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

“For health policy wonks, the end of the year isn’t just the holiday season. With the falling temperatures will come a renewed “doc fix” debate, as Congress deliberates on ways to avoid a scheduled double-digit (24 percent last year) cut in Medicare’s physician payments. And avoid it they will. As health economist Austin Frakt put bluntly: “Good luck getting physicians to keep Medicare patients if the payments are suddenly cut 24 percent.””

“A caucus of seven nervous Democratic senators, led by Mark Begich of Alaska, has been pushing a plan to “reform” the Affordable Care Act by allowing insurers to offer an even skimpier insurance plan than the skimpiest permitted now. .
The idea of their “Expanded Consumer Choice Act” is to create a new “copper” tier of health plan permitted in the individual and small-business markets under the ACA. The copper tier would undercut the current tiers of health plans by covering only 50% of expected health costs. Under the current law, the stingiest “bronze” tier covers 60% of costs.”

“The House Science Committee has issued a subpoena for former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park over his role in developing HealthCare.gov.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued the subpoena for the Obama administration’s former top tech advisor, demanding that he testify about his oversight of the ObamaCare website, including its security protocols.
The subpoena comes after Park’s previous refusals to testify and his recent cancellation of a meeting with House lawmakers after it became clear that the briefing would be public, the committee said.”

“Plans to find a way to expand Medicaid eligibility for Tennessee residents aren’t moving as quickly as expected, Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday morning.
The governor said he continues to work with federal health officials to find a solution that will work, but it’s taking longer than he had hoped.
“I would have hoped we would have made more progress by now, after the meeting we had up there five or six weeks ago,” Haslam said Tuesday morning after speaking at an education conference in Nashville.”

“BATON ROUGE, La. — U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu has doubled down on her support for the federal health care law even as polls show the revamp remains unpopular in Louisiana and a new Republican attack ad launched Tuesday hits the Democratic incumbent again for her vote.
The 30-second TV commercial by national conservative group Crossroads GPS, co-founded by GOP operative Karl Rove, says Landrieu’s vote for President Barack Obama’s signature initiative was a betrayal of Louisiana.”

“Conservatives in Congress are drawing up their wish list for a Republican Senate, including “pure” bills, like a full repeal of Obamacare, border security and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline — unlikely to win over many Democrats and sure to torment GOP leaders looking to prove they can govern.
Interviews with more than a dozen conservative lawmakers and senior aides found a consensus among the right wing of the Republican Party: If Republicans take the Senate, they want to push an agenda they believe was hamstrung by the Democratic-controlled chamber, even if their bills end up getting vetoed by President Barack Obama.”

“A key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the requirement that private insurance plans cover recommended preventive services without any patient cost-sharing.1 Research has shown that evidence-based preventive services can save lives and improve health by identifying illnesses earlier, managing them more effectively, and treating them before they develop into more complicated, debilitating conditions, and that some services are also cost-effective.2 However, costs do prevent some individuals from obtaining preventive services (Figure 1). The coverage requirement aims to remove cost barriers.”

“Remember Obama’s now “infamous” line, “If you like your healthcare, you can keep it?” If it only had been true, because many Americans—especially our nation’s young people are suffering as a result of the President’s signature legislation.
President Obama told us that the average American would see their health insurance premiums lowered; yet the opposite is true. A recent study shows that health insurance premiums have drastically skyrocketed among 23-year-olds, especially males who have seen a 78 percent price increase. Women have seen close to a 45 percent increase.”

“Spoiler alert! When it comes to covering the uninsured, Obamacare has proven itself to be one giant expansion of Medicaid. A new report released Wednesday reveals the total coverage increase for the first half of 2014. While total coverage increased by 8,538,327 individuals, enrollment in Medicaid accounted for 71 percent of that growth. Check out the infographic below for the full breakdown of the numbers.”

“A confession: I am a health economist, and I cannot rationally select a health plan.
I buy health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, or F.E.H.B.P., which is very similar to the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges. Like the exchanges, the federal employee program runs an online marketplace with a choice of plans, which vary by region.”