healthcare

Before Luke Whitbeck began taking a $300,000-a-year drug, the 2-year-old's health was inexplicably failing.

A pale boy with enormous eyes, Luke frequently ran high fevers, tired easily and was skinny all over, except his belly stuck out like a bowling ball.

"What does your medicine do for you?" Luke's mother, Meg, asked after his weekly drug treatment recently.

President-elect Donald Trump said he's finishing a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act with a proposal that would provide "insurance for everybody," according to a report by The Washington Post.

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Capitol Hill is abuzz with activity these days. Inauguration is just a week away. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is not in a celebratory mood. In fact, she's still a little bit in denial.

At about 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, Republicans moved one step closer to repealing a law they have railed against since the moment it was passed nearly seven years ago.

By a final vote of 51-48, the Senate approved a budget resolution that sets the stage for broad swaths of the Affordable Care Act to be repealed through a process known as budget reconciliation. The resolution now goes to the House, where leaders are hoping to approve it by the end of the week.

President Obama and Vice President-elect Mike Pence were both on Capitol Hill Wednesday, making competing cases for and against Obama's signature health care law. Republicans have promised to make repeal of the Affordable Care Act their first order of business, once they control both Congress and the White House.

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Leading Republicans in Congress have vowed that even if they repeal most of the Affordable Care Act early in 2017, a replacement won't hurt those now receiving benefits.

Republicans in Congress are so eager to repeal the Affordable Care Act that some have vowed to get a bill to President-elect Donald Trump's desk on the day he takes the oath of office.

"We will move right after the first of the year on an Obamacare repeal resolution," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters at a news conference Monday.

Since Republicans have plans to repeal the federal health law, should consumers still sign up for next year's coverage? And if the health law marketplaces disappear, might Medicare eligibility be expanded? Here are answers to some recent questions from readers.

It sounds like Republicans plan to repeal the health law in January once Donald Trump is sworn in. Since open enrollment goes until the end of January, should I just wait and see what happens before signing up?

Republicans in Congress say they'll vote to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act early next year — even though they don't yet have a plan to replace it.

But they also insist that they don't want to harm any of the millions of people who got their health insurance under the law.

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In 45 days, Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States. One of the top priorities of that administration is to repeal and replace Obamacare. The man who will be at the forefront of that is Georgia Congressman Tom Price. President-elect Trump has nominated him as the next secretary of Health and Human Services.

Americans continue to be divided along partisan lines over Obamacare, with an overwhelming percentage of Democrats favoring it and an equal share of Republicans having unfavorable views, according to a newly released Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

But when it comes to an actual gutting of Obamacare, there's doesn't appear to be a lot of support.

Jessica Stefonik is grinning. She's got a bounce in her step. Her cheeks are a little puffy and her speech is a bit thick.

"It feels weird right now, but I'll get used to it," she says.

What she's trying to get used to is the feeling of having teeth.

On the day we met, Stefonik, a mom of three from Mosinee, Wis., got a set of dentures to replace all of her upper teeth, which she lost over many years to disease and decay.

Stefonik is just 31 years old.

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Georgia ranks 49th in the United States in the number of dentists per capita, according to research by Georgia State University and Georgia Tech. Not getting regular dental care can lead to major health problems, but many people just can’t afford it.

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Georgia's decision not to expand Medicaid has cost the state billions of dollars in federal funding and thousands of jobs, and may prompt several hospitals to shut down. It’s also forced large hospitals like Grady Memorial in Atlanta to absorb the costs of helping poor, uninsured and mentally ill patients.

The battle continues to rage between drug companies that are trying to make as much money as possible and insurers trying to drive down drug prices. And consumers are squarely in the middle.

That's because, increasingly, prescription insurers are threatening to kick drugs off their lists of approved medications if the manufacturers won't give them big discounts.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

One in 68 children are born with autism in the United States. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control. In Georgia the rate is even higher.

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