Sunday, December 18, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: About Those Skyrocketing Premiums and Their Relationship To the Skyrocketing “Tax Credit” [Taxpayer Money]….

‘Taxpayers will spend $9.8 billion more on Obamacare subsidies next year than this year due to double-digit increases in premiums, according to a report from the Center for Health and Economy.

The Obama administration announced in October that Obamacare premiums were set to increase by double digits, increasing at a faster rate than they have in the past.

“For the median HealthCare.gov consumer, the benchmark second-lowest silver plan premium is increasing by 16 percent this year, before taking into account the effects of financial assistance,” the administration said. According to the center, the silver benchmark plan premiums will increase by 22 percent.

The administration rarely admits that taxpayer subsidies are increasing to cover rising costs, although they often tout those subsidies for protecting Obamacare customers from higher premiums.

Of the 11.1 million individuals enrolled in Obamacare last year, 9.4 million received tax credits averaging $291. The report estimates that $32.8 billion was spent last year on tax subsides for Obamacare premiums.

“Because of the distributions of the population in the marketplace and the lack of household income growth to match premiums, we expect the average monthly tax credit to increase by 26 percent to $367,” the report said. “If we assume that the proportion of enrollees receiving premium tax credits remains the same from 2016 to 2017, then the expected federal spending on premium tax credits for 2017 would be $42.6 billion.”- Obamacare Tax Subsidies Will Increase by $9.8 Billion Due to Premium Hikes


Tax credit spending will rise to $42.6 billion in 2017 from $32.8 billion in 2016,

freebeacon.com, 12/16/2017
Link to the entire article appears below:

http://freebeacon.com/issues/obamacare-tax-subsidies-will-increase-9-8-billion-due-premium-hikes/


 


 


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: Happy Holidays Maryland!

“Only four of the original 24 Obamacare health co-ops remain standing after Maryland’s co-op announced Dec. 8 it was suspending the sale of individual health insurance policies, the Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has found.

With the near-collapse of Maryland’s co-op — called Evergreen Health — at least 989,000 individuals nationwide have lost their health insurance coverage when the nonprofit co-ops stopped selling insurance to customers, according to TheDCNF’s tally.

The losses cost taxpayers at least $2.2 billion in upfront federal loans awarded by the Obama administration to 24 nonprofit co-ops under Obamacare. The co-ops were intended to help keep health care costs down by providing non-profit competition with commercial for-profit insurers.

The losses do not include statewide costs where the state or local governments were forced to cover doctor and hospital bills that the failed co-ops could not pay from remaining revenues.


In many cases, those losses were substantial. In New York alone, state taxpayers face at least $200 million in costs owed to medical providers that the bankrupt Health Republic co-op could not cover, according to the Albany Business Review.

Evergreen Health had hoped to find a for-profit partner to bail it out of its precarious financial situation. It owes the federal government $22 million in risk payments, and is unable to cover it, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

About 9,000 individual customers who went with the co-op out of 264,000 who signed up for all Obamacare health insurance programs available in the state, according to the Baltimore Sun. All 9,000 are being dropped and must find new health insurance coverage during the holiday season.” - Repealing Itself? Only Four of 24 Obamacare Co-Ops Remain Open, dailycaller.com, 12/12/2016

Link to the entire article appears below:

http://dailycaller.com/2016/12/12/repealing-itself-only-four-of-24-obamacare-exchanges-remain-open/











 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: Repeal via the Legislative Tool Known as “Reconciliation”

‘Now, following Trump’s defeat of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Republicans are laying the groundwork for dismantling the Affordable Care Act next year.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a sentence-per-sentence destruction of the bill, but I do think that substantial chunks of it are in really grave danger,” Seth Chandler, a visiting scholar at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center and a professor at the University of Houston Law Center, told The Daily Signal.

Republicans need 60 votes in the Senate to pass a bill repealing the health care law and would fall short of that threshold in the new Congress, where the GOP will hold at least 52 seats.

But GOP lawmakers are likely to use a budget tool called reconciliation—a procedure used in the Senate that allows a bill to pass with 51 votes—to roll back key provisions of Obamacare and avoid a Democratic filibuster.

The GOP-led House and Senate passed a budget resolution last year that included instructions to use reconciliation to repeal Obamacare and were ultimately successful in getting it to Obama’s desk, where it was vetoed.

The bill called for the repeal of the individual and employer mandates, Medicaid expansion, tax credits, medical device tax, and Cadillac tax. It also stripped the government of its authority to run the exchanges set up under the law and lessened the fine for failing to comply with the mandates to $0, which was needed to abide by Senate rules.

GOP leaders in the House and Senate haven’t committed to using reconciliation again next year to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, but House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday the law is “collapsing under its own weight.”

“This Congress, this House majority, this Senate majority has already demonstrated and proven we’re able to pass legislation and put it on the president’s desk,” Ryan, R-Wis., said during a press conference. “Problem is, President Obama vetoed it. Now, we have a President Trump who has promised to fix this.”’ - How Republicans Can Start to Dismantle Obamacare With a Trump Presidency, dailysignal.com, 11/09/2016

 

Link to the entire article appears below:

http://dailysignal.com/2016/11/09/how-republicans-can-start-to-dismantle-obamacare-with-a-trump-presidency/?utm_source=TDS_Email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MorningBell&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWkRabFlXWXdOV1F5WXpGaiIsInQiOiJZeEkyQ1RhanVSOWMyWTlKTmRPTXEzbTg0RXRFM1daZU5LcFFoK3JPK090cG5UVmNYWjhIQ3FvZUJpc2NJK1ZRMStqT0xjM1FHSlhCU3lVRWQ4TGJHOWJiNTloajdPVlpwaytyOGhXYUZDQT0ifQ%3D%3D


 


 


Saturday, December 3, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: Supreme Court Rulings and Influence

“Here's an interesting bit from the latest trove of Clinton campaign emails leaked out Thursday morning: Clinton operatives were conspiring in June 2015 on how to best threaten the Supreme Court to rule their way in King v. Burwell, the case that could have effectively ended ObamaCare.

On June 2, 2015, Neera Tanden, the president of the leftist Center for American Progress, emailed Clinton advisor Jake Sullivan her thoughts on how to put the most pressure on the Supreme Court to rule in favor of ObamaCare.

Basically, she wrote, scaring the Court would be the best tactic:

As Jennifer will remember, it was pretty critical that the President threw the gauntlet down last time on the Court, warning them in the first case that it would politicize the role of the Court for them to rule against the ACA. As a close reader of the case, I honestly believe that was vital to scaring Roberts off.

Tanden went on to strategize that the campaign would have to make the Supreme Court aware of “negative political consequences to ruling against the government,” which it could do by planting stories about how Clinton would turn the Supreme Court into an election issue:

Therefore, I think it would be helpful to have a story of how progressives and Hillary would make the Supreme Court an election issue (which would be a ready argument for liberals) if the Court rules against the government. It's not that you wish that happens. But that would be the necessary consequence of a negative decision...the Court itself would become a hugely important political issue.

“We can get that story started,” Tanden helpfully suggested, but acknowledged it “rests on you guys to make it stick.” In subsequent emails on the thread, Jennifer Palmieri (communications director) approved of the approach, while Brian Fallon (press secretary) offered his help in getting the story out there.

The message to the Supreme Court? Vote against us, and you'll regret it.” - Leaked Email: Clinton Campaign Plotted To Threaten Supreme Court Over ObamaCare Ruling


Also see this link:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-13/email-confirms-obama-political-pressure-vital-scaring-roberts-supreme-courts-obamaca


ACA/Obamacare: Price Nominated to Lead HHS


"Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican, is President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services. He is currently chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee.

Price, an orthopedic surgeon for nearly 20 years before coming to Congress, has represented the northern Atlanta suburbs in the House of Representatives since 2005.

If confirmed by the Senate, Price would likely have a central role in the Republicans' stated plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and design a replacement. He has repeatedly introduced legislation to repeal and replace the ACA and is one of hundreds of Republicans who have voted dozens of times to repeal the federal health care law since it was enacted in 2010. Those efforts either didn't make it to President Obama's desk or were vetoed by him.

As HHS secretary, Price would not only oversee Obamacare as it currently exists, but also run the government's largest social programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. He would also have authority over the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and other major health agencies." - Trump Chooses Rep. Tom Price, An Obamacare Foe, To Run HHS, npr.org, 11/28/2016

Link to the entire article appears below:

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/11/28/502566553/trump-chooses-rep-tom-price-an-obamacare-foe-to-run-hhs


 


 



Sunday, November 6, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: Director’s Law on the Skids

“For the 85% of enrollees with lower incomes, federal subsidies make the premiums somewhat more affordable. Those even closer to the poverty line can get additional subsidies that reduce the deductibles, which can run into the thousands of dollars.

But for many middle class Americans -- a single person earning more than $47,520 or a family of four with an income of $97,200 -- the pricey premiums and deductibles mean health care coverage remains out of reach.

"The middle class are getting squeezed," said Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. "They aren't getting subsidies and these deductibles are hard to afford."

This schism is turning Obamacare into another government benefit program for lower- and moderate-income Americans. The typical enrollee has an income of only 165% of the federal poverty level, or $40,000 for a family of four.

The real problem is that health care is very expensive, Levitt said. But most Americans don't realize the true cost because they are shielded by their employers.

Some 150 million people have insurance through work, paying only about $440 a month for a family plan, while employers cover the rest, or about $1,075.” - Is Obamacare really affordable? Not for the middle class, Obamacare is now a tale of two health insurance programs, CNN money, 11/04/2016


Note: The seen and unseen regarding the above, the unseen as it were, might well be found in Director’s Law, political constituency building with other people's money and the backfiring (unintended negative cascading consequences) of the conjunction of both concepts. How so? (1)

Reviewing Director’s Law:

Director's law states that the bulk of public programs are designed primarily to benefit the middle classes but are financed by taxes paid primarily by the upper and lower classes. The empirically derived law was first proposed by economist Aaron Director.

The philosophy of Director's law is that, based on the size of its population and its aggregate wealth, the middle class will always be the dominant interest group in a modern democracy. As such, it will use its influence to maximize the state benefits it receives and minimize the portion of costs it bears. (2) (3)

Hence if in the main and upon normal occasion ACA/Obamacare is viewed as a program to benefit the middle class, then the benefit thereof could easily be considered as: Particular politicos exercising political constituency building with other peoples money. That is, yet another middle class benefit at the expense of other taxpayers which leads to a political constituency wanting the continuation of the benefit and therefore reliance upon (support/voting for) the sponsoring politicos of such program.

The problem then becomes: Much of the middle class, rather than benefiting, are being pummeled by skyrocketing premiums along with high deductibles and high co-insurance payments.

In the end, a middle class benefit (Director’s Law) meaningfully and purposefully deployed as a political constituency building exercise by particular politicos with other people's money, backfires. Backfires as a vast swath of the middle class fails to benefit and actually experiences rising prices.

The supposed political constituency developed by the politico becomes an advisory political constituency.

Notes:

(1) http://www.econlib.org/library/Bastiat/basEss1.html


(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Director%27s_law


(3) https://www.jstor.org/stable/724835?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents


 

 

 


 





Monday, October 31, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: “Everything called insurance is not necessarily insurance.” -Thomas Sowell

“American consumers figured out from the beginning that Obamacare wasn’t worth buying. Now insurance companies are wising up. Aetna is withdrawing from Obamacare exchanges in 11 states, following United Healthcare Group’s decision last April to leave 34 states. Which will be the next domino to fall?

In a well-functioning insurance market, such as for automobile accidents, insurance carriers craft countless plans to meet exactly the needs of millions of different individuals. Typically, only catastrophic unexpected events are covered, not the predictable oil changes. Automobile insurance is real insurance, and automobile owners as well as insurance companies eagerly participate.

Not so for Obamacare, which is not insurance at all. Under Obamacare annual physicals, which are predictable and routine, are covered without charge, but major surgery requires payment of a $6,000 to $12,000 deductible.”

“The Obamacare model is not workable, as I wrote in a 2009 column. It requires an expensive, comprehensive plan that obligates participants to purchase coverage for maternity care even if they have finished having children, pediatric dental care even if they are childless, mental health coverage even if they do not need it, and drug abuse coverage even if they have never taken any drugs.

People are not allowed to buy a simple plan that covers major illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, or falling off a bike in traffic. Furthermore, the deductibles—the amount that has to be spent before people can use the insurance—are so broad as to make coverage practically useless. For 2016, the average deductible for singles for the lowest-cost bronze plan is $5,700, and for families, it is $12,000.

That is why those who are on the exchanges are disproportionally sicker than average and have chronic health conditions that make them more expensive to insure.

Obamacare is collapsing as health insurance companies continue to withdraw from the exchanges. What then? Congress will either convert Obamacare into a public plan—such as Medicare for all—or repeal it altogether.”

“Rather than hire the same academic consultants who designed the non-insurance program called Obamacare, the next administration would be well advised to listen to the real expert on medical insurance: the American consumer. That consumer is very happy with a wide range of well-functioning insurance markets such as automobile insurance, home-owners insurance, and life insurance. So too are the insurance companies that provide the insurance, all without a dime of federal subsidy.” - Insurance Companies Wise Up to Obamacare, economics21.org, 08/16/2016

Link to the entire essay appears below:

http://economics21.org/html/insurance-companies-wise-obamacare-2021.html


 

 

 

 

 


ACA/Obamacare: Yes, Obamacare Did Make Health Insurance More Expensive Without Addressing the Real Price Driver Problem.

"Way back in 2009, some folks on the left shared a chart showing that national expenditures on healthcare compared to life expectancy.

This comparison was not favorable to the United States, which easily spent the most money but didn’t have concomitantly impressive life expectancy.

At the very least, people looking at the chart were supposed to conclude that other nations had better healthcare systems.

And since the chart circulated while Obamacare was being debated, supporters of that initiative clearly wanted people to believe that the U.S. somehow could get better results at lower cost if the government played a bigger role in the healthcare sector.

There were all sorts of reasons to think that chart was misleading (higher average incomes in the United States, more obesity in the United States, different demographics in the United States, etc), but my main gripe was that the chart was being used to advance the cause of bigger government when it actually showed – at least in part – the consequences of government intervention.

The real problem, I argued, was third-party payer. Thanks to programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, government already was paying for nearly 50 percent of all heath spending in the United States (indeed, the U.S. has more government spending for health programs than some nations with single-payer systems!).

But that’s just part of the story. Thanks to a loophole in the tax code for fringe benefits (a.k.a., the healthcare exclusion), there’s a huge incentive for both employers and employees to provide compensation in the form of very generous health insurance policies. And this means a big chunk of health spending is paid by insurance companies.

The combination of these direct and indirect government policies is that consumers pay very little for their healthcare. Or, to be more precise, they may pay a lot in terms of taxes and foregone cash compensation, but their direct out-of-pocket expenditures are relatively modest.

And this is why I said the national health spending vs life expectancy chart was far less important than a chart I put together showing the relentless expansion of third-party payer. And the reason this chart is so important is that it helps to explain why healthcare costs are so high and why there’s so much inefficiency in the health sector."














- Another Grim Reminder that Obamacare Has Made Healthcare More Expensive, FEE, 08/30/2016.

Link to the entire essay appears below:

https://fee.org/articles/another-grim-reminder-that-obamacare-has-made-healthcare-more-expensive/#0



Friday, October 7, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: When “Affordable” Means Unaffordable…..Oklahoma Premiums to Increase an Average of 76% for 2017

‘Obamacare premiums will raise a staggering 76 percent on average for Oklahoma residents, and the state's top insurance regulator says the state's insurance exchange set up by the law is on "life support."

Oklahoma's Insurance Department said on Tuesday that increases in individual marketplace plans will range from 58 percent to 96 percent.

"These jaw-dropping increases make it clear that Oklahoma's exchange is on life support," said Insurance Commissioner John Doak, in a statement. "Health insurers are losing massive amounts of money. If they don't raise rates they'll go out of business. This system has been doomed from the beginning."’ - Oklahoma Obamacare plans face 76 percent hike, Washington Examiner, 10/04/2016

Link to the entire article appears below:

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/oklahoma-obamacare-plans-face-76-percent-hike/article/2603629#!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: And About Those Security Issues on Obamacare Exchanges….

“Obamacare’s web exchanges are “vulnerable to fraud,” according to a watchdog report Monday that says government investigators were able to get taxpayer-subsidized coverage for fake enrollees despite a brand-new safeguard against chicanery on the law’s insurance exchanges.

The Government Accountability Office said six fictitious applicants who were able to obtain private coverage and subsidies under the Affordable Care Act during its testing in 2014 were successful again in 2016, even though none of the “enrollees” had filed a 2014 tax return.”

“The GAO said that after a payment-processing error booted two of its fake enrollees, four of them were able to retain coverage — two filed paper forms that didn’t ask about the 2014 return, and two lied and said they’d filed returns.

The GAO said one of its lying customers had to verbally reassure a marketplace representative and then received a warning in May about filing a 2014 return, though coverage remained in place as of August.

“Our undercover testing for the 2016 coverage year found that the eligibility determination and enrollment processes of the federal and state marketplaces we reviewed remain vulnerable to fraud, as we previously reported for the 2014 and 2015 coverage years,” the GAO said.” - GAO: Obamacare exchanges still vulnerable to fraud, Investigators able to sneak fake enrollees by safeguards, Washington Times, 09/12/2016

Link to entire article appears below:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/sep/12/gao-obamacare-exchanges-still-vulnerable-fraud/


 

 


 

Monday, September 26, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: The Price of the Medicaid Expansion Component of ACA is 49% Higher Than Advocates Claimed

‘The implementation of major legislation such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) often results in fiscal outcomes that differ significantly from prior projections. Whenever this happens it leads to many questions, much confusion, and several claims and counter-claims. Rarely is it immediately clear whether the law is working differently than envisioned, or whether the unexpected outcomes are due to inevitable projection errors having nothing to do with the law.

On rare occasion, however, a prior projection proves so far off that its significance must be noted. Two weeks ago my colleague Brian Blase uncovered such a development with respect to the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Recall that the ACA considerably expanded Medicaid eligibility – an expansion made optional for the states in a later Supreme Court ruling. It turns out that the 2015 per-capita cost of this Medicaid expansion is a whopping 49% higher than projections made just one year before.

This disclosure can be found on page 27 of the 2015 Actuarial Report for Medicaid, released this July. Here is how the report described the issue:

“While the newly eligible adult per enrollee costs in 2014 were slightly lower than estimated in last year’s report ($5,488 compared to $5,517, or about 1 percent lower), the estimated per enrollee costs for 2015 in this year’s report are substantially greater ($6,366 compared to $4,281, or about 49 percent higher).”’ - The Soaring Costs of the ACA’s Medicaid Expansion, economics21.org, 08/01/2016

Link to the entire essay appears below:

http://www.economics21.org/html/soaring-costs-aca%E2%80%99s-medicaid-expansion-1989.html

Friday, September 9, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: Access to Insurance Does Not Mean Access to Health-care

“Paul Vondra is just the sort of person the architects of Obamacare had in mind.

The 59-year-old Bellevue resident is a temporary worker contracted through a New Jersey agency to work as a mail clerk for a major local bank. He doesn’t own a car, so he bikes each day to his job in the Strip District.

His agency has offered him a choice of two Affordable Care Act-qualified plans. But Mr. Vondra, who makes less than $25,000 annually and has no dependents, said the cheapest plan carries a monthly premium of $165, or $800 a year, and a yearly deductible of $2,500.

Also, the plan’s co-insurance — the amount he would be responsible for after he has met his deductible — is $4,500, while out-of-pocket hospital costs are capped at $10,000.

“It might as well be $10 million,” he said.

He’s not alone. Officials at local health centers and clinics say they’re seeing more people like Mr. Vondra whose access to insurance has not translated into access to care.”

Annette Fetchko, administrator at the Catholic Charities Free Health Care Center, Downtown, said the center has helped secretaries, security guards, custodians, seasonal construction workers and others who have insurance but who still can’t afford to fill prescriptions or follow through on a doctor’s referral to see a specialist.

As a result, she said, the center has broadened its mission, with a focus on ensuring access to care regardless of insurance status.

“At the end of the day, the underinsured are no different than the uninsured,” she said.” - Affordable Care Act: Access to insurance is no guarantee a person will have access to care, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 09/05/2016

Link to the entire article appears below:

http://www.post-gazette.com/business/healthcare-business/2016/09/05/Access-to-insurance-is-no-guarantee-a-person-will-have-access-to-care/stories/201609040115


 

 

 


 


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: When ‘Marketplace’ Means Few Choices Or No Choice

“More bad news for customers of the Affordable Care Act’s healthcare marketplaces: According to a new analysis from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, almost a third of counties will have just one insurer participating in the exchanges by 2017, significantly more than the 7% of counties who had one option this year. That equates to 19% of all enrollees facing just one insurance option.”

“The analysis also says there could be just two insurance options in an additional 31% of counties, meaning about 60% of counties in the U.S. could have 2 or fewer ACA insurers in 2017. In 2016, Wyoming was the only state where 100% of counties had just one marketplace option; in 2017, Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, and South Carolina are likely to join it.” - One-Third of Counties Will Have Just One Obamacare Insurer by 2017, 08/29/2017, time.com

Link to the entire article appears below:

http://time.com/money/4470574/obamacare-providers-2017/

Monday, August 29, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: Dr. Strange Insurance…. Or How One Quits Worrying and Learns to Love Major Price Increases

"State insurance officials say they are feeling pressure to approve large ObamaCare premium increases to prevent more insurers losing money from dropping out of the market altogether.

Tennessee’s insurance commissioner, Julie Mix McPeak, this week announced the approval of premium hikes of 62 percent, 46 percent and 44 percent, respectively, for the three insurers on the state’s marketplace.

"She said her department’s actuaries had found the rate increases to be justified.

“I didn't feel like I had any choice but to approve those rates when it came back to be actuarially justified,” she said.

Tennessee is unlikely to be alone in authorizing premium hikes, either. In Maryland, officials are expecting a hike.

“There are going to be significant increases in the individual market,” said Al Redmer, the insurance commissioner in Maryland, where the rates are still being reviewed.

It is unclear how many other states may allow large premium hikes.

An early estimate from ObamaCare analyst Charles Gaba finds that for nine states the average approved premium increase for next year is 27.6 percent." - State officials under pressure to OK ObamaCare premium hikes, thehill.com, 08/26/2016

Link to the entire article appears below:

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/293386-state-officials-under-pressure-to-approve-obamacare-premium-hikes


 


 


Friday, August 26, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: Rocky Exchange Road in Good Old Rocky Top

‘Tennessee’s insurance regulator, Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak, said the state’s Obamacare exchange is “very near collapse,” according to her statement to the Tennessean.

McPeak is focusing her efforts on making sure there are as many insurers possible paying into the Tennessee exchange. McPeak told the press, “I’m doing everything I can to prevent a situation where that turns to zero.”

Kevin Walters, director of communications for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that “Tennessee has struggled to curb healthcare costs,” and that the state “has some of the highest insurance claims costs in the nation.”’ - Obamacare ‘Near Collapse’ In Tennessee, Says Insurance Regulator, daily caller.com, 08/24/2016


Link to the entire article appears below:

http://dailycaller.com/2016/08/24/obamacare-near-collapse-in-tennessee/#ixzz4IQ6NvXKq

ACA/Obamacare: And about the infamous phrase "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor"

'"If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor" was President Barack Obama's signature catchphrase he used to sell the Affordable Care Act to the American people. Now Obamacare's flagship website, healthcare.gov, no longer even addresses the issue.

Ironically, the section in question was the first public (if indirect) admission by the Obama administration that the president's promise was less than a "guarantee." As THE WEEKLY STANDARD first reported in July 2013, the website told consumers that they "may be able to keep your current doctor," in contrast to the president's unequivocal statement: "Here is a guarantee that I've made. If you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance. If you've got a doctor that you like, you will be able to keep your doctor."' -Obamacare Website No Longer Addresses 'You Can Keep Your Doctor' Healthcare.gov has disappeared references to Obama's failed promise. The Weekly Standard, 08/24/2016

Link to the entire article appears below:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/obamacare-website-no-longer-addresses-you-can-keep-your-doctor/article/2003956

Thursday, August 25, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: Schemes Unravel Then Schemes Implode

“It has not been a good week for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare.

A slew of news, from insurers dropping out to possible fraud among healthcare providers, has all accumulated in a deluge of negative headlines for one of President Obama's signature laws.

In fact, it's gotten so bad that it appears that the whole program itself may be in doubt.

While there are issues, and this past week highlighted many of them, it does appear that there is a long road ahead before we have a definitive understanding of Obamacare's survival, and there's a good chance that it makes it.


Obamacare's terrible, no good, very bad week


On Monday night, Aetna announced that it would be dropping around 80% of their policies offered through the ACA's public-health exchanges after sustaining large losses on the Obamacare business.

This makes Aetna the third of the "big five" insurance firms (which includes Humana, United Health Care, Cigna, and Anthem) to announce a serious cut to their Obamacare business.

Whether Aetna did this due to business losses, as the company claims, or because of the Department of Justice's lawsuit blocked their merger with Humana is still up for debate, but regardless, the firm will be out of nearly all of the exchanges by 2017.

In addition to the Aetna news, the New York Federal Reserve put out a study Tuesday that showed one out of every five businesses in the bank's district — which includes parts of New Jersey and Connecticut — said they were reducing hiring due to Obamacare.

On top of all of that, the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) asked for public comment on instances in which healthcare providers directed patients to Obamacare over Medicare or Medicaid in order to make higher profits.

All in all, not a great week.” - Obamacare has gone from the president’s greatest achievement to a ‘slow-motion death spiral’, business insider.com, 08/21/2016

Link to the entire article appears below:

http://www.businessinsider.com/obamacare-is-in-slow-motion-death-spiral-2016-8


Related article: Aetna Warned U.S. Before Exiting Health Exchanges, WSJ.com, 08/17/2016:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/aetna-warned-it-would-withdraw-from-exchanges-if-humana-deal-was-blocked-1471436663


 


 



Wednesday, August 10, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: Blue Fairy Tales in Alabama

“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama is seeking an average rate increase of 39 percent on individual plans offered through the Obamacare marketplace, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The proposed rate hikes will affect more than 160,000 people in Alabama who purchase insurance through the federal exchange, or about 5 percent of Blue Cross membership.

Rate increases range from 26 to 41 percent, depending on the type of plan. Proposed increases are lowest for bronze plans, which offer the least amount of coverage, and greatest for the most popular silver plans.

Blue Cross is the only insurance company that will offer Alabamians individual insurance plans through the exchange next year after the departure of Humana and UnitedHealth. Those departures were announced earlier this year.

The hefty rate hikes for Blue Cross customers will come on the heels of another increase in 2016 that averaged 28 percent for individual plans. The company lost more than $250 million on marketplace plans from 2014 to 2016, according to Blue Cross executives.

The high costs of individual marketplace customers in Alabama also factored into the departures of UnitedHealth and Humana, according to statements by those companies.” - Blue Cross proposes rate hike of nearly 40 percent on some Obamacare plans, al.com, 08/08/2016

The entire article appears in the link below:

http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2016/08/blue_cross_proposes_rate_hike_1.html

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: And About the Price of the Medicaid Expansion Component of ACA ……..

‘The implementation of major legislation such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) often results in fiscal outcomes that differ significantly from prior projections. Whenever this happens it leads to many questions, much confusion, and several claims and counter-claims. Rarely is it immediately clear whether the law is working differently than envisioned, or whether the unexpected outcomes are due to inevitable projection errors having nothing to do with the law.

On rare occasion, however, a prior projection proves so far off that its significance must be noted. Two weeks ago my colleague Brian Blase uncovered such a development with respect to the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Recall that the ACA considerably expanded Medicaid eligibility – an expansion made optional for the states in a later Supreme Court ruling. It turns out that the 2015 per-capita cost of this Medicaid expansion is a whopping 49% higher than projections made just one year before.

This disclosure can be found on page 27 of the 2015 Actuarial Report for Medicaid, released this July. Here is how the report described the issue:

“While the newly eligible adult per enrollee costs in 2014 were slightly lower than estimated in last year’s report ($5,488 compared to $5,517, or about 1 percent lower), the estimated per enrollee costs for 2015 in this year’s report are substantially greater ($6,366 compared to $4,281, or about 49 percent higher).”’ - The Soaring Costs of the ACA’s Medicaid Expansion, economics21.org, 08/01/2016

Link to the entire essay appears below:

http://www.economics21.org/html/soaring-costs-aca%E2%80%99s-medicaid-expansion-1989.html

Thursday, July 28, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: The Incredible Shrinking Selection

“Humana will stop marketing Obamacare exchange plans in several states next year and will exit many off-exchange individual markets as well, the company announced today.

The decision means the company will only offer individual plans in 156 counties in 11 states, down from 1,351 counties across 19 states this year. It had sold plans on Affordable Care Act exchanges in 15 states this year.” - Humana pulling out of many Obamacare markets, Politico, 07/21/2016

Link to the entire article appears below:

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/humana-obamacare-markets-225963

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: Want to Lose Some Serious Money? Be an ACA Exchange Co-Op or Insurer

“Since Obamacare’s rollout in the fall of 2013, 16 co-ops that launched with money from the federal government have collapsed.

The co-ops, or consumer operated and oriented plans, were started under the Affordable Care Act as a way to boost competition among insurers and expand the number of health insurance companies available to consumers living in rural areas.

Now, just seven co-ops—Wisconsin’s Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative; Maryland’s Evergreen Health Cooperative; Maine Community Health Options; Massachusetts’ Minuteman Health; Montana Health Cooperative; New Mexico Health Connections; and Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey—remain.”

“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services awarded $2.4 billion to 23 co-ops that were eventually created. However, the majority of the co-ops struggled to turn a profit, resulting in the collapse of 16 of the original 23 that received $1.5 billion in startup and solvency loans.

Now, with just seven co-ops remaining, regulatory filings show that many ended 2015 in the red.”

“Since Obamacare’s implementation, it’s not only co-ops that have struggled to make money.

Oscar, a startup insurance company serving New York and New Jersey that launched in 2012, lost $105 million in 2015.

Additionally, UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Hemsley said the company expects to lose more than $1 billion from its exchange business—$650 million in 2016 and $475 million in 2015.

The company, which is the nation’s largest insurer, decided to pull out of at least 26 of the 34 exchanges it offered coverage on last year after warning the marketplaces were a risky investment.

And Health Care Service Corporation, which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in five states, reported losses totaling $65.9 million in 2015. The company lost $281.9 million in 2014.” - 16 Obamacare Co-Ops Collapsed. Here’s How the Rest Are Faring, The Daily Signal, 07/26/2016

Link to the entire article appears below:

http://dailysignal.com/2016/07/26/16-obamacare-co-ops-collapsed-heres-how-the-rest-are-faring/?utm_source=TDS_Email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MorningBell&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWlRCbU5qTXpNalJsTnpZMSIsInQiOiJodlpIdHFmVUJWeE9FZXJpR2g3XC9qN3lGWExTT3BGazduUjFydUg1QWREZHphakJLcjg5T3dWa3hXeTdDUGVrZThwZllUbjAxQXlGT25FYjBZTEhZSk5CV0RadXdtSmduME9Cd1RqMjdhdTA9In0%3D


 


 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: Oops for the Fifteenth Time! Yet Another Co-Op Implodes

"Fifteen Obamacare co-ops have now failed. Oregon announced Friday that its second taxpayer funded Obamacare co-op would close its doors, leaving 40,000 to find new insurance. The co-op, known as “Oregon’s Health CO-OP now joins a list of 14 other Obamacare co-ops that have collapsed including Health Republic Insurance of Oregon which closed last year. Failed co-ops have now cost taxpayers more than $1.5 billion in funds that may never be recovered.

Co-ops were created as not-for-profit alternatives to traditional insurance companies created under Obamacare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) financed co-ops with startup and solvency loans, totaling more than $2.4 billion in taxpayer dollars. Co-ops were envisioned as innovative providers that could provide member-driven care without needing to worry about recording a profit. In practice, they have failed to become sustainable with many collapsing amid the failure of Obamacare exchanges.

Since September, 12 Obamacare co-ops have collapsed, with only 8 of the original 23 co-ops remaining. Oregon’s Health co-op faced losses of $18.4 million last year and owed the federal government close to $1 million. Co-op across the country have struggled to operate in Obamacare exchanges, losing millions despite receiving multiple government subsidies.

The mass failure of co-ops should not be surprising. Larger insurance companies have also struggled to operate in Obamacare exchanges with many announcing they will stop providing coverage.

The web of government subsidies have also failed to provide insurances the funds they were promised. One of these programs, Risk corridors recouped just 12.6 percent of the funds that insurers requested. The program, which was created to encourage insurers to take on higher risk individuals by transferring funds from insurers who made money to those that posted losses, was required to be budget neutral under law leaving Obamacare insurers with a significant shortfall.

Obamacare co-ops have also been plagued by inept management and unrealistic business models.

As a report by the Daily Caller’s Richard Pollock found, 17 of the 21 co-ops paid out gratuitous salaries to executives reaching as high as $587,000, which is more than four times as much as the $135,000 median health insurance executive salary. Worse still, many of these executives had little to no experience in the insurance industry and some of these excessive salaries were disguised in financial documents as “management fees”. Last year, 21 of 23 co-ops posted losses." - Oregon Obamacare Co-op Becomes 15th to Collapse, Americans for Tax Reform, 07/11/2016

Link to the entire article appears below:

https://www.atr.org/oregon-obamacare-co-op-becomes-15th-collapse

Friday, July 8, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: The Incredible Shrinking ‘Competitive’ Co-Ops

‘Another Obamacare co-op, Connecticut’s HealthyCT, is closing its doors, and at least two most could follow suit as the nonprofit insurers decide whether they will be able to remain on firm financial footing.

The nine remaining co-ops of the original 23 co-ops must make payments totaling at least $130 million through Obamacare’s risk adjustment program, which could damage their viability.

The Connecticut Insurance Department announced Tuesday that HealthyCT was placed under state supervision, leaving approximately 40,000 Connecticut residents to find new health insurance during the next open enrollment period.

HealthyCT is the 14th co-op created under Obamacare to fail since the health care law’s exchanges opened in 2013.

The co-ops, or consumer operated and oriented plans, were created to inject competition and choice in areas where little existed. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services awarded the 23 co-ops $2.4 billion in startup and solvency loans to help the new nonprofit insurance companies get off the ground.

However, more than half of the co-ops have failed to succeed in the health insurance market, despite the $1.5 billion in loans the 14 collapsed co-ops collectively received.

HealthyCT alone received nearly $128 million in loans, which included an infusion of $48.4 million in solvency loans awarded in September 2014.

Katharine Wade, state insurance commissioner, said HealthyCT’s “hazardous financial condition” led her to close the co-op’s doors. The nonprofit insurer’s financial issues were compounded after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced last week the payments insurers must make under Obamacare’s risk adjustment program.

The Department of Health and Human Services asked HealthyCT to pay $13.4 million into the risk adjustment program, which redistributes money from insurers with healthy customers to insurers with sicker, more costly consumers.

“Unfortunately HealthyCT’s financial health is unstable, having been seriously jeopardized by a federal requirement issued June 30, 2016, that it pay $13.4 million to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as part of the Affordable Care Act’s risk adjustment program,” Wade said in a statement Tuesday. “As a result, it became evident that this risk adjustment mandate would put the company under significant financial strain.”’- Obamacare’s 14th Co-Op Is Closing Its Doors, and at Least 2 More Could Close Soon, dailysignal.com, 07/06/2016

Link to the entire article appears below:

http://dailysignal.com/2016/07/06/obamacares-14th-co-op-is-closing-its-doors-and-at-least-2-more-could-close-soon/

Thursday, June 23, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: When the Price Isn’t The Price Because The Price Is a Political Price

“Amid reports that consumers could be hit with Obamacare health insurance premium hikes of 10 percent or more, the administration is providing state insurance regulators with $22 million to encourage them to beef up their reviews of requests for rate hikes from the health insurance industry.

The decision announced on Wednesday to provide states with additional resources to evaluate and challenge rate increases, in addition to undertaking other activities related to Obamacare, appears to be as much a political maneuver as another attempt to bend the health care cost curve.

A new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of Obamacare insurance markets in roughly a third of major metropolitan areas projects that premiums on the most popular silver plans will increase by an average of 10 percent to 11 percent next year, twice the rate of increase approved last fall. And that doesn’t include almost certain increases in co-payments or other out-of-pocket costs to consumers.

Obama administration officials reportedly are wary of the political impact of a rash of double-digit premium increases so close to the election, despite warnings from major insurance providers they will need higher revenues in order to remain in Obamacare. Millions of Americans are likely to get their first notice of Obamacare premium rate increases for 2017 shortly before the November election.” - White House Is Spending Millions to Battle Obamacare Rate Hikes, thefiscaltimes.com, 06/17/2016

Link to the entire article appears below:

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2016/06/17/White-House-Spending-Millions-Battle-Obamacare-Rate-Hikes


 

 


 


Friday, June 10, 2016

ACA/Obamacare: If Markets Fail, Governments Fail too

“One of the worst developments has been the failure of many of the online exchanges that were supposed to be a one-stop, one-size-fits-all marketplace where insurances policies could be purchased cheaply and easily. In a lot of places that hasn't turned out to be the case. In Massachusetts, for example, the administration of Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick took a functioning website created as part of Romneycare, spent a lot of money on so-called improvements and promptly broke it.

By far the worst example is Oregon, where the website for the state exchange was declared completely dysfunctional, but only after more than $300 million – according to best estimates – was spent trying to figure out how to make it work.

The politicians back in Oregon, at least one of whom has lost his job in part over the "Cover Oregon" scandal, have tried all along to blame the companies and contractors they hired to build the website. The official term of art for that is "buck passing." The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been investigating what went wrong and, in a report just issued, has concluded – no surprise – it was the politicians playing politics who are to blame.

Here, in brief, is what the committee found:

State law clearly established Cover Oregon as an independent entity. The governor and his political advisers' involvement in Cover Oregon was inconsistent with Oregon law.

Campaign funds were used to assist the governor in his official capacity while handling Cover Oregon.
Cover Oregon became closely tied with all campaign activities, from polling to meetings.

The governor's political operatives – none had technological experience – micromanaged many of the decisions that needed to be made regarding Cover Oregon.
Junking Cover Oregon and moving to HealthCare.gov was viewed as a way to "let the steam out of so much of the attacks."

The Cover Oregon board was told the cost of moving to HealthCare.gov was $4-6 million. A slide showing moving the Medicaid system would cost $36 million was deleted.


After the governor complained about the "free independent expenditure campaign" his political opponent was receiving because of Cover Oregon, his political advisers drafted letters asking the attorney general to sue. The letter was sent days later.

In sum, the committee says, "Cover Oregon failed for two main reasons: The state acted as their own system integrator (like HeathCare.gov), and the state tried to revamp its entire health care system, not just build an exchange."
 

All in all it's a pretty damning indictment. As a result, in what may be the first allegations of criminal misconduct related to Obamacare, the committee wants United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch to launch a criminal probe and for Oregon's attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor with a mandate to uncover what happened with Cover Oregon.” - 'Cover Oregon' Cover-Up, US News and World Report, 06/08/2016

Link to the entire article appears below:

http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2016-06-08/cover-oregon-health-care-disaster-showcases-havoc-wrought-by-obamacare