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

The urge to merge is sweeping managed health care. Aetna announced Friday a $37 billion deal to acquire Humana. Anthem and Cigna are in merger talks and could be next. The national for-profit insurers are on an anxious mission to consolidate. These combinations will sharply reduce competition and consumer choice, as five big insurers shrink, probably, to three.

“The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act grew out of a long history of failed health insur­ance reform.” Chief Justice John Roberts, in upholding Obamacare subsidies.
Obamacare is the newest chapter in that long history of failed health insurance reform. Conservatives who hope one day to replace it would do well to learn from its errors and conceits.

The Supreme Court has left the ObamaCare demolition job to Republicans, who at least until 2017 will have to chip away at its architecture piecemeal. Last week the House made a good start by voting to kill the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), aka ObamaCare’s rationing board.

The federal government’s release of new data on health-insurer payments under the Affordable Care Act is roiling the industry, including potentially affecting the timing of any deal for Humana Inc., as suitors pore over the detailed information disclosed late Tuesday.

Now more than ever, it is imperative for every Republican presidential candidate to present a concrete plan to replace ObamaCare. The Affordable Care Act remains unpopular: Wednesday’s RealClearPolitics average of polls showed 51.4% disapprove while only 43.6% approve. Voters are more likely to be opposed than are adults overall, and opponents are more fervent than supporters.

The White House’s victory at the Supreme Court last week removed a major threat to ObamaCare that could have rolled back coverage for 6.4 million people. President Obama declared after the ruling that the law has “been woven into the fabric of America,” while allies said the new insurance program and its related policy changes are here to stay.

President Barack Obama is aiming to use the momentum from a recent Supreme Court victory for his health care law to change the conversation from talk about undoing his signature domestic achievement to talk about how to improve it.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie added his name to the 2016 Republican presidential roster Tuesday, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich is expected to do the same in the next few weeks. Two brash, blunt politicians hoping to capitalize on purple-state bona fides—but both will have to overcome the ultimate apostasy in the GOP primary: their endorsement of Medicaid expansion, one of Obamacare’s biggest provisions.

The federal government announced Tuesday that it has $800 million remaining in its reimbursement fund for health insurers this year, a sign that marketplaces under ObamaCare needed less life support than expected.

Small businesses that reimburse employees for the cost of premiums for individual health insurance policies or pay their health costs directly will be fined up to $36,500 a year per employee under a new Internal Revenue Service regulation that takes effect July 1, 2015.