The House Ways and Means Committee advanced a bill Wednesday that would require people who improperly receive insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act to repay the overpayments.
The bill, offered by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), was approved by a vote of 22-14.
Jenkins told the committee the measure was a “simple bill,” about “good governance” and the “duty to protect the tax dollars of hardworking Americans.”
Enrollment in exchange coverage increased from 6.3 million at the end of 2014 to about 8.8 million, according to figures released by the administration at the end of last week.
But Obamacare’s coverage gains have also been more modest than expected, particularly when it comes to the exchanges. And part of the problem seems to be that people who sign up for coverage at the beginning of the year don’t always follow through to keep their coverage effective at the end of the year. It’s a problem that seems to be larger than the administration knew.
Along with releasing end-of-the-year 2015 enrollment data for the Affordable Care Act exchanges last Friday afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services also released data for the 2016 open enrollment period. Just like the end-of-the year 2015 enrollment data, which I discussed on Monday, a close look at the 2016 open enrollment data reveals that the ACA is significantly underperforming initial expectations.
The big story is how little has changed from 2015 to 2016. The number of 2016 exchange enrollees is up only slightly from last year, and the make-up of the risk pool—as proxied by income and age of enrollees—is virtually identical.
Vermont has filed a 1332 state innovation waiver to avoid building a website for its small-business insurance exchange. The state hopes to have those employers enroll directly through insurers.
Under the waiver, beginning Jan. 1, 2017, states can request that the federal government waive basically every major coverage component of the Affordable Care Act, including exchanges, benefit packages, and the individual and employer mandates. The only requirement is that a state’s healthcare coverage remains consistent and adequate. Vermont is the first state to send a finalized request (PDF) to the CMS.
House v. Burwell is far from resolution, but this case’s path through the federal courts and the threat it could pose to the Affordable Care Act show continued vulnerabilities of the health-care law as well as the stakes of the 2016 election.
A Commonwealth Fund report published Thursday looks at a provision in the health-care law that is at issue in the case. To soften the impact of out-of-pocket costs under Obamacare, the law requires insurers to reduce certain payments for individuals whose incomes are up to 250% of the federal poverty level if they purchase a “silver” plan through one of the insurance marketplaces. The law also says that insurers are to be repaid for the discounts.
A new analysis of deductibles across the country, relying on data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the federal agency overseeing the ACA, calculated weighted average deductibles by enrollment across gold, silver, and bronze plans.
All three categories increased by an average of $254, or 17 percent, in Pennsylvania this year. Silver plans – with 259,000 enrollees, the most popular in the state – now have deductibles averaging $2,632, while bronze plan deductibles average $6,118. New Jersey was hardly any better. All three plan categories increased by an average of $209, or 10 percent.
In other words, the 298,000 Pennsylvanians with bronze and silver plans will have to pay between $2,632 and $6,118 before their health-insurance coverage kicks in, while 163,000 New Jerseyans will have to pay hundreds of dollars more than last year.
Theresa O’Donnell, a Democratic-leaning voter complained that Obamacare caused her family’s health insurance premiums to double from $5,880 per year to $12,972 per year. “I would like to vote Democratic, but it’s costing me a lot of money,” O’Donnell pleaded. “I am just wondering if Democrats really realize how difficult it’s been on working-class Americans to finance Obamacare.” The audience applauded O’Donnell, showing once again that, really, not even Democrats like Obamacare.
Federal health officials approved loans to Obamacare health insurance co-ops despite “specific warnings” about across-the-board failures from Deloitte Consulting, according to a blistering Senate staff report released Thursday.
The report was released by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations at a hearing that featured Andy Slavitt, the embattled acting administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) — the section of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that manages Obamacare.
A $5 billion lawsuit filed by a nonprofit insurer against the Obama administration for a program implemented under Obamacare is raising questions about the use of a fund available for settlements with the government and whether Congress can, and should, intervene.
According to legal experts, if the Obama administration decided to settle its class action lawsuit with Health Republic Insurance of Oregon, one of 23 co-ops started under Obamacare, and other insurers for all or part of the $5 billion it’s seeking, the money would come from the Judgment Fund, an indefinite appropriation created by Congress and administered by the Department of Treasury.
The two principal expenditures of the Affordable Care Act so far include $850 billion for insurance subsidies and a similar outlay for a massive Medicaid expansion. The truth is that Medicaid—a program costing $500 billion a year that rises to $890 billion in 2024—funnels low-income families into substandard coverage. Instead of providing a pathway to excellent health care for poor Americans, ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion doubles down on their second-class health-care status.
Published studies have shown that pairing HSAs with high-deductible coverage reduceshealth-care costs. Patient spending averages 15% lower in high-deductible plans, with even more savings when paired with HSAs—without any consequent increases in emergency visits or hospitalizations and without a harmful impact on low-income families. Secondarily, wellness programs that HSA holders more commonly use improve chronic illnesses, reduce health claims and save money.