Medicaid

Have you heard about the young invincibles? That's the name given to young people who think nothing bad can happen to them.

Enrollment of healthy people like them in insurance under the Affordable Care Act is key to offsetting the costs of older, less healthy buyers.

In Pennsylvania, more than a half-million people who don't have insurance are waiting to hear whether the state will take advantage of a Medicaid expansion that's part of the Affordable Care Act.

The federal law would allow people earning up to 138 percent of federal poverty guidelines to sign up for Medicaid. But a Supreme Court ruling that largely upheld the law gave states the choice whether to expand their Medicaid programs.

Starting in January, it will get a lot easier for millions of people across to the country to qualify for Medicaid.

Adults making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,856 in 2013) will be able to sign up for Medicaid, under an expansion paid for entirely by the federal government between 2014 and 2017.

Two years ago, Dorothy Holmes, then 75, was in the cozy pink bathroom of her home getting ready to shower when she fell. It's the type of accident that's common among older Americans — and it's often the very thing that triggers the end of independence.

"I got a big spot on my head; it almost conked me out," Holmes says in her soft voice.

She heard her husband come down the hall, "and when he turned the corner all I heard was, 'Oh God, honey, what did you do now?' After that I don't know anything 'cause I passed out," Holmes recalls.

Medicaid and controversy seem inseparable in many states lately. For the most part, the wrangling is about a new wrinkle in Medicaid — the expansion of the health program for the poor and disabled under Obamacare.

Mississippi, though, is raising the stakes. Democrats and Republicans in the state are in a fight, and the outcome could threaten the very existence of the entire Medicaid program there.

Call it the Affordable Care Act, call it Obamacare, call it whatever you want — it's coming. And soon. In less than four months people without health insurance will be able to start signing up for coverage that begins Jan. 1.

A lot has been said about the law, most of it not that understandable. So starting now, and continuing occasionally through the summer and fall, we're going to try to fix that.

The Arizona Legislature is debating whether to extend Medicaid to about 300,000 people in the state. The expansion is a requirement to get federal funding under the Affordable Care Act.

The big surprise is who has been leading the charge: Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. She's one of President Obama's staunchest critics and has confounded conservatives in her own party by supporting the expansion.

Google the words "Brewer" and "Obama." You'll get a now-famous image of Brewer wagging her finger at the president on the tarmac last year when she met him in Phoenix.

"The trust fund that finances Medicare's hospital insurance coverage will remain solvent until 2026, two years beyond what was projected in last year's report," the program's trustees reported Friday.

In a statement, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services gives some of the credit to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

In the first Planned Parenthood defunding case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices have refused to disturb a lower court decision that barred Indiana from stripping Medicaid payments to the organization.

The number of eyelid lifts paid for by Medicare more than tripled in a 10-year span, according to a report by the Center for Public Integrity. The cost to U.S. taxpayers for the simple surgery rose to $80 million in 2011 from $20 million in 2001, according to the report.

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