Paige Winfield Cunningham and Kyle Cheney, Politico
"Robert Gibbs’ prediction that Obamacare’s employer mandate would — and perhaps should — be jettisoned shocked Democrats back in April.
By July, the former aide and longtime confidant of President Barack Obama had a lot more company. More and more liberal activists and policy experts who help shape Democratic thinking on health care have concluded that penalizing businesses if they don’t offer health insurance is an unnecessary element of the Affordable Care Act that may do more harm than good. Among them are experts at the Urban Institute and the Commonwealth Fund and prominent academics like legal scholar Tim Jost.
The employer mandate, Jost wrote in a Health Affairs post in June, “cries out for repair.” Repealing it “might not be such a bad idea,” if it’s replaced with something better for workers and busi
"The Supreme Court’s ruling this week that “closely-held” companies like Hobby Lobby aren’t obligated to comply with the health law’s contraception mandate because it conflicts with their religious beliefs has put a renewed focus on the employer-sponsored healthcare.
Consumers getting their healthcare through their employers is a deeply ingrained practice in the United States (although that trend has been diminishing in recent years), and the court ruling has sparked all kinds of arguments pertaining to that the arrangement. Some have concluded that it will lead workers to seek alternatives outside the workplace, which they can find on the federal health exchanges created under Obamacare.
However, a new poll from Morning Consult found that the public isn’t there yet.
In fact, a strong majority of workers are worried that their employers will stop offering health insurance altogether and move them into the Obamacare exchanges.
Sandhya Somashekhar, The Washington Post
"The Supreme Court struck a second blow against the health-care law Monday with its decision to narrow its contraception mandate, an aspect of the federal program that was not central to its existence but was deeply cherished among liberals and many women’s groups.
Two years ago, the court, while upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, also gutted the law’s mandatory Medicaid expansion, severely limiting the law’s reach. By contrast, the effect of Monday’s decision is peripheral. The contraception provision was not part of the main law but was laid out in regulatory language issued by the Obama administration. Millions of women who receive birth control at no cost through their company health plans are likely to keep it.
Still, women who work for closely held, for-profit companies whose owners have religious objections to contraceptives may feel an impact.
Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News
"The Supreme Court’s opinion Monday holding that some for-profit firms do not have to provide women the contraceptive coverage required under the Affordable Care Act if they have religious objections addressed only half of the ongoing legal battle over the birth control mandate.
But those on both sides of the issue think the court’s majority may have telegraphed which way it could rule when one of those other cases reaches the justices.
Depending on whose count you use, there are more than 50 other lawsuits still working their way toward the high court. They were filed by nonprofit groups, mostly religious educational and health organizations like universities and hospitals."
Brianna Ehley,The Fiscal Times
"Obamacare’s technological nightmare might not be over yet.
Due to problems with the backend of the website, the Department of Health and Human Services reported last month that there were nearly 3 million inconsistencies on applications for health insurance. At the time, officials assured the public they were aggressively working to solve the problem.
But now, a new inspector general report reveals that nearly nine out of 10 erroneous applications have yet to be resolved, and the government isn’t really sure how to fix the problem.
The IG said the primary issues with the applications revolve around verifying citizenship status and income. Under the law, legally residing immigrants can receive subsidies, while undocumented residents cannot. Problems verifying income have also affected subsidy eligibility and the amount those who qualified have received. If enrollees received too much in subsidies, they will be required to pay them back through tax returns next year."
ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS, NY Times
"Some New Yorkers are in sticker shock after receiving notices from their insurance companies saying that they have asked for significant rate increases through the state’s health exchange next year.
The exchange, which has prided itself on being affordable, is now facing requests for increases as high as 28 percent for some customers of MetroPlus, a new entry to the individual insurance market and one of the least costly — and most popular — plans on the exchange this year."
Katie Kerwin McCrimmon
"Sicker patients have prompted Denver Health to ask for a 17.5 percent hike next year in health insurance rates while the biggest carrier in western Colorado, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, is working to keep rates flat in high-cost resort counties.
When Colorado’s insurance regulators unveiled proposed 2015 rates for health insurance last week, the numbers were all over the map. (Click here to read Consumers demand lower rates, universal care.)
Denver Health provides care to patients of all ages. Some who have signed up through Colorado's Health exchange are sicker and Denver Health is therefore proposing a rate increase. (Photo courtesy of Denver Health.)
Denver Health provides care to patients of all ages. Some who have signed up through Colorado’s Health exchange are sicker and Denver Health is therefore proposing a rate increase.
"At least three health insurers plan to offer insurance statewide in Georgia’s exchange for 2015. This year, only one health plan – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia – went statewide in the exchange. And the proposed Blue Cross rates for next year’s exchange will decrease by an average of 7 percent. Those were among the immediate highlights of data on proposed premiums, released by Georgia’s department of insurance, from the health plans seeking to participate in the state’s exchange next year. A total of nine insurers are seeking to offer exchange plans in 2015. That’s up from five insurers for the current year."
Paul Howard and Yevgeniy Feyman, Forbes
"Obamacare advocates in New York have had good reason to celebrate. In contrast to Oregon’s and other state-based exchanges, New York’s exchange rollout was a relatively smooth, successful affair. Indeed by the time open enrollment closed, nearly 1 million enrollees were notched— split between Medicaid (525,000) and private health insurance (370,000). Moreover, state officials estimate that some 80% of enrollees were previously uninsured.
Now for some cold water: New York still has a long way to go. While the state surpassed its first-year goal, total enrollment remains only around 30% of the total eligible population.
Moreover, New York State’s Medicaid program, already among the nation’s largest and most expensive, just grew by 10%. And 87% of the new Medicaid enrollees were eligible under New York’s generous, old rules. This means the state will be picking up 50% of the cost for much of this population—not the 10% headline rate for the newly eligible, childless adult population.
Drew Altman, Wall St. Journal
"The Supreme Court decision upholding Hobby Lobby’s ability to refuse to cover certain contraceptive services based on its owners’ religious beliefs has set off a wave of analysis of what the decision means. That will not be resolved anytime soon. But we do know what women think of the policy issue at the core of the case.
Overall, by a margin of 59% to 35%, women oppose the idea of letting companies deny coverage of contraceptives based on their owners’ religious beliefs. But women’s views on this issue–studied in the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll last month–differ by party, ideology and their religion.
White evangelical protestants, conservatives and women who are Republican are more supportive of Hobby Lobby’s position. Women who are liberal, Democrats, and protestant and Catholic are much more likely to oppose the company’s position."