Last week, the GOP kept a promise to the American people by delivering a replacement plan for Obamacare.
The plan — part of the party’s “A Better Way” campaign — was unveiled by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. “What we are laying out today is a first-time-in-six-years consensus by the Republicans in the House on what we replace Obamacare with,” he said.
The plan is a good one. House Republicans have laid out several core reform proposals their party can rally around. As I note in my new book The Way Out of Obamacare, a plan like this one would be a vast improvement over the unmitigated disaster that is Obamacare.
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A while back, I explained how the ACA’s Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) uses Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) to encourage healthcare providers to deny healthcare to seniors and disabled Medicare beneficiaries. To summarize: ACOs are paid bonuses if they “reduce costs” in the fee-for-service system, which they can do only by providing fewer services. The system encourages hospitals, physicians and potentially other providers to merge, to make it easier to “make sure” that patients don’t get “extra” healthcare from unaffiliated providers.
This week, in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper with the clever title, “Moneyball in Medicare,” authors Edward C. Norton, Jun Li, Anup Das and Lena M. Chen reveal yet another ACA Medicare provision which encourages providers to merge in order to reduce healthcare services provided to patients.
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The House Republican’s health plan represents a real milestone. It is the first proposal released since the enactment of the ACA in 2010 that legitimately can be called the Republican alternative. If Congress were to take up legislation in 2017 to roll back the ACA and replace it with something different, the starting point for drafting the legislation would be this plan. It builds on plans authored by Sen. Richard Burr, Sen. Orrin Hatch, and Rep. Fred Upton as well as the plan introduced by Rep. Tom Price. These precursors were built on the same set of common principles and objectives: repeal and replacement of the ACA; more choices, lower costs, and greater flexibility for consumers; protection of the most vulnerable Americans; incentives for innovation and high quality medical care; and preservation and protection of Medicare.
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Small, regional health insurers and upstart co-op plans again incurred large charges under the Affordable Care Act’s risk-adjustment program, according to new data the CMS released Thursday. Calendar year 2015 marks the second year of risk adjustment, and many smaller insurers have had to pay into the program both years.
The data also show payouts for the ACA’s reinsurance program. For ACA plans sold in 2015, the reinsurance payments total $7.8 billion. The temporary reinsurance program, which expires at the end of this year, protects health insurers against costly claims.
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Insurers helped cheerlead the creation of Obamacare, with plenty of encouragement – and pressure – from Democrats and the Obama administration. As long as the Affordable Care Act included an individual mandate that forced Americans to buy its product, insurers offered political cover for the government takeover of the individual-plan marketplaces. With the prospect of tens of millions of new customers forced into the market for comprehensive health-insurance plans, whether they needed that coverage or not, underwriters saw potential for a massive windfall of profits.
Six years later, those dreams have failed to materialize. Now some insurers want taxpayers to provide them the profits to which they feel entitled — not through superior products and services, but through lawsuits.
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ObamaCare enrollment dropped to about 11.1 million people at the end of March, according to new figures released by the administration.
A dropoff was expected, and has occurred in previous years as well, given that some people who sign up do not pay their premiums.
The CMS said 87 percent of enrollees remained signed up, within the expected range of 80 percent to 90 percent retention.
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The health care law President Obama signed six years ago was supposed to fix the individual insurance market with enlightened rules and regulations. Instead, ObamaCare is destroying this market. Just look at what’s happening to Blue Cross Blue Shield.
If any insurer could cope with ObamaCare, it should have been Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Blue Cross companies came into the ObamaCare exchanges with decades of experience writing individual policies. Most of them are non-profits, which gives them an automatic leg up on the competition. And their plans captured the largest share of the exchange markets across the country.
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Two major health insurers in Arizona are discontinuing Obamacare plans in part of the state next year.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and Health Net will stop selling plans on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces in the city of Maricopa and Pinal County, dropping coverage for tens of thousands of enrollees, according to new state filings reported by the Arizona Republic.
Additionally, Health Net is scaling back its Obamacare offerings in Pima County, selling only mid-level silver and gold marketplace plans.
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This year, premiums were up an average of 8 percent. In many states, double-digit premium hikes were the norm.
Nearly 22,000 Ohioans — more than one-third of whom live in the Columbus area — have until Thursday to find a new health insurance plan or face being uninsured for most of July.
The Ohio Department of Insurance took over InHealth Mutual, a subsidiary of Coordinated Health Mutual, in May. The health insurance cooperative based in Westerville was set up in 2014 to be a lower-cost option for Ohioans who shop the federally run health insurance marketplace. The state agency is liquidating the company because it ceased to meet the federal requirements for minimum essential coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
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