“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.”
“By now you’re aware of the red hot ‘federal subsidies’ controversy, yes? The star of the show at the moment is one Jonathan Gruber — a famed economist and top Obamacare architect — who’s been caught repeatedly lying about the law he helped design, while smirking about the “stupidity” of the American people. Gruber’s performance has become so harmful to The Cause that Nancy Pelosi is now pretending she doesn’t know who he is:”
“The Obama administration announced Monday that it expects to enroll 9.1 million people in the health insurance exchanges over the next 3 months. That is only 2 million more enrollees than the administration says enrolled this year, and a sharp drop from the 13 million who the Congressional Budget Office predicted would enroll in 2015. For once, the White House has decided not to over-promise what it can’t deliver in Obamacare.
There are good reasons for the administration to hedge its bets:”
“When the Supreme Court takes up yet another challenge to the president’s health care law in March, the outcome could have a devastating impact on millions of Americans receiving subsidized health coverage through its exchanges. Almost immediately after the court announced it would hear King v. Burwell, the now-famous case that centers on whether people enrolled on the federal exchange can receive federal subsidies, legal experts began predicting grave news for Obamacare.”
“CNN has unearthed a new Jonathan Gruber video speaking undiplomatically about the White House’s approach to passage of the health care law in 2010. In this video, Gruber says bluntly what many observers noticed at the time: President Obama focused on how the Affordable Care Act would bring down the cost of health care, not on the moral imperative of extending health insurance to millions of low- and moderate-income Americans.
“Barack Obama’s not a stupid man, okay? He knew when he was running for president that quite frankly the American public doesn’t actually care that much about the uninsured. … What the American public cares about is costs. And that’s why even though the bill that they made is 90 percent health insurance coverage and 10 percent about cost control, all you ever hear people talk about is cost control. How it’s going to lower the cost of health care, that’s all they talk about.””