A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Jobs/Economic Impact"

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.

Runaway Obamacare Spending Will Cost Democrats

Lanhee Chen
Bloomberg
Tue, 2014-09-30
"As we start the final stretch before the midterm elections, many analysts are convinced that Obamacare isn't the hot political issue it once was. While the flood of negative publicity about the law has subsided of late, a majority of people still oppose it, according to a Real Clear Politics average of polls taken from Sept. 2-15. And I’ve always believed the voters’ negative impressions of the law were “baked” into their assessments of Democratic incumbents. That’s partly why Democratic Senators such as Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska find themselves barely breaking 40 percent in recent public polls. But a new study out this week from Bloomberg Government threatens to bring the Affordable Care Act back to center stage -- and in a way that will likely hurt the electoral chances of incumbent Democrats, all of whom voted for the law."

Coverage Data Matching Woes Continue

Inside Health Policy
Tue, 2014-09-30
"The federal exchange is set to cut thousands of individuals from its coverage rolls this week because of unresolved inconsistencies related to immigration status, with HHS saying 115,000 will lose coverage as of Tuesday (Sept. 30). Tuesday is also the deadline for about 279,000 households to submit current income information to the exchange or risk seeing changes in their tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies that could result in higher costs for enrollees. Furthering the saga on coverage data matching issues, the National Immigration Law Center has filed an administrative complaint under the ACA's anti-discrimination section due to HHS' failure to communicate with consumers in languages other than English and Spanish. The center also filed a Freedom of Information Act request in order to glean more insight into why that decision was made."

In Second Year, Voters Less Interested In Exchange Insurance

Marissa Evans, Morning Consult
Tue, 2014-09-30
"When it comes to health insurance exchanges, there’s nothing like the first time to grab voters’ attention and enthusiasm. Morning Consult polling found 47 percent of voters say they are not at all likely to purchase health insurance through an online exchange this year. In the weeks before the start of open enrollment in 2013, that figure was 19 percentage points lower, with only 28 percent saying they were not at all likely to purchase insurance on the exchange. Voters’ stated likelihood of buying insurance decreased across all categories from 2013 to 2014."

Alaska Physician Shuts Down Practice, Citing Obamacare

Sarah Hurtubise
Daily Caller
Sat, 2014-09-27
"After a long list of Obamacare failures in Alaska, one physician is shutting down his decades-old practice, charging that the health-care law and other federal programs are “unsustainable” for practicing doctors. Dr. William Wennen, a plastic surgeon, is closing his Fairbanks practice after 38 years of working in the state. Dr. Wennen blames federal health insurance programs, citing Obamacare, Medicaid and Medicare, for shutting down his practice."

Survey: Doctors don’t like Obamacare

Andrew Branch
World News
Fri, 2014-09-26
"A survey of American physicians released this week paints a restless picture of the nation’s doctors—especially when it comes to Obamacare. “The system is broken and I am out of here as soon as I can,” one doctor wrote. “I am tired of being used, abused, and lied to. Has anyone here woken up to the fact that we are always the last ones to be considered in the equation of change?” Roughly 20,000 of 650,000 doctors responded to the Physicians Foundation’s survey, and voluntary surveys are prone to finding those with strong opinions. But of those strong opinions, 46 percent of doctors gave the Affordable Care Act (ACA) a “D” or “F,” while only 25 percent gave it an “A” or “B.”"

Pharma Pushes CMS for Transparency on Sunshine Database, Again

Ed Silverman
Wall Street Journal
Thu, 2014-09-25
"With just one week left before the launch of the controversial Open Payments database – which will reveal how much money doctors receive from drug and device makers – three of the biggest industry trade groups are complaining they have not had an opportunity to review important background information about relationships with physicians. And the trade groups – the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, BIO and AdvaMed – are reiterating concerns expressed last month that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has still not explained why one-third of the payment information submitted by drug and device makers, as well as group purchasing organizations, was removed from the database."

Why You Are Likely To Lose Your Health Insurance -- No Matter How Much You Like It

John C. Goodman
Forbes
Thu, 2014-09-25
"One of Barack Obama’s best-remembered promises was, “If you like your health insurance, you can keep it.” But at the very same time the president was making that promise, lawmakers on Capitol Hill were drafting legislation that would make sure that promise could never be kept. We call it Obamacare. Moreover, the problem is not only that millions of people were unable to keep the plan they had in 2010, when the health reform law was passed. They are not likely to be able to keep for long any plan they have selected this year on a health insurance exchange. As we go forward, all health plans will be subjected to restrictions that are likely to change every year. So a plan that meets the Obamacare restriction this year, may not meet the restriction next year or the year after that."

Replacing Obamacare Saves A Lot of Money

James Capretta
National Review
Thu, 2014-09-25
"Supporters of the Obama administration like to create the impression that there is no viable alternative to the Affordable Care Act — i.e., Obamacare. But that is demonstrably not true. Republican senators Richard Burr, Tom Coburn, and Orrin Hatch introduced a plan earlier this year that would cover just as many people with insurance as Obamacare at a fraction of the cost. Now we have confirmation, in the form of a new cost estimate, that a similarly constructed but slightly different proposal would also cost less, while covering nearly the same number of people."

How Workers and Employers Diverge on Wellness Programs

Drew Altman
Kaiser Health News
Thu, 2014-09-25
"Everybody is for wellness, including corporate America. As the chart above shows, wellness programs–as varied as gym memberships, lifestyle coaching, flu shots and vaccinations, nutrition counseling and biometric screening, and other weight-loss efforts–are corporate America’s favorite strategy for health cost containment. That’s right, cost containment–despite the fact that evidence of wellness programs’ effectiveness is mixed when it comes to holding down costs and actually improving health. The appeal of wellness programs has much to do with the popularity of wellness benefits among employees (and a belief that they can reduce absenteeism and improve productivity). The roughly $6 billion wellness industry aggressively sells products–and wellness programs are a far easier cost-containment strategy to sell to employees than higher cost sharing or narrower provider networks."

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