“BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — An old political standby — the future of Medicare — is emerging as the go-to issue in Louisiana’s bitter Senate race as the candidates woo seniors who typically wield strong influence in midterm elections.
The challenge for voters is to figure out which side, if either, is telling the whole truth about who would cut and who would protect the popular insurance program. Medicare serves more than 50 million people and accounts for about 15 percent of federal spending, with about 10,000 new beneficiaries added daily as baby boomers reach age 65. The issue is so powerful that it’s cropping up in North Carolina and Iowa, too, amid a national battle for control of the Senate.”

“Aiming to contain health care costs, a growing number of employers and insurers are adopting a strategy that limits how much they’ll pay for certain medical services such as knee replacements, lab tests and complex imaging. A recent study found that savings from such moves may be modest, however, and some experts question whether “reference pricing,” as it’s called, is good for consumers.
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), which administers the health insurance benefits for 1.4 million state workers, retirees and their families, has one of the more established reference pricing systems. More than three years ago, the agency began using reference pricing for elective knee and hip replacements, two common procedures for which hospital prices varied widely without discernible differences in quality, says Ann Boynton, CalPERS’ deputy executive officer for Benefit Programs Policy and Planning.”

“Republican Senate Budget Committee analysts reported last week that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) — a.k.a. ObamaCare — would increase the federal deficit by $131 billion over the period from 2015 to 2024. Drew Hammill, a senior aide to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), dismissed the report as “complete garbage.”
Name-calling is no substitute for analysis. The Senate budget analysts’ work is fully transparent. Based on Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data on medical spending and labor market effects, it is quite easy to check out.
In fact, the Senate Budget analysts do not question any of the CBO’s assumptions concerning ObamaCare’s biggest fiscal problem: massive government spending. The CBO now says that the Medicaid expansion and the new exchange subsidies will cost taxpayers $1.9 trillion by 2024. It will account for more than half the cost-growth in federal health programs by 2023.”

“You shouldn’t judge the Affordable Care Act based on headlines or by listening to politicians or talking heads. I tried for a while, but only heard wildly conflicting stories that seemed to have little basis in reality.
Instead, you should ask someone who actually deals with the law on a daily basis — a doctor, for instance.
The Physicians Foundation did exactly that in its “2014 Survey of American Physicians,” which was released last month. The survey, which reached over 80% of doctors in the U.S. and elicited responses from some 20,000, is doctors’ collective report card on the Affordable Care Act’s first four years.
The grades aren’t good. Only 25% of doctors give it an “A” or a “B” grade. Nearly half ( 46%) give it a “D” or an “F””

“The Physicians Foundation made shockwaves last month when it released its 2014 Survey of America’s Physicians. The survey’s top-line finding: Of the 20,000 doctors surveyed, almost 50 percent stated that Obamacare deserves either a “D” or an “F.” Only a quarter of physicians graded it as either an “A” or a “B.”
Count me among the discontented. Obamacare has harmed too many of my patients.
It has done so by disrupting the doctor-patient relationship and thereby worsening the quality of patients’ care. This is the heart and soul of medicine, as I have learned in in my 33 years as a practicing physician. The doctor-patient relationship is critical for positive health outcomes because it allows both parties to work together to identify and ultimately treat medical problems. Simply put, a relationship of trust and continuity is essential to our professional mission.”

“Last fall, millions of Americans breathed a sigh of relief when Obamacare didn’t cancel their health care plans. Now they’re holding their breath once again.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans will soon receive cancellation letters affecting their 2015 health care plans — and that number may quickly rise into the millions. This wave of cancellations will fall into two categories. The first group hit will be in the individual market, the same group that suffered through at least 6.3 million cancellation letters last year. They will almost certainly be joined by millions of people in the small-employer market, which has 40 million plans and will be under Obamacare’s control starting next year.”

“Sticker shock awaits thousands of people with health coverage through PreferredOne, the top seller on the MNsure exchange during its first year.
The Golden Valley-based insurer said Wednesday that its individual market subscribers will see an average premium increase next year of 63 percent due to high claims costs.
“Given the volatility of the individual marketplace due to the first year of the [federal health law], this increase is a significant step at stabilizing our rates and plans for the years to come,” the company said in a statement.”

““If we hadn’t taken this on, and [health insurance] premiums had kept growing at the rate they did in the last decade, the average premium for family coverage today would be $1,800 higher than they are. Now, most people don’t notice it, but that’s $1,800 you don’t have to pay out of your pocket or see vanish from your paycheck. That’s like a $1,800 tax cut.”
–President Obama, remarks on the economy, Northwestern University, Oct. 2, 2014
Remember that 2008 campaign promise touted by then-candidate Obama — that his health care law would reduce the cost of premiums by $2,500 by 2014? As we have noted, he was quickly called out by fact checkers for making a dubious claim based on shaky assumptions.”

“More than 12,000 people who purchased policies through Cover Oregon could owe a combined $1.12 million at tax time because of errors in subsidized premiums issued by the health insurance exchange.
The vast majority of people affected are expected to owe no more than $10 per month that their policy was in effect. That figure is not final, however, because a $10,000 consultant’s study intended to settle the question did not succeed. The exchange is planning to commission a second, more in-depth study.”

“Why do Democrats and Republicans view this law so differently? Ideology plays a big role. Democrats are generally more willing than Republicans to look to government to help address people’s problems.
Demographics shape the debate, too.
If a community has a large concentration of people without health insurance, there is a good chance it is represented by a Democrat in Congress. Of the 50 congressional districts with the most uninsured people, all but nine are represented by Democrats.”