“The implementation of the Affordable Care Act seems like an unending nightmare. Desperate for some good news, the White House is justly relieved and celebrating the fact that the government website is not plagued with last year’s disasters.
But other big challenges loom, including the administration of the law’s hideously complex insurance subsidy system, as well as coverage and cost problems.”
“Former Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who infamously presided over HealthCare.gov’s flop, swore Monday that her administration was “forthright with the American public” about Obamacare.
“We were very forthright with the American public — I think members of Congress who wrote this legislation were very forthright,” Sebelius said on CNN’s “New Day.” “It was both about — having affordable coverage was certainly a piece of it, but also people getting coverage they didn’t have.””
“RICHMOND — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe had run out of options to pull off his marquee campaign promise to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Even a risky plan to circumvent the legislature had fallen apart.
That’s when the governor, his top priority defeated, picked up the phone and called the man he blamed for the catastrophe.
“Hey, Phil? Terry McAuliffe,” the governor said in a seething voice message to Phillip P. Puckett, a Southwest Virginia Democrat who had quit the state Senate days earlier, throwing control of it to the GOP. “I want you to know we just lost the vote, 20 to 19, in the Senate. Medicaid is done. I hope you sleep easy tonight, buddy.””
“The Obama administration is seeking to tighten how insurers segregate funds for abortion coverage on the ObamaCare exchanges after a scathing government investigation found the rules have been widely ignored.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provided additional detail Friday about how health plans should go about charging women for abortion coverage that is handled separately from their other health benefits obtained on the exchanges.”
“The Obama administration took another step to close what many see as a health-law loophole that allows large employers to offer medical plans without hospital coverage and bars their workers from subsidies to buy their own insurance.
“It has come to our attention that certain group health plan designs that provide no coverage of inpatient hospital services are being promoted,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in proposed rules issued late Friday.”
“Obamacare customers who choose to re-enroll in insurance plans would automatically default to cheaper coverage during sign-up periods, protecting them from price increases, under rules proposed by the U.S. government.”
“The latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that just prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment beginning this past Saturday, the uninsured remained largely unaware of its start, although about half of the uninsured expect to get health insurance in the next few months and seven in ten say that health insurance is something they need. Opinion on the law remains similar to past months – 46 percent say they have an unfavorable view of the law and 37 percent say they have a favorable view. Americans are divided as to what Congress should do next on the law – 29 percent say they support repealing the law entirely, 17 percent say they support scaling back what the law does, 20 percent support moving ahead with the law as is, and 22 percent feel that the law should be expanded. But like opinion on the law overall, partisans fall on opposite ends of the spectrum. The public has no expectation that debate on the ACA will die down soon; a finding that Democrats and Republicans agree on. Most say that now that the midterm elections are over the amount of partisan debate will increase or stay about the same. Finally, on the heels of the midterm elections, few voters (9 percent) named health care as one of the two most important factors in their vote, ranking 5th behind partisan control of Congress (27 percent), a candidate’s platform (18 percent), the economy and jobs (17 percent), dissatisfaction with government (16 percent) and similar to a candidate’s personal characteristics (9 percent).”
“Robert Pear of the New York Times recently described the “symbiotic” relationship between the Obama Administration and health insurers. It was not always so:
“But since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, the relationship between the Obama administration and insurers has evolved into a powerful, mutually beneficial partnership that has been a boon to the nation’s largest private health plans and led to a profitable surge in their Medicaid enrollment.
“Insurers and the government have developed a symbiotic relationship, nurtured by tens of billions of dollars that flow from the federal Treasury to insurers each year,” said Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies at the libertarian Cato CATO -1.93% Institute.”
“State lawmakers on Tuesday voiced their continued frustration with the technical problems still afflicting the Washington Healthplanfinder insurance exchange.
On Saturday, the first day of enrollment for the second round of insurance signups on the exchange, the site was live for only a couple of hours before a technical error was discovered and the exchange was taken offline for repairs. Meanwhile, first-round problems involving the transfer of payment information from the exchange to insurance companies have not been corrected, despite assurances they would be fixed by now.”
“The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear King v. Burwell, an important case about Obamacare’s subsidies (tax credits) to health insurers. Plaintiffs argue that in the 36 states with federal Obamacare exchanges, subsidies cannot be paid legally. If no subsidies can be paid, neither the individual mandate to buy health insurance nor the employer mandate to offer insurance can be enforced.
Few people would voluntarily buy health insurance from an Obamacare exchange if health insurers on the exchanges did not receive subsidies to enroll people. The premiums would be too high otherwise. Experts expect that the Supreme Court might decide on King v. Burwell in July, in which case Obamacare will end with a bang.”