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NEWS
October 7, 2013 | By Chris Hepp, Inquirer Staff Writer
This message on the Affordable Care Act's online portal Friday summed matters up succinctly: "We have a lot of visitors on the site right now. Please stay on this page. We're working to make the experience better, and we don't want you to lose your place in line. We'll send you to the log-in page as soon as we can. Thanks for your patience!" So went Week One of the nation's great experiment with universal health care: a flood of demand, at least for information, overwhelming new online health exchanges that, at least initially, were not up to the task.
NEWS
October 4, 2013 | By Jonathan Tamari, Inquirer Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach of Chester County became the latest local Republican to break with House conservatives Wednesday, calling for a "clean" spending bill to reopen the federal government. Gerlach, who accompanied his statement with eye-opening statistics about the tenor of messages from his constituents, is the fifth Republican from the moderate Philadelphia suburbs to part ways with the GOP's House leadership in the ongoing fight over government spending and President Obama's sweeping health-care law. "It is time for Congress to vote on a budget bill that gets the government back to work providing all of the services already paid for by the hardworking taxpayers in my district and across the country," Gerlach's statement said.
NEWS
October 3, 2013 | By Jonathan Tamari, Inquirer Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Five Philadelphia-area Republicans have broken ranks with their party  and called for a new approach to end the federal government shutdown, the latest being Pennsylvania Rep. Jim Gerlach. Reps. Charles W. Dent, Michael Fitzpatrick, Pat Meehan, and Jon Runyan - all from moderate districts and all more vulnerable to a political challenge than most House members - urged the GOP to offer a "clean" bill that would fund the government without attaching any changes to President Obama's sweeping health law. The request, made on the day the federal government's shutdown unfolded, in effect agrees to the conditions set by the president and Senate Democrats and goes against conservative Republicans.
BUSINESS
October 2, 2013 | By Chris Hepp, Inquirer Staff Writer
While the launching Tuesday of a key phase of the Affordable Care Act is set to revolutionize American health-insurance coverage, expect the campaign to move rather deliberately on Day One. In fact, while the opening of online health-care markets will allow the uninsured or self-insured to begin purchasing coverage under what many call Obamacare, more energy is expected to be expended educating consumers than writing policies. This makes sense, given that consumers will face a daunting array of options and have up to six months to make a choice.
NEWS
October 2, 2013 | By Harold Brubaker, Inquirer Staff Writer
For Independence Blue Cross, the largest health insurer in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Tuesday's arrival of a government-mandated health insurance marketplace marks a major pivot toward insurance plans for individuals. IBC estimated that from 500,000 to 600,000 people in Philadelphia and the four surrounding Pennsylvania counties could shop for insurance on the federal exchange, either because they have no insurance now or are likely to shop on the exchange for other reasons. That represents a huge business opportunity, but it won't happen overnight.
BUSINESS
October 2, 2013 | By Erin E. Arvedlund, Inquirer Columnist
Tax law has changed as a result of the Affordable Care Act - Obamacare - and you may either receive a tax refund or pay a penalty as a result. As of Oct. 1, uninsured individuals can start shopping for health insurance through online marketplaces, also called exchanges. If you have employer-sponsored insurance, an individual plan, and Medicaid or Medicare, you do not need to purchase anything. If you don't have insurance and instead purchase through a state marketplace, you may qualify for a tax credit.
NEWS
October 1, 2013 | By Jonathan Tamari, Inquirer Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Philadelphia-area lawmakers reflected the national political divide Monday night as the federal government skidded into a shutdown: split along clear party lines. While one area Republican, U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent of Allentown, made a high-profile push to end the latest fiscal skirmish with a government funding bill that would not make any changes to the Affordable Care Act - a condition Democrats have demanded - he could not rally other moderates to join him. Instead, all other local House Republicans, including many who represent districts that President Obama either won or narrowly lost a year ago, voted with the rest of their caucus to fund the government, but only if Democrats accepted a new set of proposed changes to the president's signature health-care law. By 9 p.m. Monday, the House had passed two new plans, and a third vote was expected shortly after midnight.
NEWS
September 30, 2013 | By Michael Vitez, Inquirer Staff Writer
Kevin Teer, 51, of Collingswood, lost his job two years ago, working for a local printer, and hasn't had health insurance since. He works 4 to 12 p.m. as a dispatcher for a cab company now, while his wife is a part-time receptionist. They have a 20-year-old son who also has no health insurance, and a 14-year-old who is covered through a state program for children. What does he know about the health insurance exchange that comes to life this week? "I am completely ignorant.
NEWS
September 29, 2013 | By Jonathan Tamari, Inquirer Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - In a high-profile moment fraught with political implications, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) voted Friday to block a spending bill needed to keep the government running, prompting Democratic attacks that painted him as "extreme. " Toomey, a Democratic target in a state that tilted blue last year, sided with GOP hard-liners in a key procedural vote that split the party between its establishment leaders and rising stars of the right. He joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas)
NEWS
September 22, 2013 | By Jonathan Tamari, Inquirer Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - The Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved a controversial plan Friday to fund government operations through Dec. 15 but eliminate all the money behind President Obama's signature health care law, helping set in motion a budget fight with potentially severe consequences. Each of the Philadelphia suburbs' Republican lawmakers voted for the plan. The tactic - essentially demanding that Democrats agree to slash Obamacare in order to keep the government running - has been pushed by some of the GOP's most combative figures, but opposed by many Republicans who worry that a government shutdown would backfire.
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