Wall Street Journal
By Chris Jacobs
We’ve seen few administrative controversies with Obamacare’s second open-enrollment season, but as a Wall Street Journal article noted last week, the start of the 2014 tax-filing season could bring a new wave of public discontent.
This tax-filing season brings the first enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate–the complexity of which could become a boon for tax-preparation firms. The instructions for completing the mandate exemption form run 12 pages, list 19 types of exemptions (with multiple codes), and include worksheets that may require individuals to go to their state exchange’s Web site to find the monthly premiums that will determine whether they had access to “affordable” coverage.
New York Times
WASHINGTON — For years, Harvard’s experts on health economics and policy have advised presidents and Congress on how to provide health benefits to the nation at a reasonable cost. But those remedies will now be applied to the Harvard faculty, and the professors are in an uproar.
Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the heart of the 378-year-old university, voted overwhelmingly in November to oppose changes that would require them and thousands of other Harvard employees to pay more for health care. The university says the increases are in part a result of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which many Harvard professors championed.
Thirty-six states that rely on private managed care programs to provide medical services to all or some of their Medicaid recipients are facing an added ObamaCare tax.
According to a report by Milliman consulting actuaries, states that contract with Medicaid managed care plans face up to $15 billion in added costs over 10 years for their share of the law’s tax on private health insurance.
States will pay even if they strongly oppose ObamaCare and are refusing to establish health insurance exchanges or expand Medicaid.
The health law imposes an annual tax on private health insurance plans – a tax designed to recoup what some call their “windfall” from the millions of new customers they could gain because of the law. The tax on health insurers was expected to raise a total of $8 billion in 2014 and as much as $150 billion over the next 10 years.
The Weekly Standard
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is looking for vendors to run its "National Data Warehouse," a database for "capturing, aggregating, and analyzing information" related to beneficiary and customer experiences with Medicare and the federal Obamacare marketplaces. Although the database primarily consists of quality control metrics related to individuals' interactions with customer service, potential contractors are to "[d]emonstrate ... experience with scalability and security in protecting data and information with customer, person-sensitive information including Personal Health Information and Personally Identifiable information (personal health records, etc.)." Vendors are also instructed that one of the requirements of a possible future contract would be "[e]nsuring that all products developed and delivered adhere to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance standards."
By Megan McArdle: While I was away last week, Vermont decided to scuttle its single-payer health-care plans. I predicted as much six months ago, for one simple reason: A single-payer system would cost too much. When faced with the choice of imposing double-digit payroll taxes or dropping his cherished single-payer plan, the governor of Vermont blinked.
"But Megan!" I hear you cry. "Single-payer systems are cheaper, not more expensive! Look at Europe!"
American Enterprise Institute
The new Republican Congress may not be able to repeal and replace Obamacare entirely, but it could make substantial progress by targeting the health law’s key structural components.
This November’s electoral wave reopened and widened the strategic playing field for critics of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Republican control of both houses of Congress, plus larger majorities of state governors and state legislatures present both opportunities and challenges to move beyond rhetorical opposition and advance changes in national health policy. Initial speculation tends to focus more on tactical considerations on Capitol Hill: which items are easiest to pass in the Senate, how to use budget reconciliation, and which votes will “look good” politically even if vetoed by President Obama.
Avik Roy: Last week, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin (D.) announced that he was pulling the plug on his four-year quest to impose single-payer, government-run health care on the residents of his state. “In my judgment,” said Shumlin at a press conference, “the potential economic disruption and risks would be too great to small businesses, working families, and the state’s economy.” The key reasons for Shumlin’s reversal are important to understand. They explain why the dream of single-payer health care in the U.S. is dead for the foreseeable future—but also why Obamacare will be difficult to repeal.
Leading left-wing economists worked on Vermont plan
The one state that not only embraced Obamacare but insisted on going beyond it to a full single-payer system was Vermont, the haven of hippies and expatriate New Yorkers, which has become one of the most liberal states in the nation. In 2011, it adopted a form of neighboring Canada’s government-financed health care and promised to implement it by 2017. (And Jonathan Gruber was a key architect of this plan as well as of Obamacare.) This week, however, Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, admitted the state couldn’t afford the plan’s $2 billion price tag and consequent sky-high taxes, and pulled the plug. The lessons for Obamacare are obvious and profound.
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.
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.