If you were deliberately trying to design the most arbitrary, painful and pointless tax possible, how would you go about it? First, you would structure it to inflate the cost of an essential product. Then, you’d create exemptions so vast that only 5% of taxpayers were subject to it. You might even ensure that it…

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Uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act was a challenge for insurers and state regulators as they prepared for the 2018 plan year. Various insurers exited or reduced service areas in the health insurance marketplaces, while others threatened exits or delayed participation decisions. In several states, some or all counties seemed likely to…

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Since the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplaces opened in 2014, there have been a number of changes in insurance participation as companies entered and exited states and also changed their footprint within states. Our earlier analyses of insurer participation and some notable company exits can be found here.  Note that we consider affiliated insurers serving the same areas as…

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Republicans in Congress are plowing ahead on tax reform, and one obstacle is the complexity of Senate budget rules that limit how much taxes can be cut. The good news is that for once Washington’s fiscal fictions could be deployed to improve policy by repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate as part of tax reform. The Senate…

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President Trump has selected Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive and a top health official during the George W. Bush administration, to lead the Health and Human Services Department. In announcing that he is nominating Azar to be secretary of the government’s largest civilian department, the president turned to a health-policy insider and conservative thinker.…

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The Trump administration will encourage states to pursue work requirements for certain Medicaid beneficiaries, a top official said Tuesday. The remarks by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma would signal a significant departure from the Obama administration’s approach to such requests. Several states have already proposed work requirements, and Verma’s comments indicate a…

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Repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate will save $338 billion over 10 years, according to a new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO said Wednesday it is changing the way it analyzes the mandate (and likely reducing the assumed cost impact) but said it is holding off on making those changes because the work is not complete. . .…

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Emboldened by election wins, Democrats are starting to see a political edge in health care, particularly widening Medicaid access for more low-income people. In Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam promised a vigorous push as governor to expand Medicaid. Voters who said health care was important went decisively for Northam, according to political analysts. In Maine, voters…

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Voters in Maine approved a ballot measure on Tuesday to allow many more low-income residents to qualify for Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, The Associated Press said. The vote was a rebuke of Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican who has repeatedly vetoed legislation to expand Medicaid.

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The Trump administration is moving ahead with Obama-era requirements to post calorie counts in restaurants, supermarkets, convenience stores and pizza delivery chains nationwide next year. Despite years of opposition by some food sellers, the Food and Drug Administration is offering only minor compromises to industry complaints about the difficulties of displaying calories at takeout chains,…

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