“A group of healthcare experts close to the White House is urging the Obama administration to appoint a new chief executive officer to oversee Obamacare’s online health insurance exchanges and safeguard the next open enrollment period that begins in six months.
The recommendation, in a report due to be released by the Washington-based Center for American Progress think tank, calls for a major shakeup within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which presided over last year’s disastrous rollout of the federal market portal, HealthCare.gov.
The idea would be to take the exchanges out of the current bureaucracy and put them in the hands of a CEO with private-sector experience who could run them as true e-commerce sites. The CEO would answer only to President Barack Obama and his intended new health secretary, Sylvia Mathews Burwell.”

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“Surgery patients covered by Medicaid arrive at the hospital in worse health, experience more complications, stay longer and cost more than patients with private insurance, a new study has found.”

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“A top insurer in the North Carolina Obamacare exchange reported that its customers are both older and less healthy than it expected and warned that premiums are likely to rise next year.

“Not as many of the state’s young and healthy enrolled as expected,” Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina announced in a press release. The company expected 50 percent of its Obamacare exchange customers to be younger than 35, but just 32 percent of customers are below age 35 and just 25 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34.”

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“Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday said he wants to use Medicaid funding under the federal health-care law to expand coverage in his state, but that any expansion of it would have to come on his own terms.

The proposal is the latest from a small group of mostly Republican governors pursuing alternative ways to tap billions of dollars in federal Medicaid money available under the Affordable Care Act. Most GOP governors are refusing the additional federal money outright, while those who have wanted to expand Medicaid faced objections from GOP-led legislatures.”

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“A federal appeals court heard arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit claiming the Obama administration’s health care reform law provides tax subsidies only to people who buy insurance through state-run exchanges.

Four Virginia residents are challenging an Internal Revenue Service regulation that makes the subsidies available to low- and moderate-income residents regardless of whether they buy policies through state exchanges or one established by the federal government. Virginia is among 34 states that chose not to establish its own health insurance exchange.”

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“Opponents of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion have traditionally argued that it will significantly burden state budgets and provide people with substandard health coverage. A new academic paper suggests what may be the strongest argument yet against the expansion: that it will keep many beneficiaries in poverty because it creates strong disincentives for work.”

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“States that experienced severe technical problems in running their ObamaCare exchanges would have to reimburse the federal government for the cost under a Republican bill introduced Wednesday.”

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“In his Monday Think Tank post previewing political and policy battles over insurance premium increases, Drew Altman wrote that “85% of those who purchase insurance in the new marketplaces will get a government subsidy in the form of a tax credit to help defray the cost of the premium. That means that most people buying in the exchanges won’t pay much even if their premium cost goes up significantly” in 2015.”

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“Arkansas’ “Private Option” Medicaid expansion has generated significant interest among red-state policymakers and the national press. And now that more data on the potential price tag is coming to light, Razorback taxpayers are taking notice too. Cost overruns are racking up and Arkansas officials are now considering asking for a Washington D.C. bailout, forcing all federal taxpayers to pick up the tab for a poorly-designed program. The state’s Medicaid director has abruptly resigned, and the political winds are gusting strongly against the program in Arkansas, at least among Republicans.”

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“As regular NRO readers will know, one of the key races that Republicans need to win in order to retake the U.S. Senate is occurring in Arkansas, where Representative Tom Cotton is challenging Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor. The race to replace Cotton in the House of Representatives, while not nearly as consequential, is also quite interesting, because a central issue in that campaign is the fact that the Republican-led state legislature worked with the Democratic governor to implement Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.”

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