Just in time for the next presidential election, health care spending is starting to take off again. Through 2024, health care spending is projected to grow by 5.8% annually, on average, according to CMS. While this isn’t unexpected—health economists across the political spectrum expected health care costs to start growing again (and growth rates are expected to still be lower than the long-run average)—the window for addressing health care costs in a less painful way is closing. Without better cost controls in the private sector, and without immediate reforms to Medicare, the health care sector is set to gobble up a full fifth of the U.S. economy in just 10 years.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker staked out his claim yesterday to the pole position in the race to lead Republican presidential candidates on Obamacare repeal-and-replace issues. Now, let’s put the Walker plan into perspective, and assess what is still missing or needed to resolve further in later iterations.

Earlier this week, Wisconsin governor and 2016 GOP presidential hopeful Scott Walker released his version of an Obamacare “repeal and replace” plan.

There’s also versions out there from Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Governor Bobby Jindal (R-La.) There are yet others on Capitol Hill: the Republican Study Committee plan, the plan advanced by House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.), and the so-called “Burr-Hatch-Upton” plan. Republicans are often accused of having no alternative to Obamacare, but they actually have many.

Louisiana Health Cooperative was among the 24 not-for-profit companies nationally to accept loans from the federal government to provide insurance coverage called for in the Affordable Care Act. The Metairie-based business was formed in 2011, secured $56 million in federal loans and sold plans in 2014 and 2015.

New research about implementation of the Affordable Care Act finds that Obama administration regulations are allowing taxpayer subsidized health insurance for some people earning less than the statutory income floor and also for unlawful immigrants.

A new study by Andy S. Grewal, an associate professor at the University of Iowa College of Law, explains that the ACA provides tax credits to U.S. citizens with incomes between 100 and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). However, IRS regulations were written to extend credits to citizens below 100% FPL in some cases.

Also, Section 36B of the ACA grants credits to some non-citizens with low-incomes only if they are themselves lawfully present in the U.S. and cannot obtain Medicaid coverage. IRS regulations, however, contradict the statute and allow subsidies if “the taxpayer or a member of the taxpayer’s family is lawfully present in the United States,” and “the lawfully present taxpayer or family member is not eligible for the Medicaid program.”

The U.S. West Coast port labor contract ratified by dockworkers will require shipping companies and terminal operators to cover the tax on high-cost health plans beginning in 2018 under the Affordable Care Act, widely called the “Cadillac tax.”

Health care benefits were an important part of the negotiations that culminated in an agreement in February and last week’s vote by the cargo handlers in favor a five-year contract that included wage increases, pension upgrades and substantial health care coverage.

Under the contract, the Pacific Maritime Association, a group of port terminal operators and shipping companies, will provide full health care benefits for members of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, their dependents and retirees including full coverage with no premiums, no in-network deductibles or co-pays, $1 prescriptions and 100% coverage of hospital care.

Employer groups and insurers are pushing to keep businesses with 51 to 100 workers exempt from a provision of the federal health law that they say could significantly increase their costs.

For these midsize employers, the Affordable Care Act’s requirements for what health plans must cover—and how they are priced—are set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

Already the law requires insurers to sell individual and “small group” plans to everyone at the same price, regardless of their health. Those rules, which kicked in Jan 1, 2014 for businesses with 50 or fewer workers, also set standards for what health-benefits packages must cover.

Two questions will dictate not only the future of healthcare, but also the balance of power between Washington, D.C., and the states, and the separation of powers between the federal branches. One concerns state sovereignty, the other the heckler’s veto.

When justices heard arguments regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) in King v. Burwell on March 4, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice John Roberts suggested ways they might vote to uphold an Internal Revenue Service rule granting taxpayer subsidies to Obamacare exchange policies in states that refused to join that part of the ACA.

The ACA’s Section 1401 provides that subsidies are granted for insurance policies purchased on exchanges “established by the State under (Section) 1311.” By contrast, the federal exchange is created by Section 1321. Challengers argue this was deliberate, pressuring states to create exchanges and join Obamacare, like the provision threatening states with canceling all Medicaid funds if they did not join the ACA’s expanded Medicaid. (The court struck down that part of the ACA in 2012 for coercing the states, violating the 10th Amendment.) The now-infamous videos of Dr. Jonathan Gruber corroborate this theory.

About 14 million Americans have gained health coverage since Obamacare’s insurance expansion began in 2014 — but those new enrollees haven’t swamped the nation’s doctors’ offices, new research shows.

When the health-care law started, there was concern that an influx of new patients could overwhelm doctors. It’s already hard enough to get an appointment with a primary care provider — wouldn’t millions of newly insured Americans just exacerbate the problem?

New data from 16,000 providers across the country, pulled by the medical records firm AthenaHealth, shows that requests for new appointments just barely edged upward in 2014. The proportion of new patient visits to primary care doctors increased from 22.6 percent in 2013 to 22.9 percent in 2014.

By Caitlin Owens
March 29, 2015 Taxes are unpopular. Obamacare is contentious. And the two in tandem promise to make for a political maelstrom, especially come April—when taxes are due and last-minute filers start to see their results.

This year’s deadline, however, is likely to be especially contentious. Last year, 2014—whose tax bills are now coming due—saw the implementation of the individual mandate, the part of the Affordable Care Act that (generally) requires people to have health insurance or pay a penalty.

With added unfamiliarity to an already complex process, filers whose returns are affected by Obamacare may be in for unexpected results, whether a surprise bill or a surprise refund.

As with any event associated with the health care law, rival spin machines will go into full effect, with Republicans highlighting horror stories while Democrats spotlight the law’s biggest beneficiaries. But the real-life impacts of the law are far more nuanced. Indeed, despite all talk of how much Obamacare would cost taxpayers, the reality is that a large percentage of the uninsured are exempt from penalties.