The Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General found that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS):
• Did not have an effective process in place to ensure that advance premium tax credit (APTC) payments were made only for enrollees who had paid their monthly premiums; instead, CMS relied on each qualified health plan (QHP) issuer to verify that enrollees paid their monthly premiums and to attest that APTC payment information that the issuer reported on its template was accurate; and
• Had sole responsibility for ensuring that APTC payments were made only for confirmed enrollees and did not share these data for enrollees with the IRS when making payments.
The OIG determined that CMS’s processes limited its ability to ensure that APTC payments made to QHP issuers were only for enrollees who had made their premium payments.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, half the uninsured who are eligible for subsidized coverage through the exchanges have refused to purchase it. As a result, those remaining in the insurance pool have tended to be sicker and older — and they’ve used more health services than insurers expected.
How much more? According to the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., insurers collectively swallowed $2.5 billion in unexpected medical expenses from exchange enrollees in 2014.
December’s omnibus budget package contained a measure to delay a provision of the Affordable Care Act by two years is giving finance chiefs some extra time to prepare.
The tax on high-cost employee health plans, or “Cadillac” tax, puts employers on the hook for a 40% levy on any excess cost of health plans above certain thresholds. Even before the delay, many companies and municipalities had already begun to assess whether their plans would trigger additional payments and make preemptive changes to avoid it.
A bill intended to repeal key parts of the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood would now decrease the deficit by about $553 billion, should it become law.
The legislation would save about $318 billion without macroeconomic benefits between 2016 and 2025, according to an updated score of the bill by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Many insurance companies are losing money selling ObamaCare policies. Unfortunately, the White House wants to make their losses your problem. In December, Congress refused an administration request to provide insurers with $2.5 billion in bailout money to help cover their 2014 losses.
The Obama administration hasn’t given up. It has declared that this $2.5 billion in corporate welfare and potentially billions more for losses insurers have incurred in 2015 is “an obligation of the U.S. government for which full payment is required.”
If it’s December, it must be time for a massive, one-time, all-or-nothing annual spending bill. That’s just what has become of Congress’s core function over the past decade. This year’s version includes a 2,009 page omnibus appropriations bill and a 233 page tax bill mostly extending various “temporary” tax preferences and other provisions.
Republicans have majorities in both houses, so this bill reflects their priorities on the whole. But on health care, it’s actually most interesting for what it suggests about the Democrats—some meaningful number of whose votes are after all necessary for passage.
A group of state insurance commissioners is developing a proposal to limit the amount that health insurers might have to pay out under the Affordable Care Act’s risk adjustment program, New Mexico Insurance Superintendent John Franchini told SNL.
The plan would install a so-called circuit breaker to prevent companies from paying more than 2% of their premium revenue into the program each year. That boundary would make insurers’ financial obligations more predictable and avoid the kinds of surprise payouts that contributed to the destabilization of several health plans in 2015.
On December 14, former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius made news by calling the decisions of Kansas and Missouri to turn down the Medicaid expansion contained in the Affordable Care Act “morally repugnant and economically stupid.”
Heated political rhetoric does not alter the fact that a state’s decision to expand Medicaid involves complicated tradeoffs.
The Senate voted overwhelmingly today 65-33 in favor a $1.8 trillion package of spending bills and tax breaks, sending the legislation to President Obama’s desk for his signature. Included in the two bills are provisions trimming some of the levies that help finance ObamaCare. A tax on medical devices would be suspended for two years, a levy on health insurers would stop for a year and a tax on higher-cost insurance policies would be postponed two years until 2020.
It has been called into question whether it’s true that Sen. Marco Rubio is responsible for the provision (inserted into last year’s annual spending bill and now again into this year’s) that requires the risk-corridor program in ObamaCare to be budget neutral. Like this year’s giant spending law, last year’s omnibus bill was the result of a leadership-driven process that drew on substantive expertise from the relevant committee staffs but did not much involve most members of either house. But Rubio was without question the first and most significant congressional voice on this subject, and if he hadn’t done the work he did, the risk-corridor neutralization provision would not have been in last year’s (or this year’s) budget bill.