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

Democrats like to talk a lot about being the party of choice, but under Obamacare, individuals are finding their choices increasingly limited. At its core, Obamacare forces individuals to purchase government-approved insurance policies and precludes them from buying plans that might be more in line with their healthcare needs. Though Obamacare’s defenders argue that the requirements imposed on health insurance plans only serve to guarantee that individuals have better coverage, in reality, what’s happening is that the law is driving insurers to limit choices.

The GOP has big reasons to move ahead with sending an ObamaCare repeal to President Obama’s desk: it will force the president to veto the bill, will fulfill a promise to its base, and will lay the groundwork to truly repeal the health care law under a Republican president in 2017. It’s not just optics. Republicans are carefully constructing a legislative strategy, based on Senate rules and precedents, to make it easier to unravel the health law in 2017 if a Republican wins the White House.

The Senate voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood Thursday evening, clearing a nearly six-year hurdle that kept previous attempts to undo the health care law from reaching President Obama’s desk. Though the president has vowed to veto the bill, it passed 52-47. The legislation would repeal major parts of the president’s signature policy achievement, including the individual and employer mandates and Medicaid expansion, which would be aborted after a two-year delay.

Aware of the unsustainability of rising health care spending, policymakers have sought to implement myriad policies and programs aimed at reducing such spending growth. One such attempt is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) authorized under ObamaCare. However, IPAB’s statute limits its ability to achieve long-term success. IPAB is not likely to be successful in reducing health care costs without having harmful effects on Medicare beneficiaries.

U.S. health care spending last year grew at the fastest pace since President Obama took office, driven by expanded coverage under his namesake law and by zooming prescription drug costs, the government said Wednesday. The report by nonpartisan experts at the Department of Health and Human Services is an annual snapshot of the nation’s health care system, a major slice of the economy. Rising spending eventually has consequences for taxpayers, employers and individuals.

A narrow majority of physicians say Obamacare has a negative impact on medical practice, including on the quality and cost of health care, according to a report from the Journal of the American Medical Association. The report found that 52 percent of physicians look on Obamacare as unfavorable to the general medical situation, while 48 percent say it is favorable.

States increased their spending in fiscal year 2015 by the biggest margin in more than 20 years, but most of the increase was thanks to huge leaps in Medicaid spending under the first full year of the Affordable Care Act. Spending increased last fiscal year, which ended on June 30 for most states, by 7.8 percent, according to new estimates from the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO).

Tax-advantaged healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are at risk of being gutted because of ObamaCare’s Cadillac tax, warns the Employers Council On Flexible Compensation. The employers are asking employees to call on Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s Cadillac tax on benefit-rich health plans, or at the very least to exempt employees’ contributions to these accounts from the Cadillac tax calculation.

Whether it is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) determining which treatments and technologies are worth covering and how much they are willing to reimburse for them; the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) mandating quality and safety standards; or the new Affordable Care Act exchanges setting the standard for benefit packages throughout the health insurance market, it is clear that government agencies and their mandates play a powerful role in guiding the provision of health benefits and the overall construct of the market.

The CEO of UnitedHealth, the nation’s largest health insurer, said on Tuesday he regretted the decision to enter the ObamaCare marketplace last year, which the company says has resulted in millions of dollars in losses. “It was for us a bad decision,” CEO Stephen Hemsley said at an investor’s meeting in New York, according to Bloomberg Business. UnitedHealth announced last month that it would no longer advertise its ObamaCare plans over the next year and may pull out of the exchanges completely in 2016.