The Department of Health and Human Services will up their direct outreach to uninsured young adults, who they hope will enroll in the Affordable Care Act exchanges and help stabilize the markets.
HHS on Tuesday announced steps the department will take during the upcoming open enrollment period to enhance their outreach to people between ages 18 and 35 who they hope will purchase insurance policies on the federal exchanges. The announcement is the latest in a string of expected steps the department is announcing this month to strengthen the marketplace.
The department hopes to increase the number of young and healthy adults enrolled on the exchanges to improve the risk pools, which would help lower costs for all marketplace consumers.
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House Speaker Paul Ryan’s policy plan for health care, as expected, leans heavily on market forces, more so than the current system created by Obamacare. The proposal contains a host of previously proposed Republican ideas on health care, many of which are designed to drive people to private insurance markets.
Importantly for conservatives, as part of a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the current law’s mandates for individuals and insurers would disappear under the GOP plan. It would overhaul Medicare by transitioning to a premium support system under which beneficiaries would receive a set amount to pay for coverage. The plan also would alter Medicaid by implementing either per capita caps or block grants, based on a state’s preference.
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A House Republican alternative to Obamacare is coming this week, and some reports suggest it will include a refundable tax credit to subsidize health insurance. This would present some tough political and policy choices about whether and how to pay for a new program of tax credits.
Changing the tax treatment of employer-provided health insurance could provide one of the largest potential sources of financing for a new refundable credit. It also would bring hefty trade-offs. On the political side, capping the deductibility of employer-based health plans to finance refundable credits that are considered government spending would not please some Republicans. Put another way: Repealing Obamacare’s tax increases to replace them with other revenue increases is unlikely to go over well with conservative voters.
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Democrats should push for universal health coverage ahead of the November election, several health care advocates urged the committee drafting the Democratic National Committee’s platform at a recent session focused on health policy.
Their liberal health care proposals echo a similar theme from an environment-themed session the same day, in which activists criticized DNC members for not pushing harder on climate change.
The hearing was part of a series of regional events held by the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee “designed to engage every voice in the party.”
Too many people are still uninsured six years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, said many of the advocates who spoke before the committee in Phoenix on Friday. Still more are underinsured, they said, and people are struggling to pay for rising premiums and to afford prescription drugs.
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Oscar Health was going to be a new kind of insurance company. Started in 2012, just in time to offer plans to people buying insurance under the new federal health care law, the business promised to use technology to push less costly care and more consumer-friendly coverage.
“We’re trying to build something that’s going to turn the industry on its head,” Joshua Kushner, one of the company’s founders, said in 2014, as Oscar began to enroll its first customers.
These days, though, Oscar is more of a case study in how brutally tough it is to keep a business above water in the state marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act. And its struggles highlight a critical question about the act: Can insurance companies run a viable business in the individual market?
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A federal judge recently ruled that the Obama administration violated the Constitution by spending $7 billion on subsidies for insurance companies without Congress’s permission. Worse still, the administration knew all along that it was flouting the law.
If the ruling is upheld, Americans will face higher premiums and fewer choices in the health insurance market. If it comes to that, they’ll have President Obama to thank.
At issue are the Affordable Care Act’s “cost-sharing reduction” subsidies. Obamacare’s “essential benefits” mandates require all exchange policies to cover a long list of services, from maternity care to substance abuse treatment to speech pathology counseling. In a normal market, insurers would charge patients higher premiums, deductibles, and copayments to cover the costs of these extensive benefits.
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Alaska, one of the reddest states in the country, is essentially bailing out its insurance market to prevent Obamacare from collapsing.
A bill passed by the heavily GOP state Legislature to shore up its lone surviving Obamacare insurer is awaiting the signature of Gov. Bill Walker, a Republican-turned-independent who was endorsed two years ago by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The legislation, originally proposed by Walker, sets up a $55 million fund — financed through an existing tax on all insurance companies — to subsidize enrollees’ costs as the state struggles with Obamacare price spikes and an exodus by all except one insurance company.
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Policymakers are keeping their eyes on the 2016 Social Security and Medicare trustees’ report to see if the White House will stand by its projection that Medicare will be solvent until 2030. The Congressional Budget Office estimates funds (PDF) for the program will dry up in 2026.
Also of interest is whether the trustees will call for the creation of an Independent Payment Advisory Board called for in the Affordable Care Act to reign in Medicare costs if they grew faster than a set rate. But the board, called the death panel by ACA opponents, has not yet been created. There hasn’t been the need, and some say, the willingness to expend the political capital.
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Medicaid payments to hospitals and other providers play an important role in these providers’ finances, which can affect beneficiaries’ access to care. Medicaid hospital payments include base payments set by states or health plans and supplemental payments. Estimates of overall Medicaid payment to hospitals as a share of costs vary but range from 90% to 107%. While base Medicaid payments are typically below cost, the use of supplemental payments can increase payments above costs. Changes related to expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act as well as other changes related to Medicaid supplemental payments could have important implications for Medicaid payments to hospitals. This brief provides an overview of Medicaid payments for hospitals and explores the implications of the ACA Medicaid expansion as well as payment policy changes on hospital finances.
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Clinton says she wants to “build on” Obamacare — the very law that has failed to provide affordable, quality healthcare to millions of Americans. She believes that more government — more mandates, more regulations, more subsidies — will do the trick.
And if her initial reform plan fails, she has her next move planned: a government take-over of the healthcare sector.
Obamacare requires all policies sold on the exchanges to cover numerous benefits, like maternity care or substance abuse treatment. But these extras aren’t free. To cover their cost, insurers have had to raise premiums.
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