Articles on the implementation of ObamaCare.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced today it’s slashing the advertising and promotional budget for the Affordable Care Act for next year. It’s planning to spend $10 million to promote the law in the open enrollment period that starts in November — compared to the $100 million the Obama administration spent last year.

On a conference call with reporters, HHS officials argued that last year’s promotional spending — which was doubled from the year before — was ineffective because signups for new customers actually went down.

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A group of 11 states and the District of Columbia running their own Obamacare exchanges want more federal funding to stabilize exchanges facing higher premiums and insurer defections.

The states wrote to leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee with their ideas on Tuesday. Those include guaranteeing insurer payments and establishing a permanent reinsurance fund to help insurers.

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Although the GOP’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act industry taxes died with the party’s health care bill, it’s conventional wisdom that some of the taxes will still be delayed. But there’s no plan to do so yet.
Lobbying campaigns to repeal or delay the health insurance tax and the medical device tax are ramping up, yet there’s no clear vehicle for Congress to take action. Well-wired lobbyists and Hill aides say the appetite for doing anything major on health care isn’t really there.

“It is a have-to-get-done that’s really hard to get done,” said one lobbyist.

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axpayers who do not have minimum essential coverage (through an employer, a government program, or individual insurance) or qualify for an exemption must pay an individual responsibility tax. The tax is calculated on a monthly basis and is the greater of either a fixed dollar amount or 2.5 percent of household income above the tax filing limit, up to the the national average premium for a bronze (60 percent actuarial value) health plan.

The IRS has announced that for the 2016 tax filing season the average bronze plan premium used for calculating the maximum penalty will be $232 for each member of a tax household up to $1,360 for five or more members.

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Health insurer CareSource will offer Affordable Care Act exchange plans in Ohio’s Paulding County, leaving no place in the U.S. currently known to be at risk of lacking marketplace offerings under the law next year.

The decision by CareSource, a nonprofit that focuses largely on Medicaid, caps a triumph for state regulators around the country, who have fought hard to fill potential bare patches in their coverage maps after insurers announced pullbacks over the past several months amid uncertainty about the law’s future.

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Under the ACA, insurance companies must sell polices to people with chronic diseases and charge the same premiums paid by healthy people. But patients with pre-existing conditions in fact are being denied coverage when their insurance plans don’t cover medically-recommended treatments or when they place significant obstacles in the way. Many plans impose “utilization management” rules restricting access to drugs. Dr. Blinderman suggests a “preauthorized trial period” for all medications. Following this trial period, physicians could be asked to justify continuation of the therapy. Doing this would relieve patient suffering due to delays or disruptions in the amelioration of symptoms, reducing health-care costs in the process.

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Iowa on Tuesday submitted to the federal government a final request to make changes to try to shore up its struggling ObamaCare insurance marketplace.

The plan from the Iowa Insurance Division is intended to be a short-term market stabilization solution to entice more insurers into the marketplace. The state is facing what it calls a “collapse” of its ObamaCare marketplace after all but one insurer declined to offer plans for 2018.

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For all the attention on various ways to improve Medicaid’s finances and sustainability in recent months, another key area of Medicaid policy that deserves focus is improving the state waiver process. With all the recent calls for bipartisanship, this should be an area where Democrats and Republicans can work together to improve the program.

Medicaid is a state-federal partnership and a critically-important safety net for millions of our nation’s most vulnerable patients. The program dates back to the Great Society era and will cover up to 98 million people and cost taxpayers more than $600 billion this year alone.

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The government will make this month’s payments to insurers under the Obama-era health care law that President Donald Trump still wants to repeal and replace, a White House official said Wednesday.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to end the payments, which help reduce health insurance copays and deductibles for people with modest incomes, but remain under a legal cloud.

A White House spokesman said “the August payment will be made,” insisting on anonymity to discuss the decision ahead of the official announcement. The so-called “cost-sharing” subsidies total about $7 billion this year and are considered vital to guarantee stability for consumers who buy their own individual health insurance policies.

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The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires insurers to offer plans with reduced deductibles, copayments, and other means of cost sharing to some of the people who purchase plans through the marketplaces established by that legislation. The size of those reductions depends on those people’s income. In turn, insurers receive federal payments arranged by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to cover the costs they incur because of that requirement. At the request of the House Democratic Leader and the House Democratic Whip, the Congressional Budget Office and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have estimated the effects of terminating those payments for cost-sharing reductions (CSRs). In particular, the agencies analyzed what would happen under this policy: By the end of this month, it is known that CSR payments will continue through December 2017 but not thereafter.
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