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

Vermont has filed a 1332 state innovation waiver to avoid building a website for its small-business insurance exchange. The state hopes to have those employers enroll directly through insurers.

Under the waiver, beginning Jan. 1, 2017, states can request that the federal government waive basically every major coverage component of the Affordable Care Act, including exchanges, benefit packages, and the individual and employer mandates. The only requirement is that a state’s healthcare coverage remains consistent and adequate. Vermont is the first state to send a finalized request (PDF) to the CMS.

There’s much more to fix in the health care system than the lack of price and quality information. And given the status quo of blunt benefit designs, the benefits of greater transparency may be limited. But transparency initiatives can and should help improve insurance benefit designs, directing patients to more cost-effective providers. This can happen with or without patients spending their own money.

Thirty-four top executives at 10 failed Obamacare co-ops were paid a whopping $8,211,384 in 2014, according to 990 tax forms obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

New York had the highest total, having paid four of its employees an astounding total of $1,156,317 , with Health Republic Insurance of New York CEO Debra Friedman taking in $427,632 and COO Nicholas Liguori making $316,411. Nevada Health Cooperative’s CEO had the highest salary of the year, receiving $428,001 in compensation for 2014.

Arizona’s Compass Cooperative Mutual Health Network, Inc. also provided hefty salaries — its CEO Kathleen Oestreich was compensated $377,279, while its COO Jean Tkachyk made $351,807.

The co-ops represent a modest component of the sweeping 2010 health law that put new coverage requirements on insurers and required most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty. The co-ops were included to foster nonprofit health insurance providers to compete in the individual and small group markets.

The report will be released in advance of a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Thursday. It is likely to spur more questions about prospects of the Obama administration’s $2.4 billion co-op program.

Thousands of doctors, hospitals and providers in some states still haven’t been paid for health services given to members insured by the co-ops. More than half a million people signed up for health insurance under the ACA lost coverage or had to get new insurance because their co–op had folded.

Oregon’s health insurance co-operative is yet another Obamacare failure. It squandered taxpayer-backed handouts and loans, disappointed its customers and now has shuttered its operations.

But with an audacity that would make even Donald Trump blush, Health Republic of Oregon wants more taxpayer money. Its executives are suing the federal government to demand more government handouts.

The Obama administration just might settle the case and give Health Republic and hundreds of other insurers the $5 billion that the class-action lawsuit seeks.

Federal health officials approved loans to Obamacare health insurance co-ops despite “specific warnings” about across-the-board failures from Deloitte Consulting, according to a blistering Senate staff report released Thursday.

The report was released by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations at a hearing that featured Andy Slavitt, the embattled acting administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)  — the section of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that manages Obamacare.

A $5 billion lawsuit filed by a nonprofit insurer against the Obama administration for a program implemented under Obamacare is raising questions about the use of a fund available for settlements with the government and whether Congress can, and should, intervene.

According to legal experts, if the Obama administration decided to settle its class action lawsuit with Health Republic Insurance of Oregon, one of 23 co-ops started under Obamacare, and other insurers for all or part of the $5 billion it’s seeking, the money would come from the Judgment Fund, an indefinite appropriation created by Congress and administered by the Department of Treasury.

The central feature of the latest plan in Nebraska is to deliver Medicaid expansion benefits through health plans sold on the Obamacare exchange, instead of through the state’s managed care system. But, at the end of the day, this is really just a more expensive way to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

Nebraska’s own actuaries estimate that using these plans to expand Medicaid would increase per-person costs by 94% next fiscal year. By 2021, the cost difference is expected to reach 150%. Overall, this plan would cost taxpayers billions of dollars more (as if regular Medicaid expansion wasn’t expensive enough) and leave even fewer dollars for the truly needy.

If you bought health insurance last year through Obamacare, you may be pleasantly surprised at tax time to find out you have money coming to you.

But it’s just as likely the surprise will go the other way: You might owe Uncle Sam some money if the government subsidy you received for buying insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace was too large based on your income. And if you skipped buying health insurance entirely, you probably will face a penalty. On average, those penalties this year are running $383 among H&R Block customers. That’s an increase from $172 a year ago.

If this is confusing or unpleasant, don’t decide to ignore the matter.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is opening a new front in his attacks on ObamaCare as he campaigns for president.

After trying to bring publicity to his efforts to limit the Affordable Care Act’s “risk corridors” program, Rubio and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the chairman of the Finance Committee and a campaign backer, wrote a letter on Tuesday arguing that the Obama administration is breaking the law with another “bailout” of insurance companies.

Their letter concerns ObamaCare’s “reinsurance” program, designed to protect insurers against high costs for sicker enrollees in the early years of the law. Under the program, the government collects money from insurers and then redistributes it to those with high-cost enrollees.