As senior House Republicans work on a promised replacement for the Affordable Care Act, a pair of GOP lawmakers plan to introduce an alternative Thursday that would dramatically reshape the nation’s healthcare system.
The sweeping legislation – co-sponsored by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) – stands little chance of becoming law as long as a Democrat is in the White House.
But just as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont shook up the Democratic presidential primary by pushing the liberal dream of a “single-payer” government-run health system, Sessions and Cassidy are resurrecting a long-held conservative goal of overhauling of the healthcare system by rewriting an important part of the tax code.
In the process, the two lawmakers are also highlighting the difficult trade-offs that would be necessary in any replacement for the health law President Obama signed in 2010, commonly called Obamacare.
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Americans’ spending on prescription drugs has soared over the past few years. Hillary Clinton has blamed “price gouging” by drug companies and called for more Washington control. A far more likely culprit is actually ObamaCare. The health care law was sold on the false promise that costs would come down if Americans gave Washington more control over their health care. Instead, costs have soared in every aspect of health care, including prescription drugs.
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The Supreme Court unanimously remanded a case challenging the ACA’s contraceptive mandate back to the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fifth, Tenth and D.C. Circuits. The decision will give the parties an opportunity to reach a compromise that “accommodates petitioners’ religious exercise” while ensuring women covered by the petitioner’s health plans receive coverage that includes contraception. The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which brought the lawsuit one behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor, called the ruling a win for the petitioners.
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A federal judge’s decision Thursday that the Obama administration unconstitutionally spent money to pay for part of the Affordable Care Act may not disrupt health plans or beneficiaries right away. But the fresh uncertainty immediately delivered a blow to the share prices of hospitals and health insurers.
House Republicans alleged in a lawsuit that the administration illegally spent money that Congress never appropriated for the ACA’s cost-sharing provisions. Those provisions include reduced deductibles, copayments and coinsurance many Americans receive, depending on income, for plans purchased through the ACA’s insurance exchanges.
U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer agreed with House Republicans on Thursday, writing that appropriating the money without congressional approval violates the U.S. Constitution.
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The House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans can’t find most of the $200 million that the Obama administration claims it recouped from state-based health care exchanges as part of a federal grant program to help them set up shop, according to a new report obtained by Morning Consult.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt told the committee in December that “over $200 million” had been returned to federal coffers from the state exchanges since the grant program went into effect.
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Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed paying for his policies that transform large sectors of the government and the economy mainly through increased taxes on wealthy Americans. A pair of new studies published Monday suggests Sanders would not come up with enough money using this approach, and that the poor and the middle class would have to pay more than Sanders has projected in order to fund his ideas.
The studies, published jointly by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center and the Urban Institute in Washington, concludes that Sanders’s plans are short a total of more than $18 trillion over a decade. His programs would cost the federal government about $33 trillion over that period, almost all of which would go toward Sanders’s proposed system of national health insurance. Yet the Democratic presidential candidate has put forward just $15 trillion in new taxes, the authors concluded.
The biggest victory for taxpayers in the Obamacare fight so far was the enactment in late 2014 of language prohibiting the Risk Corridor program from being transformed into an open-ended bailout for big insurance companies. Unfortunately that language is now being sidestepped by a scheme in which the Obama administration invited the big insurance companies to sue the government, which in turn is likely to take a dive on the lawsuit and then make the bailout payments anyway. It’s outrageous and must be stopped.
At the time Congress debated the funding restriction, both the Congressional Budget Office and the White House Office of Management and Budget agreed that the provision neither spent nor saved any taxpayer money. That was because the administration maintained the program would, as Obamacare supporters had always claimed, be run in a budget-neutral fashion, paying out to insurance companies only what the program itself had already collected from other insurance companies.
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The Mercatus Center at George Mason University released a new working paper on the Affordable Care Act. The study, authored by Brian Blase of the Mercatus Center, Doug Badger of the Galen Institute, and Ed Haislmaier of the Heritage Foundation contains two key findings:
First, insurers incurred substantial losses overall despite receiving much larger back-end subsidies per enrollee through the ACA’s reinsurance program than they expected when they set their premiums for 2014. Second, it is estimated that in the absence of the reinsurance program, insurers would have had to set premiums 26% higher, on average, in order to avoid losses—assuming implausibly that the overall health of the risk pool would not have worsened as a result of the higher premiums. The findings raise serious questions about the ACA’s future, particularly when the reinsurance program ends and premium revenue must be sufficient to cover expenses.
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During the healthcare debate of 2009 and 2010, conservatives screamed a simple fact from the rooftops: ObamaCare will not work. No one wanted to listen then, but their warnings are now coming into fruition.
ObamaCare, as constructed, attempted to fix a dysfunctional health care payment system by creating an even more complicated system on top of it, filled with subsidies, coverage mandates, and other artificial government incentives. But its result has been a system that plucked Americans out of coverage they like and forced them to pay more for less.
Now the insurers are beginning to realize that in spite of all the subsidies and mandates working in their favor, and despite all of the cost-cutting they have had to do at the expense of consumers, they just can’t make money in this system.
A new note from JPMorgan economist Jesse Edgerton looks at what is happening with Americans who are working part-time for “economic reasons” — or Americans involuntarily working part time. As you can see in the above chart — the red line — the numbers remains elevated despite big declines in the U-3 and U-6 jobless rates. Edgerton:
There has been little recent relationship between the number of “extra” part-time workers and the level of U3 unemployment, questioning the idea that driving U3 down further will reduce involuntary part-time employment. . . In a note last year, we pointed out that the shift strikingly coincided with the passage of the ACA, which included an employer mandate to provide health insurance to employees working 30 or more hours per week. . . passage of the ACA preceded a large and unprecedented shift from workers working more than 30 hours per week to just under 30 hours. We continue to believe that the ACA can explain a significant number of the “extra” involuntary part-time workers.