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

Health insurers will lose about $2.5 billion because patients covered through President Barack Obama’s health law last year were sicker than expected, according to government figures released late Thursday.

The Department of Health and Human Services released updated numbers for a program that helps stabilize premiums in the health care law’s insurance markets, which offer taxpayer-subsidized private plans. Under that program, insurers whose medical claims costs were lower than expected pay in money to help insurers whose costs were higher.

On the same day Hillary Clinton backed killing ObamaCare’s “Cadillac tax” on high-cost plans, Paul Ryan’s House Ways and Means Committee voted to kill it too.

The real news will be if a politician not named Obama comes out in favor of it. It’s so unpopular among unions that even Vice President Joe Biden, if he enters the race, will likely run from it.

Now that the effects of Obamacare have begun to sink in, we’ve seen rapid consolidation among health-care providers and insurance companies. Out-of-pocket health-care costs have skyrocketed. Medicaid patients are having much more trouble finding doctors. And millions have been kicked off their health-insurance plans or had their health care disrupted. Given the disastrous consequences of this deeply flawed law, we believe the American people deserve to have Congress employ budget reconciliation yet again, this time to repeal Obamacare.

The similarities between the original Hillarycare and Obamacare are striking. Both plans were built around the concept of “exchanges” — originally called “Health Insurance Purchasing Cooperatives” in Hillarycare. Both plans relied on an employer mandate. Both had minimum federal benefit requirements, and federal preemption of the traditional state role in the regulation of health insurance. Both saw an extensive role for federal agencies in establishing the health benefits that a consumer must have access to, and those services that wouldn’t be available.

Republicans will seek to repeal a range of ObamaCare taxes as well as the healthcare law’s mandates to buy insurance through the fast-track process known as reconciliation.

President Obama is sure to veto the measures, but reconciliation will allow them to at least reach his desk, bypassing an expected Senate Democratic filibuster. The process is kicking into gear now because it is also being used in an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, part of an effort to target the organization by means other than risking a government shutdown.

The House on Monday passed legislation to nix an upcoming Obamacare mandate requiring employers with 51 to 100 employees to shift the health coverage they offer to plans on the small-group market.

Mergers are sweeping health care, as insurers, hospitals and doctors seek economic shelter from Washington by linking up and getting big.

These merger trends were underway prior to Obamacare. But there’s little question that the law purposely hastened these developments.

It suffices to say that Donald Trump has been all over the place on health care reform. Last month, at the first Republican presidential debate, Trump argued that socialized medicine in Scotland “works incredibly well.” At the same time, Trump has said that Obamacare has “gotta go” and that he would “repeal and replace [it] something terrific.” But Trump has been light on details. Last night, on 60 Minutes, Trump elaborated on what his plan would look like.

On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton issued her defense of the Affordable Care Act and proposals to change the landmark health law, signaling the next battle in a war with all the signs of a political stalemate. Americans are basically evenly split in their assessments of the law and sharply divided along partisan lines; Republican presidential candidates want to scrap the law, while Democrats support keeping it (Clinton) or expanding it (Bernie Sanders). None of this is new to anybody, nor expected to change anytime soon.

More than two years away from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac” tax, 16 percent of large employers offering health benefits have changed their benefit plans or moved to less expensive plans to avoid going over the limits set by the law, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released Tuesday.