Riding a wave of enthusiasm from progressive Democrats, supporters of single-payer have effectively made it a front-and-center issue in California’s 2018 elections. It’s been discussed in virtually every forum with the candidates running for governor, emerged as a point of contention in some legislative races, and will likely be a rallying cry at the upcoming California Democratic Party convention. Advocates of the single-payer system know that it’s not going to happen now, it’s not going to happen tomorrow, but long-term, they hope to make single-payer a reality.
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Gwen Hurd got the letter just before her shift at the outlet mall. Her health insurance company informed her that coverage for her family of three, purchased through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, would cost almost 60 percent more this year — $1,200 a month.

She and her husband, a contractor, found a less expensive plan, but at $928 a month, it meant giving up date nights and saving for their future. Worse, the new policy required them to spend more than $6,000 per person before it covered much of anything.

“It seems to me that people who earn nothing and contribute nothing get everything for free,” said Ms. Hurd, 30. “And the people who work hard and struggle for every penny barely end up surviving.”

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The Trump administration moved on Tuesday to deliver affordable health care to millions of Americans with a proposed rule that would expand the availability of short-term, limited duration plans to one year.

The rule comes as a result of the president’s executive order calling on federal agencies to take the necessary measures to scale back Obamacare’s burdensome regulations.
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Obama Care survived a GOP repeal attempt but the law’s prognosis remains poor—higher premiums and insurer flight. Some Republicans would be happy to dump money into the exchanges and move on, so credit the Trump Administration for a proposal that puts consumer choice ahead of politics.

On Tuesday the Health and Human Services Department proposed a rule for short-term, limited duration health insurance as an alternative to the ObamaCare exchanges. Insurers would have to make clear that the plans, which could last for less than 12 months, would be liberated from the Affordable Care Act’s benefit and other mandates.
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Hundreds of companies face prospective fines for violating Obamacare’s employer mandate by the same Trump administration that has done virtually everything in its power to abolish the federal health care law.

Internal Revenue Service notices recently began arriving in corporate mailboxes, in some cases demanding millions of dollars in fines — an awkward development as the White House touts its business-friendly tax package. The notices will likely spur another legal fight over the health law.
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Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) were created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to improve the efficiency of the networks of hospitals and doctors that deliver services to Medicare patients and thereby lower the government’s costs. So far, however, ACOs haven’t produced any savings for the federal government. ACOs would become more efficient and innovative if they were forced to compete with the other options beneficiaries have for getting their Medicare-covered benefits.

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The White House budget for fiscal 2019 seeks major savings by repealing ObamaCare and endorsed a Senate GOP bill as the best way to do so.

“The Budget supports a two-part approach to repealing and replacing Obamacare, starting with enactment of legislation modeled closely after the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson (GCHJ) bill as soon as possible,” the White House said in its budget request.

The legislation from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) would replace ObamaCare with a series of block grants to states.

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Alex Azar, the new secretary of health and human services, said Thursday that he would closely scrutinize a plan by Idaho to allow the sale of insurance that does not comply with the Affordable Care Act, an early test of how he will enforce a law he opposes. But he said it was too early to know what action he might take. “We’ll be looking at that very carefully and measure it up against the standards of the law,” Mr. Azar said at a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee. The plan presents Mr. Azar with a choice that he could face frequently in his new job: whether to try to shore up the health law or to “let Obamacare fail.”

United States health spending is projected to rise 5.3 percent in 2018, reflecting rising prices of medical goods and services and higher Medicaid costs, a U.S. government health agency said on Wednesday, an upward trend it forecasts for the next decade.

The increase represents a sharp uptick from 2017 spending, which the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) now estimates to have been a 4.6 percent climb to nearly $3.5 trillion. It had previously forecast a 2017 rise of 5.4 percent.

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Insurer participation and competition in Obamacare declined again in 2018 at both the state and county levels. In 2017, nearly one-third of counties (32.8 percent) had only one insurer offering exchange coverage. In 2018, more than half (51.3 percent) of all counties face that situation. Many insurers have exited the exchanges; ones that remain offer higher premiums and narrow network plans. The emerging norm appears to be one in which major metropolitan areas have two or three insurers offering exchange coverage, while less-populous areas have only one. A health insurance monopoly offering overly expensive coverage that pays for only a very limited set of providers is deeply unattractive, especially to customers who previously enjoyed choice in both their insurance and medical care. Not surprisingly, consumers are looking to Congress and the President for help in escaping the soaring costs and shrinking choices that characterize the ACA exchanges.

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