Affordable Care Act

Health care has been a leading issue in the presidential campaign over the past year, as Democratic candidates have clashed with each other, and especially with President Trump. But voters, who tell pollsters that health is among their top concerns, also complain that the health debate has been confusing and hard to follow.

With voting about to begin in many states, here's a guide to some key health care terms, issues and policy differences at play.

Universal coverage, "Medicare for All" and single-payer are not the same thing

You're forgiven if in the holiday blur you missed that a federal appeals court in New Orleans has once again put the future of the Affordable Care Act in doubt. Or if you missed the news last week that a group of Democratic state attorneys general has asked the Supreme Court to hear the case in this term — which ends in June. That would mean a decision could come right in the middle of the 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns.

Updated at 8:28 p.m. ET

A federal appeals court panel in New Orleans has dealt another blow to the Affordable Care Act, agreeing with a lower-court judge that the portion of the health law requiring most people to have coverage is unconstitutional now that Congress has eliminated the tax penalty that was intended to enforce it.

But it is sending the case back to the lower court to decide how much of the rest of the law can stand in light of that ruling.

Congress is set to pass a $1.4 trillion spending package this week, which President Trump has said he'll sign. The legislation includes policy changes and funding increases that public health advocates are celebrating, as well as the permanent repeal of three key taxes that were designed to pay for Obamacare — a win for industry groups.

Any day now, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans could rule that the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

At least it seemed that two of the three appeals court judges were leaning that way during oral arguments in the case, State of Texas v. USA, in July.

More than $12 billion is at stake for the nation's health insurers Tuesday when the Supreme Court hears a case involving the Affordable Care Act.

For the federal government, the potential damages could be far greater, as its reputation as a reliable partner to private businesses is on the line.

Unlike earlier Obamacare cases before the high court — where the entire 2010 law and health coverage for millions of Americans was at risk — the latest case has largely flown under consumers' radar.

It’s open enrollment season for the health insurance marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act. But many people who need to sign up may not know it. The Trump administration has made a number of moves to diminish the law, including cuts to marketing and outreach. That creates obstacles for groups that help people sign up. 

It's the season to roll up your sleeves, gather your documents, and pick a health insurance plan for 2020. For those shopping for their own plans, HealthCare.gov and the other state exchanges are open for enrollment as of November 1.

Rep. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma) presents details on bill to include patient protections in Ohio law.
Andy Chow / Ohio Public Radio

Democratic state lawmakers want to add the patient protections found in the Affordable Care Act into Ohio law to ensure coverage for pre-existing conditions and other "essential health benefits" no matter what happens to the federal law in court.

A decision in the latest court case to threaten the future of the Affordable Care Act could come as soon as this month. The ruling will come from the panel of judges in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard oral arguments in the Texas v. Azar lawsuit.

An estimated 24 million people get their health coverage through programs created under the law, which has faced countless court challenges since it passed.

The fate of the Affordable Care Act is again on the line Tuesday, as a federal appeals court in New Orleans takes up a case in which a lower court judge has already ruled the massive health law unconstitutional.

Updated at 6:01 p.m. ET

The federal Department of Health and Human Services is proposing to roll back an Obama-era policy intended to protect transgender people from discrimination in health care.

How Well Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work?

Apr 16, 2019

Workplace wellness programs — efforts to get workers to lose weight, eat better, stress less and sleep more — are an $8 billion industry in the U.S.

Most large employers offer some type of wellness program, with growth fueled by incentives in the federal Affordable Care Act.

But no one has been sure they work. Various studies over the years have provided conflicting results, with some showing savings and health improvements while others say the efforts fall short.

As Democratic candidates for president try to walk a political tightrope between the party's progressive wing and its center-left, they are facing increasing pressure to outline the details of their health care overhaul proposals.

On Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is running in Democratic primaries, reaffirmed his stance on health care by reintroducing a "Medicare-for-all" bill, the idea that fueled his 2016 presidential run.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), former state Sen. Charleta Tavares, and Columbus Attorney Zach Klein at a press conference about the Affordable Care Act.
Nick Evans / WOSU

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) wants a more forceful response from Ohio Republicans regarding the Trump administration's attempts to hobble the Affordable Care Act.

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