“Meal, drink, tip … insurance?
Some Los Angeles restaurants are adding a 3 percent surcharge to diners’ tabs in order to cover employees’ health insurance.
The owners of the restaurants deny that the additional charge is a “political statement” about the Affordable Care Act, saying it’s merely a way to provide for their employees.
“We want our staff to have health care,” Josh Loeb, a co-owner of the restaurant Milo & Olive told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s not because we support Obama or don’t support Obama, or are Democrats or are not Democrats.””

“At the heart of Halbig v. Burwell[1] and the series of cases that are following it through the federal court system is an attempt to understand what state and federal legislators were thinking last year, two years ago, even four years ago when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed. While many experts and lawyers in this case have hypothesized about Congress’ intent, contrary to the claims of the Government, at least one establishing and one non-establishing state understood the language of the statute to condition subsidies on state establishment of Exchanges when they made their determination on whether to establish an Exchange. Furthermore, this understanding was timely in the chronology of ACA implementation.”

“Proposition 45 offers a simple choice for voters: Do they want the state insurance commissioner to regulate health care rates for small businesses and individual health plans?
The campaign fight over whether that would be beneficial for consumers is much more complicated.
Initiative proponents, led by Democratic Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica-based consumer group with backing from attorneys, say the initiative would add transparency to the rate-setting process.”

“The Supreme Court on Monday returns to work to face a rich and varied docket, including cases on First Amendment rights in the digital age, religious freedom behind bars and the status of Jerusalem.
Those cases are colorful and consequential, but there are much bigger ones on the horizon.
“I’m more excited about the next 12 months at the Supreme Court than about any Supreme Court term in its modern history,” said Thomas C. Goldstein, who argues frequently before the court and is the publisher of Scotusblog.
In the coming weeks, the justices will most likely agree to decide whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, a question they ducked in 2013. They will also soon consider whether to hear a fresh and potent challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which barely survived its last encounter with the court in 2012.”

“When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, it required health insurers, hospitals, device makers and pharmaceutical companies to share in the cost because they would get a windfall of new, paying customers.
But with an $8 billion tax on insurers due Sept. 30 — the first time the new tax is being collected — the industry is getting help from an unlikely source: taxpayers.
States and the federal government will spend at least $700 million this year to pay the tax for their Medicaid health plans. The three dozen states that use Medicaid managed care plans will give those insurers more money to cover the new expense. Many of those states – such as Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee – did not expand Medicaid as the law allows, and in the process turned down billions in new federal dollars.”

“The ObamaCare exchanges that opened for business last fall to disastrous consequence are expected to be largely improved with better technology and more insurance plans when they re-open next month, but critics are still raising concerns about consumer costs and choices.
The Department of Health and Human Services said in a preliminary report released Sept. 23 that the number of insurers has increased by 25 percent, which officials argue should lower premium costs through competition, in addition to offering customers more choices.”

“Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that the number of insurers participating in state marketplaces was on the rise. But it didn’t say whether that improved competition was taking place everywhere, or just in the urban markets that already had a lot of insurance carriers.
The week before, it announced that 7.3 million Americans were currently enrolled in marketplace plans created by the Affordable Care Act. But it didn’t share a breakdown by health plan, state, age or income.”

“Kevin Counihan, the new chief executive officer of healthcare.gov, expects Obamacare will become so user-friendly that “raving fans” will emerge for the U.S. health insurance enrollment program.
Americans buying coverage for 2015 using healthcare.gov should expect an easier experience than during its troubled first year, Counihan said yesterday in his first interview since starting the job Sept. 8. While shopping will remain imperfect, “it’s night and day from last year,” he said.”

“Thousands of consumers who were granted a reprieve to keep insurance plans that don’t meet the federal health law’s standards are now learning those plans will be discontinued at year’s end, and they’ll have to choose a new policy, which may cost more.
Cancellations are in the mail to customers from Texas to Alaska in markets where insurers say the policies no longer make business sense. In some states, such as Maryland and Virginia, rules call for the plans’ discontinuations, but in many, federal rules allow the policies to continue into 2017.”

“Who’s up for the latest batch of bad Obamacare-related news?
(1) Consumers brace for the second full year of Obamacare implementation, as the average individual market premium hike clocks in at eight percent — with some rates spiking by as much as 30 percent.
(2) “Wide swings in prices,” with some experiencing “double digit increases.”(Remember what we were promised):
Insurance executives and managers of the online marketplaces are already girding for the coming open enrollment period, saying they fear it could be even more difficult than the last. One challenge facing consumers will be wide swings in prices. Some insurers are seeking double-digit price increases…”