Steve Banke employs 40 people at 3-Points, a small IT outsourcing company he founded almost 15 years ago. And he wants those workers and their families to have strong health insurance options.

Employees at the firm, based in Oak Brook, Ill., can choose between two types of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois plans: a PPO with a broader network of hospitals and doctors or a cheaper HMO network. Banke’s company covers a percentage of the premiums, and those costs have risen rapidly over the past several years, often more than 12% annually, he said.

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As the election enters the final two months, reporters have been speculating on an “October Surprise,” or perhaps a September one.

There are plenty of candidates, beginning with more Wikileaks about Hillary Clinton’s emails as Secretary of State. There is speculation about pay-to-play at the Clinton Foundation and what’s hiding in Donald Trump’s taxes.

What has received too little attention is the steady collapse of Obamacare and the impact that will have on insurance premiums, which will arrive just before Election Day. The Chicago Tribune called them “cardiac-arrest-inducing premium increases.”

. . .

President Barack Obama and former top Obamacare official Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel are now floating the idea of a public option as an answer to the seemingly inevitable collapse of Obama’s landmark health care legislation.

Obamacare has seen better days: It’s had 16 health care co-ops go kaput, including in New York, some major health care providers are pulling out, and analysts have almost nothing rosy to say about the legislation in both the near and long term. As a result, Obama and his surrogates are scrambling to shore up the sinking ship.

. . .

Average premium increases above 25%, roughly one-third of U.S. counties projected to lack any competition in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges next year, and enrollment less than half of initial expectations provide strong evidence that the law’s exchange program is failing. Moreover, the failure is occurring despite massive government subsidies, including nearly $15 billion of unlawful payments, for participating insurers. As bad news pours in and with a potentially very rough 2017 open enrollment period ahead, the Obama administration signaled on Friday that it may defy Congress and bail out insurers through the risk corridor program. Congress should take all steps at its disposal to prevent the administration from doing so.

. . .

Leading progressive senators are demanding an explanation from the insurance giant Aetna about its abrupt decision to pull out of most ObamaCare exchanges this year, which they said appeared to be politically motivated.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced Thursday they are launching a probe into Aetna, which bailed on ObamaCare just weeks after the Justice Department moved to block its multi-billion merger with another top-five insurer.

. . .

Two bills cracking down on ObamaCare’s individual mandate are being fast-tracked through the Senate, setting up a potential election-year fight over the healthcare law.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) placed two GOP bills on the Senate calendar Thursday. The procedural move, known as Rule 14, allows the proposals to skip over the committee process.
One measure, from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), would exempt people from ObamaCare’s individual mandate if they live in a county with fewer than two options for coverage. The second proposal, from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), would exempt people from the individual mandate if a state’s average premium increases by more than 10 percent.

Senate Republicans have returned from a seven-week recess with a unified message they plan to repeat until November: Obamacare is imploding.

News of double-digit premium increases in 2017, insurers pulling out of the marketplace, failing co-ops, and low enrollment numbers have handed an opportunity to Senate Republicans who worried about losing the majority in the fall. They get to say, “I told you so,” after a six years of Obamacare messaging, and they get to tell voters that a GOP majority will fix these issues.

. . .

When lawmakers and advocates were pushing to pass the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, the list of promises to the American people was long.

The law was supposed to dramatically reduce the number of uninsured, the average family was supposed to save an average of $2,500 in health-insurance premiums per year, and we were going to be able to keep our doctors and insurance plans. But the ACA has failed on these promises.

. . .

Former Obama administration official Donald Berwick once called the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) “the jewel in the crown of health-care reform.” The metaphor is apt: CMMI, more than any other aspect of Obamacare, is an imperial enterprise.

Congress established CMMI in the Obamacare statute with the goal of finding ways to reduce federal spending on medical care without diminishing its quality. That, of course, is the responsibility of Congress, which created the Medicare program and which alone bears responsibility for making legislative changes to it.

. . .

A group of Republican senators on Wednesday introduced a bill to exempt people from ObamaCare’s individual mandate if they live in a county with one or no options for coverage.

 The lawmakers, led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), argue that it is wrong for people to face ObamaCare’s financial penalty for lacking insurance if there is only one insurer offering coverage in their area, or none at all.
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