House Republican committee chairmen on Wednesday subpoenaed Treasury Secretary Jack Lew for documents related to ObamaCare payments that Republicans say are unlawful.
House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) issued the subpoena for Lew and three Internal Revenue Service officials to produce documents related to financial help for people under ObamaCare known as “cost sharing reductions.”
The lawmakers are issuing the subpoena after repeatedly requesting the information throughout 2015 but being rebuffed by the administration.
After the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the federal government gave Oregon $300 million to build an online health insurance exchange. The state then hired Oracle, the world’s second-largest software company, with profits of nearly $10 billion last year, to build the website.
The website never worked. In May 2014, then-Gov. John Kitzhaber, who was running for re-election and getting a lot of heat for Cover Oregon’s failure—asked Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to sue Oracle.
For nearly two years, Oracle has been in a bruising, $5.5 billion legal battle with the state of Oregon over who is at fault for Cover Oregon, the failed $300 million health insurance website.
A Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs chairman wants the federal government to disclose how much money taxpayers lost because of the rapid-fire financial collapse of 12 Obamacare health insurance co-ops, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
Sen. Ron Johnson demanded in a Jan. 19 letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that federal officials provide full accounting for the losses. A part of the Department of Health and Human Services, CMS oversees the experimental co-op program.
The U.S. government will limit a process that allowed people to sign up for health insurance under ObamaCare outside of the normal enrollment period. Typically, individuals have from about November to January to purchase insurance under ObamaCare. In some cases, though, they’re allowed to sign up outside that period, such as when they have a child.
The government is also tightening an exception that let people sign-up when they moved, by clarifying that people can’t get coverage based on a short-term or temporary relocation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a blog post on Tuesday. It also plans to more tightly enforce other limits on enrollment by making sure people are qualified to sign-up in the remaining special circumstances.
Judicial Watch today released over 1,000 pages of new documents that show federal health care officials knew that the Obamacare website, when it launched in 2013, did not have the required “authorization to operate” from agency information security officials. These documents, obtained from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, come in two productions of records: a 143-page production and an 886-page production. The email records reveal that HHS officials had significant concerns about the security of the Healthcare.gov site leading up to its October 1, 2013, launch.
In November, UnitedHealth abruptly reversed its previously sunny take on ObamaCare and said that the company would have to pull out of the government-run exchanges if market conditions didn’t improve.
UnitedHealth’s bombshell raised the specter, once thought safely in the grave, of the “adverse selection death spiral,” the phenomenon where sick people are more likely to buy insurance, which raises the average expenditure, which means higher premiums, which makes insurance a worse deal for the healthiest members of your insurance pool, which means they drop out, which means your pool is even sicker and average expenditure goes up even more … and there goes the insurance market.
Even with subsidies to make coverage more affordable, many people who buy health insurance on the marketplaces spend more than 10% of their income on premiums, deductibles and other out-of-pocket payments, a recent study found. Among those hit hardest, the researchers said, are people who spend nearly a quarter of their income on health care expenses.
“There’s been a lot of talk about how high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs are in the Affordable Care Act, and a lot of anecdotes about that, and this [study] quantifies that in a more systematic way,” said John Holahan, a fellow at the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center who co-authored the study.
Health insurers in the Affordable Care Act exchanges will see changes from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services this year to strengthen the market, including eliminating special enrollment periods and an early look at plans’ risk-adjustment data, the top CMS official, Andy Slavitt, said on Monday.
Andy Slavitt, head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, spoke at the J.P. Morgan health conference in San Francisco, using the opportunity to announce new initiatives, including responding to the failure of ObamaCare’s exchanges. Although sugar-coating his diagnosis, Mr. Slavitt clearly knows exchanges are in trouble.
Mr. Slavitt proposes two solutions to force more people into the exchanges. First, he will tighten up the open season for enrollment. More promising, and necessary, is a new look at risk adjustment. Slavitt promises more announcements on managing ObamaCare’s risk pool over the next few weeks.
Better risk adjustment is critical, but administrative adjustments alone will not fix the exchanges.
The ObamaCare “risk adjustment” program was designed to support health plans with lots of sick, expensive customers by giving them money from plans with healthier customers. The goal is to help keep insurance markets stable by sharing the “risk” of sicker people and removing any incentive for plans to avoid individuals who need more medical care. Such stability is likely to encourage competition and keep overall prices lower for consumers, while its absence can undermine both and limit coverage choices—the basic principles of the law.
Yet the way the Obama administration has carried out this strategy shows another unexpected consequence of the 2010 health care law. Critics say the risk adjustment program is having a reverse Robin Hood effect—taking money from some plans that are small, innovative or fast-growing, while handing windfalls to some of the industry’s most entrenched players.