health care

There’s a new trend in Delaware for physicians to charge a straight yearly membership fee to cover certain basic health care like physicals and between two and four office visits.

In essence for a cost of around $75 a month for adult patients skip the normal insurance co-pays and paperwork.

For children under 18 the cost is up to $360 a year.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that Dr. Christina Bovelsky in Middletown has opened such a unique practice.

In the first year of the Affordable Care Act Maryland has dramatically slashed the number of children not covered by health insurance.

Maryland News Connection reporter Andrea Sears prepared this report.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Federal officials say the cost of a benchmark plan on the health care exchange will go up 4 percent for Virginia residents.

A new pediatric and senior care facility is coming to Milford.

This week Bayhealth said it had cut a deal with Nemour Children Health System in Wilmington for the facility.

WBOC reports that the goal of the partnership was to make their campus more than just a hospital.

Spread out over 165 acres services will range from outpatient care and specialty physicians to diagnostic testing.

The site is located at the intersection of Wilkins Road and Cedar Creek Road near Route One.

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A new detox center will be opening in Harrington next month for those seeking the escape their drug addiction.

The 15-thousand square foot structure will provide 12 short-term beds for 23 hour observation and another 16 for those who need extensive care for a week.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that around 30 to 100 spaces will be for outpatient care such as counseling.

Yesterday afternoon Governor Jack Markell showed up for a press conference at the facility.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware officials have decided not to develop the state's own health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act and instead will keep the current state-federal partnership model.

Delaware was granted nonbinding approval in June to develop a supported state-based health insurance marketplace, but Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf said Thursday that the state will not move forward with the plan.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland is one of more than a dozen states where new Medicaid enrollees under President Barack Obama's health law have surpassed initial projections.

The projected newly eligible enrollment for fiscal year 2015 initially was 164,724.

The initial estimated cost was about $31 million for fiscal year 2017, when states begin paying their share.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is hailing the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows about 285,000 Virginians to continue receiving federal subsidies on health insurance plans purchased through on a federal marketplace.
The Democratic governor says he hoped the ruling would allow state lawmakers to "put partisan politics aside" and expand Medicaid, another key provision of the Affordable Care Act.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The federal government says Virginia's economy was flat last year.

The U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau for Economic Analysis said Wednesday that Virginia's real gross domestic product was $427.45 billion in 2014, compared with $427.35 billion in 2013.

Slight growth in retail trade, information, durable goods, and health care and social assistance were offset by small declines in construction, real estate and nondurable goods.

Virginia's economy grew by rates of 0.4 percent in 2013, 0.7 percent in 2012 and 0.6 percent in 2011.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A federal audit says Maryland misallocated $28.4 million in federal money for its flawed health care exchange and is recommending the state pay the money back.

The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services is releasing the audit Friday.

It says Maryland misallocated costs to federal grants instead of the Medicaid program in 2013 and 2014. The audit says Maryland did not use updated estimated enrollment data when it became available.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Bowing to pressure from Democratic lawmakers, Gov.  Jack Markell's administration has agreed to delay proposed health care cost increases for state government workers and retirees.

A state panel was set to vote Friday on proposals for new or higher deductibles, and higher copays for drugs, lab tests, outpatient surgeries and hospital stays, aimed at addressing an estimated $60 million deficit in Delaware's state health insurance plan.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The state of Maryland says 289,131 residents enrolled in health care in the second sign up period.

The state says 122,778 enrolled in private plans. Of those, 87,007 received an advanced premium tax credit. There were 35,771 enrolling in private plans without a subsidy.

There were 166,353 enrolled in Medicaid.

The state says 88 percent of applicants were determined eligible for financial assistance, either through Medicaid or subsidies for private plans. That's up from 80 percent a year ago.

Signups for Maryland's Health connection are down by 10.4 percent so far.

That's despite efforts to increase the enrollment numbers, including a larger call center staff and a streamlined website.

February 15th was the enrollment deadline.

And, only 264,245 people have signed up.

That's compared to 295,077 during last year's longer open enrollment period.

But, the numbers are not final yet.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland officials are holding a briefing on a new law that ensures privacy of confidential medical information for survivors of domestic violence.

The law, which was passed last year, will be outlined Tuesday in Annapolis. It applies to victims who seek reproductive health care, mental health or medical treatment or counseling.

The hearing is being held to detail how a new form that the Maryland Insurance Administration uses to help to insure privacy and security. 

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Maryland's public health secretary is calling the state's revamped health-insurance exchange a success as the second enrollment period hits a milestone.

Thursday was the deadline for obtaining coverage starting Jan. 1. The enrollment period began Nov. 15 and continues through Feb. 15.

As of Tuesday, 30 days into the process, the exchange had enrolled about 61,000 in private plans. That's nearly five times the number of private-plan enrollments recorded during the first 30 days of the program's troubled launch last year.

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Delaware state officials say they are making progress signing up residents for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

They say they have seen 209 sign ups and plan renewals in the first two weeks of open enrollment.

Health Secretary Rita Landgraf said yesterday that people are coming in and are highly motivated.

Landgraf says that preliminary surveys from the statewide marketplace guides and agents say the interest is there.

Delawareans who earn from the $16-thousand to $47-thousand a year will lose health coverage through the state’s Community Healthcare Access Program beginning on February 1st.

The program is run by the state and offers discounted medical services for those not eligible for Delaware’s Medicaid program.

$478-thousand from the tobacco settlement had been earmarked for the program.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland officials say about 9,000 people have browsed for health insurance plans so far on the state's newly designed health care exchange website.

Carolyn Quattrocki, the exchange director, said Monday the website is working smoothly, and officials are pleased with the number of people who have started shopping. It opened on Saturday, ahead of Sunday's scheduled opening.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - State officials says some 300 Delawareans remain at risk of losing insurance coverage under the federal health care reform law because they have yet to submit documentation verifying their eligibility.

Federal officials sent out notices last month to more than 300,000 people nationwide, including about 700 in Delaware, with inconsistencies in their citizenship or immigration data. Officials say about 55 percent of those Delaware cases have since been resolved.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is set to unveil his plan to increase health care coverage for the state's poor.

The Democratic governor will speak publicly Monday on his plans for health care expansion.

The governor unsuccessfully tried to persuade Republican lawmakers to expand Medicaid during this year's legislative session. The impasse led to a protracted stalemate over the state budget that ended with a GOP victory.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Washington Post editorial board is endorsing Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in Maryland's Democratic primary race for governor as the best candidate to attract and retain jobs.

In an editorial Sunday, the Post editorial board writes that Brown is "a conscientious public servant with broad experience" as a lawyer, legislator and in the executive branch under Gov. Martin O'Malley.

The editorial notes much of Maryland's electorate remains undecided in the June 24 primary. The winner is likely to become the next governor.

BALTIMORE (AP) - A Maryland board is scheduled to discuss what the state will do about its badly flawed health exchange website.

The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Board of Trustees has a 5 p.m. meeting in Baltimore on Tuesday, when it could officially decide to use technology from another state that has had a more successful exchange rollout. Maryland is one of 14 states with its own exchange.

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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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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland Board of Public Works has approved a contract modification of up to $2 million due to technical problems with the state's health care exchange.

The board approved the emergency modification 3-0 Wednesday. However, Comptroller Peter Franchot criticized the procurement process. Franchot says more than $160 million in contracts should have come before the Board of Public Works for greater scrutiny, instead of a separate health exchange board.

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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.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The Maryland House of Delegates is on track to vote for a measure to provide health insurance to people who tried to enroll on the state's online health exchange but couldn't get through due to computer problems.

The House is scheduled to vote on Tuesday.

The measure would enable people who can show they tried to get through the exchange for coverage Jan. 1 to enroll in a separate state insurance pool for residents without insurance.

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.

BALTIMORE (AP) - A recent report has found that Maryland's decision to expand its Medicaid program could save the state more than $2 billion.

The Daily Record reports that an assessment of the economic impact of the expansion of eligibility to another 146,000 people starting in January found that Maryland could see a net savings of more than $2 billion from 2014 to 2020.

The report prepared by George Washington University and Regional Economic Models predicts direct savings to Medicaid, new state revenue and reduced spending on other health care programs.

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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EASTON, Md. (AP) - Shore Health System officials say plans to build a new Shore Regional Medical Center in Easton have been put on hold indefinitely.

The Star-Democrat reports that Tuesday's announcement to delay the $250 million project comes after recent budget cuts to staff and services at other Shore Health locations, including Dorchester General Hospital and Memorial Hospital at Easton.