The impact of ObamaCare on doctors and patients, companies inside and outside the health sector, and American workers and taxpayers

After 94-year-old Enid Stevens was treated for a spinal fracture at a hospital in Northern England last month, she was wheeled out from the overcrowded ward to a hallway, where she lay on a gurney, unable to easily alert nurses, for six days.

“The health service is failing,” said Wayne Stevens, Mrs. Stevens’s 40-year-old grandson. “It’s not just my grandmother—there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of grandmothers going through the same indignities.”

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This paper examines the impacts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – which substantially increased insurance coverage through regulations, mandates, subsidies, and Medicaid expansions – on behaviors related to future health risks after three years. Using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and an identification strategy that leverages variation in pre-ACA uninsured rates and state Medicaid expansion decisions, we show that the ACA increased preventive care utilization along several dimensions, but also increased risky drinking. These results are driven by the private portions of the law, as opposed to the Medicaid expansion. We also conduct subsample analyses by income and age.

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The state’s antitrust lawsuit against Sutter Health is a welcome move to stop Sutter from inflating health care costs across the Northern California market.

The lawsuit alleges that Sutter has illegally used its market power to compel commercial health plans to contract with all or none of its hospitals, extract exorbitant prices and prohibit use of financial incentives to encourage use of lower-cost providers.

The problem is not just Sutter, however, but insurance-contracted provider networks (preferred provider organizations and health maintenance organizations), where insurers negotiate medical service prices, keep those prices hidden and make other private deals that maximize revenue at purchaser and consumer expense.

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California’s government would set prices for hospital stays, doctor visits and other health care services under legislation introduced Monday, vastly remaking the industry in a bid to lower health care costs.

The proposal, which drew swift opposition from the health care industry, comes amid a fierce debate in California as activists on the left push aggressively for a system that would provide government-funded insurance for everyone in the state.

Across the country, rising health care costs have put the industry, lawmaker and employers and consumers at odds.

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During Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, the Federal Government won or negotiated over $2.4 billion in health care fraud judgments and settlements, and it attained additional administrative impositions in health care fraud cases and proceedings. As a result of these efforts, as well as those of preceding years, in FY 2017 $2.6 billion was returned to the Federal Government or paid to private persons. Of this $2.6 billion, the Medicare Trust Funds received transfers of approximately $1.4 billion during this period, and $406.7 million in Federal Medicaid money was similarly transferred separately to the Treasury as a result of these efforts.

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Since the managed care debacle of the 1990s, billions of dollars have been spent in time and resources to improve and measure the quality of patient care. However, measuring the quality of care in the effort to improve it in a cost-efficient manner is showing evidence of being counter-productive, particularly for small physician practices and practices with complex patient populations.

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California is indeed the Golden State where Medicaid is concerned. The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has found that, by exploiting Obamacare’s expansion of the program, California has enrolled hundreds of thousands of ineligible adults in Medicaid. Consequently, the state has bilked the federal government out of more than $1 billion in funding to which the state was not entitled. Indeed, these figures probably understate the amount of money that California officials have fraudulently extracted from the taxpayers. The OIG sampled a mere six-month period, from October 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015, to arrive at its damning assessment.

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Donald Trump’s health secretary was on fire during a March 5 address to the Federation of American Hospitals. Alex Azar, the former Eli Lilly executive now charged with overseeing everything from Medicare to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, outlined plans to achieve nothing less than the “value-based transformation” of American health care.

“Today’s healthcare system is simply not delivering outcomes commensurate with its cost,” he said. And Azar put his biggest finger on a commonly blamed problem: the fact that American health care is “paying for procedures and sickness” instead of “outcomes and wellness.”

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  • Healthcare edges out crime, guns and deficit as top problem
  • Healthcare or economy has typically been top worry since 2001
  • Worries about unemployment, economy continue to decline

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ObamaCare turns eight years old today. Some opponents had hoped to mark the occasion by giving supporters the birthday gift they’ve always wanted: a GOP-sponsored bailout of ObamaCare-participating private insurance companies. Fortunately, a dispute over subsidies for abortion providers killed what could have been the first of many GOP ObamaCare bailouts.

ObamaCare premiums have been skyrocketing. All indications are this will continue in 2019, with insurers announcing premium increases up to 32 percent or more just before this year’s mid-term elections. Some Republicans fear voters will punish them for the effects of a law every Republican opposed and most still want to repeal.

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