Democrats won a wave election in Virginia a month ago, not only winning the gubernatorial race but at least coming close to taking control of the legislature. Recounts are continuing in three races that could put Republicans in the minority, an astounding defeat for a party that assumed that they could maintain their position by doubling down on Donald Trump. Ralph Northam arguably has a broad mandate to pursue the Democratic agenda in the Old Dominion, but he tells the Washington Post that he wants to de-escalate the bitter partisanship first.
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Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are about to lock horns over Obamacare — part of a House-Senate clash that needs to be resolved by Friday to avert a government shutdown.
McConnell promised moderate GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine that he would prop up President Barack Obama’s signature health law in a must-pass, year-end spending bill — so long as she backs tax reform. But Ryan’s more conservative conference is flatly rejecting that idea and urging the Wisconsin Republican to stand firm against his Senate counterpart.
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The individual mandate repeal actually doesn’t take effect until 2019, Laszewski noted, “but I doubt many consumers knew that when they decided not to sign up during all of the news reports about the individual mandate being repealed.”
Thomas Miller, JD, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank here, sees the repeal as “more of a ‘mercy killing’ (putting it out of its chronically ineffective and unpopular misery),” he said in an email. As to whether more people will become uninsured if the mandate is repealed, “Self-serving claims by insurance sector interests and diehard ACA defenders that mandate repeal will trigger widespread disruption and despair in health care markets are vastly exaggerated, as long as other coverage subsidy dollars from taxpayers keep flowing. Good riddance to a half-hearted effort at trying to coerce some mostly less-affluent Americans into buying coverage they did not want, could not afford, or both.”
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Calls to fund CSRs and other payments to insurers in 2018 are rooted partly in a fundamental misunderstanding of why Obamacare premiums continue to rise. Although premium increases are to some degree attributable to the Administration’s cancellation of CSR payments, premium increases were considerable even for policies unaffected by the Administration’s decision.
Lavishing billions of federal dollars on the insurance industry in 2018 is misguided policy. Insurers have secured another round of rate hikes and, with them, billions more in federal premium subsidies. Nor are federal dollars necessary for a state to operate a successful risk-mitigation program, as Alaska has shown.
Trying to rush CSR and reinsurance payments out the door in 2018 will result in wasteful and unnecessary spending, and is more likely to create confusion than to produce the predictability lawmakers seek.
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Some Americans will be given several extra days to sign up for Obamacare insurance plans after the federal enrollment period officially ends Friday, amid long waits on the government’s enrollment phone line.
With debate raging over federal tax reforms, health care has temporarily moved off center stage in U.S. policy debates. But with costs soaring, it won’t stay in the backseat long. Progressives will continue to promote the single-payer idea, with Senator Bernie Sanders and others advocating for “Medicare for All.”
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, is a highly complex law and has made our current health care system more confusing. A single-payer system is attractive to many people because of its perceived simplicity – the U.S. government would provide direct health services to all Americans.
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- In absolute terms, the average worker in 2016 had to work 63 days a year just to cover his/her own health costs .
- In relative terms, the average American worker in 2016 must work 9 times as long to cover average health spending costs as his or her counterpart in 1940 .
- In comparative terms, the average American worker in 2016 must devote roughly twice as many work hours to cover health spending costs as to cover average food costs.
This year’s debate over trying to repeal, replace, or just rename Obamacare often recycled the well-worn nostrums concerning private health insurance arrangements. Among them:
■ A large majority of health care spending involves a much smaller, less healthy portion of the insured population, which means that the distribution of health care spending is highly concentrated.
■ Most individuals are healthy and need to spend very little on health care each year.
■ Sustainable health insurance markets require that healthy customers pay more than they want so that less healthy customers can pay less for the care they need.
■ Extensive government intervention, such as standardized benefits, generous subsidies, and limits on risk-based underwriting, is necessary in health care markets because those markets are prone to adverse selection and dangerous “death spirals.”
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The seemingly imminent repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance requirement, which could happen next week as part of the final passage of Republicans’ broad tax overhaul, has focused attention on Congress’ potential next moves on health care, including a bipartisan plan to shore up the insurance markets.
But that plan, sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D., Wash.), is losing support as more health analysts say it could raise costs for many consumers. The bill would restore payments to insurers, allowing them to cut premiums, but in doing so it would reduce the tax credits that are pegged in part to the premium costs of certain plans.
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Pro-Obamacare lawmakers and activists are urging the Trump administration to allow a grace period for open enrollment so that people who have trouble using healthcare.gov are able to finish their applications.
The Trump administration has not said if it will allow a grace period, but an announcement about a final decision may not come until Friday.
During the 2015 and 2016 open enrollments, the Obama administration announced extensions on the same day as the deadline. The decision was made in 2015 to extend the deadline by two days because of “unprecedented demand,” and in 2016, the deadline was extended by four days as about 1 million people left their names at the call center to keep their place in line.
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