ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.

“The Obama administration plans to close a loophole in the Affordable Care Act that allows large companies to refuse to cover in-patient hospital stays in any of their health insurance plans, according to an official involved in the internal discussions.
The official requested anonymity until the announcement is made because “the guidance that will be issued is not finalized.””

“Monthly premiums for health insurance soared in 2014, the first year of Obamacare’s full implementation, according to a new study.
The report by HealthPocket.com — a site that allows consumers to compare health plans — compared rates from 2013 and 2014. “The analysis of pre- and post-Obamacare health insurance in the individually purchased health insurance market demonstrates a clear increase of average premiums across age groups and both sexes,” researchers found. “While the degree of increase varied by age and sex, the occurrence of an increase did not.””

“Right now, the U.S. Supreme Court is deciding whether to hear a case that could have devastating implications for Obamacare and hundreds of thousands of people currently receiving health insurance through its exchanges.
The case, King v. Burwell, is one of several challenges based on language in the Affordable Care Act that authorizes the government to offer subsidies to people who enroll in policies sold on the health exchanges. The subsidies were introduced to make health care coverage more affordable, but the lawsuits charge that the wording of the Affordable Care Act doesn’t allow for federal subsidies.”

“Heading into the highly consequential midterm elections, voters continue to give the U.S. health care system less than stellar reviews and believe it will get worse under the national health care law.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 36% of Likely U.S. Voters rate the nation’s health care system as good or excellent, though that’s up from 32% in September and is the highest positive rating since April. Thirty-two percent (32%) still give it poor marks, showing no change from the previous survey.”

“The Washington Examiner’s Susan Ferrechio has a possible scoop buried in her post today on Republican efforts to peal back Obamacare after the election. Speaking of Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Ferrechio writes:
“Barrasso said the GOP would also take up legislation to block the Obama administration from reimbursing insurers who lose money in the healthcare exchanges.””

“Call it drugs for the departed: A quirky bureaucratic rule led Medicare’s prescription drug program to pay for costly medications even after the patients were dead.
That head-scratching policy is now getting a second look.
A report released Friday by the Health and Human Services Department’s inspector general said the Medicare rule allows payment for prescriptions filled up to 32 days after a patient’s death — at odds with the program’s basic principles, not to mention common sense.”

“Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the state’s largest health insurer, said Thursday that about 42,000 customers around the state received insurance renewal letters with incorrect rates, some showing cost increases of more than 100 percent.
The Chapel Hill company has been flooded with calls since Wednesday from irate customers who began receiving their renewal notices this week. Blue Cross officials soon realized the insurance rates were incorrectly transferred from the company’s database to the computer-generated renewal notices.”

“When Tony Smith lost his job as a corporate paralegal two years ago, a state program stepped in to help him keep his health insurance — and the expensive drugs his life had depended on since his 2008 HIV diagnosis.
Now Smith, 42, of Coral Springs, has been told he must sign up for coverage on Florida’s federally run insurance exchange or the state will stop helping him pay his premiums.
“The landscape of healthcare has changed, and with the passage of the Affordable Care Act we have the opportunity to access and enroll in cost-effective health plans,” an official at the AIDS Insurance Continuation Program wrote in a letter to Smith and other AICP beneficiaries.
But it is not clear that ACA insurance plans will be cheaper — or even affordable — for those with HIV and AIDS, according to patient advocates.”

“Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic party’s nomination for President in 2016, is giving a speech at this week’s annual meeting of the powerful Advanced Medical Technology Association, or AdvaMed, in her hometown as the lobby prepares to derail a tax key to funding the Affordable Care Act.
The former U.S. Secretary of State, who has yet to officially declare her presidential candidacy, is also in Chicago to campaign for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who is in a tight race with billionaire Republican Bruce Rauner as the incumbent gains momentum here. During her visit, which has been kept under wraps until this week, Clinton has been given a prime spot during the three-day AdvaMed event, delivering a keynote at Wednesday’s midday plenary session at Chicago’s McCormick Place.”

“Most of us have long realized that the New York Times’ standards are low. Just look at who the Gray Lady endorses for president and other high political offices. But even we were a little surprised at what little it takes for the editors to call Obamacare a success.
The Times poses the question “Is the Affordable Care Act Working?” Given all the ACA’s problems, one could be forgiven for thinking it was a rhetorical question. It wasn’t. The paper asserts, “After a year fully in place, the Affordable Care Act has largely succeeded in delivering on President Obama’s main promises, an analysis by a team of reporters and data researchers shows.””