WASHINGTON – Trying to head off a new round of consumer headaches with President Obama's health care law, the insurance industry says it will give customers more time to pay their premiums for January.
America's Health Insurance Plans, the main industry trade group, says the voluntary steps include a commitment to promptly refund any overpayments by consumers who switched plans and may have gotten double-billed by mistake.
Though the HealthCare.gov website is working far better this year, the industry announcement highlights behind-the-scenes technical issues between the government and insurers that have proven difficult to resolve. Last year's enrollment files were riddled with errors, and fixing those has been a painstaking process.
Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto and Fred Backus: Fifty-two percent of Americans say they find basic medical care affordable, but that's down from 61 percent last December. Today, for 46 percent of Americans, paying for medical care is a hardship, up 10 points.
Similarly, just over half of Americans are at least somewhat satisfied with their health care costs, while 43 percent are dissatisfied.
Americans are feeling the cost of their health care. Fifty-two percent say the amount of money they pay for out-of-pocket health care costs -- those not covered by insurance -- has gone up over the past few years, including a third who say those costs have gone up a lot.
Most attribute the rise of out-of-pocket costs to more expensive medical treatment, rather than an increase in the amount of treatment they are receiving.
Even though a majority of Americans are able to keep up with their medical costs, some cannot.
By Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog
Jonathan Gruber’s health care forecasting is failing in Colorado as Vermont’s Gov. Peter Shumlin prepares to use the economist’s math for single-payer health care.
As Vermonters anxiously await a Gruber-modeled financing plan for Green Mountain Care, modeling done for Colorado’s health exchange by Jonathan Gruber Associates has proven wildly erroneous.
In 2011, following Colorado’s decision to set up a state health exchange for Obamacare, the state hired Gruber to forecast enrollment trends from which the state and federal government could estimate costs.
According to a presentation delivered to the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Board on Sept.
Investors' Business Daily
Over the past year, the ranks of people working part-time jobs by choice — as opposed to business-driven factors — has grown by more than one million, the fastest pace in at least two decades.
The timing with ObamaCare's first year of subsidies to buy health insurance is likely more than coincidental. While analysts on the left and right have sparred over whether businesses have shifted to part-time jobs to limit liability under ObamaCare, no one disputes that the law will lead more people to choose to work part-time. Any disagreement is over whether the law should get credit for making less work possible or blame for making work less financially rewarding.
The number of people working part-time for noneconomic reasons in November was up 1.15 million, or 6.1%, from a year earlier, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
By Philip Klein | More than one in five Americans, or 68 million people, will receive their health coverage through Medicaid this year — more than any other government health program. But as it adds millions of beneficiaries as a result of President Obama’s healthcare law, there is mounting evidence that Medicaid is broken.
Medicaid is administered jointly by the state and federal government, offering health coverage to Americans earning up to about $16,000 in the states participating in Obamacare’s expansion of the program and up to roughly $12,000 in the states that do not.
Providing these benefits comes at a great cost to taxpayers. In fiscal 2013 (even before the program expanded) federal and state governments spent nearly $460 billion combined on Medicaid.
American Action Forum
Late last night the House approved a $1.1 trillion spending measure that will keep the government funded. The measure passed 219-206, with 162 Republicans and 57 Democrats in favor. The so-called “CRomnibus” now moves onto the Senate where it is expected to pass today.
While a House panel was meeting to discuss eliminating the 1970s era ban on crude oil exports, a group of economists from American Council for Capital Formation urged the president to lift the ban. Even according to the government’s own research, “This reduction in oil prices, if they persist for one year, puts approximately $1.3 trillion in the hands of consumers worldwide.”
The FCC voted Thursday to increase the E-rate program by $1.5 billion, now totaling $3.9 billion per year. AAF has found that, with this vote, the program has expanded nearly 123 percent since 2008.
By John Fund
An old Soviet joke had men carrying briefcases marching alongside tanks and soldiers in a Kremlin parade. “Why are those men in a military parade?” a boy innocently asks his father. He replies, “Those are the economists. They are the most dangerous of all.”
MIT economist Jonathan Gruber’s factually impoverished testimony on Obamacare didn’t get nearly the attention it should have, as congressional Democrats cleverly decided to release a report on CIA torture abuses on the same day. Gruber’s stonewalling about videos in which he boasted that the “stupidity” of the American people and their “lack of transparency” had been the key to passing Obamacare was buried deep inside major papers and ignored by the next morning’s network-TV shows. John Harwood of CNBC dismissed his testimony: “I’m sorry, Gruber is a nothingburger and always has been.” Mark Halperin of Bloomberg News chimed in: “This has been a sideshow. . . .
The Wall Street Journal
With the Supreme Court due to rule on a major ObamaCare legal challenge by next summer, thoughts in Washington are turning to the practical and political response. If the Court does strike down insurance subsidies, the question for Republicans running Congress is whether they will try to fix the problems Democrats created, or merely allow ObamaCare’s damage to grow.
The time to define a strategy is soon, as King v. Burwell will be heard in March with a ruling likely in June. As a matter of ordinary statutory construction, the Court should find that when the law limited subsidies to insurance exchanges established by states, that does not include the 36 states where the feds run exchanges.
But in that event one result would be an immediate refugee crisis. Of the 5.4 million consumers on federal exchanges, some 87% drew subsidies in 2014, according to a Rand Corporation analysis.
By Sam Baker and Sophie Novack:
Republicans want the Supreme Court to blow a major hole in Obamacare next year, but they are still debating whether they would help repair it—and what they should ask for in return.
There's a very real chance the high court will invalidate Obamacare's insurance subsidies in most of the country, which would be devastating for the health care law. It would become almost entirely unworkable in most states, and the cost of coverage would skyrocket.
That loss for the Affordable Care Act might seem like a clear-cut political win for the GOP, but the reality would be far messier.
Such a ruling would weaken the law's individual mandate and make coverage unaffordable for millions of people.
The Wall Street Journal
By Stephanie Armour:
Some free health clinics serving the uninsured are shutting their doors because of funding shortfalls and low demand they attribute to the Affordable Care Act’s insurance expansion.
Nearly a dozen clinics that have closed in the past two years cited the federal health law as a major reason.
The closings have occurred largely in 28 states and Washington, D.C., which all expanded Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for low-income people, and are being heralded by some clinic officials as a sign the health law is reducing the number of uninsured.
Continued at... http://www.wsj.com/articles/health-law-hurts-some-free-clinics-1418429551