Today the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released a report by finance expert Scot Vorse that shows many states knew as early as 2011 that they might not receive tax credits if they opted out of establishing a state-based health insurance exchange. Whether nonparticipating states had adequate knowledge that they were putting their Obamacare subsidies at risk is a critical question in CEI’s Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell.
Vorse obtained emails related to a January 2012 letter sent by seven states to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). While Obamacare supporters have dismissed this letter as a “spoof,” these state emails show the letter was a carefully crafted and coordinated effort by the states to get detailed information about the exchanges from HHS.
California’s health insurance exchange, established under the Affordable Care Act, has been held out as a national model for Obamacare. In some ways—not all of them good—it is. Whether it’s falling far short of 2015 enrollment goals or sending out 100,000 inaccurate tax forms, Covered California is struggling with its share of challenges.
Now, several senior-level officials integral to the launch of Covered California—who enthusiastically support the Affordable Care Act—are speaking about what they view as gross incompetence and mismanagement involving some of the $1 billion federal tax dollars poured into the state effort.
‘Somebody Must Have Been Smoking Something’
Consultant Aiden Hill became a “foxhole convert” to Obamacare in July of 2010 when he lost his insurance, had a serious medical issue and couldn’t get a new policy.
WASHINGTON — Republican or Democrat, the next president will have the chance to remake the nation’s health care overhaul without fighting Congress.
The law signed by President Barack Obama includes a waiver that, starting in 2017, would let states take federal dollars now invested in the overhaul and use them to redesign their own health care systems.
States could not repeal some things, such as the requirement that insurance companies cover people with health problems. But they could replace the law’s unpopular mandate that virtually everyone in the country has health insurance, provided the alternative worked reasonably well.
It has been five years since the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare, was signed into law. The disastrous rollout of the federal marketplace website, Healthcare.gov, is well-known. According to a Bloomberg Government analysis released in September 2014, the cost of Healthcare.gov was more than $2 billion, more than twice the Obama administration’s estimates. Appropriately, the federal marketplace has been a subject of numerous congressional hearings.
But state-run websites have also squandered hundreds of millions of federal tax dollars. While the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been investigating some of the problems with state-run websites, much more can and should be done. Every House and Senate committee that oversees healthcare issues should carefully examine the roles played by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), state officials and contractors in the design and implementation of the websites.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) announced Thursday he is suing the Obama administration as part of an escalating dispute over whether the state will expand Medicaid under ObamaCare.
“It is appalling that President Obama would cut off federal healthcare dollars to Florida in an effort to force our state further into ObamaCare,” Scott said in a statement Thursday announcing the lawsuit.
Scott is objecting to the Obama administration linking the extension of separate federal money to help hospitals in the state care for the uninsured, known as the Low Income Pool (LIP), to the state’s decision on whether to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
The Obama administration says the LIP funding will not be renewed in its current form after June. It says that the future of the program is “linked” to the decision to expand Medicaid, though it stops short of saying it is entirely dependent on it. Scott, on the other hand, wants the LIP funding but does not want to expand Medicaid.
Thumbs Down, way down, to everyone responsible for the fiasco known as Nevada Health Link, the state exchange for purchasing health insurance online.
As the deadline to file tax returns arrives tomorrow, we suspect plenty of taxpayers have discovered that Nevada Health Link and Xerox, hired to run the online system but since fired, created an accounting nightmare and cost some exchange customers a chunk of change. What’s worse, those responsible for this nightmare don’t appear to care one bit about the mess they created.
In accordance with the Affordable Care Act, those who purchased insurance through the exchange in 2014 have to report on their tax returns what they paid for premiums and how much they received in tax credits or subsidies for that coverage. The figures are reported in a federal tax form known as a 1095-A. The form is prepared and distributed by the exchange.
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii officials are scrambling to provide information to the federal government to satisfy concerns about financial problems at the state’s health exchange.
All state-run insurance exchanges that are part of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act are supposed to be financially sustainable this year. But without an infusion of cash, the Hawaii Health Connector won’t have enough money for its operations. The Legislature hasn’t yet approved the organization’s request to issue $28 million in bonds or loans.
Without a solid path to sustainability in place, the federal government is telling the state it may have to eventually move some technology functions to a federal system, said Jeff Kissel, CEO of the Hawaii Health Connector.
“This is a contingency that is being imposed on any state-based exchange that doesn’t have a funded sustainability plan in play,” Kissel said. “I don’t know of any other exchanges that are having to do this because it seems to me that everyone else is funded.”
The landmark 2006 Massachusetts health-care law that inspired the federal overhaul didn’t lead to a reduction in unnecessary and costly hospitalizations, and it didn’t make the health-care system more fair for minority groups, according to a new study that may hold warnings for the Affordable Care Act.
Massachusetts’ uninsured rate was cut by half to 6 percent in the years immediately following the health-care law signed by then-Gov. Mitt Romney. Blacks and Hispanics, who have a harder time accessing necessary medical care, experienced the largest gains in insurance coverage under the Massachusetts law, though they still were more likely to be uninsured than whites.
The new study, published in the BMJ policy journal, examined the rates of hospitalizations for 12 medical conditions that health-care researchers say wouldn’t normally require hospitalization if a patient has good access to primary care. These include hospitalizations for minor conditions like a urinary tract infection, or chronic conditions that would require repeat primary care visits over the course of a year.
“It’s thought to be a good measure and one of the few objective ways of looking at access [to health-care provider] in the community,” said Danny McCormick of Harvard Medical School, the study’s lead author.
The New York legislature voted down Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to tax health insurance policies to fund the state’s Obamacare exchange, calling the fees system used by the Obama administration and other states counterintuitive.
The shrinking number of state-run Obamacare exchanges are facing a new problem this year — how to fund their ongoing operations now that start-up grants from the federal government are running out.
In New York, like many other states, Cuomo proposed a tax on health insurance premiums to fund the state-run exchange’s operations. That tactic comes with its own concerns: some states, such as Hawaii, have smaller-than-expected enrollment and the per-policy fees aren’t bringing in enough money.
Rhode Island is considering adopting a tax itself, but due to small enrollment in the tiny state, fees per Obamacare enrollee would likely climb higher than $30 every month, according to Modern Healthcare. Even California, which boasted the highest enrollment of any state in 2014 (but has recently been dethroned by Florida), has had to raise its monthly premium tax.
But according to the New York Post, members of New York’s state legislature refused the extra tax on premiums because the plan would drive up the cost of health insurance for Obamacare customers, defeating the purpose of the exchange and its often-subsidized coverage.
Coping with ever-increasing medical bills is frustrating — and getting more so..
A recent survey by private health insurance exchange EHealth highlights the pressure Americans are feeling. It found that more than 6 in 10 people say they’re more worried about the financial effect of expensive medical emergencies and paying for healthcare than about funding retirement or covering their kids’ education.
People who get health insurance through work and on their own have seen their costs rise dramatically over the last decade.
According to the Commonwealth Fund, a New York think tank, annual increases in work-based health plan premiums rose three times faster than wages from 2003 to 2013. Out-of-pocket costs have also been climbing.
“More people have deductibles than ever before,” says Sara Collins, a Commonwealth Fund vice president. From 2003 to 2013, the size of deductibles has grown nearly 150%.
Whether a person is coping with a severe illness or trying to deal with everyday medical costs, the challenges are many.