A post-election fight about giving extra money to Obamacare insurance plans is brewing on Capitol Hill, following a summer of bad news for insurers. The conservative group Freedom Partners launched a campaign Thursday aimed at blocking an “insurer bailout,” which some fear is poised to occur in the final months of the Obama administration. The group is launching a website, BustTheBailouts.com, which it says will provide information to taxpayers and lawmakers about how insurers are lobbying for a bailout. They will also launch a series of videos and meet with lawmakers to advocate their cause.

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Progressive senators and activists are launching a campaign Thursday calling for every American to have the choice of a public health insurance option.

They aim to build on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s support for a public option with what they hope will be the biggest health care push by Democrats since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

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The premium-stabilization programs of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will expire this year, and even insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield — once considered the companies of last resort — are considering leaving the exchanges.

While many Blues plans continue to assert their commitment to the ACA market, successive rate hikes and insurer withdrawals from the exchanges temper their assurances.

“These Blue Cross plans will stay longer, but they can’t stay forever,” said Robert -Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates and former insurance executive. Laszewski, a consultant for the plans, added that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas lost 40 percent of its reserves in the first two years of ObamaCare. “They can’t continue losing surplus forever.”

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House Republicans on Wednesday jumped on rising premium rates and co-op closures to slam the Affordable Care Act, while Democrats lamented another hearing not focused on fixes to the Affordable Care Act.

At a joint Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing, Republicans raised concerns about how rising premiums have affected their constituents, as well as the potential for fraud under the Obamacare exchanges. The subcommittee released a slate of reports earlier this week that slammed the future sustainability of the federal and state-based exchanges.

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Some of the nation’s largest companies are already taking steps to avoid ObamaCare’s “Cadillac tax,” according to a business survey released Wednesday.

About 12 percent of companies said they have taken steps to avoid being hit by the much-maligned tax on high-priced health insurance plans, which goes into effect in 2020.

Employers say they have either shifted more costs to workers, dropped their pricier options or picked plans with fewer providers, according to the annual employer benefits survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust.

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A grace period in President Barack Obama’s health care law is allowing exchange customers to dodge the penalty while also helping them get more out of their medical coverage.

Insurers told the administration Monday in an annual meeting that making changes to the grace period is one way to make it easier for them to continue to participate in Obamacare’s exchanges. As is, the grace period leads to higher costs for health insurance policies, forcing some insurers to leave the exchanges due to massive financial losses.

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If Donald Trump is elected president, one thing that is fairly certain is that we’d hear loud calls from some quarters for the incoming administration and Congress to move quickly in 2017 on a “clean” repeal of Obamacare. “Clean” means that the bill would go as far as possible to repeal the health care law without being encumbered politically by new provisions to replace it. Some conservatives will advise against embracing any new reform because of the political risk, but lawmakers should ignore this advice. If GOP leaders pass up the chance to pursue a market-based approach to health reform when given the chance, they will have no one to blame but themselves as U.S. health care slides inexorably toward full governmental control in coming years.

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What are the prospects for action on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during the next Congress and presidential administration? There is no easy answer to that question in this unusual election year, although one’s first reaction might be “not much.” As Larry Leavitt, MPP, noted in the JAMA Forum recently, the presidential platforms suggest fundamentally different, maybe even irreconcilable, approaches.

At the risk of being proven wrong, it also seems reasonable to assume that there will continue to be a political standoff in practice next year, with neither party able to push through its preferred solutions for health care.
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The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control suggests that the number of uninsured has declined roughly 22 million since 2013, and 17.8 million since 2010 (darn you, financial crisis!). And today we got data from the Census Bureau, which suggests that the number of uninsured people has fallen from 13.3 percent to 9.1 percent since 2013, or by about 12.8 million. There are other surveys too. But we hardly need more numbers.

How can everyone get such different answers? Well, for one thing, methodologies differ.

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Obamacare used the law’s vast authority to get control over the design and composition of health benefits. Clintoncare will try to use these same administrative riggings to get power over the pricing of these products and services. To rescue President Obama’s struggling health-care law, Hillary Clinton has proposed resurrecting the “public option.” This failed idea—a government-run health-care plan to compete with private insurers—can’t save Obamacare. But introducing it across the country would move the U.S. much closer to the single-payer system progressives have always longed for.

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