Affordable Care Act

Capital Tonight: Dual Decisions Bring Health Care Law Back into Question

The fate of the Affordable Care Act is once again in the hands of the courts. A federal appeals court dealt a critical blow to a key component of Obamacare Tuesday. Then, just hours later, another panel ruled to keep the law in tact.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we explained how the decisions could put subsidies for health insurance at risk and what that could mean for nearly 600,000 Texans counting on them.

CONGRESSIONAL RESPONSE

The surge of immigrant children continues, while Congressional action is delayed another day.
We spoke to Congressman Roger Williams about whether any legislative answer has a chance of passing.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

Plus, Gov. Rick Perry has officially called in the cavalry to help DPS officials at the Texas-Mexico border. Is the move a practical solution or political stunt? Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi weighed in on that question and more.

 

 

Capital Tonight: Congressman Doggett on Hobby Lobby Ruling, Immigration

In a major blow to part of the president’s signature health care law, Supreme Court justices ruled 5-4 that family-owned corporations with religious objections to contraceptives can refuse to pay for them under the Affordable Care Act.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we heard responses from both sides of the debate over religious freedom and women’s health. Plus, Congressman Lloyd Doggett talked about the influx of immigrant children, including the executive action announced by President Barack Obama from the White House.

ON THE AGENDA

The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg is back in Austin after covering his twelfth Texas Democratic Convention. We heard his thoughts on how the party is portraying itself this time around.

NEW JOB DESCRIPTION

The federal guidelines for veterans employment are changing — a move that has some state officials speaking out. Shawn Deabay of the Texas Veterans Commission explained how the new rules could affect his efforts to help veterans here in Texas.

Capital Tonight: Rep. Coleman explains progress of integrated health projects

Two groups interested in criminal justice reform are calling for a closer look at the state’s prison system in light of Gov. Rick Perry’s refusal to abide by a law known as the Prison Rape Elimination Act, or PREA.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we heard why the Prison Justice League and the Texas Civil Rights Project say Perry’s decision is putting juvenile inmates at risk. Plus, we checked in on new developments involving UT Regent Wallace Hall, the U.S. secretary of veterans affairs and more.

INTEGRATED CARE

At the State Capitol, lawmakers on the County Affairs Committee dug into the details of health care costs and how more cooperation among regional stakeholders is helping to keep them down while drawing in federal funding. We spoke to the chairman of that committee, Rep. Garnet Coleman, about how those efforts are going.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi joined us to react to the day’s political news, including an awkward request involving the governor’s attorney, a judge and the Travis County district attorney.

Capital Tonight: Looking back at a complicated week in politics

After Wednesday’s shooting at Fort Hood, there’s been a renewed call for Congress and the Defense Department to end gun restrictions for service members on military installations. Some lawmakers, including Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, say the suspected shooter could have been stopped sooner if others on post had their weapons on them.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked back at how the original policy came about and why the Department of Defense is arguing against the change.

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

From the fight over pre-K plans to a major milestone for health care enrollment, the week brought a wide range of political news. We sat down with Robert Garrett of The Dallas Morning News, Alexa Ura of the Texas Tribune and the Quorum Report‘s Scott Braddock to sort out the stories that mattered.

BEHIND THE MUSIC

Plus, Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us for a fascinating fact-check about a climate change musical and whether your tax dollars paid for it.

Perry critical of latest Obamacare deadline extension

Gov. Rick Perry is taking the Obama administration to task, after the White House announced yet another Affordable Care Act deadline extension. The open enrollment deadline is Friday. This latest extension gives customers who have already started the enrollment process more time to finish it.

There have already been several Obamacare deadline extensions. Notably, the Obama administration took similar action in late last year, when they relaxed the deadline to secure coverage by Jan. 1. “As was the case for the December deadline, we’re going to want to make sure that people who are already in line can finish their enrollment,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

Republicans already highly critical of the president’s health care plan are pointing to this latest extension as another failure for the Obama administration. In a statement, Gov. Rick Perry said:

“Whether it’s deadlines or red lines, it’s clear we can’t trust President Obama to back up what he says, from adhering to his own disastrous health care policy to standing up to those who threaten democracy and freedom in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Crimea and elsewhere around the world.

In every policy decision he makes we see a feckless, meandering and muddled strategy that ultimately leaves the administration, and increasingly the United States, embarrassed by the lack of conviction and discipline we expect and deserve from the leader of the free world.”

TDI announces stricter health insurance navigator rules

People tasked with helping Texans sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act will now have to undergo an additional 20 hours of training. The Texas Department of Insurance announced the new regulations Tuesday. The training will be in addition to the 20-30 hours of already mandated by the federal government.

In September, Gov. Rick Perry directed the department to create state-specific rules for navigators. Perry initially asked for an additional 40 hours of coursework. He also wanted require applicants to show proof of citizenship and submit to fingerprinting and periodic background checks. The changes announced today fall short of Perry’s directive.

Opponents to the changes have argued that additional state regulations would be cost prohibitive and would affect nonprofits’ ability to help people sign up for health insurance.

Rep. Lon Burnam was among those opposed to the changes. In a statement Tuesday, Burnam said the TDI took a scaled-back approach after his office threatened to release documents that showed the original proposal was made for political, not public health reasons. “We shouldn’t play political games with people’s healthcare,” Burnam said. “There was no justification for the original proposal other than conservative politics, so I’m glad TDI has relented and come up with training requirements that are at least somewhat logical.”

Navigators must now complete the additional training by May 1. The deadline to sign up for health insurance and avoid paying a penalty is March 31st.

Capital Tonight: Campaign finance reports starting to trickle in

The fundraising numbers are starting to trickle in ahead of the Jan. 15 deadline to make campaign finance reports public. Those numbers will give voters a good idea of just how much support is behind their candidate, but they also influence how other candidates will wind up shaping their campaign strategies.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how fundraising totals will affect the governor’s race.

CANDIDATE CONVERSATION

It’s a crowded field for Republicans running for agriculture commissioner. Former state Rep. Tommy Merritt joined us to explain what separates him from the herd.

HEALTH CARE DISHARMONY

The Obama administration is touting new enrollment numbers as proof that the federal online exchange has moved beyond its rocky start. But what about those who still aren’t signing up? We spoke to one local musician who says the law doesn’t add up for him.

Capital Tonight: Democrats push back against navigator rules

Texas officials are still fighting over the details of the Affordable Care Act. The focus this time around is on newly proposed state rules for insurance navigators — the counselors who help people shop for health insurance under the law. Monday, the Texas Department of Insurance heard round two of public comment on the proposed changes.

Meanwhile, a three-judge panel in New Orleans heard one last round of arguments over the merits of a controversial abortion law. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will decide on the law’s constitutionality after Planned Parenthood and other groups filed a lawsuit late last year.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at where both laws stand in Texas.

LETTER OF THE LAW

Ahead of Monday’s hearing, Rep. Donna Howard wrote a letter to the Texas Department of Insurance detailing her concerns with the proposed restrictions. We spoke one-on-one with Rep. Howard about that issue and more.

DC UPDATE

In Washington, lawmakers got back to work after a long break. We checked in on their efforts to revisit a vote on unemployment insurance and more.

Capital Tonight: New year brings new health care deadlines

The law known as Obamacare is in effect, and if you’ve already enrolled through the exchange, so is your insurance.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at some of the other deadlines ahead and talked to those who now have coverage.

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

It’s Gov. Rick Perry’s last year as governor of Texas. Will he continue to have an impact in the state, or at a national level? Christy Hoppe of The Dallas Morning News, Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report and Emily Ramshaw of the Texas Tribune joined us to weigh in on that question and more.

POLITICS & RELIGION

There’s another development in the mounting legal battle over the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers include contraception coverage in their insurance plans. The U.S. Justice Department said Friday it does not want the Supreme Court to exempt religious groups from the contraception mandate. We checked in on the latest on that story from Washington.

Capital Tonight: White House pushes back over Obamacare

The Obama administration is releasing more details about the Affordable Care Act. Out of the more than 4 million people who had their plans canceled because they didn’t meet the new requirements, fewer than half a million failed to find other coverage.

The news comes along with a renewed strategy to push back against another Republican-led repeal effort. In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how the White House’s new strategy is going over in Texas, plus we continue our series on the Texas shale boom.

THE POPE AND POLITICS

It’s the year of the Pope, at least according to Time magazine. At the same time, the supreme court is set to take up the issue of contraceptive coverage. How does the renewed attention on the Catholic church translate to policy in Texas? We spoke to Jeffery Patterson of the Texas Catholic Conference to find out.

CAPITOL JINGLE

An Austin man now owns the one millionth Texas Capitol holiday ornament. The winning online bid raised thousands of dollars for education and preservation projects on the Capitol grounds. We met up with the winner, who talked about why he fought hard to keep the costly trinket in Texas.