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

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted Monday that the federal health care overhaul championed by President Barack Obama is likely to undergo changes next year, regardless of who wins the White House and which party has the upper hand in Congress.

The Kentucky Republican, who has long advocated repealing the Affordable Care Act, told a business audience in his hometown that the law “can’t possibly go on like it is.” He predicted the overhaul “will be revisited by the next president, whoever that is.”

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As health insurers head for the exits, Americans who have been whipsawed by ObamaCare may get whacked again this fall:  First, they were thrown off private plans that were declared illegal, then they were forced into the ObamaCare exchanges, and now they could face the prospect of being shut out of coverage through their exchanges entirely for 2017.

The Obama administration has only itself to blame for the ObamaCare failures—first for jamming this bill through Congress despite warnings that the structure of the bill was an economic disaster, and then for exacerbating the breakdown through its regulatory dictates.  The ACA was sold on the pretense that we could have a private, competitive market for health insurance, but the law and subsequent regulations put the industry in a straightjacket, with rules at every turn that undermined the industry’s ability to offer attractive, competitive products.

We need to think more broadly about solutions, making sure that people getting coverage now are protected, that those not buying or obtaining coverage have greater incentives to participate, and that the program is financially sustainable.

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With the hourglass running out for his administration, President Barack Obama’s health care law is struggling in many parts of the country. Double-digit premium increases and exits by big-name insurers have caused some to wonder whether “Obamacare” will go down as a failed experiment.

If Democrat Hillary Clinton wins the White House, expect her to mount a rescue effort. But how much Clinton could do depends on finding willing partners in Congress and among Republican governors, a real political challenge.

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Seven years after the passage of the federal Affordable Care Act, health care costs are still going up at a robust rate for many in the region, according to a new survey of Washington area companies. Health insurance costs at a broad sample of local companies are projected to increase by 7.3 percent in 2016, the Human Resource Association of the National Capital Area reported.

The association, which represents area human resource executives, said the survey found more local employers are offering higher-deductible plans and putting new restrictions on expensive prescription drugs. The percent of the organization’s membership offering so-called “consumer-directed” health care plans jumped from only 15 percent in 2008 to 50 percent in 2016.

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The odds remain fairly good that the Democrats can regain control of the Senate in November, especially if Democratic presidential nominee continues her strong showing against Republican businessman Donald Trump in the polls.

At least seven Republican-held seats are seen as being in play, including Illinois, New Hampshire, Indiana and Wisconsin, as well as the three crucial swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Four other races — including veteran Republican Sen. John McCain’s reelection effort in Arizona — are deemed competitive by political experts.

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Nearly a third of the nation’s counties look likely to have just a single insurer offering health plans on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges next year, according to a new analysis, an industry pullback that adds to the challenges facing the law.

The new study, by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, suggests there could be just one option for coverage in 31% of counties in 2017, and there might be only two in another 31%. That would give exchange customers in large swaths of the U.S. far less choice than they had this year, when 7% of counties had one insurer and 29% had two.

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The tanning salon industry is feeling burned by “Obamacare.”

Business owners around the country say the little-noticed 10 percent tax on tanning in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul has crippled the industry, forcing the closing of nearly 10,000 of the more than 18,000 tanning salons in the U.S.

Experts say the industry is overstating the effects of the “tan tax” and that it has been hurt by other factors, too, including public health warnings about the dangers of tanning and the passage of laws in dozens of states restricting the use of tanning salons by minors.

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Since I last wrote about it, Aetna’s withdrawal from the Obamacare exchanges has ginned up even more drama.

Jeff Young and Jonathan Cohn of the Huffington Post published a letter in which Aetna told the Justice Department that it would reduce its exchange participation unless Justice allowed the merger with Humana to go through. This has naturally triggered a firestorm of accusations about “extortion” and renewed calls for a public option that can protect people against the threat of insurance-less insurance exchanges.

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Election Day 2016 will raise the curtain on the final act in the nation’s long-running political drama over President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

If Republican Donald Trump wins, the unraveling begins.

“We have an obligation to the people who voted for us to proceed with ‘repeal and replace,'” said Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican.

If Democrat Hillary Clinton goes to the White House, it gets very difficult for Republicans to keep a straight face about repealing “Obamacare.”

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As insurers push large premium increases for 2017 Obamacare plans, some of the steepest hikes have been requested by insurers in crucial swing states that could determine control of the Senate.

In nine of 11 states with competitive Senate races, at least one insurer seeks to hike rates for Obamacare customers by at least 30 percent next year: Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield in Pennsylvania wants to jack up average premiums by more than 40 percent. In Wisconsin, three insurers have asked for rate hikes of more than 30 percent. In New Hampshire, two of the five carriers want to sell plans with rate increase above 30 percent.

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