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

“The Obama administration has dragged its feet on revoking Obamacare coverage for people who can’t prove U.S. citizenship or legal residency, allowing some of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. to continue enjoying taxpayer-funded benefits, a Republican senator charged Monday.
“The Obama administration is bending over backwards to give Obamacare to illegal immigrants but won’t protect hardworking American citizens who are losing their health care coverage,” said Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican and an outspoken critic of President Obama’s health care law.”

“With just one week left before the launch of the controversial Open Payments database – which will reveal how much money doctors receive from drug and device makers – three of the biggest industry trade groups are complaining they have not had an opportunity to review important background information about relationships with physicians.
And the trade groups – the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, BIO and AdvaMed – are reiterating concerns expressed last month that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has still not explained why one-third of the payment information submitted by drug and device makers, as well as group purchasing organizations, was removed from the database.”

“Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell told reporters Wednesday that officials are “continuing, step by step” in their effort to get HealthCare.gov ready to open for its second year of business in 50 days’ time but steered clear of specific commitments that have haunted officials who preceded her.
In her first on-the-record question session with reporters since taking the top job at HHS, Ms. Burwell got several inquiries about whether the department’s preparations to fix and revamp the site were on schedule, and answered all of them without making the kinds of comments that people could hold against her later.
“Right now, what we are doing is prioritizing,” she said. “Every day we are continuing, step by step.””

“Officials at Cover Oregon have realized the number of people affected by tax credit errors is much larger than previously thought — meaning they may owe money at tax time.
Early this month, The Oregonian revealed the existence of the erroneous formula, which had to do with the tax credits used by qualified individuals to reduce their premiums. Cover Oregon first noted the formula was wrong in January, but correcting it took a back seat to fixing the exchange’s technological problems, officials said.”

“When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was initially passed and being implemented, there were several questions regarding the future of high-deductible health plans, including whether they would continue to exist.[1] The primary issue was a debate on whether health insurance should be designed to prevent severe financial harm due to medical bills or eliminate nearly all financial barriers to obtaining any medical care deemed necessary by a provider. CDHPs put that decisionmaking and often the financial consequences more squarely in the mind of the consumer. They also reduce the monthly premium, potentially making insurance more affordable. Many more plans than initially expected to be made available on the health insurance exchanges in 2013–2014 were CDHPs.”

“Insurers Cigna and Blue Shield of California misled consumers about the size of their networks of doctors and hospitals, leaving enrollees frustrated and owing large bills, according to two lawsuits filed this week in Los Angeles.
“As a result, many patients were left without coverage in the course of treatment,” said Laura Antonini, staff attorney for Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica-based advocacy group that filed the case.
Both cases allege that the insurers offered inadequate networks of doctors and hospitals and that the companies advertised lists of participating providers that were incorrect. Consumers learned their doctors were not, in fact, participating in the plans too late to switch to other insurers, the suits allege, and patients had to spend hours on customer service lines trying to get answers. Both cases seek class action status.”

“Governors suggest in a new report that states consider easing restrictions on physician assistants to help deal with swelling Medicaid rolls. The National Governors Association says states should consider including PAs in the definition of “provider,” loosening so-called scope-of-practice laws to let physicians delegate more tasks to PAs, opening clinical training sites and encouraging PAs to work in primary care.
“To increase the use of the physician assistant workforce, states should review the laws and regulations affecting the profession and consider actions to increase the future supply of PAs,” an NGA release states.”

“Nearly five years after passage, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and a companion electronic health records (EHR) program have run a startup tab of more than $73 billion, the Bloomberg Government analysis finds.
Part of that total is the cost of healthcare.gov, the flawed website and related enrollment system intended to expand U.S. health insurance coverage.
BGOV’s analysis shows that costs for both healthcare.gov and the broader reform effort are far greater than anything publicly discussed. They’re also substantially greater than what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) initially estimated health reform would cost by this point, although not what the agency’s more recent piecemeal estimates suggest.”

“This week’s double-barreled release of government statistics on health insurance coverage leaves us with only one question: How many Americans are insured because of Obamacare? Remarkably, the two highly-regarded government surveys released this week do not even agree whether the number of uninsured increased or decreased. The survey that received a great deal of attention said there were 3.8 million fewer uninsured. The other, which was hardly noticed, found that there were 1.3 million more uninsured.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported preliminary results on the expansion of health insurance coverage. Its National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) interviewed 27,000 people in the first three months of this year. The survey estimates that the number of uninsured dropped by 3.8 million since 2013. That represents a 1.3 percentage point decline in the uninsured rate, from 14.4 percent last year to 13.1 percent early this year.”

“In 2009, President Obama repeatedly told the American people, “If you like the plan your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period.” However, implementation of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, quickly led to the debunking of the president’s claim.
But why exactly did millions of Americans receive cancellation notices from their health insurance companies? Robert Graboyes, senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, dug through the Affordable Care Act’s 1,000 pages and came up with a simple way to explain the specific provisions that prompt insurers to cancel plans.”