published Thursday, December 19th, 2013

White House aims to blitz Tennessee with positive information about Obamacare

NASHVILLE - The White House is trying to drive home in Tennessee what it says are the overall beneficial impacts of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act with a blitz of positive information about the law's various impacts in the Volunteer State.

The move comes as Obama seeks to drive up enrollment in the online health insurance changes, which start Jan. 1, and counter recent attacks by Republicans on the law and rising public doubts about the troubled roll-out of the exchanges.

"Helping ordinary Americans and businesses take advantage of the benefits of the health care law is a top priority for the president and Democrats in Congress," the White House says in its release. "The Affordable Care Act does more than just give millions of uninsured Americans access to health insurance. It helps Americans who already have insurance feel more secure in their coverage, ensuring it'll be there when they need it. This is a pocketbook issue for many middle class families."

According to the Obama administration, beneficial impacts of the law in Tennessee include:

• 1,413,000 individuals on private insurance have gained coverage for at least one free preventive health care service such as a mammogram, birth control, or an immunization in 2011 and 2012.

"In the first eleven months of 2013 alone, an additional 584,400 people with Medicare have received at least one preventive service at no out of pocket cost," the release says.

• Up to 2.76 individuals with pre-existing conditions such as asthma, cancer, or diabetes – among them up to 353,000 children – "will no longer have to worry about being denied coverage or charged higher prices because of their health status or history."

• Some 1.2 million Tennesseans have gained expanded mental health and substance use disorder benefits and/or federal parity protections.

• An estimated 889,000 uninsured Tennesseans will have new health insurance options through Medicaid or private health plans in the marketplace.

It was unclear whether the release is factoring in Gov. Bill Haslam and fellow Republicans' in the Tennessee Legislature's turning down the Medicaid expansion, which the state has estimated could impact 180,000 residents.

• The administration says that a result of new policies "that make sure premium dollars work for the consumer, not just the insurer, in the past year insurance companies have sent rebates averaging $69 per family to approximately 131,800 consumers."

• In the first ten months of 2013, 74,100 seniors and people with disabilities have saved on average $768 on prescription medications as the health care law closes Medicare’s so-called “donut hole.”

• 59,000 young adults have gained health insurance because they can now stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26.

• Individuals no longer have to worry about having their health benefits cut off after they reach a lifetime limit on benefits, and starting in January, some 2.4 million Tennesseans "will no longer have to worry about annual limits, either."

• State-based health centers have received $108,059,000 to provide primary care, establish new sites, and renovate existing centers to expand access to quality health care. Tennessee has approximately 190 health center sites, which served about 384,000 individuals in 2012.

"In Tennessee, the benefits of the health care law are real, and the repeal plan pushed by Republicans in Congress would undermine or eliminate them across the board, reversing critical consumer protections and driving up costs for millions of Americans," a White House news release says.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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