health care

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Starting October 1 people without health insurance, and those who buy their own insurance, can sign up to get coverage through the new federal health care exchanges.

The new programs have been covered extensively on NPR, but WWNO’s Eve Troeh sat down to get a few more details straight with Doug Wilkinson, the  field coordinator for the Louisiana Healthcare Education Coalition, a non-partisan group. He started the conversation summarizing who’s eligible, and who’s not.

In every state on Oct. 1, health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act will begin enrolling customers for plans that take effect January 1, 2014.

For the past few weeks, the culinary arts students at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., have been working with some less-than-seasoned sous chefs.

One of them, Clinton Piper, may look like a pro in his chef's whites, but he's struggling to work a whisk through some batter. "I know nothing about baking," he says.

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.

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