Author: Alison Kodjak

With Obamacare Here to Stay, Some States Revive Medicaid Expansion

NPR Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback opposes legislative efforts to expand the state’s Medicaid program. Orlin Wagner/AP Kansas state Sen. Barbara Bollier is a Republican who has been fighting for years to get her colleagues to agree to expand Medicaid. For years she pushed against what she described as a “Tea Party-ish” Senate and a governor who wouldn’t consider the issue. In return for her efforts, she was stripped of her committee assignments and sidelined. But in last November’s election, the makeup of the Kansas legislature moved decidedly to the center. And last week, the state’s House and Senate both...

Read More

Republicans’ Health Plan May Not Fix The Problems They Want To Fix

On the right, a print-out of the Affordable Care Act. On the left, a copy of the plan to repeal and replace it. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images House Speaker Paul Ryan from Wisconsin has been complaining about the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) for so long that his list of grievances sound like a refrain of some pop song. “Obamacare is collapsing,” he said on Feb. 28. “The Democrats got too far ahead on their ideology and they gave us a system where government runs health care. They gave us a system where costs went up, not down. They gave us a system where choices went away. They gave us a system where people lost the plans they liked, they chose.” And Ryan’s not the only one. Republicans in Congress have spent the last several years detailing what is wrong with the ACA. And in every election since it passed, nearly every Republican candidate, including President Donald Trump, has vowed to get rid of the law and put something better in its place. On Monday evening, House Republicans finally released their own health care proposal. It would replace Obamacare’s mandate to buy insurance and his subsidies to bring down the cost with a fixed refundable tax credit that people can use to buy coverage. Nobody’s required to have a health plan. But if you don’t get covered at the outset,...

Read More

Paul Ryan’s Plan to Change Medicare Looks A Lot Like Obamacare

Mark Wilson/Getty Images President-elect Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan agree that repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with some other health insurance system is a top priority. But they disagree on whether overhauling Medicare should be part of that plan. Medicare is the government-run health system for people aged 65 and older and the disabled. Trump said little about Medicare during his campaign, other than to promise that he wouldn’t cut it. Ryan, on the other hand, has Medicare in his sights. “Because of Obamacare, Medicare is going broke,” Ryan said in an interview on Fox News on Nov. 10. “So you have to deal with those issues if you’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare.” In fact, the opposite appears to be true — Obamacare may actually have extended the life of Medicare. This year’s Medicare trustees report says the program would now be able to pay all its bills through 2028, a full 11 years longer than a 2009 forecast — an improvement Medicare’s trustees attribute, in part, to changes in Medicare called for in the Affordable Care Act and other economic factors. And the irony of the Ryan Medicare plan, say some health policy analysts, is that it would turn the government program into something that looks very much like the structure created for insurance plans sold under the ACA. “The way...

Read More