The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

July 6, 2013

What now? Q&A about latest snag in health care law

(Continued)

— A private insurance policy, also not affected.

Is this a downward spiral?

The delay adds to an appearance of disarray surrounding the law.

It comes after other glitches and angry opposition: Lawsuits reaching all the way to the Supreme Court. Protests by religious employers who say covering contraception is against their beliefs. Repeated votes by House Republicans to repeal “Obamacare.”

But the postponement doesn’t affect the heart of the law — the requirement that individuals get insurance, and the subsidies to help them pay for it. The Obama administration insists the rest of the law will keep rolling along.

Is the rest of the law on track?

Not for everyone.

A majority of the neediest people may remain uninsured. Medicaid changes in the health care law designed to help some 15 million low-income people are being rejected by many states with Republican leaders. That amounts to about half the people who were supposed to be helped by the law.

Last summer, the Supreme Court said states have the right to opt out of the law’s Medicaid expansion.

Eighteen states aren’t expanding their programs, including populous Texas and Florida. In nine other states, the outcome remains unclear.

Under the law, Medicaid is the only coverage option for people below the poverty line — $11,490 for an individual or $23,550 for a family of four. People this poor cannot get subsidized private coverage in the new health insurance markets.

The poor will be exempt from penalties for being uninsured, but they also won’t get help with their health care.

Medicaid already covers more than 60 million people, including many elderly nursing home residents, severely disabled people of any age and many low-income children and their mothers.

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