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

“The Obama administration has spent at least $3.7 billion to build and promote online marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act, but it can’t prove exactly where it all went, according to an audit released Monday.
Federal investigators said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) does not properly track certain data that public officials need in order to determine whether the healthcare law is working.
The government tracks its healthcare spending in an outdated records system that cannot easily respond to data requests such as salaries or public relations contracts in certain departments. Instead, officials rely on manually prepared spreadsheets that can take months to produce.”

“New survey data show that companies are passing on to their employees additional costs they have incurred as a result of the Affordable Care Act, according to a management professor at the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business.
And that means employees who get their health insurance through work are bearing the cost of subsidizing people newly covered under President Obama’s healthcare reform law, said Professor Patrick M. Wright.”

“RALEIGH — A sizable number of North Carolina residents are learning they are no longer eligible for Obamacare, and some health policy premiums could jump 60 percent within two years, an insurance official says.
Rufus Langley, an Apex insurance agent and state leader of the North Carolina Association of Health Underwriters, said Coventry Health Care of the Carolinas CEO Tracy Baker recently told his group that substantially higher consumer costs are anticipated.
“He can see in 2016 this thing shooting up anywhere from 30 to 60 percent in costs” as delayed taxes start to kick in this year and next year, and medical care costs still rising, Langley said Monday at a Raleigh panel discussion.”

“Normally, no one would care that in a recent Atlantic essay — “Why I Hope to Die at 75” — 57-year-old Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel argued that living to be 75 years old was long enough for anyone. After 75, Emanuel suggests, “We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.”
But Emanuel is no garden-variety crackpot. Nor is he a wannabe science-fiction writer dreaming of a centrally planned planet of robust youthful humanoids. Unfortunately, he was one of the chief architects of the troubled Affordable Care Act and a key medical advisor to the Obama administration.”

“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.”