Obamacare

When the Affordable Care Act was unveiled, business groups railed against the provision that requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance for their full-time workers.

The Obama administration responded by pushing back the deadline for the coverage, so it hasn't yet taken effect. Now support for this so-called employer mandate is eroding in some surprising quarters.

The Robinson family of Dallas started out pretty excited about their new insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act.

Nick Robinson had turned to Obamacare after he lost his job last summer. He had been working as a youth pastor, and the job included benefits that covered him, his two young daughters, and his wife, Rachel, a wedding photographer.

Nick says he wasn't too nervous at first, because everyone was healthy. Then, he recalls, they found out Rachel was pregnant.

Last year, the Republican playbook for keeping control of the House of Representatives in 2014 and winning the Senate consisted of a fairly simple strategy: Run against Obamacare.

But now that the 2014 races are starting to take shape, that strategy isn't looking quite so simple. Democrats are fighting back. They're focusing on Republican opposition to the health law's expansion of Medicaid as a part of their own campaigns.

Journalist, political commentator and contributor to The Advocate Quinn Hillyer joins Jim for the first half of today's show. Quinn talks about running for political office in the past, President Obama's Affordable Care Act, and what it's like to be now writing for The Advocate. 

Founder and CEO of Pencils of Promise, and recent author of the critically acclaimed book The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change, Adam Braun talks with Jim about his book and the work his non-profit organization is doing to make sure every child has access to quality education. To learn more about Adam's organization, visit www.pencilsofpromise.org.


Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Many republican governors have taken a stand against Obamacare by refusing to expand Medicaid. Utah, which is one of the most republican states in the nation, remains undecided. But in a state where the majority of the population are Mormons, one bishop from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints says helping the poor is a moral obligation. Andrea Smardon from member station KUER in Salt Lake City has more.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHECKOUT SCANNER)

Sure, you can still hear congressional Republicans talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act.

But there's clearly something different about the current climate, and the GOP approach to Obamacare. The thrill of repeal may not be gone for Republicans, but much of the urgency of repeal is.

For starters, the House GOP doesn't have more repeal votes lined up for these weeks after the spring recess.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Here at home, President Obama has repeatedly criticized House Republicans for voting to repeal his health care law without offering a replacement.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: They have no alternative answer for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions who'd be denied coverage again.

GREENE: Republicans have promised an alternative but have yet to release it. And that left one Republican lawmakers on the defensive during a town hall meeting in Florida.

Here's NPR's Scott Horsley.

Supporters of Medicaid expansion gather on the state capitol steps. April 23, 2014.
Amy Jeffries / WRKF

At the conclusion of nearly five hours of emotional testimony, Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman David Heitmeier read the names of those weighing in on Senator Ben Nevers’ bill. The proposal would have put a constitutional amendment to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act before voters in Louisiana.

“You’ve got a lot of support here, Sen. Nevers," Heitmeier said.

But Nevers didn’t have the support of the committee. His bill was stopped on a 6 to 2 vote that fell along party lines.


Want to know how many people have signed up for private insurance under Obamacare? Like the health care law itself, the answer is complicated.

The Obama administration is tracking the number of plans purchased on HealthCare.gov and on the state exchanges, and this month reported that it had exceeded expectations by signing up 7.5 million people. In addition, federal officials have said that 3 million people have enrolled in Medicaid this year.

If you're uninsured, you may have run out of time. Monday was the official deadline to sign up for health insurance on the marketplaces or face a penalty, unless you were already in line for enrollment.

Still, people who missed the cutoff have options to get the health care services they need, though they may not be simple or assured.

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