As Coronavirus Spreads, Workers Could Lean On ACA Coverage Protection

Concerns about health care during the coronavirus pandemic are raising the profile of the federal Affordable Care Act, which can help those who have lost their jobs with an option to get insurance.

Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News’ chief Washington correspondent, talked to WBUR’s “Here & Now” host Jeremy Hobson on Friday about efforts to get the federal government to let people have a special enrollment period for coverage plans sold on the ACA marketplaces, as well as the effect massive job layoffs will have on Medicaid.

Rovner pointed out that workers whose insurance was cut off because they lost their jobs are eligible to buy a new plan through the ACA but that consumer advocates are pressing for the marketplaces to reopen to give others who didn’t sign up for coverage last fall an opportunity to reconsider.

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Veteran California Journalists Confront Challenges of Coronavirus Beat

Jenny Gold is one of several reporters at California Healthline / Kaiser Health News who focus almost exclusively on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Michael Short

On March 18, Jenny Gold, an Oakland-based reporter with Kaiser Health News (KHN), learned that surgeons at UC Davis Medical Center were still performing elective surgeries — even as hospitals in California and across the country were desperately seeking masks and other protective personal equipment in time for an expected surge of coronavirus patients.

Although news outlets had already reported the information, Gold decided to go deeper by interviewing unnamed physicians at the medical center. They expressed dismay at the decision to continue with elective surgeries, even as a growing number of state and local governments, including San Francisco, issued moratoriums. One doctor revealed some of the procedures that the hospital did that week.

“On Monday, March 16, two of the hospital’s … Read more

‘You’ve Been Served’: Wisconsin Hospitals Sued Patients Even During Pandemic

When her doorbell rang Sunday night, Blanche Jordan was just starting a new Game of Thrones puzzle on her living room floor.

Jordan, 39, is a breast-cancer survivor who is taking social distancing seriously, so she put on a mask before opening the door. A woman handed Jordan a paper and said: “You’ve been served.”

The paper was a court summons that said Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital, Inc. was suing Jordan for $7,150. Just three weeks before, Jordan had paid off a different $5,000-plus Froedtert debt linked to a hysterectomy that her insurance did not cover.

A lawsuit was the last thing Jordan expected during a viral pandemic.

“This lady came to my door. She didn’t have a mask on. She didn’t have gloves. And she looked at me like I’m crazy because I had a mask across my face,” said Jordan, who lives in Milwaukee and works as a … Read more

COVID-19 CA Physician Survey: Do Critical Care Doctors Have What They Need?

To help Californians and state policymakers understand evolving demands on the state’s health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic, CHCF is working with survey firms on two fronts. CHCF and global survey firm Ipsos are assessing residents’ desire for COVID-19 testing and their access to health care services. CHCF and Truth on Call, a physician market-research firm, are surveying hospital-based critical care, emergency department, and infectious disease physicians about staffing and the availability of testing, personal protective equipment (PPE), intensive care unit beds, and ventilators.

April 2, 2020 — In a statewide survey released today by CHCF and Truth on Call, 74% of hospital-based critical care physicians surveyed said that patients and health care workers at their hospital who need it can get tested for COVID-19 right now. The remaining 26% said they did not have enough testing available to meet current needs.

Seven in 10 said their hospital … Read more

Pandemic-Stricken Cities Have Empty Hospitals, But Reopening Them Is Difficult

As city leaders across the country scramble to find space for the expected surge of COVID-19 patients, some are looking at a seemingly obvious choice: former hospital buildings, sitting empty, right downtown.

In Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Los Angeles, where hospitalizations from COVID-19 increase each day, shuttered hospitals that once served the city’s poor and uninsured sit at the center of a public health crisis that begs for exactly what they can offer: more space. But reopening closed hospitals, even in a public health emergency, is difficult.

Philadelphia, the largest city in America with no public hospital, is also the poorest. There, Hahnemann University Hospital shut its doors in September after its owner, Philadelphia Academic Health System, declared bankruptcy. While not public, the 496-bed safety-net hospital mainly treated patients on public insurance. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney began talks with the building’s owner, California-based investment banker Joel Freedman, as soon as … Read more