“RICHMOND — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe had run out of options to pull off his marquee campaign promise to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Even a risky plan to circumvent the legislature had fallen apart.
That’s when the governor, his top priority defeated, picked up the phone and called the man he blamed for the catastrophe.
“Hey, Phil? Terry McAuliffe,” the governor said in a seething voice message to Phillip P. Puckett, a Southwest Virginia Democrat who had quit the state Senate days earlier, throwing control of it to the GOP. “I want you to know we just lost the vote, 20 to 19, in the Senate. Medicaid is done. I hope you sleep easy tonight, buddy.””
“Dr. Oliver Korshin, a 71-year-old ophthalmologist in Anchorage, is not happy about the federal government’s plan to have all physicians use electronic medical records or face a Medicare penalty. A few months ago when he applied for an exemption to the latest requirement, he had to pick an exemption category that fit.
“The only one that possibly applied to me was disaster,” Korshin says. “So I picked disaster and I described my disaster as old age and I submitted as my supporting document a copy of my passport.””
“The latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that just prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment beginning this past Saturday, the uninsured remained largely unaware of its start, although about half of the uninsured expect to get health insurance in the next few months and seven in ten say that health insurance is something they need. Opinion on the law remains similar to past months – 46 percent say they have an unfavorable view of the law and 37 percent say they have a favorable view. Americans are divided as to what Congress should do next on the law – 29 percent say they support repealing the law entirely, 17 percent say they support scaling back what the law does, 20 percent support moving ahead with the law as is, and 22 percent feel that the law should be expanded. But like opinion on the law overall, partisans fall on opposite ends of the spectrum. The public has no expectation that debate on the ACA will die down soon; a finding that Democrats and Republicans agree on. Most say that now that the midterm elections are over the amount of partisan debate will increase or stay about the same. Finally, on the heels of the midterm elections, few voters (9 percent) named health care as one of the two most important factors in their vote, ranking 5th behind partisan control of Congress (27 percent), a candidate’s platform (18 percent), the economy and jobs (17 percent), dissatisfaction with government (16 percent) and similar to a candidate’s personal characteristics (9 percent).”
“With round two of Obamacare enrollment here, New York’s policymakers should take stock of where the Empire State is and where it’s heading.
Take the state’s Medicaid program. Post-Obamacare, Medicaid enrollment has grown by over 7 percent to 6.1 million people: nearly 1 in 3 New Yorkers now receive coverage through the joint federal-state insurance program for the poor. New York’s Medicaid spending, among the highest in the country, makes up about 30 percent of the state budget.”
“Robert Pear of the New York Times recently described the “symbiotic” relationship between the Obama Administration and health insurers. It was not always so:
“But since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, the relationship between the Obama administration and insurers has evolved into a powerful, mutually beneficial partnership that has been a boon to the nation’s largest private health plans and led to a profitable surge in their Medicaid enrollment.
“Insurers and the government have developed a symbiotic relationship, nurtured by tens of billions of dollars that flow from the federal Treasury to insurers each year,” said Michael F. Cannon, director of health policy studies at the libertarian Cato CATO -1.93% Institute.”
“The pending U.S. Supreme Court ruling on ObamaCare coupled with a small provision buried in the law could give Republicans in the new Congress the opportunity to power-boost free-market health reform.
The high court will hear arguments, likely in March, on whether the Obama administration had legal authority to allow tax subsidies to flow through the health insurance exchange established by the federal government.”
“Retired Dallas police Sgt. Tom Wafer recently received a call from a commander that “shocked the fool” out of him: The city can’t let him or any of his fellow retirees watch police surveillance camera feeds anymore when the year is over because of an obscure provision of the Affordable Care Act.
City officials say they had to cut Wafer, 74, along with two dozen other retired officers because the health care law put them in a costly bind. The layoffs also affect a few other city agencies but hit the Dallas Police Department hardest.”
“Any plan Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration presents for expanding Medicaid would have a tough time getting through the state legislature.
A key House member said Tuesday it would probably be premature to consider expanding Medicaid next year with the future of the federal health care law uncertain.”
“State lawmakers on Tuesday voiced their continued frustration with the technical problems still afflicting the Washington Healthplanfinder insurance exchange.
On Saturday, the first day of enrollment for the second round of insurance signups on the exchange, the site was live for only a couple of hours before a technical error was discovered and the exchange was taken offline for repairs. Meanwhile, first-round problems involving the transfer of payment information from the exchange to insurance companies have not been corrected, despite assurances they would be fixed by now.”
“The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear King v. Burwell, an important case about Obamacare’s subsidies (tax credits) to health insurers. Plaintiffs argue that in the 36 states with federal Obamacare exchanges, subsidies cannot be paid legally. If no subsidies can be paid, neither the individual mandate to buy health insurance nor the employer mandate to offer insurance can be enforced.
Few people would voluntarily buy health insurance from an Obamacare exchange if health insurers on the exchanges did not receive subsidies to enroll people. The premiums would be too high otherwise. Experts expect that the Supreme Court might decide on King v. Burwell in July, in which case Obamacare will end with a bang.”