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

If a “death panel” never rationed health care, did it really earn the name?

That’s the question for Congress this week: The House soon will vote to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board established by the Affordable Care Act, dubbed at various times a “death panel” and rationing board by its opponents.

The irony, though, is that the board, which was created to come up with Medicare savings if the program’s spending grew too quickly, hasn’t had any work to do and might not for years to come—which now paradoxically might make it easier for the new GOP Congress to end it.

House Republicans have launched another assault on Obamacare. This time, they have some support from their foes on the other side of the aisle.

Two bipartisan bills that would repeal parts of Obamacare are scheduled to reach the House floor this week. One would get rid of a job-killing tax on medical device manufacturers. The other would do away with a powerful and unaccountable board of 15 members charged with cutting Medicare spending.

Hillary Clinton says she will propose fixes for ObamaCare over the course of her presidential campaign, while strongly defending the law as a whole.

In an interview with The Des Moines Register published on Sunday, she cited the “family glitch,” which prevents some low-income families from qualifying for subsidies under the law as one example of something she should seek to fix.

The White House on Monday threatened to veto a bill to repeal ObamaCare’s unpopular medical device tax.

The bill is headed for a vote in the House later this week, and the 2.3 percent tax on medical devices has drawn criticism from some members of both parties who say it stifles innovation.

But the White House on Monday called the bill “a large tax break to profitable corporations.”

It argues that healthcare industries gain from new customers under ObamaCare and therefore should pay some of the cost of the coverage expansion.

A government data warehouse that stores personal information on millions of HealthCare.gov customers is raising privacy concerns at a time when major breaches have become distressingly common.

A government privacy assessment dated Jan. 15 says data “is maintained indefinitely at this time,” but the administration said Monday no final time frame has been decided, and the National Archives has recommended a 10-year retention period.

The Obama administration has been making billions of dollars in payments to insurance companies under the health law without being able to confirm just how much it owes each insurer, according to an inspector general’s report to be released Tuesday.

The federal government has paid subsidies for many enrollees’ premiums and deductibles directly to insurers since January 2014, when key health-law changes kicked in and millions of lower-income Americans started gaining coverage from plans they picked through HealthCare.gov or state equivalents.

Broken Promises: President Obama recently claimed that ObamaCare is working even better than anticipated. That would be a tough sell to all those hospitals that thought the law would help them make ends meet.
In the Supreme Court’s ObamaCare ruling in 2012, which upheld the individual mandate, the justices also ruled that ObamaCare couldn’t force states to expand Medicaid by threatening all their Medicaid funds if they refused.

“I just love nuns generally. I’m just saying.” – President Obama, June 9.
And nuns just love him too. At least nuns who run hospitals seem to. And with good reason: the President advocates policies that enable hospitals like those operated by the Daughters of Charity to provide less charity.

Although Obamacare’s initial rollout problems have been resolved, the administration is still running into problems implementing the law. But this time it’s not the website, it’s the IRS.

The Internal Revenue Service is responsible for enforcing major provisions of the health care law—including administering subsidies to people who enrolled on the state and federal exchanges, as well as enforcing mandates by issuing tax penalties to those who don’t have health coverage.

New figures indicate that about 11 million people have signed up for health insurance during this latest sign-up period of Obamacare, of which about half will be from the uninsured population, based on previous estimates. Once again, the supporters of the law celebrate with proclamations that “it’s working.” One could say that assessment is true, if the definition of “working” means enrolling people into anything called health insurance.

To be sure, the law’s implementation is progressing, but there is no cause for celebration. It is indeed true that millions of Americans are now newly enrolled into health insurance, but it is disingenuous to tout this as a great success. An estimated 71% of the new insurance arises through Medicaid, using 2014 calculations based on analysis by Haislmaier and Gonshorowski of data from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare.