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

Top insurer UnitedHealth Group said Tuesday its 2017 earnings will benefit as it mostly exits the ObamaCare exchanges, its worst-performing business line.

UnitedHealth reported second-quarter earnings of $1.96 per share, up 13% from a year earlier, handily beating analysts’ estimates of $1.89. Still, the company just slightly raised its full-year earnings outlook to $7.80-$7.95 a share from $7.75-$7.95, roughly in line with consensus estimates for $7.89.

The high end of its full-year 2016 earnings guidance held steady because worse-than-expected results in its ObamaCare individual market business called for a conservative outlook, management said in an earnings call.

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The Republican leading the House caucus’ campaign arm said the party’s presumptive nominee will work with the caucus to replace the Affordable Care Act if elected in November.

“House Republicans have put forward patient-centered health care that will be affordable for families,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said Monday in a speech at the Republican National Convention. “We’re offering a real alternative, and showing voters that Republicans are the party of new and good ideas, while Democrats are clearly the party of the failed status quo, especially on health care.”

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The Trump health plan reportedly would make 18 million people uninsured by 2017. But by entirely repealing Obamacare and all its attendant taxes and regulations, the plan also is expected to reduce net federal savings over 10 years of $583 billion and reduce premiums in the non-group market by at least 20%. Progressives surely would be aghast at this prospect and you can be certain that unless Trump modifies the plan’s key features, Hillary Clinton will make it an important campaign issue this fall. But what should the average American think about this trade-off? It all comes down to how much Americans should be forced to pay to prevent each year of being uninsured.

To figure this out, we need to know the total amount that Americans would save if Obamacare were repealed and the net increase in uninsured person-years that would result.

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Until now, health care hasn’t been a big part of Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency.

But conventions are about more than the nominee, and Republicans are likely to have something to say about issues including Obamacare, abortion, and perhaps even medical research.

Here are the five biggest things to watch in health and medicine:

  • Will Pence take the pressure off on abortion issues?
  • Will Republicans hit Clinton on drug prices?
  • Who likes Paul Ryan’s Obamacare repeal plan?
  • Will Zika be discussed?
  • Will Trump say anything about medical research?

Read more…

President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton over the past week have both called for a new government-run insurance option. But the “public option”— which some Democrats have been trying to enact since health law negotiations in 2009 — isn’t a panacea for the problems plaguing Obamacare, Harvard expert Katherine Baicker tells POLITICO’s “Pulse Check” podcast.

“More competition in insurance markets is a great idea,” Baicker said. “It’s not clear to me that the public option is going to be an effective way to introduce that competition.”

Baicker, a respected economist who served on President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, has standing to weigh in: In the JAMA article where Obama laid out his public option earlier this week, no expert was cited more than her.

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This past weekend, Democrats finalized their 2016 election platform at a meeting in Orlando. Oddly enough, it calls for the destruction of Obamacare.

“Americans should be able to access public coverage through Medicare or a public option”–that is, government-run healthcare–says the platform. In a nod to former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, who supports a government-run, single-payer “Medicare for All” healthcare system, it also states that “healthcare is a right.”

They’re embracing single-payer because of Obamacare’s ongoing collapse. As a new report from Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., makes clear, Obamacare’s exchanges are crumbling. Consumers in many parts of the country have access to only one or two insurers–and may soon have none at all.

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This week, President Obama published an President Obama published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association that is likely to be his last and most comprehensive defense of the Affordable Care Act — a.k.a. Obamacare — while in office. Not surprisingly, it’s a rather one-sided accounting.

The president says the law has reduced the number of uninsured Americans, slowed the pace of rising health-care costs, and improved access to high-quality health care for millions of Americans. He also says more progress would have been made if not for the “hyperpartisanship” infecting Washington. He betrays no hint of self-awareness that perhaps his own conduct and statements, and the manner in which the law was pushed through Congress and enacted, might have been causes of the deep divisions in health-care policy that have persisted throughout his presidency.

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Health spending in the U.S. grew to $3.2 trillion in 2015, fueled partly by the expansion of health insurance to millions of people under the Affordable Care Act, according to a new estimate published in the journal Health Affairs.

The study also looks forward, projecting that through the next decade, national health spending will climb at 5.8 percent per year, on average, to encompass a fifth of the economy by 2025.

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President Obama reflected upon the Affordable Care Act in an article published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. He acknowledged the law’s shortcomings and outlined what he believes to be the next steps in health care reform.

The President concluded, “Policy makers should build on progress made by the Affordable Care Act by continuing to implement the Health Insurance Marketplaces and delivery system reform, increasing federal financial assistance for Marketplace enrollees, introducing a public plan option in areas lacking individual market competition, and taking actions to reduce prescription drug costs.”

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Centrist Democrats appear reluctant to join their party’s embrace of a public option for ObamaCare.

The idea of adding a government-run insurance option to compete with private insurers is making a comeback in the Democratic Party, with President Obama endorsing the idea Monday, two days after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton emphasized a public option as part of an effort to win over Bernie Sanders and his supporters after a contentious primary.

But among more centrist members of the Senate, where the “public option” was stopped in 2009, there is little enthusiasm for the idea.

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