A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Quality/Access"

Ben Boychuk: Playing the specialty drug lottery

The Sacramento Bee
Fri, 2015-04-17
My son Benjamin has a serious growth hormone deficiency. He’ll be 13 years old in May but could easily pass for a boy of 8 or 9. In fact, many 8- and 9-year-olds are taller than him. He’s a full head shorter than all of his pals in seventh grade. Although his mother and I don’t have medical degrees, we medical degrees, we had Benjamin’s diagnosis pegged when he was 3 years old and still wearing clothing for an 18-month-old. Several trips to his pediatrician along with a couple simple tests to assess Benjamin’s bone age confirmed with data what we could see with our own eyes. Our boy wasn’t just in the bottom percentile in average height for kids his age – he was in the sub-basement

Chris Jacobs: Has Obamacare Enrollment Peaked?

The Wall Street Journal
Fri, 2015-04-10
Has the effort peaked to sign up uninsured Americans for coverage? The announcement that the nonprofit organization Enroll America is laying off staff and redirecting its focus in the face of funding cuts comes amid inconsistent sign-ups during the second Affordable Care Act open-enrollment period and concerns about affordability. A recent New York Times analysis compared Kaiser Family Foundation estimates of potential enrollees with sign-up data from the Department of Health and Human Services. While some states that signed up few people in 2014 recovered during the 2015 open enrollment, other states lagged: “California, the state with the most enrollments in 2014, increased them by only one percentage point this year, despite a big investment in outreach. New York improved by only two percentage points. Washington’s rates are unchanged.” Most states could not post consistent gains in both open-enrollment periods.

Chris Jacobs: Obamacare Enrollment Split: Subsidies vs. No Subsidies

The Wall Street Journal
Tue, 2015-03-31
Two reports released in the past week demonstrate a potential bifurcation in state insurance exchanges: The insurance marketplaces appear to be attracting a disproportionate share of low-income individuals who qualify for generous federal subsidies, while middle- and higher-income filers have generally eschewed the exchanges. On Wednesday, the consulting firm Avalere Health released an analysis of exchange enrollment. As of the end of the 2015 open-enrollment season, Avalere found the exchanges had enrolled 76% of eligible individuals with incomes between 100% and 150% of the federal poverty level—between $24,250 and $36,375 for a family of four. But for all income categories above 150% of poverty, exchanges have enrolled fewer than half of eligible individuals—and those percentages decline further as income rises.

Obamacare Website Still Insecure, Subject to Attacks

Judicial Watch
Mon, 2015-03-30
More than a year after egregious security failures in the government’s healthcare website were exposed in congressional hearings, data remains compromised and the ill-fated site is still subject to cyberattacks and vulnerable to massive identity theft. In fact, just this week Judicial Watch obtained documents from the government that show a possible mass breach of the privacy of innocent Americans involving the disastrous Obamacare website (Healthcare.gov). The records, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), also reveal that top officials with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) knew of massive security risks with the healthcare website but chose to roll it out without resolving the problems. When the Obamacare internet drama blew up in the administration’s face the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was called to help clean up, according to the records recently made public by JW.

Charles Blahous: CBO Says ACA Will Insure Fewer People Than Predicted

Economics21
Tue, 2015-03-24
The Congressional Budget Office’s new report shows updated cost projections for the insurance coverage expansion in the Affordable Care Act. With the debate over the ACA remaining so intensely polarized, advocates moved aggressively to spin this routine update as reflecting favorably on the law. A front-page article in the Washington Post referred to the new findings as showing “savings,” quoting a supporter as saying, “I can’t see how people can continue to say . . . that Obamacare had no cost containment in it.” Such comments in the wake of CBO’s update are flawed interpretations of the new estimates and what they signify. The following explains what CBO has actually projected: basically that the ACA will do less to expand coverage than previously estimated.

Drew Gonshorowski: 2015 ACA-Exchange-Premiums Update: Premiums Still Rising

The Heritage Foundation
Tue, 2015-03-24
Health care premiums are continuing to rise in 2015. While the pace of change has slowed since the dramatic increases of 2014, the savings promised under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have still not materialized. Measuring changes in premiums is an important element in understanding the impact of the ACA. In previous analysis, The Heritage Foundation determined that the new regulations and benefit mandates put in place through the ACA caused premiums to increase drastically in 2014, with average premiums increasing more than 50 percent in some states.[1] This Issue Brief examines premium changes in 2015 and finds continued but slower premium growth, indicative of a market going through a sorting process.

Stuart M. Butler: Let the states fix Obamacare

The Brookings Institute
Tue, 2015-03-24
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), like President Clinton’s health plan in the 1990s, made the mistake of trying to achieve coast-to-coast health care coverage with a system that essentially looks the same everywhere. That approach was always going to be a challenge. US health care is an enormous and complex economy in its own right. If the US health system were a separate national economy, for instance, it would be the fifth largest economy in the world – larger than the entire economy of France or of Britain. The idea that a single piece of legislation could successfully reorganize the world’s fifth largest economy was a fantasy, especially when the bill had to go through the congressional sausage-making machine. It’s true that the ACA gave Americans a choice of plan on federal or state-run exchanges. But the ACA still sought a template for insurance rules, benefits and other structural features that would be the same from Vermont to Texas and Florida to Alaska. That was unwise.

Independent Women’s Forum Statement on ObamaCare Fifth Anniversary

Independent Women's Forum
Mon, 2015-03-23
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today marks the 5-year anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare. The last five years have proven that a one-size-fits-all, top-down government healthcare system doesn't work. Coinciding with the date President Obama signed ObamaCare into law, Independent Women’s Forum released a series of memes highlighting the devastating consequences of this failed law. Hadley Heath, Director of Health Policy at the Independent Women's Forum, issued the following statement: "ObamaCare has proven in its first five years that central planning does not work, especially not for health care. Americans are fed up with the continuously rising costs and diminished choice they face in health care and insurance as a result of too much government interference. Maybe millions have gained coverage, but millions have lost coverage too.

Senator Marco Rubio: My three part plan for the post-ObamaCare era

Fox News
Mon, 2015-03-23
Five years ago, President Obama and Congressional Democrats disregarded both the Constitution and the opinion of the American people when they enacted ObamaCare. Since then, Americans have seen the law transition from political to personal. Many have lost access to their longtime doctor. They lost the insurance plan they were happy with. They pay higher premiums or a higher deductible. Maybe it cost them their job, maybe it cost them hours at work, or maybe they’re suffering from all of the above. As the legislation has been implemented over the last five years, the cracks in the final bill have expanded one by one into full scale crises. President Obama has attempted to patch these problems by writing new rules and regulations on the fly, often with questionable constitutionality. But soon his days of bypassing federal law and the Constitution may catch up to him, and to all of us.

Lanhee Chen: Why Not 50 Different Affordable Health-Care Plans?

The Wall Street Journal
Fri, 2015-03-13
If the Supreme Court in King v. Burwell strikes down subsidies to the buyers of health insurance on the federal exchange, President Obama will call on Congress to change the law to allow the subsidies. There also will be enormous pressure on elected officials to establish state exchanges in the 34 states that don’t have them. Instead, congressional Republicans should be laying the groundwork for market-friendly health reforms and devolving power to the states, meanwhile helping Americans who have difficulty purchasing coverage...

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