WASHINGTON – Trying to head off a new round of consumer headaches with President Obama’s health care law, the insurance industry says it will give customers more time to pay their premiums for January.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, the main industry trade group, says the voluntary steps include a commitment to promptly refund any overpayments by consumers who switched plans and may have gotten double-billed by mistake.

By Stephanie Armour:
Some free health clinics serving the uninsured are shutting their doors because of funding shortfalls and low demand they attribute to the Affordable Care Act’s insurance expansion.

Nearly a dozen clinics that have closed in the past two years cited the federal health law as a major reason.

The closings have occurred largely in 28 states and Washington, D.C., which all expanded Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for low-income people, and are being heralded by some clinic officials as a sign the health law is reducing the number of uninsured.

Continued at… http://www.wsj.com/articles/health-law-hurts-some-free-clinics-1418429551

By Sam Baker and Sophie Novack:
Republicans want the Supreme Court to blow a major hole in Obamacare next year, but they are still debating whether they would help repair it—and what they should ask for in return.

There’s a very real chance the high court will invalidate Obamacare’s insurance subsidies in most of the country, which would be devastating for the health care law. It would become almost entirely unworkable in most states, and the cost of coverage would skyrocket.

With the Supreme Court due to rule on a major ObamaCare legal challenge by next summer, thoughts in Washington are turning to the practical and political response. If the Court does strike down insurance subsidies, the question for Republicans running Congress is whether they will try to fix the problems Democrats created, or merely allow ObamaCare’s damage to grow.

By John Fund

An old Soviet joke had men carrying briefcases marching alongside tanks and soldiers in a Kremlin parade. “Why are those men in a military parade?” a boy innocently asks his father. He replies, “Those are the economists. They are the most dangerous of all.”

David Leonhardt of the New York Times has offered up a misleading defense of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — i.e., Obamacare. Like several others, he celebrates the slowdown in health-care-cost escalation and suggests that the ACA is one reason for the deceleration. Specifically, he suggests that key ACA provisions — which he describes as nudging “the health care system away from paying for the quantity of medical care rather than the quality” — have already played a role in making the health system better and more efficient.

It would be an effective argument for the ACA if it were true. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

By KELLI KENNEDY
Associated Press
MIAMI — When Olivia Papa signed up for a new health plan last year, her insurance company assigned her to a primary care doctor. The relatively healthy 61-year-old didn’t try to see the doctor until last month, when she and her husband both needed authorization to see separate specialists.
She called the doctor’s office several times without luck.
“They told me that they were not on the plan, they were never on the plan and they’d been trying to get their name off the plan all year,” said Papa, who recently bought a plan from a different insurance company.
It was no better with the next doctor she was assigned. The Naples, Florida, resident said she left a message to make an appointment, “and they never called back.”

By Tom Coburn And Phil Roe
In the four years since the Affordable Care Act was passed, health care in our country has become more complicated and expensive. The law has many troubling aspects, but the Independent Payment Advisory Board is among the worst and most dangerous. This is why, on Thursday, several members of the House will file an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up Coons v. Lew. This lawsuit, filed by the Goldwater Institute on behalf of Dr. Eric Novack, an orthopedic surgeon, and Nick Coons, an Arizona businessman, challenges the constitutionality of IPAB.

Sen. Tom Harkin, one of the coauthors of the Affordable Care Act, now thinks Democrats may have been better off not passing it at all and holding out for a better bill.

The Iowa Democrat who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, laments the complexity of legislation the Senate passed five years ago.
He wonders in hindsight whether the law was made overly complicated to satisfy the political concerns of a few Democratic centrists who have since left Congress.

“The holiday shopping season kicks off tomorrow with Black Friday, the annual mad-dash for good deals and early-morning sales. This year, shoppers in a few states will see something new this year at shopping malls–and its not exactly a hot new store. It’s…Obamacare.
In an effort to boost floundering enrollment numbers, the Department of Health and Human Services has taken to partnering with retail stores, pharmacies and websites to promote the open enrollment period, which lasts until Feb. 15. Enrollment workers will be present on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday to tell shoppers about how to sign up for a plan on the exchange.”