In his final State of the Union address, President Obama spent little time discussing health care programs. In sum, the president made one generic reference to Medicare, made no mention of Medicaid, and spent only about 30 seconds discussing his signature health care legislation—the Affordable Care Act—recapping its main purpose and making three claims about how it is performing.

The president claimed that the purpose of the ACA Is to ensure portability of coverage, that health care inflation has slowed, and that nearly 18 million people have gained coverage so far. He also claimed that businesses have created jobs every single month since the ACA became law. He failed to mention the nation’s greatest fiscal challenge: the unsustainability of entitlement programs.

This piece by Brian Blase aims to fill in some of the gaps.

The Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General found that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS):

• Did not have an effective process in place to ensure that advance premium tax credit (APTC) payments were made only for enrollees who had paid their monthly premiums; instead, CMS relied on each qualified health plan (QHP) issuer to verify that enrollees paid their monthly premiums and to attest that APTC payment information that the issuer reported on its template was accurate; and

• Had sole responsibility for ensuring that APTC payments were made only for confirmed enrollees and did not share these data for enrollees with the IRS when making payments.

The OIG determined that CMS’s processes limited its ability to ensure that APTC payments made to QHP issuers were only for enrollees who had made their premium payments.

Released on December 22, 2015, the third estimate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the third quarter indicates growth in health services spending is maintaining a disproportionate share of still slow GDP growth.

Spending on health services grew faster (4.8%, annualized, in current dollars) than spending on non-health services (3.9%) The growth in health services spending ($24.8 billion, annualized) accounted for 17% of all GDP growth ($146.5 billion), just under one fifth of personal consumption expenditure ($130.6 billion) ), and 29% of all services spending ($84.7 billion).

The evidence continues to indicate Obamacare is not bending the cost curve.

 

 

The tax policy in the ACA is inefficient, at odds with the objective of raising revenue with as minimal interference on economic decisions as feasible, and not supportive of long-term growth. The overwhelming economic burden of the ACA taxes will fall on those in the middle-range income brackets. These are among the reasons that Senate conservatives used the recent reconciliation bill to repeal every single one of the ObamaCare taxes. Unfortunately, the president is expected to veto this effort.

Conservatives may get another bite at the apple – albeit with less than perfect policy – in the so-called extenders bill now before Congress. Specifically, reports indicate that the bill would provide for a 2-year halt of the medical device tax, a 2-year delay of the Cadillac tax, and a 1-year moratorium of the “premium tax” (the annual fee on health insurers).

Last week, the U.S. Senate approved legislation that would repeal the majority of ObamaCare. The bill will almost certainly pass the House. From there, it will go to the president’s desk, where it faces an even more certain veto. Even so, we are witnessing a historic moment. The House and Senate have held dozens of votes to repeal ObamaCare in whole or in part. Congressional Republicans have even worked with President Obama to repeal or curtail portions of the law. But while full-repeal legislation has passed the House, nothing like the bill that just passed the Senate has come anywhere near the president’s desk.

Gallup’s latest poll shows the majority of Americans still oppose the ACA, even two years after its full implementation. Those who are uninsured oppose the health care law by nearly 30 points.

Proponents of more than doubling the current minimum wage of $7.25 appeared to have overlooked a simple fact. Thanks to government mandates such as Obamacare, today’s minimum wage already effectively amounts to $10.46 an hour. If we more than double the nominal minimum wage to $15, we actually will be requiring employers to pay $18.31 an hour.

Maybe the pending King v. Burwell decision will finally put Obamacare out of its misery. No matter what President Obama or Health and Human Services secretary Sylvia Burwell say, the truth is Obamacare is just limping along as another misguided, over-priced and underperforming government program.

Just a few years ago, lawmakers in this left-leaning state viewed President Obama’s Affordable Care Act as little more than a pit stop on the road to a far more ambitious goal: single-payer, universal health care for all residents.

Then things unraveled. The online insurance marketplace that Vermont built to enroll people in private coverage under the law had extensive technical failures.

Earlier this week, news surfaced that some HealthCare.gov users may have received an incorrect subsidy or Medicaid eligibility determination from the Marketplace. According to reports, HealthCare.gov has been counting Social Security income received by children when calculating the Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) for a household. Once calculated, MAGI is then used to help determine a household’s eligibility for Medicaid or subsidized private insurance. By including a child’s Social Security Income in a household’s income, the Federally-facilitated Marketplace (FFM) likely increased the overall household income, which could have resulted in some persons either not qualifying for Medicaid or an inaccurate tax credit determination. While CMS has acknowledged the error, the agency has so far not given an indication of how many households may be impacted.