The impact of ObamaCare on doctors and patients, companies inside and outside the health sector, and American workers and taxpayers
Efforts by insurers to boost premiums are the latest evidence that President Barack Obama’s health care law “just doesn’t work” and must be replaced, the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said Wednesday.
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin launched the GOP’s latest attack against the health care overhaul as Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell defended it before his committee. Their conflicting views underscored that Obama’s 5-year-old law remains a partisan flashpoint, likely to reverberate through next year’s presidential and congressional elections.
In response to a question at a press conference today following the G7 summit in Germany, President Obama commented on the pending decision in the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s U.S. Supreme Court case King v. Burwell:
“And so this should be an easy case. Frankly, it probably shouldn’t even have been taken up. And since we’re going to get a ruling pretty quick, I think it’s important for us to go ahead and assume that the Supreme Court is going to do what most legal scholars who’ve looked at this would expect them to do.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says President Obama will veto any ObamaCare contingency plan Congress sends him, even if the Supreme Court cripples the law.
Congressional Republicans are working on backup plans in case the high court rules later this month in King v. Burwell to invalidate subsidies that help 6.4 million people afford health insurance in 34 states using the federally run exchanges.
Republicans in Congress have repeatedly promised they will have a plan if the Supreme Court rules that an estimated 6.4 million Americans can’t get health insurance subsidies from the federal government.
Though the GOP has not reached a consensus – and few if any details are discussed in public – there is plenty of activity behind the scenes, as disparate groups in the House and Senate work to at least unify around an opening bid.
Public support for Obamacare tied its all-time low in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll – even as most Americans say the Supreme Court should not block federal subsidies at the heart of the health care law.
With the high court set to rule on the latest challenge to the ACA, the poll reflects the public’s split views of the law – criticism of its insurance mandate, yet support for extended coverage.
Overall, just 39 percent support the law, down 10 percentage points in a little more than a year to match the record low from three years ago as the Supreme Court debated the constitutionality of the individual mandate. A majority, 54 percent, opposes Obamacare, a scant 3 points shy of the high in late 2013 after the botched rollout of healthcare.gov.
Millions of Americans could lose Obamacare subsidies under a Supreme Court ruling this month, but many in the GOP don’t need their votes anyway.
That’s a major political calculus for Tea Party Republicans, who are likely to resist any efforts to extend the subsidies, even temporarily. They’re much more worried about angering their base by appearing to concede to Obamacare than whether a handful of constituents lose their subsidies.
“Ninety-seven percent of Americans aren’t receiving those subsidies,” Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., told reporters Thursday. “I will tell you I’m a ‘no’ on voting to extend those subsidies unless the president is willing to sit down and work with us and fix the problems for that 97 percent.”
At stake are federal subsidies that about 7 million low and moderate-income Americans are using to buy health coverage.
They could lose the assistance if the justices rule the Obama administration is awarding it illegally in the 37 states relying on healthcare.gov instead of running their own insurance marketplaces. The dispute, known as King v. Burwell, is over the interpretation of a few sentences in the Affordable Care Act.
Sen. Ted Cruz’s Obamacare hearing in a Senate Judiciary subcommittee Thursday afternoon began rather bizarrely.
To his right sat two Democrats: Sens. Christopher Coons, the ranking member of the oversight subcommittee, and Richard Blumenthal.
Directly in front of Cruz was an empty row of seats, vacant because witnesses from the Obama administration who were asked to fill them didn’t show up. Beyond that was an audience filling almost every seat in the room, drawn by the hearing’s subject: the writing of the Obamacare subsidy rule, a topic that is also in a roundabout way currently under consideration by the Supreme Court.
The Treasury Department had told Cruz last week that it wouldn’t be sending any witnesses, so the Texas Republican wasn’t surprised. The empty table was theater, and Cruz took advantage of the opportunity, railing against the Affordable Care Act and the administration for not sending the requested Treasury officials, a snub which he called “the height of arrogance.”
“It’s a symbol for how little regard the Obama administration has for the American people,” Cruz said. “By their absence, I take it the administration is saying they are not subject to oversight.”
The list continued to grow of preventive services that people are entitled to receive without paying anything out of pocket.
In 2014, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended two new services and tweaked a handful of others that had previously been recommended. Under the health law, preventive care that receives an “A” or “B” recommendation by the nonpartisan group of medical experts must be covered by health plans without charging consumers. Only grandfathered plans are exempt from the requirement.
Health Care Service Corp., the largest not-for-profit health insurer in the country, suffered large losses in 2014, the first year that Americans could buy individual coverage through the public exchanges.
HCSC recorded a $281.9 million loss in 2014, compared with a $684.3 million surplus in 2013—a swing of almost $1 billion.
A group of House Republicans unveiled a 192-page health care plan that fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with “patient-centered reforms” and “free-market solutions.”
Lawmakers released the plan Thursday as the GOP-led Congress prepares to attack the Affordable Care Act. Both houses of Congress have already signaled their intentions to repeal Obamacare by a simple majority vote using the reconciliation process—just as the law was passed in 2010.
The new GOP plan, American Health Care Reform Act, was written by Reps. Phil Roe of Tennessee and Austin Scott of Georgia. It has the backing of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus made up of nearly 170 members of the House of Representatives.