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.

The Obama administration is dialing up the pressure on a handful of states that have resisted expanding Medicaid coverage for their low-income residents under the federal health care overhaul.

The leverage comes from a little-known federal fund that helps states and hospitals recoup some of the cost of caring for uninsured patients. The administration says states can just expand Medicaid, as the health care law provides, and then they wouldn’t need as much extra help with costs for the uninsured.

Two top targets so far are Florida and Texas, with large numbers of uninsured residents. Both have received several billion dollars in recent years from Washington under the so-called low income pool, also known as LIP.

Florida’s hospital funding is the first of the nine states — which include Tennessee, California, Massachusetts, Arizona, Hawaii, Kansas and New Mexico — to expire on June 30. But the hospital funds are an optional program, not entitlement programs like Medicaid, meaning the federal government has broad discretion whether to grant them, experts say.

“There’s no doubt that other states that haven’t expanded Medicaid are watching this,” said Joan Alker, Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

The IRS is blaming Obamacare for the agency’s poor customer service, with Commissioner John Koskinen telling Congress on Wednesday that he has had to take money away from answering phone calls and instead spend it on technology and personnel to carry out President Obama’s health care law.

Just 43 percent of taxpayers’ phone calls are being answered so far this year. Mr. Koskinen warned that it would get worse without an infusion of money and Americans may start to feel emboldened to cheat on their taxes.

The IRS chief said Congress didn’t provide additional money to prepare for Obamacare and the tax penalty filings that began this year, so he shuffled at least $100 million from user fee funding that had been going to customer service.

“Because of the zero funding for the Affordable Care Act and [the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act], the only way we could implement those statutory mandates … in the last year was to move a significant part of that support for taxpayer service into the IT accounts,” Mr. Koskinen said.