Articles on the implementation of ObamaCare.
Aetna Inc., facing more than $300 million in losses from Affordable Care Act health plans this year, may exit Obamacare markets in some states as challenges to the health-care overhaul pile up.
While the health insurer has yet to leave any states in which it now sells Obamacare programs, Chief Executive Officer Mark Bertolini said Aetna is evaluating its participation by market and will start making decisions in coming weeks. The company, which covers 838,000 people through Obamacare, is halting a planned expansion of those offerings in new states for next year.
“We’ve got to be able to cover the costs associated with providing the care,” Bertolini said in an interview.
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Aetna Inc, the nation’s third largest health insurer, said on Tuesday that it no longer plans to expand its Obamacare business next year. The insurer, which is losing money on the plans it sells in 15 states to individuals on exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act, said it also was looking at whether it should continue to offer the contracts. Aetna said its exchange-based plans for individuals had a pretax operating loss of $200 million in the second quarter, and it projected the loss from that business would exceed $300 million by year-end. It had initially expected to break even on the plans.
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A new wave of failures among ObamaCare’s nonprofit health insurers is disrupting coverage for thousands of enrollees and raising questions about whether regulators could have acted earlier to head off some of the problems.
Four ObamaCare co-ops have failed due to financial problems since the beginning of the year, the latest trouble for the struggling program.
The co-ops were set up under ObamaCare to increase competition with established insurers, but just seven of the original 23 co-ops now remain.
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At issue in House v. Burwell is whether the administration has been illegally paying cost-sharing reduction subsidies to insurers. This issue was also the subject of a Republican House investigation, which resulted in a recent report concluding that the administration knowingly made the payments without a congressional appropriation, which is illegal.
In May, district court judge Rosemary Collyer sided with the House, deeming the payments illegal. The administration is appealing. If it is unsuccessful, it will be a serious blow to already struggling Obamacare exchanges.
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The insurer Cigna is expanding into a few new ObamaCare markets, a countervailing force to some recent high profile exits by insurers.
Cigna, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, said Tuesday that it has filed to offer insurance on the ObamaCare marketplaces next year in Chicago, the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina, as well as Northern Virginia and Richmond.
The move comes as some other large insurers have announced they are pulling out of ObamaCare marketplaces because of financial losses. Humana announced last week that it will participate in no more than 11 states next year, down from 19.
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Since Obamacare’s rollout in the fall of 2013, 16 co-ops that launched with money from the federal government have collapsed.
The co-ops, or consumer operated and oriented plans, were started under the Affordable Care Act as a way to boost competition among insurers and expand the number of health insurance companies available to consumers living in rural areas.
Now, just seven co-ops—Wisconsin’s Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative; Maryland’s Evergreen Health Cooperative; Maine Community Health Options; Massachusetts’ Minuteman Health; Montana Health Cooperative; New Mexico Health Connections; and Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey—remain.
Thomas Miller, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who is an expert in health policy, said each of the seven remaining co-ops have “warning indicators” leading up to when, and if, they fail.
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Thousands of Illinoisans heeded federal law and bought health insurance last year via the state’s Obamacare exchange. They signed up with Land of Lincoln Health, a state-approved insurer. They paid their premiums and deductibles. Many counted on that coverage to manage chronic illnesses or other long-term treatment.
Now, a kick in the teeth: Land of Lincoln has collapsed. Its customers must scramble for new coverage in an upcoming “special enrollment” period. They will have 60 days to find another plan on the Illinois exchange to cover the last three months of the year.
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The Affordable Care Act continues to provide an opportunity for religious zealots to complain that someone, somewhere, might be doing something of which they disapprove. Another such case advancing through the courts is that of Missouri State Rep. Paul Wieland and his wife, Teresa, who assert that Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate tramples on their family’s religious rights even if they don’t make use of it.
St. Louis Federal Judge Jean Constance Hamilton thinks they may have a point. On Thursday she denied the government’s motion to throw out the case on summary judgment. Merely requiring individuals to buy an insurance policy that provides contraception could infringe on their religious conscience, she ruled in clearing the case for trial.
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Progressive supporters of health reform wanted a public plan option to compete with private insurers offering insurance in the state and federal health exchanges. To draw support from progressives, proponents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) created a type of nonprofit health insurance cooperative that would compete with established health insurers. Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, or health insurance COOPs, as they are commonly known, were a political compromise for those who supported allowing non-seniors to buy their way into Medicare or a similar public program.
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The man selected by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as her vice presidential running mate is a strong ally of Clinton’s in her push for improving the Affordable Care Act and expanding Medicaid to more states.
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, whom Clinton named Friday as her running mate, has sponsored several bills to fix gaps and glitches in the ACA and to encourage more states to extend Medicaid to low-income adults. None have won Republican support and passed. He also has strongly backed Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s unsuccessful efforts up to now to expand Medicaid in his own state.
As governor in 2009, Kaine signed a letter with 21 other governors to congressional leaders urging them to enact federal healthcare reform legislation.
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