to a report by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released on Tuesday.
Using data from the National Health Interview Survey and the American Community Survey, the report from the HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Education (ASPE) shows the effect of better subsidies for health insurance that consumers buy on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, increased federal efforts to encourage the uninsured to enroll, the continuous enrollment provisions in the federal-and-state Medicaid program and recent decisions in several states to increase enrollment in Medicaid, HHS said in a press release.
Since 2019, seven states have expanded enrollment in the federal-and-state funded Medicaid program, according to Louise Norris at HealthInsurance.org. Those states are: Virginia and Maine in 2019; Utah, Idaho, and Nebraska in 2020; and Oklahoma and Missouri last year, she wrote.
The HHS announcement is significant for three reasons. First, the all-time low 8% rate means that about 26.4 million people lack health insurance, down from 48 million in 2010, according to an ASPE report last year. Second, the report includes a table showing changes in the uninsured rates in each state for low-income adults ages 18 to 64 from 2018 to 2020. In 18 states (15 of which expanded Medicaid), the uninsured rates for this population dropped in those years.
D.C. health journalists gather for rooftop happy hour
The D.C. chapter of the Association of Health Care Journalists kicked off the fall season with a happy hour hosting public affairs officials from the Department of Health and Human Services.
The happy hour took place on Sept. 6 on the rooftop of CQ Roll Call, which overlooks the White House and the Capitol. Reporters enjoyed cold beverages, pizza and assorted snacks.
About 60 people attended, including independent journalists and reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico, Fierce Healthcare, Kaiser Health News, and The Hill. Continue reading
HHS session on covering suicide described as new effort to engage reporters
The Department of Health and Human Services is sponsoring a seminar for reporters on covering suicide on Tuesday, in what the lead organizer described as an effort by HHS media officials to engage with journalists in new ways.
Mark Weber, the deputy assistant secretary for public affairs, said that media officials often interact with reporters in what he called “ATM transactions” – communicating only when one needs something from the other. Continue reading
HHS secretary promises ‘open and transparent’ relationship with media
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar pledged in his first on-the-record press conference Tuesday that he will have an “open and transparent” relationship with reporters, and said he does not envision a scenario in which anyone would be banned from covering the agency.
The statement, a welcome commitment to reporters, came one week after the Association of Health Care Journalists sent Azar a letter urging him to hold regular press conferences. Continue reading