“The day that many health policy wonks have been waiting for has come: Obamacare’s first open–enrollment period has officially ended on April 15, 2014. Wasting little time, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released the last of its first–year enrollment reports. The update from HHS contains some good news, and some not–so–good news. Overall, it appears highly unlikely that the healthcare law will collapse.”

“Health care costs are too damn high—and they’re only getting worse. Last week, researchers at Harvard and Dartmouth released a report estimating that health care costs will continue to grow faster than the economy for at least the next two decades. This is a tremendous burden on average Americans, who already spend nearly a fifth of their average annual pre-tax income on health care.”

“A new investor report predicts that Standard & Poor’s 500 companies could shift 90 percent of their workforce from job-based health coverage to individual insurance sold on the nation’s marketplaces by 2020.”

“Despite Obamacare’s strong national enrollment numbers, several states are at risk for big premium hikes.

Each state is its own insurance market, and they had wildly different experiences during Obamacare’s first open-enrollment window. So although nationwide statistics are important for judging the law’s political success, the substantive tests for the law’s future mostly lie with the states—and some of them aren’t looking so hot.”

“Massachusetts pioneered universal health care in 2006. Under then-Governor Mitt Romney, it was the first state to guarantee access to insurance — and drove its uninsured rate down to just 4 percent.

Which makes it baffling that Massachusetts did arguably the worst of any state in implementing Obamacare. Like a handful of ardent Obamacare supporters in other states, Massachusetts officials tried to pull off an ambitious launch — and failed badly.”

“There’s been a dramatic turnaround in some Democrats’ thinking about Obamacare and the 2014 elections. Where lawmakers once sought to avoid blame for their national health care overhaul, they are now confident, energized and ready to rub the supposed success of Obamacare in their Republican opponents’ faces.”

“An insurer in Washington state selling plans under the Affordable Care Act is proposing to lower customers’ health premiums next year in what appears to be one of the first such decreases proposed for 2015.”

“In the midst of all the turmoil in health care these days, one thing is becoming clear: No matter what kind of health plan consumers choose, they will find fewer doctors and hospitals in their network — or pay much more for the privilege of going to any provider they want.”

“Whenever somebody says that an argument is settled, you can be sure that it is not. If it were settled, there would be no need to say so. No president will hold a press conference to announce that the argument over the prohibition of alcohol is settled, precisely because it truly is settled. So when President Obama declared the debate over his health-care law “settled” and “over,” as he did at an April 17 press conference, his performance was self-refuting.”

“Back in November, Republicans honed in on a new line of attack on the Affordable Care Act.

In the midst of the disastrous rollout of the health insurance exchange websites, the GOP not only got to frame Obamacare as broken and impossible to implement, but also leapt at the chance to paint it as a corrupt handout for one of the least popular parts of the health sector – insurance companies.”