“The fact that premiums fell this year in no way disputes that this will be the future of Medicare Advantage under Obamacare, since the health law’s payment reductions won’t even be fully enacted until years down the road. Indeed, cuts were scheduled to begin this year, but the White House eased their blow in an election year. As part of a temporary demonstration program, Obamacare had allocated approximately $7 billion in funding for bonuses for the highest-performing MA plans. HHS used the funds to award bonuses to hundreds of plans, which, as health policy expert Robert Laszewski describes, led to “a ‘Lake Wobegon’ moment,” effectively cancelling out the impact of lower payments.”Details
“An Obamacare exchange will offer less choice, not more. Consumers who want to buy affordable plans for catastrophic care would not be able to. Health savings accounts probably would be verboten. Like Henry Ford, who said customers could have any color car so long as it was black, Obamacare says state exchanges can offer any plan, so long as it is gold-plated.
What happens if a state allows a wide variety of plans at different prices and coverage levels? Washington would declare that it allows too much choice — and take over.”
“Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, says that a new health-care regulation ‘strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.’
That’s what she said when announcing that religious non- profit groups would have one year to start offering what she called ‘recommended contraceptive services’ in their employees’ insurance plans. Only churches, narrowly defined, are exempt: Religious hospitals and universities are not.”
“ObamaCare demands that most health plans operate with a medical loss ratio (MLR) of 85 percent (or 80 percent for the individual market). This blog has noted that this regulation is arbitrary, meaningless, and will surely have negative unintended consequences. One of the nation’s top experts on Health Savings Accounts has analyzed these MLR rules and concluded that it will be next to impossible to offer consumer-driven plans under them.”Details
“When the Supreme Court hears the state challenge to ObamaCare later this year, most of the attention will likely be on the challenge to the law’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance and its implications for the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. But in a somewhat unexpected move, the Supreme Court has decided to allow for a full hour of oral argument regarding another part of the case: the expansion of Medicaid, the joint federal-state health program for the poor and disabled, which is expected to account for half of the law’s health coverage expansion.”Details
“A handful of Senate Democrats have split with President Obama’s controversial birth-control mandate and slammed the administration’s requirement that church-affiliated employers cover contraceptives.
The five Democrats in the Senate expressing concern about some parts of the administration’s policy include, most recently, Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Bill Nelson of Florida, who have spoken publicly about their unhappiness with the mandate.”
“The political furor over President Obama’s birth-control mandate continues to grow, even among those for whom contraception poses no moral qualms, and one needn’t be a theologian to understand why. The country is being exposed to the raw political control that is the core of the Obama health-care plan, and Americans are seeing clearly for the first time how this will violate pluralism and liberty.”Details
“The hard truth is that the federal government cannot be trusted today with these kinds of decisions, and there’s no prospect of that changing anytime soon. That’s a big reason why Obamacare should never have been allowed to pass in the first place. Just the sight of Catholic leaders’ being forced to go begging before federal officials ought to be enough to convince most Americans that handing over so much power over such sensitive matters to the federal government was a terrible, terrible mistake.”Details
“The individual mandate may be getting more attention, but in a time of persistently high unemployment there needs to be just as much concern about the employer mandate. While these results are specific to Indiana, there are likely other states where small and mid-size businesses are responsible for a significant portion of the job growth. Reforming healthcare need not compromise jobs and small businesses, but unfortunately the Affordable Care Act will do just that.”Details
“Obamacare’s tinkering with the current program will essentially end Medicare as we know it by replacing the existing fee-for-service (FFS) payment system, the heart of traditional Medicare, with top-down payment and delivery schemes independent of the consumer choice and competition that would enable them to prove their value. Worse, new layers of bureaucracy and compliance will discourage physicians who are already wrestling with reams of paperwork and will undermine their professional independence in the practice of medicine.”Details