INSURANCE

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker was expected to sign legislation on Monday that would cement in state law the Obama-era mandate for free birth control regardless of changes in federal policy or future repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Health insurer Anthem's dispute with Hartford HealthCare is over. The state's largest insurer, and one of its largest hospital groups announced on Saturday that they had come to terms, in the seven week-old contract dispute.

As the administration and Republicans in Congress look to scale back Medicaid, many voters and state lawmakers across the country are moving to make it bigger.

On Tuesday, Maine voters approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Advocates are looking to follow suit with ballot measures in Utah, Missouri and Idaho in 2018.

The Health Connector website goes live Wednesday for hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents expected to shop for health insurance for the coming year.

But after a year packed with pledges to repeal the Affordable Care Act and recent funding cuts, what’s left for many people is a lot of confusion.

So, let’s clear some things up.

Open enrollment for people who buy their own health insurance starts Wednesday and ends Dec. 15. That means there are only 45 days to shop for coverage. The shorter enrollment period this year is just one of the changes to the process for buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Here are five important factors to keep in mind if you plan to sign up for ACA coverage for 2018.

1. The health law has not been repealed.

Despite the efforts of President Trump and the Republican-led Congress, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land.

U.S. Capitol
Dion Hinchcliffe flickr.com/photos/dionhinchcliffe / Creative Commons

While the White House considers the payments a bailout for insurers, the Massachusetts congressional delegation wants to make sure President Donald Trump knows how thousands of Bay State families will be negatively impacted by his decision to end federal subsidies used by insurers to keep consumer costs down.

Now that the latest GOP health care proposal is being left for dead, you might think that health care reform efforts are over for the near future. But don't dismiss bipartisan efforts already underway that aim to stabilize the insurance market and potentially give states more flexibility in meeting federal standards.

Updated at 3:35 p.m. ET

Republicans are once again waving the white flag on health care.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he is pulling the Republican health care bill because it does not have the votes.

Rather than endure another embarrassing vote that sees his caucus come up short, the senators agreed in a closed-door meeting to shelve the bill.

Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana defended their namesake health care bill Monday even as the measure ran into potentially fatal opposition from a third Senate colleague.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, came out against the bill, joining fellow Republicans Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona. That leaves the GOP majority at least one vote short of the 50 votes needed to pass the bill over unified Democratic opposition.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

Republicans are facing even more uncertainty when it comes to finding the votes to pass a bill to repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act, as familiar voices in divergent wings of the party show just how difficult it is for the GOP to unite on the issue of health care.

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