Affordable Care Act

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A Republican Maryland congressman says he believes the investigative arm of Congress should look into problems with the state's health care exchange website.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Wednesday agreed to a request from a group of House Republicans to audit how $304 million in federal grants were spent on the Oregon health exchange website. A GAO spokesman says other states with troubled exchanges will be included as the investigation goes forward.

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The Virginia House and Senate split over whether to accept federal Medicaid funds to expand health insurance to as many as 400-thousand low-income residents.

The Republican controlled House voted against the expansion of eligibility when they approved their version of the state budget.

Meanwhile, the Democratically controlled Senate with a few Republicans going along voted for the expanded coverage.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware officials say enrollment in the state's new health insurance exchange increased by almost 60 percent in the past month.

Officials told the Delaware Health Care Commission on Thursday that 5,062 people had enrolled in the state's exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act as of Jan. 31. That's up from 3,183 enrollments reported last month.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland Senate has given final approval to a bill to help people who could not enroll in a private health plan on Maryland's health exchange website due to computer problems last year.

The Senate voted 34-7 on Wednesday to agree with changes made by the House.

The change requires the Maryland Health Insurance Plan to report to legislative panels about how enrollment is going for people who sought coverage for Jan. 1 but couldn't get through the website in time.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A final vote is near on a measure to help people who could not enroll in a private health plan on Maryland's health exchange website due to computer problems last year.

The Senate, which already approved a version of the bill, could take up final passage as soon as Wednesday on the bill that has some changes made by the House of Delegates.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland's House of Delegates will likely vote Tuesday on a plan to help residents who have struggled with the state's health insurance exchange online.

The bill would let customers sign up for retroactive coverage in the Maryland Health Insurance Plan, a separate safety net plan. 

Private insurance companies in the health exchange opened similar retroactive coverage options, but a deadline to register was last week.

The Senate approved the bill Jan. 21.

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Governor Martin O’Malley says the administration will stay with its own troubled health insurance exchange in the run up to the March 31st deadline for open enrollment instead moving to the federal website.

Maryland state officials also say they will be reaching out to customers in an agreement with insurers to provide retroactive coverage for those who were not successful in signing up on the state exchange.

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Governor Martin O’Malley says he believes that Maryland’s troubled health insurance exchange will meet its enrollment goal by the end of March.

During an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” O’Malley admitted there were problems with the complex technology but said that the state is more than half way towards meeting its goal.

While exceeding expectation on the Medicaid front the state has only enrolled just over 20-thosuand people in private plans.

The goal is 150-thousand.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware officials say 1,145 people have enrolled in the state's new health insurance exchange and paid their first premiums under the federal health care reform law.

Officials on Thursday also reported that 5,732 Delawareans have been identified as potentially newly eligible for Medicaid coverage, including expanded coverage that is part of the Affordable Care Act.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Rep. John Delaney is formally asking for a specific assessment of the idea of switching to the federal health exchange while Maryland's computer-troubled exchange is being repaired.

Delaney made the request in a letter Monday to Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the state's health secretary.

Delaney raised the possibility of a switch last month. He writes that Maryland could make the switch in whole or in part or on a temporary basis.

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Amid the troubles with the Affordable Care Act rollout, there is good news for health coverage of children in Maryland.  Maryland News Connection reporter Allison  Burns has the story on a new report.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - Maryland's insurance commissioner says individual policies that don't comply with the federal health care overhaul can be extended through the end of next year.

Insurance Commissioner Therese Goldsmith said in a memo to insurers Tuesday that they can renew such policies for 2014 as long as the renewals take effect before Jan. 1.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's health and social services secretary is updating a state panel on the federal health care reform effort in Delaware.

Secretary Rita Landgraf was scheduled to brief the Delaware Health Care Commission on Thursday about enrollment in the state's new health insurance exchange.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - More than a month after the launch of Delaware's health insurance exchange, officials report only four Delawareans enrolled for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

As of Tuesday, Delaware's marketplace guide organizations reported four enrollments, 31 enrollment applications completed and 218 accounts created for possible enrollment.

Four community organizations were hired to provide marketplace guides, using a $4 million federal grant.

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Congressman Andy Harris opposed last night’s bipartisan deal that reopened the federal government and extended the nation’s debt ceiling.

The Eastern Shore Republican in a statement that he could not back a measure that would continue spending levels and does not reduce the $650-billion budget deficit.

He also blasted the continuing exemption of congressional members from the Affordable Care Act as well as other “accounting gimmicks.”

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SELBYVILLE, Del. (AP) - Delaware officials are celebrating the state's first health insurance exchange enrollee.

Department of Health and Social Service officials have declared 59-year-old Janice Baker of Selbyville the first confirmed resident to enroll in the marketplace. It opened Oct. 1 as part of the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware officials say they're still experiencing problems with the launch of the state's new health insurance exchange.

Officials as of Thursday have yet to confirm a single enrollment in the exchange, part of the federal health care reform effort.

The state health care commission also was told that only about half of the 68 "marketplace guides" being hired to teach people about the exchange and help them enroll have been fully certified, with many still awaiting completion of federal criminal background checks.

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. 

And, this year the Affordable Care Act that just saw the health exchanges get up and running, marking a major shift in women's access to for their health care needs.

Maryland News Connection reporter Allison Burns has the story.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - Officials say more than 13,000 residents have created accounts on Maryland's online marketplace for health insurance.

But technical issues remain in using Maryland Health Connection, the state-based health insurance marketplace, officials said Monday.

Becca Pearce, the executive director, said in an emailed statement that the Connection's technical team has added server capacity and plans to update the system's software.

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Delaware residents and millions around the nation flooded the computers of the health insurance exchanges on Day 3 of open enrollment.

Delaware has decided to add two multi-state plans to the 19 that it already offers under the Affordable Care Act.

Delaware’s Secretary of Health and Social Services Rita Landgraf says that 4-thousand paper forms have been ordered to meet demand.

But those will only be used by higher-income buyers who earn too much to quality for a federal subsidy.

Landgraf says she hopes to have more than 70 guides and navigators in place.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland residents are still finding delays with the state's new online marketplace for health insurance.

The Maryland Health Connection website on Wednesday informed website users that the online marketplace may be temporarily unavailable as technicians conduct maintenance and test improvements in performance.

The website had problems on Tuesday almost as soon as it opened.

The website couldn't handle the volume of people trying to create accounts all at once.

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The district offices of Congressman Andy Harris have been closed and his district staff furloughed as the effect of the government shutdown begins to spread.

The Eastern Shore Republican says he is preparing to donate his paycheck as the government shutdown takes hold.

His Washington office will be manned by two staff members.

In a statement issued on Tuesday Harris blamed the President and Senate for the shutdown calling the Affordable Care Act a disaster that will cripple the Maryland economy.

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Delaware

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware officials say they're ready for open enrollment to begin in the state's new health insurance exchange.

But officials acknowledge that glitches are likely as a key component of the federal health reform law is launched Tuesday.

Among other things, not all of the 68 marketplace guides being hired to help people learn about and enroll in the health care exchange will be in place when open enrollment begins.

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As the nation prepares to launch the Health Exchanges under the Affordable Care Act Maryland state officials expect to sign up to 5-thousand uninsured in the tri-county area of Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester by March  31st , which is the end of open enrollment. 

That’s out of 23-thousand that are not insured.

And state health officials estimate that 90 percent of those uninsured would actually quality for a federal subsidy to buy insurance.

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Delaware released its menu of 19 health care plans and four levels of coverage that range in price from $193 a month for an individual basic plan to $329 for an individual platinum plan.

State officials say there are around 90-thousand residents in Delaware who do not have health insurance and thousand more who are under-insured.

Atlantic General Hospital website

Some hospitals may be laying off staff but not Atlantic General in Berlin.

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, hospital CEO Michael Franklin told WBOC, that the facility has spent the last three years creating a safety net.

He said the hospital has gotten grants to offset increased costs and hired more nurses to take care of patients.

Franklin says the hospital has also been facing increasing cost of Medicare losing about a quarter of million dollars per quarter.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - State health officials have approved 13 carriers to sell health benefit plans to small businesses through the new exchange.

The Maryland Insurance Administration also approved premium rates on Tuesday for the plans to be sold through Maryland's Small Business Health Options Program Exchange.

Officials say the premium rates approved for 2014 range from 4.9 percent lower to 14.6 percent higher than existing rates for the carriers' small business products.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Officials overseeing Delaware's implementation of the federal health care reform law still don't know what residents will pay for health care coverage under a new state health insurance exchange.

Officials expect to begin enrolling some 35,000 people in the health insurance exchange starting Oct. 1, for coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014.

Heritage Foundation

Former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint railed against the Affordable Care Act yesterday during a national stop in Brandywine Hundred calling it un-American.

The Republican left office to head up the conservative Heritage Foundation and has been active in calling for repeal of the law.

Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd he warned that the law will not allow doctors to be paid enough to provide quality care and said he had other solutions to providing increased medical coverage such as tax cuts to businesses for health care coverage.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A conservative group that wants Congress to defund the Obama administration's health care reform law is bringing its message to Delaware.

Thursday evening's event in Wilmington marks the end of a nine-city tour in which Heritage Action for America has been rallying support for its call to defund the Affordable Care Act is planning a town hall meeting in Pittsburgh.

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