A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Social Impact"

Unfavorable Views Of Health Law Spike In July: Poll

Kaiser Health News
Fri, 2014-08-01
"The health law’s unpopularity among the public rose sharply in July with a surge of disapproval from people who had been agnostic about it in recent months, a poll released Friday shows. The law is as unpopular as it has been since it was enacted four years ago. The poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 53 percent of the public had an unfavorable view of the law in July, the highest level since the law was passed in 2010. It was up from 45 percent in June. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.) The law’s unpopularity hit similar levels several times since passing, most recently in January when 50 percent of people disliked it. Support for the law in July remained about the same as in June, with 37 percent supporting it.

Lawmaker Challenges Top Obamacare Official’s Ties to HealthCare.gov Contractor

Melissa Quinn, The Daily Signal
Fri, 2014-08-01
"Andrew Slavitt, a former executive at the technology company tasked with “saving” HealthCare.gov and now second in command at the agency overseeing Obamacare, yesterday ran into sharp questions from a House panel about a potential conflict of interest in his new role. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., pressed Slavitt on his previous job at OptumInsight/QSSI and that company’s continuing involvement with HealthCare.gov. “How are you able to manage your former employer, and doesn’t this create a conflict of interest?” Griffith asked Slavitt during the new Obamacare official’s testimony before the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Slavitt, the new principal deputy administrator at Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, didn’t go into specifics, but said he had limited contact with his former employer.

Average California Obamacare Rate Increase Only 4%––Success!!!

Bob Laszewski
Thu, 2014-07-31
"The weighted average increase for plans being sold on the Obamacare California public exchange in 2015 will be 4%. So, that means Obamacare is working really well, right? Well, wait a minute. Let's consider a few things: 1.This week the California insurance commissioner reported that the average unsubsidized 2014 rate increase carriers charged going into Obamacare was between 22% and 82%. That was a pretty healthy bump to get everyone into Obamacare in the first place. 2.California voters will go to the polls this fall to vote on Proposition 45. That ballot initiative would regulate health insurance rates in California for the first time. Big rate increases on part of the carriers would do a lot to get that proposition passed and very low increases would do a lot toward defeating it. 3.The health plans competing in the Obamacare exchanges are limited to tiny losses this year because of the Obamacare reinsurance program that runs through 2016.

My Experience With Medicaid

By Jason Fodeman, M.D.
Thu, 2014-07-31
"The Affordable Care Act may be the law of the land, but some states are still doing their best to avoid it. Nearly half the states have refused to participate in the law’s expansion of Medicaid. Some describe this reluctance as tantamount to a moral crime—see Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s recent statement that expansion’s opponents are “prevent[ing] their own constituents from getting access to health care.” As a doctor, I know this isn’t true. Medicaid is sold to the public as a magic pill that will solve the poor’s inadequate access to medical care. But reality isn’t so simple. Simply put, Medicaid gives patients terrible access to medical care. A recent study found that nearly a third of doctors no longer accept new Medicaid patients. In some states, as many as 60 percent don’t. Why not? Because Medicaid operates in a world without economic logic. Bureaucrats in Washington dictate how much money doctors receive for the treatments and services they provide.

Report Touches Off Fight Over Future Of Doctor Training Program

Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News
Thu, 2014-07-31
"A high-level report recommending sweeping changes in how the government distributes $15 billion annually to subsidize the training of doctors has brought out the sharp scalpels of those who would be most immediately affected. The reaction also raises questions about the sensitive politics involved in redistributing a large pot of money that now goes disproportionately to teaching hospitals in the Northeast U.S. All of the changes recommended would have to be made by Congress. Released Tuesday, the report for the Institute of Medicine called for more accountability for the funds, two-thirds of which are provided by Medicare. It also called for an end to providing the money directly to the teaching hospitals and to dramatically alter the way the funds are paid. The funding in question is for graduate medical education (GME), the post-medical school training of interns and residents required before doctors can be licensed to practice in any state."

The Potential Side Effects of Halbig

Larry Levitt and Gary Claxton
Thu, 2014-07-31
"The recent decision of a three-judge panel in the Halbig case, if it prevails, would have a direct effect on the availability of subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). People buying coverage on their own in insurance exchanges run by the federal government would be ineligible for income-based subsidies. Depending on how you count, that would take premium subsidies away from 4.6 million people in 34 states, or 4.7 million people in 36 states if you count New Mexico and Idaho (which have signaled their intention to operate their own exchanges but are still using the federal marketplace). Many more people are eligible for subsidies but haven’t yet signed up.

It Wasn’t a Tax Before It Was a Tax: Court Upholds Obamacare Individual Mandate

Elizabeth Slattery, The Heritage Foundation
Thu, 2014-07-31
"A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled against a challenge to Obamacare’s individual mandate based on the origination clause of the Constitution. The Supreme Court held in NFIB v. Sebelius (2012) that Obamacare’s individual mandate was constitutional because it was a tax. The Constitution also says tax legislation must originate in the House. But the Obamacare individual mandate tax did not originate in the House. Senate Democrats took a House bill that provided tax credits to veterans purchasing new homes, gutted its language and “amended” it with the language that would become Obamacare. Todd Gaziano, one of the lawyers for Matt Sissel, likened this amendment to “the complete destruction of a house and the erection of a massive skyscraper on the same street address.” In a unanimous ruling in Tuesday’s case, Sissel v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the D.C.

Cover Oregon gave ex-technology director Aaron Karjala a $70,000 contract after resignation under pressure

Nick Budnick, The Oregonian
Tue, 2014-07-29
"Cover Oregon has given a $70,000 contract to Aaron Karjala, the health insurance exchange's former top technology official, to assist with litigation against Oracle Corp. Clyde Hamstreet, formerly the exchange's acting executive director, signed the contract with Karjala June 3, less than three months after Gov. John Kitzhaber publicly called for his firing."

Consumers asked to verify income, other information — or risk losing government subsidies for health insurance

Daniel Chang and Nick Madigan, Miami Herald
Tue, 2014-07-29
"Luis Martinez of Hialeah survived two heart attacks during the more than 10 years that he went without health insurance. So he was relieved to finally find coverage on the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchange in March, two weeks before the enrollment deadline. But four months after he and his wife signed up for a subsidized, bronze-level health plan with Coventry, Martinez, 51, said he feels as though he has fallen into a black hole of government bureaucracy while trying to prove his income and his wife’s citizenship in order to keep their coverage, part of a national effort to verify policyholders’ eligibility.

Warner-Gillespie debate offers look at the politics of health care

Markus Schmidt, Richmond Times-Dispatch
Mon, 2014-07-28
"When Sen. Mark R. Warner faces his Republican challenger Ed Gillespie in their first debate today at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, the two are likely to clash over the Democrat’s support for the Affordable Care Act, which Gillespie wants to see repealed. But seven months after entering the race, seven weeks after his nomination as the GOP candidate and three months before the November election, Gillespie, who has repeatedly attacked his opponent for “casting the deciding vote” for the health care law, has yet to roll out his own ideas for policies that would replace the measure. “I do believe there are reforms that would be helpful,” the former GOP strategist and chairman of the Republican National Committee said in an interview last month. “(But) I haven’t finalized or settled on these in terms of the policy moving forward.”"

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