UnitedHealth Group Inc., the biggest U.S. health insurer, is scaling back its experiment in Obamacare markets as its Harken Health Insurance Co. startup withdraws from the two exchanges where it was selling plans. Harken will not offer individual plans through Obamacare exchanges in Georgia and Chicago in 2017, the company said Thursday in an e-mailed statement.

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Medicaid expansion is a poor use of taxpayer dollars. Blase rebuts Dr. Aaron Carroll, a long-time supporter of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion, writing in The New York Times to encourage further expansion.  Carroll doesn’t not address new data showing government spending on Medicaid expansion enrollees is nearly 50% higher than the government projected, nor that Medicaid enrollees obtain only 20 to 40 cents of value for each dollar the government spends on their behalf.

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Republican senators are pressing the Obama administration for information on what they say could be a “bailout” of insurance companies under ObamaCare.

Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Ben Sasse (Neb.) and John Barrasso (Wyo.) wrote a letter to the administration warning against financial settlements with insurance companies. Those companies have sued over a shortfall in an ObamaCare program known as risk corridors.

“We write to express our grave concerns regarding the potential participation of your departments in a multibillion dollar bailout of select health insurance companies through the Affordable Care Act’s Risk Corridors Program,” the senators wrote.

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When Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey announced recently that it’s $46 million in debt and shutting down, it became the 17th failed ObamaCare co-op since the Affordable Care Act launched three years ago.

Those failures – just six of the original 23 co-ops remain – have left hundreds of thousands of people scrambling for coverage.

Meanwhile, insurers claiming big losses are leaving some state exchanges — including Indiana University Health Plans, whose exit is expected to result in 27,000 Indiana residents losing ObamaCare plans in 2017. And companies still operating in the federal and state exchanges are raising premiums for next year.

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) administers the 3-year transitional reinsurance program established under section 1341 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The program, which is financed by statutorily required contributions from participating health insurance issuers and group health plans, makes payments to eligible issuers, to stabilize health insurance premiums and encourage issuer participation in the health insurance markets. Section 1341 designates a specified amount of collections from issuers for reinsurance payments and also directs the deposit of a specified amount of collections in the general fund of the United States Treasury (Treasury). HHS asserts that when collections fall short of the amounts specified in statute the agency has authority to allocate all collections for reinsurance payments, making deposits in the Treasury only if collections reach the amounts specified for reinsurance payments in section 1341. HHS lacks authority to ignore the statute’s directive to deposit amounts from collections under the transitional reinsurance program in the Treasury and is required to collect and deposit amounts for the Treasury, regardless of whether its collections fall short of the amounts specified in statute for reinsurance payments. HHS may not use amounts collected for the Treasury to make reinsurance payments.

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The Obama administration failed to follow the president’s health care law in a $5 billion dispute over compensating insurers for high costs from seriously ill patients, Congress’ investigative arm said Thursday.

The opinion from the Government Accountability Office is a setback for the White House and bolsters Republican complaints that administration officials bent the law as problems arose carrying out its complex provisions. The finding may complicate efforts to stabilize premiums in the law’s insurance marketplaces, where about 11 million people get coverage.

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Based on rate increases proposed to North Carolina’s Department of Insurance, state residents who have signed up for Obamacare could face a 19 percent to 25 percent jump in the cost of their health coverage for 2017, Republican Sen. Richard Burr says.

Further, because major health insurers have suffered losses and are exiting the program, in 90 percent of North Carolina counties, residents enrolled in President Barack Obama’s signature health care program will only have one plan from which to choose in their so-called marketplace, Burr wrote in an op ed published in the online North State Journal.

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President Obama would veto a House bill that would provide an exemption from the individual mandate if someone’s insurance coverage ended mid-year because of a co-op closure, the White House said Tuesday.

The House is debating H.R. 954, the CO-OP Consumer Protection Act, and is slated to vote on the measure later today. The bill responds to the closures of three co-ops, nonprofit insurers that were created under the Affordable Care Act, during the past year. Republicans have pointed to the failures of 16 out of 23 original co-ops as a sign of the 2010 health care law’s weakness.

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The House on Tuesday passed a bill that would allow people who enrolled in failed health insurance “co-ops” under the Affordable Care Act to skip this year’s penalty for not having coverage. The Republican-backed bill passed on a mostly party-line vote of 258-165, but 16 Democrats broke with their party to support the measure. “It’s just wrong, it’s wrong, to hold these working families financially responsible for a co-op’s failure because it went under due to factors beyond their control,” said Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-LA).  President Obama says he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

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The Obama administration will use targeted, digital messages and online networks such as Twitter in a sweeping campaign to get young adults to sign up for health insurance during the Affordable Care Act’s fall open enrollment, appealing to a group seen as critical to the law’s success.

The administration, which announced the new push on Tuesday, is betting the aggressive campaign will resonate with uninsured consumers age 35 and under. But some Republicans are already opposing some of the outreach efforts and health analysts warn lackluster sign-ups would drive more insurers to abandon the exchanges.

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