Centrist Democrats appear reluctant to join their party’s embrace of a public option for ObamaCare.
The idea of adding a government-run insurance option to compete with private insurers is making a comeback in the Democratic Party, with President Obama endorsing the idea Monday, two days after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton emphasized a public option as part of an effort to win over Bernie Sanders and his supporters after a contentious primary.
But among more centrist members of the Senate, where the “public option” was stopped in 2009, there is little enthusiasm for the idea.
. . .
Health insurers in New Mexico and other states are gearing up for a legal fight with the Obama administration over millions of dollars the insurers both owe and are owed under separate provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
New Mexico Health Connections, the state’s Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan, or CO-OP, confirmed to The Hill that it is working with lawyers to frame lawsuits on both ObamaCare’s risk-adjustment and risk-corridor provisions, which make up two of the so-called three Rs of the ACA’s premium stabilization program.
. . .
Bernie Sanders formalized the Democratic Party’s left turn on Tuesday, finally endorsing Hillary Clinton and praising her for embracing so many of his ideas. “We have begun a political revolution to transform America, and that revolution continues,” the Vermont socialist said—and the latest evidence for his boast is the revival of ObamaCare’s “public option.”
This liberal ambition—a new health-care entitlement akin to Medicare for all middle-class Americans under age 65—couldn’t pass a Democratic Congress in 2010. Mrs. Clinton revived the public option over the weekend, and now President Obama is also lending his support, in an op-ed that appears under his byline in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.
. . .
Illinois moved Tuesday to take control of Land of Lincoln Health to begin an orderly shutdown of the insurance company, meaning about 49,000 people will lose their health coverage in the coming months.
The state said it will allow policyholders to buy coverage from a different insurer before their Land of Lincoln plans are terminated, but it’s unclear when the policies will lapse.
“It’s a bad day for the marketplace in Illinois and our consumers,” said Jason Montrie, president and interim CEO of Chicago-based Land of Lincoln. “This is the end.”
. . .
Hillary Clinton on Saturday announced her plan to expand investments in community health care centers, the second of two proposals in a week apparently aimed at courting supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders ahead of his possible endorsement.
The presumptive Democratic nominee’s proposal would double funding for primary care services at Federally Qualified Health Centers, which serve populations with limited access to health care. Community health care centers have been a key priority for Sanders, I-Vt., who successfully fought for the inclusion of $11 billion in funding for such centers in the Affordable Care Act of 2010.
. . .
Health insurers in Michigan are seeking another round of double-digit rate increases next year for plans they sell to individuals, although smaller increases for their small group plans.
Insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has asked state regulators for permission to boost its premium rates by an average 18.7% for individual plans, along with a 14.8% increase for its Blue Care Network individual plans. Those plans — closely associated with the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare — cover about 200,000 individuals in the state, down from 310,000 people as recently as a year ago.
. . .
If you’re looking to find a smashing Obamacare success story—a place where the nation’s biggest and most controversial new law in a generation has truly lived up to its promise—you might stick a pin directly in North Carolina.
The central pledge of the Affordable Care Act was to make insurance available to people who didn’t have it, creating a new safety net for millions nationwide. And in North Carolina that’s exactly what happened. People flocked to the program: More than 600,000 people there signed up for Obamacare policies in 2016, and roughly 90 percent of those got financial help to pay their insurance bills, also through Obamacare. Thanks directly to the ACA, the number of people without health insurance in North Carolina has plummeted by 30 percent in the past three years. Far more people are covered, and far more of them can afford their health insurance.
. . .
The Republican assertion that the administration is spending on health insurance subsidies without required congressional authority hasn’t gotten much news coverage. Many people dismiss it as yet another time-wasting attempt by Republicans to undermine the president’s signature domestic policy achievement.
But the central issue goes beyond health care to the fundamental division of federal power, particularly in a time of deep fissures between the legislative and executive branches.
Congress is supposed to approve every penny of federal spending. But the institution is in such partisan disarray that the appropriations process barely functions, giving rise to the temptation for presidents to assert greater power over the purse, marginalizing Congress.
. . .
In 2013, one Affordable Care Act component taking effect — a medical device excise tax — imposed a new financial burden on American Laboratory Products Co.
The 2.3 percent tax on revenue took a bite out of the company’s bottom line, “no question about it,” said Sean Conley, president of the family-owned-and-operated Alpco. “This obviously has an impact on where our funds go and makes it a bit more challenging to continue to create new jobs.”
The controversial medical device tax was a focus of conversation Friday when U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte visited the company for a discussion and tour.
. . .
The battle between congressional Republicans and the White House over the Affordable Care Act is again escalating—in court and on Capitol Hill.
The administration on Wednesday appealed a federal trial judge’s ruling that the government is improperly reimbursing insurers under a program to cover discounts for low-income consumers.
And House Republicans on Thursday began two days of hearings to hammer away at the issue. They released a report that said the administration distributed the funds even though it was aware it needed Congress’s approval.
. . .