The impact of ObamaCare on doctors and patients, companies inside and outside the health sector, and American workers and taxpayers
“A different health care issue has emerged for Democrats, in sync with the party’s pitch to … middle-class voters … high out-of-pocket costs for people already covered. Democrats call it ‘underinsurance.’ After paying premiums, many low- and middle-income patients still face high costs when trying to use their coverage. … [T]he value of a health insurance card is being eaten away by rising deductibles … Several liberal-leaning organizations have recently focused on the issue.”
Obamacare has enmeshed many Americans in a bureaucratic nightmare. True, the law has helped some uninsured people obtain coverage. But millions of people have seen their health-insurance plans canceled, because the plans did not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Others, particularly young Americans, have seen premiums rise to pay for the roster of newly added benefits. Tommy Groves (not his real name), a young professional working at a small firm in Washington, D.C., was among the nearly 5 million Americans who received termination-of-coverage letters from their health-insurance providers because their plans did not comply with the ACA’s requirements. While about half the states offered to extend canceled plans for another year, later increased to two years, the District of Columbia required its residents to get new insurance.
Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/418322/obamacare-horror-story-young-americans-diana-furchtgott-roth-jared-meyer
The Obama administration has spent billions of taxpayer dollars implementing the Affordable Care Act, often taking vast liberties with statutory language. The administration’s actions were the subject of a House Ways and Means Oversight subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, chaired by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL).
Roskam is calling for a Special Inspector General to investigate the administration’s actions and track how tens of billions of dollars have been spent. Implementation of the sweeping and complex law stretches across eight separate federal agencies so no one agency IG can see the patterns and possible abuses taking place.
Rep. Roskam’s SIGMA Act (Special Inspector General for Monitoring the Affordable Care Act) would create an ObamaCare watchdog to conduct much-needed audits of the ACA to guard against further waste of tax dollars, such as the extraordinarily expensive and problem-prone exchange websites.
Following close to two years of reports of cost overruns on HealthCare.gov, increased premium prices and lost work hours since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., is introducing legislation to appoint a watchdog to oversee the health care law and ensure the protection of taxpayer dollars.
The legislation calls for the creation of a special inspector general for monitoring the Affordable Care Act, or SIGMA.
“The false, rosy claims of Obamacare have largely been debunked, and there’s a level of dissatisfaction all around,” Roskam said in an interview with The Daily Signal. “More time and more attention is in the oversight function. [The legislation] doesn’t reinvent the wheel in that it doesn’t use the same legislative architecture, but what will do is force disclosure, and the public then has choices about how it wants to move forward.”
Republican chairmen of four House subcommittees—Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, Tom Cole of Oklahoma, Tom Marino of Pennsylvania and Jim Jordan of Ohio—as well as Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and Rep. Bill Flores of Texas, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, support the bill.
One primary goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to expand access to affordable health care. However, in the five years since the ACA’s passage, we have found that while more people have health insurance, they do not necessarily have access to affordable health care.
In order to pay for the subsidies that have facilitated the expansion of health insurance coverage, many recipients of federal funds were forced to accept payment reductions. Hospitals were faced with cuts of $260 billion over ten years. These reductions came in the form of delayed payment updates for Medicare hospital services and reduced Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments meant to compensate hospitals for treating a high percentage of patients for whom the hospital is often inadequately reimbursed. The justification for the cuts to hospital payments was based on assumptions that, by increasing insurance coverage to millions of people, fewer individuals would go to the emergency room (ER) to receive care—where they would potentially be treated for free subject to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA)—and instead could seek care in non-hospital settings such as physician offices, outpatient clinics, urgent care centers, etc.
One of the key questions surrounding Obamacare is just how many people have been newly insured under the law. The answer is clouded by the fact that the White House and others have changed some rules of math for making these assessments.
For example, several years ago, the Obama Administration fiddled with Census Bureau’s definition of what it means to be “uninsured.” The new parameters, which were looser than the old factors, make it hard to construct comparisons between today’s figures for the total number of uninsured and the historical trends.
The Obama team also abruptly started to exclude uninsured illegal immigrants from the national tally on total number of uninsured Americans. Before Obamacare, these individuals were counted in that reporting, inflating the numbers. After Obamacare, these individuals didn’t get insurance, but suddenly didn’t get counted any more.
Now, a new analysis from the highly regarded managed care analyst at Goldman Sachs, Matthew Borsch, and his team, cast uncertainty on some of the recent data releases from the White House, and its network of academicians. In particular, the Goldman breakdown conflicts in some key ways with a recent analysis from RAND that was published in the journal Health Affairs and widely cited by the media.
Republicans are being ridiculed by the right and the left for weighing ideas that would rescue ObamaCare health insurance policies for people in 37 states if the petitioners prevail in King v Burwell.
“Republicans Are Now Trying To Pass Obamacare Extension To Save Their Own Asses,” writes Allen Clifton in Forward Progressives. “GOP Gets Ready to Save the Day If the Court Strikes Down Obamacare Subsidies,” says Rush Limbaugh.
If the Supreme Court decides against the Obama administration in the case, leaders in Congress are indeed determined to pass legislation to protect coverage for an estimated six million people. ObamaCare has so distorted the market for individually-purchased and small group health insurance that Congress has little choice but to throw them a safety net.
Two years in, there’s a lot we still don’t know about Obamacare. How many people will it end up insuring? What will the premiums look like? How much will the program cost?
Some of these questions won’t be answered satisfactorily for a while, if ever. Even the most basic data point, on how many people have gained coverage, comes from Gallup polls and is a little murky. The percentage of people saying they don’t have health insurance has fallen from about 17 as enrollment kicked off to about 12 now. The easing of the recession has presumably helped that.
Other answers, however, will come into focus in the next year or so. The most important being: What will the market for individual insurance look like once Obamacare is in full effect?
In 2011, analysts were speculating that Assurant Health might exit the insurance business, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last week. So the recent news that Assurant’s parent company was looking to “sell or shut down” the insurance carrier by year’s end was not a total surprise. The issue now is whether its demise holds larger lessons about Obamacare’s impact on insurance markets.
One analyst called Assurant, which reported operating losses of nearly $64 million in fiscal 2014 and $84 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2015, a “casualty” of the law. The Affordable Care Act “required health plans to cover a package of basic benefits and required health insurers to spend at least 80 cents of every premium dollar on medical care or quality initiatives,” the Journal-Sentinel reported. Simply put, the law made health insurance more like a regulated utility—with plan designs, benefits, and overhead costs strictly regulated.
Obamacare supporters generally argue that these regulatory changes eliminate the potential for customer confusion or the sale of “substandard” insurance products. But further Journal-Sentinel reporting underscores a complication of that approach:
Waste: After spending billions on state-run ObamaCare exchanges, the federal government is only now writing clear rules on how that money can be spent, while half of the exchanges head toward bankruptcy.
state-run exchanges were supposed to form the beating heart of ObamaCare. And the Obama administration dumped almost $5 billion in an effort to make it a reality.
The results have been a disaster.
Of the 37 states that received $2.1 billion in grants to establish an exchange, only 17 did so, and they got an additional $2.7 billion from the feds.
Of those 17, two went bankrupt in the first year. One of them, Oregon, had received a $60 million “early innovator grant.” Residents of those states now use the federal Healthcare.gov site.
A memo from Health and Human Services’ Inspector General Daniel Levinson warns that some of the remaining may be violating federal law in an effort to stay afloat.