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

While the debacle known as ObamaCare has been superseded for the moment by the disastrous Iran nuclear deal and the fireworks in the GOP presidential race, the political battle to repeal this law will continue. Pushed through against popular will by using obscure parliamentary tricks and dispensing old-fashioned “favors” with key lawmakers, ObamaCare has been an unmitigated disaster rife with price hikes, website crashes, lost coverage and corruption.

Several factors are driving employers to private health insurance exchanges, one of the biggest being the 40% excise tax on high cost health care plans set to go into effect in 2018, said Jay Kirschbaum, St. Louis-based senior vice president and practice leader in Willis North America Inc.’s national legal and research group.

Marilyn Tavenner, who spearheaded the fraught Affordable Care Act rollout for the Obama administration, is but the latest ACA insider to cash in. Lobbying for America’s Health Insurance Plans is a natural transition for the former director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Health care consolidation is not a sexy issue. It’s not the sort of thing you want to bring up at a dinner party, unless you’ve already completely exhausted proposed changes to the local noise ordinances, the weather, and the best way to get from LA to Newport Beach without enduring the 405. And yet, this is a topic you ought to pay attention to, because the mergers creating mega-insurers and mega-providers are going to have a big impact on your life in the near future.

Five years after Obamacare became law, uninsured rates have fallen to historic lows, but attitudes on the Affordable Care Act remain mostly stagnant and entrenched along party lines.

When the Supreme Court handed down its decision in King v. Burwell upholding the Obama Administration’s interpretation of the law, some concluded that the intense debate over the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) was coming to an end. Not surprisingly, President Barack Obama encouraged that interpretation in his response to the Court’s decision, saying that “the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”

A new wave of insurance mega-mergers is fueling fears that ObamaCare is crushing competition. Despite initial claims that the law would bring down costs, Republican critics and others say it’s driving the industry to consolidate — which could end up costing consumers more.

Bleeding cash, the Louisiana Department of Insurance (LDI) announced Friday that Louisiana’s Obamacare health insurance co-op will be closing its doors by the end of 2015.

It will be the second collapse of an Obamacare health care co-op this year and the third since the Obama administration rolled them out in 2012 as a competitor to commercial health insurance companies.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) included new eligibility and enrollment requirements, which have presented states with significant implementation opportunities and challenges. Although states had choices about whether to host a health insurance exchange or expand Medicaid, the ACA required all states to make major changes to Medicaid eligibility policy, including adding mandatory coverage of new groups, implementing streamlined eligibility and renewal processes, incorporating new eligibility and verification requirements, and coordinating enrollment systems with exchanges.

News that Anthem will buy Cigna for $54 billion– a deal that closely follows the proposed merger of Aetna and Humana — will intensify regulators’ focus on antitrust issues in the health insurance industry.
Because Anthem’s proposed acquisition of Cigna creates the nation’s largest health insurer with 53 million customers, it’s already being met with a healthy dose of criticism from doctors and hospitals who say insurers are already squeezing them.