Sunday, January 23, 2022

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Despite a failed attempt in the U.S. Senate, more than 200 business owners call for federal reforms to strengthen election laws, and the U.S. Supreme Court deals another blow to abortion providers.

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President Biden gets cheers and jeers as he marks his first year in the White House, the Jan. 6 committee wants to hear from Ivanka Trump, and the Supreme Court rejects another challenge to the Texas abortion law.

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Expanded broadband akin to electrification in rural America 80 years ago; small Wyoming grocery store survives monopolization; revitalized Kansas town gets national recognition; and Montana's Native communities look for voter suppression work-arounds.

ACA Enrollment Deadline and COVID Surge Collide

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Monday, January 10, 2022   

The deadline to enroll for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act is fast approaching. The latest COVID surge might be interrupting plans to sign up, but those involved with the process say there are ways to work around it.

This year's enrollment deadline is January 15. Louise Norris, health policy analyst for the website healthinsurance.org, said if you're overwhelmed with a COVID situation and still need to sign up, handling it over the phone is a good option.

Even if you can't complete enrollment right away, talking with a navigator might keep the window open.

"There might be a case-by-case situation where they can grant you an extension as long as they get you sort of started in the system," said Norris.

Online applications are another alternative to meeting with a navigator in person.

Norris said there's stronger demand this enrollment period because of extra subsidies from the American Rescue Plan. Analysts say that means a vast majority of Americans signing up for ACA plans will likely qualify for federal help.

Last year, nearly 60,000 Iowans signed up for coverage.

Norris said with high demand seen again this year, that could stretch some of the staff helping with enrollment. But she said the good news is that there's more funding for navigators than there was in recent years.

"There are a lot more boots on the ground this year in terms of people who are available to help with the enrollment process," said Norris.

Leading up to the current enrollment period, Iowa had seen major funding declines in this field. But this time, two agencies received nearly $500,000 combined to help with applications.

Iowa is one of the states that relies on the federal marketplace for carrying out ACA coverage.

As for premium costs under the ACA, the state is projected to see an average increase of nearly seven percent. But analysts say that's after three years of declines, while noting the extra subsidies should offset the increases.




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