A project of the Galen Institute
Sandra Boodman, Kaiser Health News
Tue, 2014-08-05
"Francisco Velazco couldn't wait any longer. For several years, the 35-year-old Seattle handyman had searched for an orthopedic surgeon who would reconstruct the torn ligament in his knee for a price he could afford. Out of work because of the pain and unable to scrape together $15,000 – the cheapest option he could find in Seattle – Velazco turned to an unconventional and controversial option: an online medical auction site called Medibid, which largely operates outside the confines of traditional health insurance. The four-year-old online service links patients seeking non-emergency care with doctors and facilities that offer it, much the way Priceline unites travelers and hotels. Vetting doctors is left to prospective patients: Medibid does not verify credentials but requires doctors to submit their medical license number for patients to check. Velazco paid $25 to post his request for knee surgery.
Michelle Andrews, Kaiser Health News
Tue, 2014-08-05
"Newly hired employees who don’t sign up for health insurance on the job could have it done for them under a health law provision that may take effect as early as next year. But the controversial provision is raising questions: Does automatic enrollment help employees help themselves, or does it force them into coverage they don’t want and may not need? A group of employers, many of them retail and hospitality businesses, want the provisions repealed, but some experts say the practice has advantages and is consistent with the aims of the health law. By enrolling people unless they opt out, "you're changing the default option," says Caroline Pearson, vice president at Avalere Health, a research and consulting firm.
Daniela Hernandez, Kaiser Health News
Tue, 2014-08-05
"Giving health-care providers a lump sum payment for certain treatments – touted as a way to save money and improve coordination of care — yielded disappointing results for some major California hospitals and insurers, a study found. The RAND Corp. study, funded by a $2.9-million federal grant, looked at “bundled payments” for care of insured orthopedic patients under 65 at a handful of large hospitals and insurers in California. Six of the state’s biggest insurers and eight hospitals started out in a pilot program in 2010, but only three insurers and two hospitals actually decided to enter contracts to adopt bundled payments.
Sarah Hurtubise, Daily Caller
Tue, 2014-08-05
"Obamacare plans have shrunk payments to physicians so much that some doctors say they won’t be able to afford to accept Obamacare coverage, NPR reports. Many of the eight million sign-ups in Obamacare exchanges nationwide already face more limited choices for physicians and hospitals than those in the private insurance market. But with low physician reimbursement rates, the problem could get even worse. For a typical quick patient visit, Dr. Doug Gerard, a Connecticut internist, told NPR a private insurer would pay $100 while Medicare would pay around $80. But Obamacare plans are more likely to pay closer to $80, which Gerard says is unsustainable for his practice. “I cannot accept a plan [in which] potentially commercial-type reimbursement rates were now going to be reimbursed at Medicare rates,” Dr. Gerard told NPR.
Elizabeth Slattery, The Heritage Foundation
Tue, 2014-08-05
"Last week, the House of Representatives voted to authorize Speaker John Boehner to file a lawsuit challenging President Obama’s failure to fully implement Obamacare. Specifically, the lawsuit will challenge the administration’s delay of the employer mandate—requiring many employers to provide health insurance or pay a fine—that was supposed to go into effect Jan. 1. It’s clear President Obama repeatedly has abused executive power to circumvent Congress and essentially rewrite the law, but this lawsuit still raises a host of questions."
Michael Cannon, Cato Institute
Mon, 2014-08-04
"In an oped for Politico, I explain why ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber’s 2012 admissions that “if you’re a state and you don’t set up an Exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits” matter to the ongoing litigation over the Obama administration issuing those subsidies in federal Exchanges, and why Gruber’s attempts to explain his own words away are not credible. Shortly after submitting that piece, I learned Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt found Gruber’s remarks relevant enough to ask a federal court hearing one of those cases to take notice. Gruber’s repeated remarks contradict the Obama administration’s legal argument, made in Halbig v. Burwell and three related lawsuits, that it is implausible that Congress would have conditioned those subsidies on states establishing Exchanges. His remarks likewise contradict the amicus briefs Gruber himself filed in two of those cases. (Here’s my response to those briefs.)"
Chris Conover, Forbes
Mon, 2014-08-04
"Did you hear the great news? According to the latest Medicare Trustees report, “Medicare isn’t going bankrupt,” and Vox has a chart to prove it! Not only that, “slow health cost growth has improved Medicare’s financial outlook, extending the program’s trust fund to last until 2030.” That’s four years longer than last year’s forecast! It all sounds great until you hear what Vox unaccountably elected not to tell its readers.
Chris Conover, Forbes
Mon, 2014-08-04
"If being uninsured were no big deal, presumably Obamacare never would have been enacted. The whole premise of the law is that being uninsured is a bad thing, so it’s well worth wielding a few carrots and sticks to get people into coverage. Unfortunately, Obamacare has had to break more than a few eggs along the way. One of the presumably unintended consequences of this misguided law is the fashion in which it encourages some young adults to become uninsured. These are the very young people that the Exchanges need to sign up for coverage if they are to avoid a death spiral. It may seem puzzling that a law that both hands out subsidies to encourage coverage and imposes penalties on those who do not could possibly increase the incentive to become or remain uninsured."
Drew Altman, Wall Street Journal
Mon, 2014-08-04
"Court decisions can have huge policy implications. Because judges are not policy experts, statistical modelers or economists, and because these are inexact sciences anyway, the policy implications of judicial rulings may not be fully appreciated when they are made. A good example is the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made Medicaid expansion optional for states. It’s hard to imagine that the justices had any idea that their decision would leave 4.8 million low-income people in a coverage gap without insurance in states that chose not to expand, or that 10 million slightly higher-income people would get tax credits to help them buy coverage in those same states. (Not that those things may, or should have, changed the justices’ conclusion.) Now let’s consider Halbig v. Burwell, a case in which recent appeals court rulings made headlines. Halbig, which raises questions about whether the U.S.
Michael A. Memoli, Lisa Mascaro
Mon, 2014-08-04
"Six months ago, a House Republican campaign official listed the top three issues that would propel the party's candidates to victory in the midterm election: "Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare.". It was a strategy that worked well in 2010, when GOP electoral gains were fueled primarily by a high-profile campaign to repeal the newly passed Affordable Care Act. But now, months removed from the political storm that resulted from the botched rollout of the law and as more Americans begin receiving healthcare under the program, many Republicans have a more nuanced view of its importance. House Republicans are broadening their once-singular focus on the healthcare law and headed into an extended summer break without delivering on their promise to advance an alternative."

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