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Next month will see the start of insurance exchanges as part of President Barack Obama's overhaul of health care in the United States. The Associated Press in Kansas has teamed up with The Hutchinson News and The Salina Journal to produce a package of stories that explain what the changes will mean to everyday Kansans, and what the state's political and philosophical resistance to the overhaul has meant to how Kansans view the coming changes.
The pieces listed below will begin moving Thursday, in advance for use in editions Sunday, Sept. 29. The package of stories will be accompanied by photos and a graphic. Because of the amount of copy involved, newspapers may choose to break up the package over two or three days.
The text stories will be joined by photos. The stories and photos will move on the wire; the stories and the graphic will move separately in an email to editors and publishers that they should expect on Thursday or Friday.
The package is as follows:
HEALTH OVERHAUL-KANSAS RESISTS
OVERLAND PARK — David Stagner came to a town hall meeting seeking information about the online insurance marketplace set up for Kansas under the federal health care overhaul. The 26-year-old Lenexa resident said he's uninsured and hurt his back this summer, running up $15,000 to $16,000 in medical bills in only 10 days. He joined about 250 people on the University of Kansas' satellite campus in the Kansas City area for one of several events led by Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger ahead of Tuesday's opening of online marketplaces, or exchanges, in each state. But Praeger was forced to scrap plans for an aggressive $10 million campaign with television and billboard advertising because of opposition within the state's Republican-dominated government to the 2010 federal health care law championed by President Barack Obama. GOP conservatives in Kansas not only view the Democratic president's signature domestic initiative as burdensome and deeply flawed but strengthened their political power in Topeka by attacking it in election campaigns. By John Hanna. About 850 words, with photos.
HEALTH OVERHAUL-EVERDAY SCENARIOS
SALINA — Maggie Daisy could have benefited from the Affordable Care Act had it been in force earlier this year. She worked full time for a major fast food franchise that offered no benefits, so when she needed to see a doctor, she did what has long become a health care talking point. "If I got sick enough to require medical attention, I had to go the ER," said Daisy, a single mother of two teenagers. That emergency room visit, coupled with an out-patient surgery procedure, left the uninsured Salina woman with medical bills totaling more than $2,000 that she is struggling to pay off. Subsidies and tax credits apply to household incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of poverty, but a household whose income is below that threshold could face sticker shock. A check with insureks.org, the website established by the Kansas Insurance Department where applicants will go beginning Oct. 1 to shop for insurance plans, shows why. By Gordon D. Fiedler, Jr., The Salina Journal. About 950 words.
HEALTH OVERHAUL-SHADES OF MEDICARE
HUTCHINSON — When Medicare was launched in 1965, it wasn't clear that it would be as popular and valued as it is today. Marilyn Moon, an Augusta native who now is a fellow at the American Institutes for Research and director of the Center on Aging in Maryland, said early opponents of Medicare called it socialized medicine and warned it would be the end of health care as we knew it. Some doctors threatened to boycott Medicare and refuse to see patients who counted on it to pay their bills. "The irony of it is that it kind of happened with a whimper rather than a bang," Moon said. "It started and people suddenly began getting care and doctors found they were going to get paid for caring for people who in the past they often had to do with charity care." Now comes a new furor leading up to full implementation of the Affordable Care Act on Oct. 1. By Ken Stephens, The Hutchison News. About 1,200 words.
HUTCHINSON — About 366,000 Kansans don't have any health insurance. Some can't afford it. Some can't get it because of a pre-existing condition. And some are young and healthy and haven't thought they need it. But come Jan. 1, as major provisions of the Affordable Care Act take effect, many of those who think they can't afford it will be able to get a federal subsidy for insurance; pre-existing conditions will no longer be grounds for an insurance company to refuse to provide coverage, and the young invincibles, as well as all other uninsured people, will be required to have insurance or pay a tax penalty. Given those circumstances, the big question for many people is how much health insurance will cost under the ACA. Here are some answers to that and other common questions as the insurance exchanges come closer. By Ken Stephens, The Hutchinson News. About 2,000 words.