health care

Two nonprofits based in Lafayette, La., and Lufkin, Texas, are among more than 120 to receive a one-year federal grant to help people shop for health insurance premiums and understand their subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. That grant is to train and hire full-time "navigators" who provide in-person education and enrollment assistance for the healthcare marketplace that opens Oct. 1. Brian Burton is directing the $1.3 million navigator grant for the consortium of Area Health Education Centers across Louisiana.

Families USA, the Washington-based health care consumer advocacy group, says more than 353,000 Louisianans will be eligible for financial assistance to purchase premiums through the new health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act. What’s more, according to executive director Ron Pollack, nearly 2 million Louisianans with pre-existing conditions won’t be denied coverage or charged higher premiums due to their health ailments.

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Louisiana politicians, including Governor Bobby Jindal, continue to resist all programs associated with the Affordable Care Act, which is scheduled to go into full effect in 2014.

Since 2009, Louisiana and seven other states have been using a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to make Medicaid more accessible to those who are eligible.

Last month the Obama Administration pushed back the employee mandate under the Affordable Care Act by one year. Employers with 50 or more full-time workers now have until 2015 to either provide their workers with health insurance or face a penalty.

In states that are expanding Medicaid as part of the the new health law’s roll-out, businesses have more flexibility in deciding how to make sure their workers are covered. And though Louisiana is not participating, proponents of expanding Medicaid in the state see the delay of the employer mandate as a chance to rally some small business support.

More than a thousand people are expected to get free medical care today from a non-profit setting up at the Convention Center. It was moved up earlier than usual this year because of the Essence Festival.

More than a thousand people without health insurance are expected to attend a free one-day clinic in New Orleans next week. It’s the fourth visit to the city by a national nonprofit since Hurricane Katrina.

A new report finds that Louisiana has the second worst dentist shortage in the nation. Because of this, many residents are not getting adequate dental care, especially children and people who live in rural areas.

The Pew Charitable Trusts examined the lack of access to dental care nationwide. The findings revealed a scarcity of dentists who participate in Medicaid. In Louisiana, the report comes as the state Department of Health and Hospitals is slashing reimbursement rates paid to dentists through the Medicaid program with the July 1start of the new fiscal year.

The head of a nonprofit advocacy group that promotes health research said Louisiana stands to lose millions of dollars in medical research funding due to the across-the-board federal spending cuts known as the sequester. Mary Woolley, president of the Alexandria, Va.-based Research!America, said the National Institutes of Health distributes billions of dollars to universities and research institutions – and the grants are getting scarcer and more competitive.

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