With the hourglass running out for his administration, President Barack Obama’s health care law is struggling in many parts of the country. Double-digit premium increases and exits by big-name insurers have caused some to wonder whether “Obamacare” will go down as a failed experiment.
If Democrat Hillary Clinton wins the White House, expect her to mount a rescue effort. But how much Clinton could do depends on finding willing partners in Congress and among Republican governors, a real political challenge.
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On Tuesday, Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak, who runs Tennessee’s Department of Commerce and Insurance, announced that her department was approving massive premium increases for insurers providing individual health insurance policies through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchange in the state.
The percentage increases are stunning and prompted the commissioner to put them in context. Her context was more stunning than the increases themselves.
“I would characterize the exchange market in Tennessee as very near collapse,” McPeak said.
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The odds remain fairly good that the Democrats can regain control of the Senate in November, especially if Democratic presidential nominee continues her strong showing against Republican businessman Donald Trump in the polls.
At least seven Republican-held seats are seen as being in play, including Illinois, New Hampshire, Indiana and Wisconsin, as well as the three crucial swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Four other races — including veteran Republican Sen. John McCain’s reelection effort in Arizona — are deemed competitive by political experts.
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Nearly a third of the nation’s counties look likely to have just a single insurer offering health plans on the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges next year, according to a new analysis, an industry pullback that adds to the challenges facing the law.
The new study, by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, suggests there could be just one option for coverage in 31% of counties in 2017, and there might be only two in another 31%. That would give exchange customers in large swaths of the U.S. far less choice than they had this year, when 7% of counties had one insurer and 29% had two.
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Enrollment in the insurance exchanges for President Obama’s signature health-care law is at less than half the initial forecast, pushing several major insurance companies to stop offering health plans in certain markets because of significant financial losses.
As a result, the administration’s promise of a menu of health-plan choices has been replaced by a grim, though preliminary, forecast: Next year, more than 1 in 4 counties are at risk of having a single insurer on its exchange, said Cynthia Cox, who studies health reform for the Kaiser Family Foundation.
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In the wake of Aetna’s recent announcement that it was pulling up stakes in 11 of 15 states where it had been selling insurance on Obamacare exchanges, there are more alarming signs that other major insurers are struggling to remain in the game.
On Tuesday, three of the major players in Tennessee — Cigna Health Insurance, Humana and Blue Cross Blue Shield — were granted huge double-digit premium increases for the 2017 season beginning in January amid a warning from the state’s insurance commissioner that the Obamacare markets were “very near collapse.”
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The tanning salon industry is feeling burned by “Obamacare.”
Business owners around the country say the little-noticed 10 percent tax on tanning in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul has crippled the industry, forcing the closing of nearly 10,000 of the more than 18,000 tanning salons in the U.S.
Experts say the industry is overstating the effects of the “tan tax” and that it has been hurt by other factors, too, including public health warnings about the dangers of tanning and the passage of laws in dozens of states restricting the use of tanning salons by minors.
Since I last wrote about it, Aetna’s withdrawal from the Obamacare exchanges has ginned up even more drama.
Jeff Young and Jonathan Cohn of the Huffington Post published a letter in which Aetna told the Justice Department that it would reduce its exchange participation unless Justice allowed the merger with Humana to go through. This has naturally triggered a firestorm of accusations about “extortion” and renewed calls for a public option that can protect people against the threat of insurance-less insurance exchanges.
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Election Day 2016 will raise the curtain on the final act in the nation’s long-running political drama over President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
If Republican Donald Trump wins, the unraveling begins.
“We have an obligation to the people who voted for us to proceed with ‘repeal and replace,'” said Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican.
If Democrat Hillary Clinton goes to the White House, it gets very difficult for Republicans to keep a straight face about repealing “Obamacare.”
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As insurers push large premium increases for 2017 Obamacare plans, some of the steepest hikes have been requested by insurers in crucial swing states that could determine control of the Senate.
In nine of 11 states with competitive Senate races, at least one insurer seeks to hike rates for Obamacare customers by at least 30 percent next year: Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield in Pennsylvania wants to jack up average premiums by more than 40 percent. In Wisconsin, three insurers have asked for rate hikes of more than 30 percent. In New Hampshire, two of the five carriers want to sell plans with rate increase above 30 percent.
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