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

“Health Reform: Wal-Mart says it’s cutting health benefits to part-timers and boosting worker premiums. If a retail empire built on low prices can’t find a way around ObamaCare’s added costs, we are all doomed.
The world’s biggest retailer announced this week that its health costs will be about 48% higher for the current fiscal year than it had expected in February. As a result, it’s cutting 30,000 part-timers from its health benefit plan, raising worker-paid premiums by 19% and trimming its co-payment for health costs above the deductible.
“We had to make some tough decisions,” benefits director Sally Wellborn told the Associated Press. But to hear President Obama tell it, Wal-Mart just didn’t shop around.
That, at least, was what he said when the general manager of the Indiana-based Millennium Steel asked Obama last week about the company’s double-digit premium hikes.
Obama’s response: “The question is whether you guys are shopping effectively enough.””

“If the Congressional Budget Office is close to the mark, in the second open-enrollment season we will see about a doubling of the 7 million people enrolled in the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces. Open enrollment, which begins Nov. 15, is three months this year, or half as long as last year, and the remaining eligible uninsured are a more difficult-to-reach population. Here are the biggest challenges this time around:
First, the overwhelming reason the remaining uninsured cite as to why they have not already gotten coverage is that they believe they could not afford it. The message that most needs to reach the uninsured is that there are tax credits available to help make coverage more affordable. For a 30-year-old making $25,000 per year, the ACA tax credit would reduce the average cost of the most commonly selected “silver plan” from $2,877 per year to $1,729. Eighty-five percent of those who got coverage in the new insurance exchanges qualified for credits this year, but in our Kaiser Family Foundation survey of the uninsured in California, 73% of those eligible for assistance did not know they could get help.”

“There are obvious benefits to getting health insurance at work. For one, employer-sponsored insurance is not taxed, meaning that every dollar of compensation provided as medical coverage stretches further. Individual market plans, meanwhile, are purchased with post-tax dollars. The only way to get in on the tax exemption is to buy coverage at work.
But for low-wage workers, Obamacare  has introduced a new and big drawback to the employer insurance. Namely, anybody who gets access to affordable coverage at work is barred from getting subsidies through the new exchanges. This is even true for people who don’t buy insurance at work; just the act of getting offered employer coverage blocks individuals from using getting financial help.”

“Some health insurers are having trouble finding doctors and hospitals to accept low rates under Gov. Tom Corbett’s Medicaid expansion plan, leading one company to quit the program and another to reduce participation.
Highmark Inc., the state’s largest health insurer, said it won’t participate in Corbett’s Healthy PA program because it couldn’t sign enough doctors to its network. Healthy PA is an alternative to Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, proposed by Corbett and approved by the federal government in August, in which private insurers provide coverage to Medicaid recipients.”

“JACKSON, Miss. Groups supporting low-income Mississippi residents said Tuesday that elected officials are ignoring 300,000 people and refusing billions of federal dollars by choosing not to expand Medicaid in one of the poorest states in the nation.
If the state were to extend Medicaid, as allowed under the health overhaul that President Barack Obama signed into law, many low-wage workers could receive coverage that would enable them to afford doctors’ visits, prescriptions and medical supplies, said Roy Mitchell of the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program. He said bus drivers, cashiers, day care workers and many others are in jobs that provide modest paychecks but no health insurance coverage.”

“I’m sure glad that all the exposure of the activities of the IRS and Lois Lerner have put an end to using the IRS as a tool to attack administration critics. The crisis clearly is over, citizens.
The producer of a new movie that criticizes Obamacare has reportedly become the latest prominent conservative slapped with an IRS audit.”

“President Obama and some of his most ardent media acolytes are insistent. No matter what you may have heard, Obamacare ‘is working’ in the ‘real world.’ That’s the new mantra. Learn it, love it, etc. The Lean Forward network, unsurprisingly, has served as the vanguard of this propaganda push. Their working theory seems to be that if you repeat an assertion often enough to the same tiny audience, you can wish-cast your dreams into reality:”

“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.”

“In 2010, many political analysts and journalists cited the debate over, and enactment of, the Affordable Care Act (often called “Obamacare”) as one factor that helped spark the conservative Tea Party movement and the Republican takeover of the House in that year’s Midterm Elections. Four years later, the law’s major coverage provisions have taken effect, resulting in new health coverage for millions of Americans, but public opinion on the law remains deeply divided along partisan lines, with more viewing it negatively than positively.”

“If Washington is ever going to tackle entitlement reform and get federal spending under control, it must start with Medicare.
The former director of the Congressional Budget Office, Doug Holtz-Eakin, details Medicare’s fiscal plight:
Between 2001 and 2010, Medicare’s cumulative cash flow deficits totaled more than $1.5 trillion – or 28% of the total federal debt over the past decade.
But it gets worse: By 2020, as Baby Boomers continue to age into Medicare at the rate of more than 10,000 a day, Medicare’s cumulative $6.2 trillion in cash flow deficits will constitute 35% of the nation’s total debt accumulation.”