“ObamaCare rate increases are coming to some key battleground states, fueling Republican attacks ahead of next month’s midterm elections.
“It looks like we’re going to have double-digit premium increases in places like Alaska, and Iowa and Louisiana,” said health economist John Goodman. “Where we’ve got very close races for Senate, and Republican candidates are making a big deal over this.””
“Almost immediately after the state’s insurance regulator earlier this month announced that rates for plans sold through MNsure would rise 4.5 percent on average, Republicans, health policy experts and other critics decried the figure as bogus and misleading.
The state Commerce Department has steadfastly defended the figure — a straight average of rate changes reported by the four returning carriers to MNsure — acknowledging that some consumers will see higher or lower rate changes. State agency officials said consumers can shop around once open enrollment begins Nov. 15 “to find the best option that fits their individual health and financial needs.”
But other states, like California, Colorado and Washington, report their increases in premiums for their respective exchange plans as weighted averages.
Calculated that way, Minnesota’s figure for next year is not 4.5 percent, but 11.8 percent.”
“It’s been a tough week for North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan, who’s clinging to a razor-thin lead in her re-election fight. She chose not to attend a ‘debate’ this week, ceding an hour of statewide airtime to her surging Republican opponent, Thom Tillis. Her chair sat empty throughout the forum. What didn’t she want to discuss? Perhaps it was her decision to skip a key classified briefing on ISIS in favor of a New York City fundraiser. Or maybe it was the explosion of reports that her immediate family benefited directly from the “stimulus” law she voted for. It could have been President Obama’s endorsement of candidates like Hagan as strong supporters of his agenda in Washington; the extent of Hagan’s fealty was underscored again in yesterday’s CQ analysis of 2014 voting records:”
“Remember this categorical assurance from President Obama?
“We’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year. . . . We’ll do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States”
OK, it’s probably a little unfair to take some June 2008 campaign “puffery” literally–even though it was reiterated by candidate Obama’s economic policy advisor, Jason Furman in a sit-down with a New York Times reporter: “‘We think we could get to $2,500 in savings by the end of the first term, or be very close to it.” Moreover, President Obama subsequently doubled-down on his promise in July 2012, assuring small business owners “your premiums will go down.” Fortunately, the Washington Post fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, honestly awarded the 2012 claim Three Pinocchios (“Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions”).”
“For the most part, the political debate over President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul has become a duel between vague slogans: Republicans say they want to “replace” the Affordable Care Act but generally don’t say with what. Democrats say they want to “fix” it but usually don’t say how.
So Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Mark Begich deserve credit for advancing specific legislation to change the law. The main change they’re advocating, though, is unlikely to make people any happier with the law — and could cause new problems.”
“We now have the Medicaid and private-market health insurance enrollment data for the second quarter of 2014 needed to complete the picture of how Obamacare’s rollout affected coverage.
What we’ve learned is that the Obamacare gains in coverage were largely a result of the Medicaid expansion and that most of the gain in private coverage through the government exchanges was offset by a decline in employer-based coverage. In other words, it is likely that most of the people who got coverage through the exchanges were already insured.”
“These insurers will sell you some Obamacare—at least as long as the government is footing the bill for most of their customers.
Insurers doing business on HealthCare.gov will be allowed to terminate their health plans if there’s a halt on federal tax credits that help most Obamacare customers buy the coverage, according to new language for 2015 contracts.
The language giving insurers the new opt-out does make clear, however, that individual state laws still may force insurers to continue the coverage.”
“Australia’s federal government is about to raise almost $5 billion by privatizing its largest health insurer: Australia hopes to raise up to Aus$5.51 billion (US$4.82 billion) through the sale of the country’s largest health insurer in an initial public offering, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Monday. Cormann said the sale would remove the current conflict where the government is both the regulator of the private health insurance market and owner of the largest market participant. Medibank provides cover to 3.8 million people. The government has previously said Medibank is one of 34 competing funds in the private health insurance market in Australia and that a scoping study had found no evidence that premiums would rise as a result of the sale.”
“A great deal of analysis has been published on the causes of the health care spending slowdown system-wide — including in the pages of Health Affairs. Much attention in particular has focused on the remarkable slowdown in Medicare spending over the past few years, and rightfully so: Spending per beneficiary actually shrank (!) by one percent this year (or grew only one percent if one removes the effects of temporary policy changes).
Yet the disproportionate role played by prescription drug spending (or Part D) has seemingly escaped notice. Despite constituting barely more than 10 percent of Medicare spending, our analysis shows that Part D has accounted for over 60 percent of the slowdown in Medicare benefits since 2011 (beyond the sequestration contained in the 2011 Budget Control Act).”
“Gov. John Kasich of Ohio was the first potential 2016 candidate to get snared in the Obamacare/Medicaid media snafu. As one of several GOP governors who expanded Medicaid, he naturally defends that move, which in an Associated Press interview came out as a defense of Obamacare, to which the Medicaid extension was attached. Kasich clarified his view, but the liberal media, Democrats and potential 2016 opponents may think they have their gotcha quote.
Kasich, however, is correct that one can be for repealing Obamacare and still support states’ expansion of Medicaid. But other governors should be forewarned: You better be crystal clear about what you want to do.”