“As President Barack Obama’s administration gears up for its second open enrollment period next month, the president’s health care overhaul is now facing two new threats. Either piece of news, on its own, should warrant concern from the law’s most ardent supporters for the program’s long-term prospects.
The first threat is a group of legal challenges to the law that are making their way through the courts. At issue is what the plain text of Section 1401 of the Affordable Care Act means. Even though the text of the law states that the subsidies are available “through an Exchange established by the State under 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), without congressional authorization, allowed federal subsidies to flow into states participating in the federal exchange when it implemented the law.”
“Almost immediately after the state’s insurance regulator earlier this month announced that rates for plans sold through MNsure would rise 4.5 percent on average, Republicans, health policy experts and other critics decried the figure as bogus and misleading.
The state Commerce Department has steadfastly defended the figure — a straight average of rate changes reported by the four returning carriers to MNsure — acknowledging that some consumers will see higher or lower rate changes. State agency officials said consumers can shop around once open enrollment begins Nov. 15 “to find the best option that fits their individual health and financial needs.”
But other states, like California, Colorado and Washington, report their increases in premiums for their respective exchange plans as weighted averages.
Calculated that way, Minnesota’s figure for next year is not 4.5 percent, but 11.8 percent.”
“These insurers will sell you some Obamacare—at least as long as the government is footing the bill for most of their customers.
Insurers doing business on HealthCare.gov will be allowed to terminate their health plans if there’s a halt on federal tax credits that help most Obamacare customers buy the coverage, according to new language for 2015 contracts.
The language giving insurers the new opt-out does make clear, however, that individual state laws still may force insurers to continue the coverage.”
“Using data on household income and health insurance coverage maintained by the Census Bureau and McKinsey estimates on previously uninsured households enrolled through the Health Insurance Marketplace, the American Action Forum was able to construct state-level estimates of individual mandate payments. After accounting for exemptions, AAF estimates that 5.2 million people will be subject to the individual mandate penalty for being uninsured in 2014 and will pay a total of $5.8 billion in additional taxes. The AAF estimates include the exemptions for unauthorized immigrants, households that do not file income taxes, households that earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, and households that cannot purchase a Bronze plan with 8 percent of household income, but do not attempt to project how many households may apply for one of the many hardship exemptions.”
“Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the Republican governor and possible 2016 contender, had a dust-up this week when the Associated Press reported pro-Obamacare comments he made. In reality, he subsequently said, he was only praising the Medicaid expansion — which he’s trying to argue is totally separate.
I’ve already written about why this is a dishonest distinction, but his office has decided to dig in further. In a statement released on Twitter on Tuesday, his press department attempted to trick conservatives by using several cynical strategies often employed by Republicans trying to explain their big government policies.”
“Much of the ACA’s tax effect resembles unemployment insurance: both encourage layoffs and discourage people from returning to work. The ACA’s overall impact on employment, however, will arguably be larger than that of any single piece of legislation since World War II.
•The ACA’s employment taxes create strong incentives to work less. The health subsidies’ structure will put millions in a position in which working part time (29 hours or fewer, as defined by the ACA) will yield more disposable income than working their normal full-time schedule.
•The reduction in weekly employment due to these ACA disincentives is estimated to be about 3 percent, or about 4 million fewer full-time-equivalent workers. This is the aggregate result of the law’s employment disincentives, and is nearly double the impact most recently estimated by the Congressional Budget Office.
•Nearly half of American workers will be affected by at least one of the ACA’s employment taxes—and this does not account for the indirect effect on others as the labor market adjusts.
•The ACA will push more women than men into part-time work. Because a greater percentage of women work just above 30 hours per week, it is women who will be more likely to drop to part-time work as defined by the ACA.”
“State officials have given up on trying to salvage a portion of the troubled Cover Oregon technology project, essentially abandoning all hope of getting any lasting benefit from the $240 million paid Oracle America on the health insurance exchange and related work.
Instead, Oregon will look to use successful technology built by another state, and is trying to determine which one.”
“Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan criticized the O’Malley administration Monday over its decision to delay a lawsuit against the contractor it has blamed for the failed launch of the state’s health exchange web site. .
Hogan, locked in a battle with Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown with two weeks to go before Election Day, accused the administration of putting politics ahead of the taxpayers by delaying court action against Noridian Healthcare Solutions.”
“With the new Obamacare enrollment period scheduled to begin on November 15, here’s an intriguing question: If you’re one of the rare Americans to have the misfortune of contracting Ebola, can you apply for a new insurance policy on one of the government-run health exchanges without being rejected?
Currently, only four people are being treated for Ebola in the United States, and a few hundred who may have been exposed to it are either being monitored or have been notified – so this is an extremely unusual situation. Still, while no insurance company would relish the prospects of taking on a consumer suffering from one of the worst viruses to occur in today’s modern world, the Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance companies from turning down applicants with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, or even – yes – Ebola.”
“Health law? What health law?
Almost nine of 10 uninsured Americans – the group most likely to benefit — don’t know that the law’s second open enrollment period begins Nov. 15, according to a poll released Tuesday. Two-thirds of the uninsured say they know “only a little” or “nothing at all” about the law’s online insurance marketplaces where they can buy coverage if they don’t get it through their jobs. Just over half are unaware the law might give them financial help to buy coverage, according to a new poll.
Despite that lack of awareness, nearly 60 percent of those uninsured people say they plan to get coverage in the next few months, including 15 percent who say they’ll get it through an employer, 15 percent who say they’ll purchase it themselves and 8 percent who expect to get it through Medicaid.”