Some in Washington would have us believe there is only one way to provide relief to the millions of Americans trapped between paying the high cost of Obamacare or dropping coverage altogether: Send billions of taxpayer dollars to health insurance companies.
They’re wrong. There is a better way.
Short-term plans are just what the name implies – coverage for three to 12 months, but in most cases at a much lower cost to consumers because they are only paying for services they need and no longer paying for care they don’t need. For example, that could mean men no longer paying for maternity care. As a result of this increased customization, sky-high deductibles may finally start coming down for some Americans.
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This week the Texas Public Policy Foundation, on behalf of individual Texans burdened by Obamacare, filed to join the Texas-led, 20 state lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional as amended by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has already held that the individual mandate absent the tax penalty is unconstitutional,” said Robert Henneke, general counsel and director of the Center for the American Future at TPPF. “Now that Congress has set the tax penalty at zero, it no longer performs the essential function of a tax, which is to generate revenue for the federal government. Under the Supreme Court’s own analysis in the NFIB v. Sebulius case, there is no remaining legal basis on which to uphold the individual mandate, which cannot be severed from the Affordable Care Act as a whole. By joining this lawsuit, the Foundation seeks to accomplish what Congress has failed to do — fully strike down this unconstitutional law.”
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Thirty-nine health policy experts and representatives of a broad cross-section of organizations joined in signing a comment letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding its proposed rule on Short-Term, Limited-Duration Insurance.
They argue that the Obama administration exerted “regulatory overreach” in limiting the sale of short-term policies to 90 days and prohibiting their renewal “in an effort to limit the sale of these policies, constrain consumer choice, and impose federal regulations on a product whose regulation the statute reserves to the states.”
“We hope this will convince CMS to amend its proposed rule to allow, among other things, renewability of short-term policies,” said Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, who helped organize the letter.
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Short-term, limited duration (STLD) health insurance has long been offered to individuals through the non-group market and through associations. The product was designed for people who experience a temporary gap in health coverage.1 Unlike other products that are considered “limited benefit” or “excepted benefit” policies – such as cancer-only policies or hospital indemnity policies that pay a fixed dollar benefit per inpatient stay – short-term policies are generally considered to be “major medical” coverage; however, short-term policies are distinguished from other comprehensive major medical policies because they only provide coverage for a limited term, typically less than 365 days. Short-term policies are also characterized by other significant limitations, including the types of services covered, often with a dollar maximum.
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The federal contractor that operates ObamaCare call centers was accused of wage theft totaling more than $100 million over five years in complaints filed Monday.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) brought the complaints with the Department of Labor, alleging that the contractor, General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), has been underpaying its workers.
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The U.S. spends about 18% of its gross domestic product on health care, far more than most countries. One contributing factor that often goes overlooked: the high cost, in time and money, of becoming a physician. In a recent paper for the Mercatus Center, Jeffrey Flier and Jared Rhoads argue that the amount of time it takes to become a doctor—almost always at least a decade—constrains the supply, driving up prices. Physician incomes in the U.S. well exceed those in Europe; American generalists earn twice as much as Dutch ones.
Much of this education, especially courses required for a bachelor’s degree, has little to do with medicine.
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Louisiana’s health insurance market for individuals has been plagued in recent years by insurers fleeing the market and double-digit rate increases — prompting a proposed fix that would tack a fee on policies across the state to create a safety net against insurers’ losses and hold the line on runaway premiums.
The state Department of Insurance is pushing a bill through the Legislature that it says would lower premiums in the individual market by an average of 15 percent next year. The bill would put a roughly $1.25-a-month fee on every health-insured life in the state. That money, which one critic labeled a tax on business disguised as a fee, would go into what is called a reinsurance pool designed to protect insurers against high-cost patients.
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The Trump Administration has been looking for lifeboats for Americans trapped in ObamaCare exchanges, and one project is to expand “association health plans,” or AHPs, that let employers team up to offer coverage. But the fine print in the proposed Labor Department rule is causing concern and needs to be cleaned up.
The issue is whether the Trump rule will let association health plans set prices based on risk, which is how insurance is supposed to work. The point of the rule is to let businesses enjoy the flexibility that large employers have under a law known as Erisa. Under the Affordable Care Act bigger businesses have fared much better than those stuck in the small group market, which is heavily regulated.
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After 94-year-old Enid Stevens was treated for a spinal fracture at a hospital in Northern England last month, she was wheeled out from the overcrowded ward to a hallway, where she lay on a gurney, unable to easily alert nurses, for six days.
“The health service is failing,” said Wayne Stevens, Mrs. Stevens’s 40-year-old grandson. “It’s not just my grandmother—there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of grandmothers going through the same indignities.”
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As goes Iowa, so goes the nation — or at least that’s the conventional wisdom during presidential elections. Let’s hope the same rule applies to healthcare reform.
Earlier this month, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law that takes advantage of a major loophole in Obamacare. The legislation, based on a similar effort in Tennessee, enables any Iowan to enroll in a “health benefit plan” sponsored by the Iowa Farm Bureau. Due to a legal technicality, the plans aren’t subject to Obamacare’s premium-inflating regulations.
The reform is a laudable attempt to give consumers an affordable alternative to the plans for sale on Obamacare’s exchanges. Until Congress makes good on its promise to repeal and replace the law, other states can liberate their residents from the law’s financial burdens by following Iowa’s lead.
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