ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.

“Newly empowered Republicans say they can’t repeal Obamacare and plan to chip away at the law piece by piece, starting with redefining full-time work in a way that could affect health coverage for 1 million people.
House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday said they want to rewrite the Affordable Care Act so employers could avoid providing health coverage to workers who put in less than 40 hours a week — up from the law’s current 30-hour threshold.”

“The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear the most serious challenge to the Affordable Care Act since the justices found it constitutional more than two years ago: a lawsuit targeting the federal subsidies that help millions of Americans buy health insurance.
More than 4 million people receive the subsidies, which the Obama administration contends are essential to the act by making insurance more affordable for low- and middle-income families.”

“This hasn’t exactly been a banner week for Democrats, but especially so for Barack Obama. The Washington Post corrected him twice this week on claims made by the President’s denial of reality in his post-election press conference, the first time in a formal fact-check from Glenn Kessler. Obama tried arguing that the election results didn’t really reflect on ObamaCare despite the success of Republicans in defeating Democrats who supported it — or even those who refused to answer the question — because ObamaCare has reduced the costs of health care in every year since its passage. That assumes facts not in evidence in terms of causal relationship, Kessler notes, and isn’t true on the facts anyway:
In fact, despite the president’s claim of a decrease of every year, the White House’s own chart shows that the 2013 estimate represents a slight uptick from 2012, when adjusted for inflation and population. As the White House report puts it, “the three years since 2010 will have recorded the three slowest health-care spending growth rates since record keeping began in 1960.” That is impressive, but it is not the same as health costs going down “every single year” since the law was passed in 2010. …”

“Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is planning to make ObamaCare a priority in his first weeks as leader of the Senate, vowing a sustained effort to dismantle the law piece-by-piece.
McConnell said the GOP will tackle unpopular aspects of the law such as the individual mandate, the medical device tax and the 30-hour workweek requiring employers to provide insurance.”

“Republicans’ strong showing in this week’s mid-term elections opens the door to more calls to repeal President Obama’s signature law, the Affordable Care Act.
And while that is all but impossible given the balance of power in the U.S. Senate, victories in Washington and at the state level could usher in other healthcare changes.”

“Tuesday’s re-election of Republican governors in closely contested races in Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin, Maine and Kansas dims the chances of Medicaid expansion in those states.
Advocates hoping for Democratic victories in those states were disappointed by the outcomes, but Alaska, which also has a Republican incumbent, remains in play as an independent challenger holds a narrow lead going into a count of absentee ballots.”

“Even before voters headed to the polls on Tuesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz had begun to downplay the midterm elections.
“Nothing to see here” no doubt has begun to be scribbled into the talking points regarding every hard-fought blue-state campaign.
Despite the political spin, you can bet your bottom dollar—nearly $4 billion of which have been spent in this election cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org—the Democrats are hurting.”

“President Reagan gauged the success of a welfare program by how quickly people were able to move off government assistance and into remunerative work. Yet President Obama, the White House, and their allies are measuring the success of Obamacare by how many people can be enrolled in their new government entitlement programs.
The president celebrated the law’s “success” in getting seven million people enrolled in Medicaid and eight million (or so) people enrolled in exchange coverage, 87 percent of whom are receiving government subsidies for their insurance. And he hopes to lure another five million people onto Obamacare programs starting with the November 15 enrollment period. There is no expectation that participation in these government programs will be a temporary boost but rather that they will become a permanent fixture in people’s lives.”

“Since enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, much of the attention in the policy community has been on modernizing Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service (FFS) program. Through Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), larger “bundles” of payments to fee-for-service providers for episodes of care, and tests of pay-for-performance models, the hope is that the traditional Medicare model can be remade through sheer force of bureaucratic will. The stated intent is to find a way to pay for value, not volume.
These efforts may or may not bear much fruit, but, over the longer term, it’s not likely to matter much. That’s because a more important transformation of Medicare is already well underway and is occurring despite more resistance than assistance from the program’s bureaucracy. According to the 2014 Medicare Trustees’ report, enrollment in Medicare Advantage – the private plan option in Medicare — has been surging for a decade. In 2005 there were 5.8 million Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in MA plans — 13.6 percent of total enrollment in the program. Today, there are 16.2 million beneficiaries in MA plans, or 30 percent of program enrollment. (See Table IV.C1) In addition, the Medicare drug benefit, which constitutes about 12 percent of total program spending, is delivered entirely through private plans.”

“There is nothing more time consuming and expensive for a patient than undergoing extra tests or procedures during a trip to the emergency room, doctor’s office or urgent care center.
Often a physician will know exactly what a patient’s diagnosis is but will order an x-ray, CT scan, blood work or MRI to reaffirm his clinical judgment. The common rationale is to back up his opinion in case there is a lawsuit.”