House lawmakers are angry that one of the last taxpayer-funded Obamacare plans wants to move to for-profit status, saying that the millions of dollars provided in startup loans were meant to go to nonprofits.

Republican leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee wrote to the Obama administration and the Maryland consumer-oriented and operated plan Evergreen Health, which wants to become a for-profit health insurer.

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President Barack Obama leaves the White House in 12 weeks, but the law that bears his name will polarize politics long after he’s gone.

Big price hikes to Affordable Care Act premiums announced this week mean that Obama’s proudest legislative achievement will fail to resolve the decades-old controversy surrounding the government’s role in managing the cost of and access to health care.
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On Tuesday the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced some tax benefits will increase in 2017 in order to adjust for inflation. According to the IRS the standard deduction for married couples in 2017 will be $12,700, up from $12,600, and both the earned income tax credit and the amount exempt from the estate tax will also see slight increases. The top individual tax rate will apply to those making $418,400 or more as opposed to $415,050 or more in 2016.

Yesterday the American Action Forum released an analysis of Donald Trump’s proposal to cut 70 to 80 percent of U.S. Regulations. The analysis finds that in order to achieve this goal, between $700 and $800 billion in regulatory costs would need to be cut. The analysis further shows that it would likely take a generation in order to accomplish this goal.

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A new poll conducted for POLITICO and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health finds that 54 percent of likely voters think Obamacare is working poorly. Ninety-four percent of self-identified Donald Trump voters hold that view, while 79 percent of Hillary Clinton supporters believe the law is working well.
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President Obama promised that the Affordable Care Act would increase competition and choice in insurance markets. In a 2009 speech to a joint session of Congress, for example, the president said, “Individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices. Insurance companies will have an incentive to participate in this exchange because it lets them compete for millions of new customers.” This claim, along with many othersmade by ACA supporters, have proven to be wrong. In fact, Americans have far fewer choices for individual market coverage today than they had before the ACA took effect and there is a rapidly declining number of insurers now offering coverage in the ACA exchanges.

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The Obama administration hasn’t done enough to ensure that the right people get Obamacare subsidies, according to a new report from congressional Republicans.

The report details earlier investigations into Obamacare’s verification process for income eligibility, which screens whether a person is eligible for tax credits. It also criticizes the administration for relaxing standards for income eligibility.

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The architects of the Affordable Care Act thought they had a blunt instrument to force people—even young and healthy ones—to buy insurance through the law’s online marketplaces: a tax penalty for those who remain uninsured. The full weight of the penalty will not be felt until April, when those who have avoided buying insurance will face penalties of around $700 a person or more. But for the young and healthy who are badly needed to make the exchanges work, it is sometimes cheaper to pay the Internal Revenue Service than an insurance company charging large premiums, with huge deductibles. The IRS says that 8.1 million returns included penalty payments for people who went without insurance in 2014, the first year in which most people were required to have coverage.

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Skyrocketing premium increases on the Obamacare exchanges for 2017 were announced Monday afternoon by the Department of Health and Human Services, averaging nearly 25% across 38 federal exchange states. More than 70% of consumers in states using the federal exchange will be able to find a premium that is less than $75 a month once financial assistance is factored in, according to the HHS report. That’s because 85% of enrollees in the Obamacare exchanges receive subsidies to offset the cost of the premium increases. But someone has to make up the difference, and it is, of course, middle-income taxpayers. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and current president of the American Action Forum, estimates that taxpayers will fork over $32 billion in ACA subsidies this year and up to $50 billion next year.

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Those on both the left and the right overestimated the effect Obamacare would have on the larger health care system. The footprint of Obamacare has been smaller than expected. It hasn’t shaken up the employer system all that much, and it hasn’t changed the underlying health system as champions and critics thought it would. It hasn’t reduced the uninsured as much as expected and (therefore) hasn’t cost as much as expected overall even though per capita costs are higher than projected. The exchanges have drawn far too few healthy people to be stable and the rules that govern them have had too little of an effect on the dynamics of our larger health economy to be fundamentally disruptive.

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The Trump campaign has doubled down on Health Savings Accounts, the health-insurance-as-401(k) product the Affordable Care Act was supposed to extinguish but which was specifically saved by President Obama in order to provide Americans with a health insurance option they could actually afford. The ACA specifically delegates the important job of defining what is and what isn’t health insurance to the Department of Health and Human Services. A President Trump could use that authority to greatly expand the role of HSAs in the exchanges and in entitlements, limited only by changes in budget such revision might entail.

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