health care

New government figures show Medicare spending on breakthrough medications for hepatitis C will nearly double this year, passing $9 billion.

That's going to raise insurance costs for all beneficiaries, whether or not they have the liver-wasting disease.

Cost estimates show that Medicare's popular prescription drug program will spend more than $9 billion on hepatitis C drugs this year, a 96 percent increase from $4.7 billion in 2014.

Dr. Ileana Fuentes, left, examines Cardji Caliste, 7, at the Borinquen Health Care Center, Monday, April 15, 2013, in Miami. Caliste is covered by Medicaid, was visiting the clinic with her mother for neck pain due to a recent car accident.
Lynne Sladky / Associated Press

About 9.9 million people have signed up and paid for health insurance under President Barack Obama's health care law, the administration said Tuesday, a slight dip from a previous count but on track toward the administration's year-end goal of 9.1 million.

The Department of Health and Human Services said that 84 percent of those, or more than 8.3 million, were receiving tax subsidies to help with the cost. A Supreme Court decision earlier this summer upheld insurance subsidies in all 50 states, a major victory for the White House.

President Barack Obama speaks in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.
Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

The Obama administration proposed Thursday to ban discrimination against transgender people throughout the health care system, carrying out anti-bias provisions in the president's health overhaul.

The new protections are part of a much broader proposed regulation by the Department of Health and Human Services. In a first, the overhaul specified that "sex" is a protected category under federal law, and the regulation carries that a step further, clarifying that "gender identity" is included within the Affordable Care Act's protective umbrella banning sex discrimination.

More than a dozen states that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act have seen enrollments surge way beyond projections.

Those numbers raise concerns that the added costs will strain state budgets when federal aid is scaled back starting in two years.

Some lawmakers warn that the price of expanding the health care program for poor and lower-income Americans could mean less money available for other state services, including education.

Michelle Wirth / WABE

For years, the Georgia House and Senate have been at odds over insurance coverage for autism. But now, they’ve reached a compromise.

Leaders in both chambers say a Senate plan, which requires insurers to provide treatment coverage for children six years old and younger, will be combined with another House insurance bill today.

The compromise would lower the cap on treatment coverage to $30,000. The bill also says the insurance requirement would go away if the state adopts a more comprehensive approach.

Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves speaks positively about the new enrollment numbers along with other county officials, federal officials and local groups who worked to educate and enroll Georgians in the exchange.
Michelle Wirth / WABE

The number of Georgians who have signed up for a federal healthcare exchange that’s part of the Affordable Care Act has grown. Representatives of federal agencies, Fulton County officials, and local groups celebrated the new enrollment numbers on Friday.

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

The state says more than 220,000 Georgians have signed up for insurance coverage under a federal health exchange that’s part of the Affordable Care Act.

The numbers were gathered from insurance companies participating in the exchange. State Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens says of the more than 220,000 Georgians who applied a little less than half have paid for policies and most are receiving a federal subsidy. Hudgens is an opponent of the law. He says Georgia’s numbers lead him to believe national enrollment numbers are inflated.

John Lumpkin
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

In case you haven't heard, March 31, 2014, is the deadline to enroll for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.  Those who don't may face a penalty of $95 or one percent of their taxable income -- whichever is greater.  

Recently, Dr. John Lumpkin, Senior Vice-President with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation -- the nation's largest philanthropy devoted to public health -- spoke with WABE's Steve Goss.


Lisa George/WABE

Teachers rallied at the State Capitol Tuesday to protest their new healthcare plan.

  The group calls itself “TRAGIC”: Teachers Rally to Advocate for Georgia Insurance Choices.

Though only about 100 turned out Tuesday, TRAGIC’s leadership says it has some 14,000 members, all opposed to the plan that went into effect at the beginning of this year.

Georgia State Health Benefit Plan
Ga. Dept. of Community Health

Georgia Department of Community Health board members could adjust the state health benefit plan during a teleconference scheduled for Monday morning. The plan is the sole topic listed for the phone meeting.  

If the board amends the new plan, which began Jan. 1, it would come after teachers and other state employees complained. One of the concerns expressed by state employees is that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia is the sole provider. That was the subject of a state Senate debate Friday.