The Trump administration took another step Wednesday toward deregulating federal insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act.
For coverage in 2018, consumers can buy an ACA-approved plan directly from a broker or an insurer’s website instead of having to go through HealthCare.gov, the CMS announced. The news comes just two days after small businesses were given permission to skip the federal marketplace to sign their employees up for SHOP coverage.
. . .
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.
. . .
Business groups were hoping a quick repeal of the Affordable Care Act would give employers more flexibility on health care and create momentum for priorities like a tax overhaul.
Friday’s decision by House GOP leaders and President Donald Trump to abandon a vote on the Republican health plan left them less certain on both fronts.
“This is a dismal failure,” said Juanita Duggan, chief executive of the National Federation of Independent Business, a group representing small businesses. “NFIB is officially unamused, and we’re not going to let them off the hook.”
. . .
According to the CBO, able-bodied adults on Medicaid receive about $6,000 a year in government health-insurance benefits. They pay no premiums and minimal copays. You’d think that eligible individuals would need no prodding to sign up for such a benefit.
And yet, according to its analysis of the GOP ObamaCare replacement, the CBO believes that there are five million Americans who wouldn’t sign up for Medicaid if it weren’t for ObamaCare’s individual mandate. You read that right: Five million people need the threat of a $695 fine to sign up for a free program that offers them $6,000 worth of subsidized health insurance.
. . .
The Republican House health-insurance reform bill would replace Obamacare with a more consumer-driven system. Rather than having many provisions take effect in 2020, Congress should pass it soon and make it effective next year. But it is getting attacked from both the right and the left. What’s missing from the news coverage is improvements in the new bill. Here are six:
1. No employer mandate.
2. Refundable tax credits to buy health insurance.
3. Expansion of HSAs and FSAs.
4. Move Medicaid patients to regular coverage.
5. Lower costs for the young.
6. Incentives to keep coverage.
. . .
Following an Obama administration order, the IRS had been set to require taxpayers to indicate on line 61 on their form 1040s whether they had maintained health coverage in 2016 or paid the penalty. The IRS would have rejected returns if taxpayers failed to report their coverage status. But the IRS announced this week it would not reject returns that failed to check the appropriate ObamaCare boxes—an early indication of the administration’s efforts to provide relief from ACA mandates.
“This year, the IRS put in place system changes [initiated by the Obama administration] that would reject tax returns during processing in instances where the taxpayer didn’t provide…information [attesting that the taxpayer had health insurance].
“The recent executive order [issued on day one of the Trump administration] directed federal agencies to exercise authority and discretion available to them to reduce potential burden. Consistent with that, the IRS has decided to make changes that would continue to allow electronic and paper returns to be accepted for processing in instances where a taxpayer doesn’t indicate their coverage status.”
. . .
Trump administration officials have a lot of work ahead of them, but also a tremendous opportunity to make history. Returning the executive branch to its proper role under the Constitution will also spur Congress to enact reforms that make health care better, more affordable, and more secure.
Michael F. Cannon, Director of Health Policy at the Cato Institute, outlines 14 ways Trump-administration officials can restore the Constitution’s limits on executive power, provide relief to Americans suffering under Obamacare, and hasten repeal.
. . .
No one’s interested in trying to save Obamacare’s centerpiece as it faces certain death.
Even as the healthcare industry heavily lobbies Republicans to keep the Affordable Care Act’s other main components, such as its subsidies and Medicaid expansion, doctors, hospitals and insurers are stepping away from the law’s individual mandate for people to buy insurance or pay a fine.
Not even Democrats are campaigning to keep the mandate, which was once viewed as the key to making Obamacare successful. The thought was that the mandate would prompt enough healthy young people to buy coverage to keep premiums stable. But nearly everyone agrees it didn’t work as well as intended. And repealing it is top of list for Republicans.
. . .
President Obama will be leaving office with the Affordable Care Act, his signature policy initiative, in deep peril. An incoming Republican president and Congress, concerned with the cost of ACA exchange plans jumping by an average 25 percent next year and employee health care costs rising, have pledged to repeal the law. For his part, the President sought to shift the blame for rising out-of-pocket cost from the ACA’s flaws to employers and insurers. During a recent speech defending the law, he said the ACA has had no impact on the affordability of employer-provided health care benefits “except to make it a better value.” As the President put it, “if your premium is going up, it’s not because of Obamacare. It’s because of your employer or your insurer — even though sometimes they try to blame Obamacare for why the rates go up. It’s not because of any policy of the Affordable Care Act that the rates are going up.”
. . .
The 40% “Cadillac” Tax on expensive employer-sponsored health insurance is on a deathwatch because both parties in Congress dislike it. It would be best if Congress were to replace the Cadillac Tax with a simple and clear limitation on the tax preference for employer-paid premiums, as is called for the House GOP’s “Better Way” health plan. For decades, economists have complained that the open-ended tax break for employer-paid health insurance premiums is a major distortion in the marketplace. This approach is fair and promotes more transparency in the health care marketplace.
. . .