A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Exchanges"

More plan cancellations coming before the elections

Elise Viebeck, The Hill
Thu, 2014-10-02
"Thousands of Americans will see their health plans cancelled before the November elections in a development that could boost critics of ObamaCare. The Morning Consult, a Washington-based policy publication, reported that nearly 50,000 people will lose their current health coverage in the coming weeks. The figure encompasses cancellations announced by insurance departments and providers in Kentucky, Alaska, Tennessee, New Mexico, North Carolina, Maine and Colorado. The possible political consequences are clear in states like Kentucky, where Senate Minority Leader and leading ObamaCare critic Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is defending his seat against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes."

Debate Grows Over Employer Plans With No Hospital Benefits

Jay Hancock
Kaiser Health News
Thu, 2014-10-02
"Lance Shnider is confident Obamacare regulators knew exactly what they were doing when they created an online calculator that gives a green light to new employer coverage without hospital benefits. “There’s not a glitch in this system,” said Shnider, president of Voluntary Benefits Agency, an Ohio firm working with some 100 employers to implement such plans. “This is the way the calculator was designed.” Timothy Jost is pretty sure the whole thing was a mistake. “There’s got to be a problem with the calculator,” said Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University and health-benefits authority. Letting employers avoid health-law penalties by offering plans without hospital benefits “is certainly not what Congress intended,” he said."

Taking Stock and Taking Steps: A Report from the Field after the First Year of Marketplace Consumer Assistance under the ACA

Rachel Grob and Mark Schlesinger and Karen Pollitz and Lori Grubstein, Kaiser Family Foundation
Thu, 2014-10-02
"During the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s first period of open enrollment October 2013 – March 2014, an estimated fourteen million people enrolled for health coverage through the new private insurance Marketplaces (8 million) and through Medicaid (6 million). To facilitate this substantial volume of enrollment and enrollment-related activities, approximately 4,400 Marketplace Assister Programs employing more than 28,000 full time-equivalent staff and volunteers served consumers nationwide. All Assister Programs were expected to help consumers understand their coverage options, apply for financial assistance, and enroll (see Appendix 1).

One Year Later: The Affordable Care Act's Launch on October 1, 2013––So How Did it Go?

Bob Laszewski
Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review
Thu, 2014-10-02
"Here unedited is what I posted on September 29, 2013: The Affordable Health Care Act's Launch On October 1st––So How Did it Go? Unavoidably, that will be the big question come Tuesday. But there will be much more to it than that. A 180-Day Open Enrollment––Not a One-Day Open Enrollment What happens on the first day, for good or bad, will constitute only a tiny percentage of the open enrollment period. Consumers will likely visit the new websites many times before they make any decisions, and that is exactly as it should be. Many of the health plans touted as being low-cost plans are going to be very limited access plans. It won't be easy for consumers to compare one plan's provider network to the other. In the best of circumstances, consumers will be confused by what is being offered for some time and will have to make a major effort to make sense of it for themselves."

Former Administration Official Sues HHS For Not Releasing 2015 Insurance Rates

Rachana Dixit Pradhan, Inside Health Policy
Wed, 2014-10-01
"Former HHS insurance oversight chief Jay Angoff has filed a lawsuit against the department for not making 2015 rate filings public, arguing the administration is not abiding by its own regulations on disclosing the information. Responding to the lawsuit, an HHS official said the agency will publish the rate information prior to the beginning of open enrollment. HHS Spokesperson Ben Wakana told Inside Health Policy late Wednesday (Oct. 1): "We are readying the rate change information. The department is committed to providing consumers accurate information so they can make informed decisions, and therefore, before the beginning of Open Enrollment, the agency will publish final insurance rates for all 50 states.”"

Supreme Court Poised For A Do-Over On Obamacare

Chris Conover
Forbes magazine
Wed, 2014-10-01
"The majority of Americans who continue to oppose Obamacare should be greatly pleased to learn that the Supreme Court is likely to get a do-over on this misguided and too-often-lawlessly-implemented law. Ours is a nation of fresh starts and second chances: it is only fitting that SCOTUS be handed an opportunity to undo the convoluted, flagrantly political and highly controversial decision it made in June 2012. As eloquently detailed by fellow Forbes blogger Michael Cannon on September 30, “The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma handed the Obama administration another – and a much harsher — defeat in one of four lawsuits challenging the IRS’s attempt to implement ObamaCare’s major taxing and spending provisions where the law does not authorize them.”"

As the courts turn: The continuing legal perils of Obamacare

Thomas P. Miller
AEI
Tue, 2014-09-30
"Legal challenges to various aspects of Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act) keep traveling on a rollercoaster. Today’s episode of the law’s continuing courtroom soap opera involves a ruling by a federal district court in Oklahoma, which overturned a 2012 IRS rule authorizing premium assistance tax credits in federal exchanges (since rebranded as “federally facilitated marketplaces”). The decision improves the likelihood that the Supreme Court ultimately will consider this issue on appeal; either in the spring of 2015 or during its next 2015-2016 term. Judge Ronald White ruled in State of Oklahoma v. Burwell that the IRS rule is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion not in accordance with law, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. section 706(2)(A), in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory right, pursuant to 5 U.S.C.

BREAKING: Judge rules against Obamacare subsidies

Paul Demko, Modern Healthcare
Tue, 2014-09-30
"In a legal setback for the Obama administration, a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled Tuesday that people in states that rely on the federal insurance exchange are not eligible for Obamacare premium subsidies to help them pay for coverage. Judge Ronald White, a George W. Bush appointee, invalidated an Internal Revenue Service rule interpreting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to allow the premium tax credits in states that have not established their own exchange. “The court holds that the IRS Rule is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law,” White wrote. In his ruling, White rejected the argument that striking down the subsidies would cripple the entire healthcare reform law. “Congress is free to amend the ACA to provide for tax credits in both state and federal exchanges, if that is the legislative will,” he wrote."

Obamacare: New messaging hurdles ahead

Jennifer Haberkorn
Politico
Tue, 2014-09-30
"The second Obamacare enrollment season could go negative — but not because of the health care law’s critics. Obama administration allies are weighing a focus on the loathsome individual mandate and the penalties that millions of Americans could face if they don’t get covered. It would be a calculated approach to prompt sign-ups, a task that the law’s supporters expect to be more difficult, or at least more complex, than in its coverage’s inaugural year. There are several challenges: The 2015 enrollment period is shorter, the most motivated Americans are probably already enrolled and the law is still politically unpopular. That means that even if HealthCare.gov works well — and it couldn’t be worse than last October’s meltdown — proponents are confronting a tough messaging landscape."

Federal doctor ratings face accuracy, value questions

Jayne O'Donnell, USA Today
Tue, 2014-09-30
"Consumers searching this fall for the best doctor covered by their new public or private insurance plan won't get very far on a federal database designed to rate physician quality. The Affordable Care Act requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide physician quality data, but that database offers only the most basic information. It's so limited, health care experts say, as to be useless to many consumers. This comes as people shopping for insurance on the state or federal exchanges will find increasingly narrow networks of doctors and may be forced to find a new one. Many with employer-provided plans will face the same predicament."

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