Almost no one saw it coming.
In 2012, Chief Justice John Roberts famously ruled the Affordable Care Act’s provision mandating most people purchase health insurance or else pay a fine constitutional on the basis that Congress has the authority to tax individuals, and the so-called Obamacare “fine” is effectively a tax.
As the now-deceased Justice Antonin Scalia pointed out in his dissenting opinion, in classifying the Obamacare penalty as a “tax,” Roberts ignored history, the language of the healthcare law, statements made by the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress, and common sense. (The obvious difference between a fine and a tax is that the purpose of a tax is to raise revenue, not to force people to behave in a particular way.)
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Last Friday, President Trump delivered a major speech from the White House Rose Garden on prescription drug prices. He announced several policies aimed at reducing the overall cost of pharmaceuticals and limiting patients’ out-of-pocket expenses.
His reform agenda, entitled “American Patients First,” is largely excellent. It mostly harnesses the power of free-market competition, rather than government price controls, to drive down costs for patients while continuing to incentivize drug manufacturers to invest in innovative, lifesaving research.
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New data from insurance company regulatory filings show that enrollment in the individual health insurance market declined significantly last year—by 10 percent, or 1.8 million people.
Over the three years prior to the implementation of Obamacare (2011 through 2013), enrollment in the individual market was basically stable—fluctuating narrowly between 11.8 million and 12 million persons. With the introduction of Obamacare, enrollment jumped to 16.5 million in 2014, peaked at 17.7 million in 2015, and then declined to 17.1 million in 2016.
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Well, that didn’t last long. Fewer than six months after Congress effectively repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate—and more than six months before that change actually takes effect, in January next year—another liberal group released a plan to reinstate it. The proposal comes as part of the Urban Institute’s recently released “Healthy America” plan.
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Yes. They could do it. But only if they accept two principles:
- All the Obamacare money must be used for health care – it can’t be used to cut taxes for the rich or for special interests.
- There must be a clear and sustainable path to lower premiums and better access to care.
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On Friday, the administration released a 44-page blueprint for executive action on drug pricing entitled “American Patients First.” The blueprint represents the most comprehensive, serious, and thorough effort by any presidential administration to address the problem of high prescription drug prices.The Trump plan involves two categories of reform: things the administration can do unilaterally, and things that it will call on Congress to enact. Friday’s release focused mainly on unilateral actions, but the Congressional piece is arguably more important, and has gone underappreciated by many observers.
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After years of losses, the U.S. health insurance industry figured out how make money from Obamacare last year, a new analysis shows.
The secret? Raising their prices.
The average cost of health insurance plans sold in the individual market climbed about 22 percent in 2017, as insurers boosted premiums well above what they spent on medical care. That left many in a profitable position for the first time since the Affordable Care Act went into effect, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released Thursday.
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First Charlie Gard and now Alfie Evans. These are babies who, though verbally silent, still gave clarion warnings to proponents of single-payer health care: The government — not my parents — is in charge of my life.
Charlie Gard was born in August 2015 with a rare genetic disorder that carried a poor long-term prognosis. In July 2017, little Charlie was just 23 months of age and on a ventilator. Over the objections of his parents, British doctors decided to withdraw life-sustaining care. According to British Courts, the National Health Service (NHS), the country’s single-payer system, is the ultimate medical decision maker — not the family. Ventilator support was withdrawn and Charlie died.
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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Wednesday he is working on a new version of his ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill and has not given up on efforts to do away with the law despite Republicans’ failure last year. “I haven’t given up,” Graham said. “Will there be another effort to replace ObamaCare with a state-centric plan? I hope so.”
The effort appears to have little, if any, chance of passing this year. Republican leadership has made clear that it has moved on from the ObamaCare repeal effort, and the GOP has an even slimmer margin in the Senate than they did last year when they failed to win enough votes for a bill.
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Oregon’s seven Obamacare insurers are asking for an average nearly 8 percent rate increase for 2019, with some plans calling for hikes of as much as 16 percent.
Of the seven insurers selling plans on the individual market and the law’s exchanges, six plan on raising rates next year between 5 percent and 16 percent. The other insurer aims to reduce rates by nearly 10 percent. Insurers that are proposing rate increases point to the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty in 2019 as a reason.
The news comes as Democrats and Obamacare allies are attempting to tie the GOP to any rate increases because of changes the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have made to the law.
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