The Obama administration is maneuvering to pay health insurers billions of dollars the government owes under the Affordable Care Act through a move that could circumvent Congress. Justice Department officials have privately told several health plans suing over the unpaid money that they are eager to negotiate a broad settlement, which could end up offering payments to about 175 health plans selling coverage on ACA marketplaces. The payments likely would draw from an obscure Treasury Department fund intended to cover federal legal claims, controverting congressional will and intent.

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Despite the maze of federal rules, taxes, and penalties Obamacare has created, Democrats are doubling down on government interference in health care by advocating for an old, already passed-upon idea: a government-run plan option, or a so-called “public option.” They forget why this idea was not included in their original plan: it simply doesn’t work. In a health system that values innovation, choice, first rate care, and groundbreaking treatments for patients, market forces must be at play to drive efficiency and effectiveness from not only hospitals and doctors, but insurers as well.

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The Obama administration is illegally refusing to make payments to the U.S. Treasury and instead is giving funds collected under Obamacare to insurers, according to a new report from an independent government watchdog, the Government Accountability Office. The funds in question were collected as part of Obamacare’s reinsurance program, and the GAO confirmed that under law, part of the money collected must be deposited into federal coffers, not sent to insurers to prop up ObamaCare.

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Insurers have announced that they are sharply raising prices or pulling out of the Obamacare markets entirely. Many consumers will have fewer choices of insurance plans, and many insurance plans will include fewer doctors and hospitals. Many of the most important problems can be understood if you think of an Obamacare marketplace as a particular kind of restaurant: an all-you-can-eat buffet. It can be a solid business, but it’s hard to get the pricing right. For example, you can be in deep trouble if your buffet suddenly becomes the favorite hangout of the high school football team.  Unless you make major adjustments, you will quickly lose money. That may be what has happened to some of the companies selling health insurance.

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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska announced Friday that is pulling out of the ObamaCare marketplace in the state, becoming the latest insurer to cite financial losses when reducing participation in the healthcare law.

The move is especially significant given that it is a Blue Cross plan, which form the backbone of the ObamaCare marketplaces. In a few states, the Blue Cross plan will be the only one available on the marketplace next year.

Nebraska, though, will still have two insurers, Aetna and Medica, on its marketplace next year.

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Congressional Republicans are warning the Obama administration not to settle with insurers that have sued the government over an Affordable Care Act program to compensate them for losses under the law, saying such a move would bypass spending limits set by Congress.

Forty-six House Republicans signed a letter sent Thursday to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell saying they oppose any settlements and could sue the administration to block them.

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Yahoo Finance’s Ethan Wolff-Mann, who may have the best name in journalism, writes it’s not true that ObamaCare has caused employers to reduce workers’ hours because the new Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research Educational Trustsurvey found “a whopping 7% of employers with more than 50 employees actually gave part-timers full-time jobs since Obamacare was officially launched in 2013. Only 2% of employers cut full-timers to part-time.” Leaving aside the question of whether 7 percent is a whopping figure, the figures Wolff-Mann cites don’t necessarily support his claim.

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The premium-stabilization programs of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will expire this year, and even insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield — once considered the companies of last resort — are considering leaving the exchanges.

While many Blues plans continue to assert their commitment to the ACA market, successive rate hikes and insurer withdrawals from the exchanges temper their assurances.

“These Blue Cross plans will stay longer, but they can’t stay forever,” said Robert -Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates and former insurance executive. Laszewski, a consultant for the plans, added that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas lost 40 percent of its reserves in the first two years of ObamaCare. “They can’t continue losing surplus forever.”

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Some of the nation’s largest companies are already taking steps to avoid ObamaCare’s “Cadillac tax,” according to a business survey released Wednesday.

About 12 percent of companies said they have taken steps to avoid being hit by the much-maligned tax on high-priced health insurance plans, which goes into effect in 2020.

Employers say they have either shifted more costs to workers, dropped their pricier options or picked plans with fewer providers, according to the annual employer benefits survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust.

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A grace period in President Barack Obama’s health care law is allowing exchange customers to dodge the penalty while also helping them get more out of their medical coverage.

Insurers told the administration Monday in an annual meeting that making changes to the grace period is one way to make it easier for them to continue to participate in Obamacare’s exchanges. As is, the grace period leads to higher costs for health insurance policies, forcing some insurers to leave the exchanges due to massive financial losses.

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