Articles on the implementation of ObamaCare.

The Trump administration on Thursday released a final rule that slashes the open enrollment period for Affordable Care Act coverage in 2018 in half, among other changes, in its first major regulatory change affecting Obamacare.

The regulation, which aims to stabilize the ACA exchanges, could have a significant impact on the marketplace, but it leaves unanswered insurers’ biggest question: whether the government would continue funding the ACA’s cost-sharing subsidies, which help lower-income consumers afford out-of-pocket health costs.

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A second major health-insurer has decided to quit selling individual policies in Iowa, raising fears that tens of thousands of Iowans will have no options for coverage next year.

Aetna informed Iowa regulators Thursday that it had decided to stop selling such policies, which cover people who lack access to employer-provided coverage or government plans. The move would affect 36,205 customers, the company told regulators.

Aetna’s move takes effect in January. It came three days after Iowa’s dominant health-insurer, Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield, announced that it would no longer sell individual health-insurance policies in Iowa.

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More insurance companies around the country are refusing to pay brokers commissions on higher-tier exchange plans or special enrollment sales as the companies face financial losses on the federal marketplace. “It’s the Wild West out here, and companies are doing what they can to survive,” says Ronnell Nolan, CEO of Health Agents for America, which represents independent insurance brokers. “They’re not paying commissions on platinum plans, and they are not paying them for special enrollment plans which cover some of the sickest patients.” An exodus of brokers from the federal marketplace could undermine enrollment efforts since brokers historically sign up at least 50% of exchange enrollees.

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How many different ways are there to make a Domino’s pizza? The answer might interest you. It might also interest the Food and Drug Administration — at least, it should.

The nation’s franchise restaurants are about one month away from the imposition of new nutritional-labeling rules dreamed up by the Obama administration, another gift of the grievously misnamed Affordable Care Act. For outlets of brands with 20 or more locations, that means posting signs in the shop with calorie counts for every item on the menu and for every variation on that item.
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Senior House Republicans said Thursday that they expected the federal government to continue paying billions of dollars in subsidies to health insurance companies to keep low-income people covered under the Affordable Care Act for the rest of this year — and perhaps for 2018 as well. “While the lawsuit is being litigated, then the administration funds these benefits,” the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, said Thursday. “That’s how they’ve been doing it, and I don’t see any change in that.”

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As House Republicans struggle to find a way to repeal ObamaCare, the two GOP senators from Tennessee are looking to temporarily fix an issue that may strike the health insurance exchanges next year.

A bill introduced by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker would allow people to use their ObamaCare subsidies to purchase any state-approved plan on the private market if there are no insurers selling policies on the federal exchange in their county.

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On June 21, 2017, health insurers have to decide whether they will sell coverage on the Obamacare marketplaces. “It will give us the first indication of what the ballpark rate increases are, what counties have insurers and which ones don’t,” says Robert Laszewski, an industry consultant who works with insurers that sell on the marketplace. “Insurers will have to make a statement.” The number of insurers selling on the marketplace fell significantly this year. There are 960 counties on Healthcare.gov that had just one health insurer selling coverage in 2017. That was a big increase from the 180 counties in the same situation in 2016.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price came into office last month ready to lead the charge on repealing ObamaCare. Now, that effort has run into a brick wall, leaving him to oversee a law he fiercely opposes.

President Trump last week predicted that ObamaCare “soon will explode,” stirring speculation that the administration could seek to undermine the law.

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President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers, seeking to regroup following the collapse of the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, have an option for gutting the health law relatively quickly: They could halt billions in payments insurers get under the law.

House Republicans were already challenging those payments in court as invalid. Their lawsuit to stop the payments, which they call illegal, was suspended as Republicans pushed to replace the ACA, but it could now resume—or the Trump administration could decline to contest it and simply drop the payments. Mr. Trump could unilaterally end the payments regardless of the lawsuit.

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Another insurer sued the U.S. government to recoup unpaid payments under the ACA’s risk-corridor program, but it’s looking less and less likely that the feds will ever pay up.

Sanford Health Plan, the insurance arm of Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health, sued the federal government, demanding it pay nearly $9 million in overdue risk-corridor payments for 2014 and 2015. The CMS so far has paid Sanford Health Plan just 15.1% of the amount it owes, according to the complaint filed last week in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

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