A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday allowed Democratic state attorneys general to defend subsidy payments to insurance companies under the Obamacare healthcare law, a critical part of funding for the statute that President Donald Trump has threatened to cut off.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted a motion filed by the 16 attorneys general, led by California’s Xavier Becerra and New York’s Eric Schneiderman.
President Donald Trump, frustrated that he and fellow Republicans in Congress have been unable to keep campaign promises to repeal and replace Obamacare, has threatened to stop making the so-called cost-sharing subsidy, or CSR, payments.
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Health insurer Aetna announced Thursday that it would completely withdraw from the Obamacare exchanges in 2018, after seeing its profits soar from reducing its participation this year.
The company said during an earnings call that it was withdrawing from the exchange in Nevada, the last state it had considered staying in. Aetna was leaving the possibility open because it was applying for a Medicaid managed care contract, and the state gives extra consideration to insurers that participate in both programs.
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Even if Republicans had succeeded in their recent effort to repeal the ACA, “skinny repeal” would have come nowhere close to solving the problems that plague our health-care system, especially rising costs and declining choices. Of course, the ACA also failed to solve those problems and in many ways exacerbated them. Republicans should not give up on reform that would lower costs, improve quality and ensure more widespread adoption of exciting health-care innovations. On the legislative front, there are several rifle-shot provisions that could be attached to must-pass pieces of legislation. Beyond legislation, the Trump administration can improve the ACA through the regulatory process. The Trump administration can also work with states that are interested in taking advantage of the innovation waivers in Section 1332 of the ACA, which allow states to fashion health reforms that suit their citizens best.
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The Senate GOP’s health failure is a political debacle that will compound for years, and the first predictable fallout is already here: Republicans in Congress are under pressure to bail out the Obama Care exchanges, even as Donald Trump threatens to let them collapse. The GOP needs to get at least some reform in return if it’s going to save Democrats and insurers from their own failed policies.
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With the Republican Senate failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act last week, the administration and Congress should consider paying greater attention to the healthcare problems of 2009.
When I graduated medical school in 2009, as the nation debated healthcare reform and the future of our healthcare system, the main challenges impeding doctors and patients were obvious to me. They included a rigid and perverse physician reimbursement system, a labyrinth of increasingly complicated, costly, and sometimes contradictory mandates and priorities, and a runaway malpractice system.
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When it comes to providing affordable health care to the people of Maine, Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King are worse than out of touch—they are downright dangerous. After Maine expanded Medicaid to childless adults in 2002 under then-Gov. King, the program nearly bankrupted our state. But now Ms. Collins and Mr. King are pushing to do it again by refusing to reform ObamaCare and prevent the future expansion of Medicaid.
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The repeal and replace effort has failed for now. Republicans will move on to tax reform. It remains to be seen what they accomplish in an effort that is arguably at least as complicated as health reform. Ironically, Senator John McCain, the man whose thumbs down deep-sixed the frantic effort to find a way to get something resembling Obamacare repeal passed in the Senate, long ago offered one of the boldest proposals I have seen in my lifetime as it relates to both health reform and tax reform.
Senator McCain proposed to completely eliminate the tax exclusion for employer-provided health coverage (rather than merely capping it–a half measure designed to mitigate rather than eliminate the distortions caused by the exclusion while doing nearly nothing about its unfairness). As detailed in this Heritage report: His plan “would replace the special tax breaks for employer-based health insurance with a universal system of health care tax credits for the purchase of health insurance.
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President Donald Trump has recently twhreatened (that’s a threat communicated via Twitter) to stop payments of billions of dollars out of the federal treasury that have been going to insurance companies selling health insurance policies on the Exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. Indeed, rumors are circulating that he may order a stop as early as tomorrow (August 1, 2017). Whether he does so this week, next week or next month, President Trump will be perfectly within his rights in stopping these illegal payments. It doesn’t matter whether these payments are “a good idea” or not or whether they actually save the federal government money.
In Part 1, we learned that real per capita health spending saw a 25-fold increase the 8 decades starting in 1929 even as real per capita GDP grew only 5-fold during the same period.
Whereas the previous post looked at cost trends in broad 20-year snapshots, today’s post looks at that extraordinary growth in health spending in much finer annual-level detail. Looking at real per growth has the advantage of removing general inflation so that we get a clearer picture of what’s going on, as well as telling us what is happening to the average U.S. resident.
With that in mind, I examined the difference in annual growth rates for real per capita health spending vs. all real non-health GDP per capita over the full period for which such data are available: 1929 to 2015. Doing the comparison in this fashion has the advantage of not letting the health sector’s ever-increasing size distort our picture of how much the rest of the economy is growing.
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With Republican repeal-and-replace efforts temporarily sidelined, now is a good time to step back and take a big picture view of exactly how we got into the mess we are now in regarding health care. What should be clear to people of all political persuasions is that Obamacare did not solve America’s health care woes.
If we take a long-term view (i.e., remembering that 90% of the nation’s population was uninsured back in 1940), the law has modestly reduced the number of uninsured. Most other promises made for the law were broken, most notably that a) if you like your plan, you can keep your plan (PolitiFact’s 2013 Lie of the Year); b) the law would lower premiums for the average family by $2,500 per year; c) the law would not add one dime to the deficit; and d) there would be no new taxes on the middle class. The jury is still out on another huge promise, but at this point I see no overwhelming evidence that the law has bent the cost curve as promised.
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