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WASHINGTON (AP) — Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the administration's own predictions that the new health care law's online sign-up system would be ready by Oct. 1 were "just flat out wrong."

Sebelius told NBC's "Meet the Press" in an interview airing Sunday the health care website's launch was "terribly flawed and terribly difficult." She says that eight-week period was her low point of her tenure.

Sebelius last week announced her resignation. She says she wanted to give President Barack Obama enough time to bring in a new health chief.

Sebelius' resignation comes just a week after sign-ups for insurance coverage ended, enrolling 7.1 million people and exceeding initial expectations. Enrollment has since increased to 7.5 million as people were given extra time to complete applications.

Published in National News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Health care advocates are making an extra push to get people signed up for insurance through a federal website before a March 31 deadline.
   The Cover Missouri Coalition says about 40 enrollment events are planned Saturday around the state, including some featuring live music, free food and advice from tax preparers. Dozens of additional events are planned in the coming days.
   The coalition also will be running new online and radio advertisements between now and the end of the month.
   People who don't have insurance by March 31 could face tax penalties under the terms of President Barack Obama's health care law.
   The Missouri Foundation for Health says about 68,000 Missouri residents had enrolled in health plans through the federally run online marketplace as of last month.
Published in Local News
Thursday, 06 March 2014 12:55

Report: More Illinois kids with health care

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A new report shows fewer Illinois children are without health insurance, but the number of cases of child abuse is climbing.
 
The annual report released Thursday comes from a non-partisan organization advocating for policies concerning children called Voices For Illinois Children.
 
The report shows the percentage of children without health insurance fell from 6 percent to 3 percent since 2008.  It also found Illinois has "significantly narrowed" racial and ethnic disparities in children's health insurance coverage.
 
But cases of child abuse and neglect have risen 13 percent since 2006. Some of the largest increases were in DuPage, Kane, Macon, Vermillion and Will counties.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two bills making their way through Missouri's Republican-led Legislature represent the state's latest attempt to oppose the federal health care law.
 
Senators passed measures last week that would impose additional regulations on insurance navigators, who help consumers sign up for health plans on the exchange marketplace.
 
One bill would require navigators to take a written exam and undergo a criminal background check before working with consumers. Another would require navigators to purchase a $100,000 bond and be liable for unlawfully sharing a customer's personal or financial information.
 
Republicans say the measures would protect Missourians from fraud. But Democratic opponents say the bills are designed to block access to health care.
Published in Local News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - A nonprofit federal data tracker says the U.S. government filed a record number of health-care fraud cases during the latest federal fiscal year.
 
Southern Illinois federal prosecutors helped lead the way in pursuing charges against such white-collar scammers.
 
The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University says in a new report that 377 new prosecutions were opened during the fiscal year ending last October. That's up 3 percent from the previous year and 7.7 percent from five years ago.
 
The clearinghouse says prosecutions that the U.S. Attorney's Office in southern Illinois opened led the nation per-capita. That's more than eight times the U.S. average.
 
Those behind the report say the latest numbers may reflect that federal authorities are devoting more resources toward attacking health-care fraud.
 
Published in Local News
CHICAGO (AP) - The new year is bringing relief to some Illinoisans newly insured under the nation's health care law. Others still aren't sure whether they're covered.
 
The major benefits of the law took effect Wednesday. But problems with the federal website meant many people signed up at the last minute. Insurers haven't processed all the paperwork.
 
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois has been adding staff to keep up with calls. Worried patients without insurance cards are calling doctors like John Venetos in Chicago, who's decided to provide care and risk he won't be paid.
 
Stroke survivor Nancy Pace of Benton says she's relieved to have good insurance for the first time since 2005. She called Blue Cross on Wednesday, paid her premium and got her member number over the phone.
Published in Local News
Monday, 23 December 2013 17:07

Get Covered Illinois flooded with calls

CHICAGO (AP) - A crush of health insurance shoppers in Illinois have been calling a telephone help line set up to answer their questions, as an important deadline looms for the nation's health law.
 
   More than 1,600 people called the Get Covered Illinois Help Desk over the weekend. That's more than double the call volume from the previous weekend. The state's health insurance website saw more than 26,000 visitors over the weekend, an increase of 4,000 visitors from the weekend before.
 
   Monday had been the deadline to sign up for consumers who wanted coverage upon the start of the new year.
 
   But the Obama administration effectively extended that deadline for signing up for insurance by a day, giving people in 36 states, including Illinois, more time to select a plan.
 
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt are taking different approaches to buying health care policies through new online marketplaces.
 
The federal health care law requires members of Congress and their staff to get insurance through a health insurance exchange.
 
Blunt says he already has selected a plan through the District of Columbia's exchange. He will receive an employer contribution to put toward the purchase price, but the Republican senator says he will donate an equal amount to charity.
 
McCaskill says she plans to shop next week for a policy for herself and two daughters on the Missouri exchange, which is run by the federal government. The Democratic senator won't receive an employer contribution for her policy.
Published in Local News

CHICAGO (AP) - Federal officials say more than 7,000 Illinois residents signed up for insurance coverage in the first two months of the troubled HealthCare.gov website.

Enrollment figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show the pace picking up for President Barack Obama's new health insurance markets.

But the Illinois tally is still less than 30 percent of what federal officials originally projected the state's enrollment would be after two months. Illinois is relying on the federal website because the Legislature didn't approve a state-run marketplace

Consumers face a Dec. 23 enrollment deadline if they want to have coverage to start Jan. 1.

In October, when the website was barely working, only 1,370 Illinois residents managed to select a health insurance plan and enroll.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that only 751 Missouri residents selected a health insurance plan through a federally run online marketplace during the first month of its troubled launch.

HHS released the figures Wednesday. The department said the insurance exchange had about 14,100 completed applications from Missouri from Oct. 1 to Nov. 2. Those applications sought coverage for about 28,000 people.

The federal government did not say how many of the people selecting a health plan had started paying premiums.

Nationally, HHS says fewer than 27,000 people signed up for health insurance through the federal exchange.

The federal health care overhaul set up online marketplaces to help people find affordable insurance, but the rollout of the HHS website has been rocky from the start.

Published in Local News
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