Articles on the implementation of ObamaCare.
The attempted imposition of the notorious Obama-era “HHS mandate” on religious organizations, especially Catholic institutions, reflected an attitude that has been pervasive during Obama’s presidency, which is one of barely concealed hostility toward persons or organizations holding on to traditional religious beliefs. It should be the first order of business of the incoming Trump administration to rid the federal government of this attitude and the associated policies that flow from it.
The place to begin that process is with the HHS mandate itself. The mandate is a rule, finalized initially in 2013, that requires nearly all employers in the United States to provide all manner of free contraception in their health-plan offerings. The Obama administration went out of its way to impose this requirement even on many Catholic institutions, such as universities and hospitals, knowing full well that the requirement violated fundamental teachings of the church. It then provided only the narrowest of exemptions to the general requirement and fought every legal challenge trying to provide greater latitude to religious organizations or employers with religious sensibilities.
The individual mandate is Obamacare’s least popular feature. It was the subject of the 2012 lawsuit asserting Obamacare was unconstitutional: Never before had the federal government forced any resident to buy a good or service from a private business. The people lost that argument. Nevertheless, Republicans have pledged to eliminate the individual mandate. This commitment remains good politics. However, it is also good economics.
According to last November’s Kaiser Family Foundation Tracking Poll, only 35 percent of respondents have a favorable view of the individual mandate. The proportion drops to just 21 percent among Republicans, and just 16 percent among Trump supporters.
About 6.4 million people have signed up for health insurance next year under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration said Wednesday, as people rushed to purchase plans regardless of Republican promises that the law will be repealed within months.
The new sign-ups — an increase of 400,000 over a similar point last year — mean the health care coverage of millions of consumers could be imperiled by one of the first legislative actions of Donald J. Trump’s presidency. Hundreds of thousands of other people who took no action will be automatically re-enrolled by the federal government in the same or similar plans, officials said, and their coverage could be threatened as well. Consumers still have until the end of January to enroll.
. . .
The news is all full of supporters of the Affordable Care Act warning about how the health insurance system will collapse if, as various Republican repeal programs propose, the “individual mandate” is immediately gutted while parts of the ACA briefly solider on. It’s not that the people issuing the warning aren’t correct. Repeal of the individual mandate without some immediate replacement will clearly reduce the stability of whatever markets would otherwise remain as the ACA continues its death march. It’s just that many of them are hypocrites.
It was the Obama administration and supporters of the ACA who essentially gutted the individual mandate.
. . .
Congressional Republicans are pressing Obama administration officials for details on the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion before they leave office next month.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Reps. Joe Pitts (Pa.) and Tim Murphy (Pa.) wrote to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt Monday, asking how the agency ensures ineligible people aren’t enrolling in Medicaid. The members asked Slavitt to respond within 30 days of receiving the letter.
. . .
The CMS has made a handful of final changes to the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces for 2018, just a little more than a month before Donald Trump takes over the White House and congressional Republicans move to repeal the healthcare reform law.
A final rule published late Friday cements many of the CMS’ proposals from August. Some of the most notable changes involve the ACA’s permanent risk-adjustment program, which funnels money from insurers with lower-cost enrollees to companies that have higher-cost enrollees.
. . .
Hundreds of insurers selling health plans in Affordable Care Act marketplaces are being paid less than 2 percent of nearly $6 billion the government owes them for covering customers last year with unexpectedly high medical expenses.
The $96 million that insurers will get is just one-fourth of the sum that provoked an industry outcry a year ago, when federal health officials announced that they had enough money to pay health plans only 12.6 percent of what the law entitles them to receive.
This time, the Obama administration made no public announcement.
. . .
Federal regulators Thursday night extended the midnight deadline for Affordable Care Act insurance by four days, as consumers fought to get through to call center operators and log onto Healthcare.gov to buy insurance that takes effect Jan. 1.
“Nearly a million consumers have left their contact information to hold their place in line,” Healthcare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan said in a statement late Thursday. “Our goal is to provide affordable coverage to everyone seeking it before the deadline, and these two additional business days will give consumers an opportunity to come back and complete their enrollment for January 1 coverage.”
. . .
Tennessee taxpayers, beware. President Obama’s administration is quietly implementing one last massive taxpayer-funded bailout for special interests.
This bailout would prop up the Affordable Care Act only months before the law will likely be repealed.
So which special interests are getting your money? Health-insurance companies. Six years ago, health insurers were some of the Affordable Care Act’s biggest fans. They lobbied for the law because they thought it would be a financial windfall — it literally forces Tennesseans to buy their product.
But instead of finding gushers of cash, they’re drowning in red ink. Health insurers in Tennessee and across the country lost $3.2 billion in 2014 and over $10 billion in 2015. This year’s losses will be even higher.
. . .
Only four of the original 24 Obamacare health co-ops remain standing after Maryland’s co-op announced Dec. 8 it was suspending the sale of individual health insurance policies, the Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has found.
With the near-collapse of Maryland’s co-op — called Evergreen Health — at least 989,000 individuals nationwide have lost their health insurance coverage when the nonprofit co-ops stopped selling insurance to customers, according to TheDCNF’s tally.
. . .