Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich remembers the day 23 years ago when Hillary Clinton, notebook in hand, came to see him and other senior Republicans to talk about “Hillarycare.”
It was early 1993. Clinton, on behalf of her husband, then-President Bill Clinton, was leading a healthcare reform drive that vaulted her onto the national stage.
Hillarycare would famously collapse after a fierce debate. In interviews with Reuters, some participants looked back on it as a crucible for the Democratic presidential front-runner that helped shape her approach to politics and governing.
. . .
While it will be months before insurers and regulators agree to final rates for the coming year, a new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis confirms the signals we have seen from industry and government experts — that consumers and the federal government are likely to see much higher prices in many markets. Clearly, insurers are struggling to figure out how much to charge so they can cover their costs but still attract customers.
As health care reporters, we’ve been debating exactly how worried one should be about the fate of the Affordable Care Act, known informally as Obamacare, in the face of steep rate increases next year.
. . .
The White House is urging states to be more aggressive against health insurance companies as it looks to prevent expected and widespread premium hikes of 10 percent or more this year.
The federal health department announced Wednesday that it will dole out about $22 million to boost state-level “rate reviews,” considered one of the strongest weapons against premium increases.
Under the system, health insurers are required to justify rate increases to state insurance departments, some of which have the power to reject “unreasonable” increases. With the new funding, federal health officials hope states can hire outside insurance experts to dig deeper into the proposed rates and prove the hikes are unjustified.
. . .
A proposed Medicare experiment encouraging doctors to use cheaper meds is either a necessary fix for America’s high drug prices — or the first step to President Donald Trump dismantling Obamacare.
It all depends whom you ask. And experts interviewed for POLITICO’s “Pulse Check” podcast showed the sides couldn’t be further apart.
The Obama administration’s Medicare experiment would test whether the program’s payment system encourages doctors to prescribe more expensive drugs, since they’re paid a set percentage of a drug’s price — therefore getting more for a higher-cost drug.
. . .
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) released a letter to the Obama administration on Thursday asking what it will do to help Ohioans who received coverage from a failed Obamacare co-op.
Last month the nonprofit co-op InHealth announced that it would be liquidated and taken over by the state. It provided health coverage to about 22,000 state residents. In his letter, Portman said those enrollees now must choose between getting new insurance and starting over paying a new deductible, or paying the tax penalty for not having health insurance.
. . .
Premiums for health plans sold through the federal insurance exchange could jump substantially next year, perhaps more than at any point since the Affordable Care Act marketplaces began in 2013.
An early analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that proposed rates for benchmark silver plans — the plans in that popular tier of coverage that determine enrollees’ tax subsidies — are projected to go up an average of 10 percent across 14 major metropolitan areas.
The analysis, released Wednesday, is based on insurers’ initial filings in 13 states and the District of Columbia.
. . .
Next year’s premiums for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act could rise more than in past years in most markets and declines might be rare, according to a preliminary analysis of insurers’ plans.
Overall, premiums for a popular type of plan — the second-lowest silver plan — could rise 10 percent on average next year in 14 major metropolitan areas, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser based its projections on insurers’ preliminary rates filed with state regulators, which remain subject to state or federal review. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)
Last year, premiums for the second-lowest silver plan in those metro areas rose 5 percent after state insurance departments signed off, Kaiser said.
. . .
More than half of the states have disclosed just how much higher their health care premiums could be next year under the Affordable Care Act, and some of the potential increases are jaw-dropping.
But Illinois residents won’t get their first look at proposed 2017 premiums until Aug. 1, and that has consumer advocates frustrated.
Insurance companies had to submit rate plans for Illinois in April, but the state doesn’t require the proposals to be made public upon filing, according to the Department of Insurance. In addition, the director of the department considers health plan filings confidential and exempt from Freedom of Information requests.
. . .
Consumers are facing the prospect of significant premium increases for health insurance next year and faulty ACA provisions are at least partly to blame.
For example, people have figured out they can get a year’s worth of medical care while paying just nine months of premiums. They also can wait to sign up for health insurance after they get sick and get the care they need. And young people are required to pay much more for health coverage than they expect to need in medical services so many just don’t enroll.
. . .
Obamacare has invented a dangerous new way to hide federal spending, including more than $100 billion designed to look like tax cuts.
In defiance of standard United States government accounting practices (and the government’s standard definitions of terms), Obamacare labels its direct outlays to insurance companies “tax credits” (not outlays)—even though they don’t actually cut anyone’s taxes. In this way, Obamacare is masking some $104 billion in federal spending over a decade.
. . .