A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Jobs/Economic Impact"

The ACA: Some Unpleasant Welfare Arithmetic

Casey B. Mulligan, Cato Institute
Thu, 2014-08-21
"The Affordable Care Act (ACA) presents employers and potential employees with a variety of new rewards and penalties. These are, in part, exactly what the law intended: by penalizing potential employees for not purchasing health insurance, and employers for not providing it, the law aims to increase the fraction of the population with health insurance.

New York Federal Reserve: Higher Health Costs, More Part-Time Workers from Obamacare

Sean Hackbarth, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Thu, 2014-08-21
"Obamacare puts employers in a bind, two New York Federal Reserve surveys show. Employers’ health care costs continue to rise, and the health care law is driving them to hire more part-time labor, CNBC reports: The median respondent to the N.Y. Fed surveys expects health coverage costs to jump by 10 percent next year, after seeing a similar percentage increase last year. Not all firms surveyed said the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to blame for those cost increases to date. But a majority did, and the percentage of businesses that predicted the ACA will hike such costs next year is even higher than those that said it did this year. Obamacare's higher costs will cascade down to consumers.

Kill the tax exclusion for health insurance

Thomas P. Miller
National Review
Thu, 2014-08-21
"Last Saturday, August 16, marked the 60th anniversary of the enactment of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, which permanently established in federal law generous tax advantages for employer-paid health-insurance premiums. Those group health benefits are excluded from employees’ taxable wages and thereby are not subject to income and payroll taxes. This tax break has been praised as a pillar of our employer-based private health-insurance system, but its age is showing. A growing list of critics agrees that the tax exclusion needs to be changed. The key questions are when and how. We should expect a significant overhaul, but not a full retirement party, within the next five to ten years. The simplified history of the tax exclusion for health care usually begins with a 1942 ruling by the War Labor Board that allowed employers to bypass wartime wage controls by providing fringe benefits to workers.

Obamacare Or Not, Republicans Should Focus On Reducing The Cost Of Health Care

Avik Roy
Forbes Magazine
Thu, 2014-08-21
"For all the endless talk about reforming the health care system these past five years, it’s remarkable how little we’ve done to solve its actual problems. Spending hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize insurance coverage for several million people? That’s the easy part. The hard part is addressing the fact that American health care is so expensive. The high price of U.S. health care is the fundamental reason tens of millions of Americans are uninsured. It’s the principal suppressor of middle-class wage growth. It’s a constant threat to businesses’ operating margins, and it’s the primary driver of the federal debt. In May the American Health Policy Institute surveyed the chief human resource officers of 360 large employers, representing 10 million workers.

More Bad News for Obamacare

Megan McArdle
Bloomberg
Tue, 2014-08-19
"Last Monday, Jed Graham of Investor’s Business Daily reported that insurers say Affordable Care Act enrollment is shrinking, and it is expected to shrink further. Some of those who signed up for insurance on the exchanges never paid; others paid, then stopped paying. Insurers are undoubtedly picking up some new customers who lost jobs or had another “qualifying life event” since open enrollment closed. But on net, they expect enrollment to shrink from their March numbers by a substantial amount -- as much as 30 percent at Aetna Inc., for example. How much does this matter? As Charles Gaba notes, this was not unexpected: Back in January, industry expert Bob Laszewski predicted an attrition rate of 10 to 20 percent, which seems roughly in line with what IBD is reporting. However, Gaba seems to imply that this makes the IBD report old news, barely worth talking about, and I think that’s wrong, for multiple reasons."

AHA doled out $3.3 million in 2013 to advocate Medicaid expansion

Paul Demko, Modern Healthcare
Tue, 2014-08-19
"The American Hospital Association's expenditures increased by 7% in 2013, to $117 million, spurred in part by efforts to convince states to expand Medicaid, according to the organization's most recent tax return. The group spent $3.3 million on grants to state hospital associations last year to assist with efforts to convince states that they should expand Medicaid to households with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal government will pick up 100% of the tab for the first three years of Medicaid expansion and 90% of the cost thereafter."

Obamacare Losing Power as Campaign Weapon in Ad Battles

Heidi Pryzybla
Bloomberg
Tue, 2014-08-19
"Republicans seeking to unseat the U.S. Senate incumbent in North Carolina have cut in half the portion of their top issue ads citing Obamacare, a sign that the party’s favorite attack against Democrats is losing its punch. The shift -- also taking place in competitive states such as Arkansas and Louisiana -- shows Republicans are easing off their strategy of criticizing Democrats over the Affordable Care Act now that many Americans are benefiting from the law and the measure is unlikely to be repealed. “The Republican Party is realizing you can’t really hang your hat on it,” said Andrew Taylor, a political science professor at North Carolina State University. “It just isn’t the kind of issue it was.” The party had been counting on anti-Obamacare sentiment to spur Republican turnout in its quest for a U.S. Senate majority, just as the issue did when the party took the House in 2010. This election is the first since the law was fully implemented.

Fox News poll: Slim majority continues to oppose ObamaCare

Dana Blanton, Fox News
Sat, 2014-08-16
"Opposition to the 2010 health care law has been above 50 percent for over a year. And that continues to be true, as the latest Fox News national poll finds voters oppose the law by a 52-41 percent margin. Support for Obamacare has been as high as 43 percent (May 2014) and gone as low as 36 percent (January 2014). The number opposing the law has ranged from 49 percent (June 2012) to a record-high 59 percent (January 2014). As in the past, the new poll shows that most Democrats favor Obamacare (74 percent), while most Republicans (84 percent) and independents (61 percent) are against it. Voters in every age group are more likely to oppose the law than favor it, with one exception: those ages 65 and over. And that group only favors it by two percentage points."

Is the Sunshine Act website repeating HealthCare.gov's mistakes?

Darius Tahir
Modern Healthcare
Thu, 2014-08-14
"A mix-up of information about two physicians with the same name in different states has opened a window on wide-ranging technical problems the CMS is facing with its Open Payments website reporting industry payments to doctors and teaching hospitals. Registration for the system, which was scheduled..." NOTE: This article is behind a paywall.

16% Of Large Employers Plan To Offer Low-Benefit 'Skinny' Plans Despite ACA: Survey

Jay Hancock, Kaiser Health News
Thu, 2014-08-14
"Nearly one company in six in a new survey from a major employer group plans to offer health coverage that doesn't meet the Affordable Care Act's requirements for value and affordability. Many thought such low-benefit "skinny plans" would be history once the health law was fully implemented this year. Instead, 16 percent of large employers in a survey released Wednesday by the National Business Group on Health said they will offer in 2015 lower-benefit coverage along with at least one health plan that does qualify under ACA standards. The results weren't unexpected by benefits pros, who realized last year that ACA regulations would allow skinny plans and even make them attractive for some employers. But the new survey gives one of the first looks at how many companies will follow through and offer them."

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