On Tuesday, the Kaiser Family Foundation released its annual survey of employer-sponsored health plans. The number that will probably attract the most attention relates to the premiums attached to employer plans — an important figure, since rising premiums eat up money that could otherwise go toward pay increases. The survey shows that 2015 premiums for family coverage were 4.2 percent higher than in 2014, a rise slightly greater than those of the past couple years.

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More than two years away from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac” tax, 16 percent of large employers offering health benefits have changed their benefit plans or moved to less expensive plans to avoid going over the limits set by the law, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released Tuesday.

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The key findings from the survey, conducted from January through June 2015, include a modest increase (4%) in the average premiums for both single and family coverage in the past year. The average annual single coverage premium is $6,251 and the average family coverage premium is $17,545.

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In October 2013, Oregon was just another state whose Obamacare exchange failed to achieve lift-off when its Democrat governor attempted to abet the President in the launch of his “signature domestic achievement.” Shortly thereafter, Governor Kitzhaber earned two additional distinctions not enjoyed by Obama’s other accomplices: He was the first to abandon his constituents to Healthcare.gov, and resigned pursuant to an ethics scandal. Before leaving office, however, Kitzhaber made what may be the most outrageous decision of his tawdry tenure—he sicced his Attorney General on the IT firm that built the exchange as well as some of its employees.

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A judge has approved a plan to partially pay hundreds of medical providers who are owed money by a Seneca-based health insurer that shut down due to fraudulent letters of credit. A state Insurance Department receivership has paid a “quarter on a dollar” to about 1,700 providers stuck with claims totaling $11.1 million from the collapse of the S.C. Health Cooperative.

A circuit judge in Columbia signed the “rehabilitation plan” Friday in the receivership that was prompted by a discovery last year that the cooperative used two letters of credit totaling $8 million that turned out to be fraudulent. In December, a judge appointed state Insurance Director Ray Farmer to be receiver of S.C. Health Cooperative finances after an audit showed the insurer to be financially insolvent, with $10.6 million in liabilities and $250,000 in assets.

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On Tuesday, a Senate subcommittee is set to hear testimony from the chief executives of Aetna Inc., which plans to acquire Humana Inc., and Anthem Inc., which is seeking to buy Cigna Corp., as well as the head of the American Hospital Association.

The other big insurer, which isn’t testifying, is UnitedHealth Group Inc.

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Forget “repeal and replace.” An obscure Obamacare provision that takes effect in 2017 could empower a Republican president to unravel Obamacare — without a single vote from Congress.
The provision allows the executive branch to waive big chunks of the law for a state that chooses a different approach to expanding health coverage. It was designed to allow progressive states to go further than Obamacare.

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Obamacare is back in court.

This month, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has standing to sue the Obama administration over how it spent federal money implementing the Affordable Care Act. The lawsuit, brought by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), challenges billions of dollars the administration gave to insurers to reduce out-of-pocket costs for almost 6 million low-income Americans.

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Health insurance premiums are rising because of Obamacare. And there is still one year left of the assorted reinsurance programs designed to mask premium increases, suggesting next year’s jumps will be even more eye-popping. That’s a political and logistical disaster for the Democrats who wrote the law and tied their political fortunes to its success. But rather than admit their law is too restrictive and come to the table to negotiate bipartisan reforms, Democrats and their insurance industry allies have decided on a cynical strategy: scapegoating drug companies.

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Some Republicans are eyeing repeal of Obamacare’s “Cadillac tax” as part of a larger plan to roll back some of the law’s most unpopular and unworkable provisions. It is certainly a good idea to move legislation this year that begins to push back against Obamacare’s many excesses. But the Cadillac tax is the last provision Republicans should be targeting for repeal right now, and they certainly shouldn’t repeal it without replacing it with something more sensible.

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