A Senate panel found that the government ignored warning signs that Obamacare co-op plans were a bad bet when it doled out $1.2 billion in taxpayer funds to them.
The report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, released during a hearing Thursday, found that in 2014 the Department of Health and Human Services gave out loans to failed consumer-oriented and operated plans, called co-ops, despite clear warning signs they weren’t reliable.
The co-ops were created to spur more competition on the Obamacare exchanges. However, of the 23 taxpayer-funded co-ops, 12 have shut down.
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Most people who got tax credits to buy insurance under the federal health law will be repaying part of them for the second year in a row, according to a leading tax preparer.
H&R Block Inc. executives said Tuesday that, to date, 60% of 2015 tax filers with the credit have found that they owe the government money because they had been credited too much. That is up from 52% last year, the first year in which filers had to reckon with reporting the credit and figuring out if their income projections had been accurate.
On average, tax filers were repaying almost $580 each for excessive credits, up from $530 for overpayments during the 2014 filing year.
If you bought health insurance last year through Obamacare, you may be pleasantly surprised at tax time to find out you have money coming to you.
But it’s just as likely the surprise will go the other way: You might owe Uncle Sam some money if the government subsidy you received for buying insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace was too large based on your income. And if you skipped buying health insurance entirely, you probably will face a penalty. On average, those penalties this year are running $383 among H&R Block customers. That’s an increase from $172 a year ago.
If this is confusing or unpleasant, don’t decide to ignore the matter.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is opening a new front in his attacks on ObamaCare as he campaigns for president.
After trying to bring publicity to his efforts to limit the Affordable Care Act’s “risk corridors” program, Rubio and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the chairman of the Finance Committee and a campaign backer, wrote a letter on Tuesday arguing that the Obama administration is breaking the law with another “bailout” of insurance companies.
Their letter concerns ObamaCare’s “reinsurance” program, designed to protect insurers against high costs for sicker enrollees in the early years of the law. Under the program, the government collects money from insurers and then redistributes it to those with high-cost enrollees.
The Federal government wants to leave doctors and hospitals on the hook for medical bills unpaid by the failed ObamaCare co-ops.
A top official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told Congress that the government, not medical providers, has the first right to any remaining co-op funds. This CMS policy ignores a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision that says the federal government is next to last in line for payment in insurance cases, and policyholders should come first.
Twelve of the 24 co-ops funded through the ACA have failed and are going through the liquidation process. At least 800,000 people have had to find other coverage after their co-op policies were cancelled.
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Most of the criticism of Obamacare by its right-of-center opponents has focused on its regulatory mandates, botched implementation and rising premiums for less-favored purchasers. Far less attention has been paid to how little the new health law accomplished in fulfilling its advocates’ promises to boost the growth of small business and new entrepreneurial start-up firms.
The Bureau of Commercereports that new business formation inched up slightly for a few years from its low point in 2010 – after four years of decline. But its 2013 figure of 406,000 new businesses remains far below the recent pre-recession peak number of 560,000 in 2006.
Similar measures of entrepreneurial activity by the Kauffman Foundation find modest evidence of recent upticks, but levels still below historical norms.
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President Barack Obama was in Milwaukee Thursday to congratulate the city for winning a federal health insurance sign up contest during the latest open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act.
Gov. Scott Walker said greater enrollment is good, but the complaints he says he hears about the law are bad.
“What we hear routinely from small business owners and farmers across the state is that it’s anything but affordable,” Walker said. “They’ve actually seen their health care costs go on up dramatically even with the so-called Affordable Care Act.”
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This year my family joined millions of others whose health-insurance premium has become their biggest annual expense. More than our mortgage. More than our property taxes. More than our state income tax. More than our annual food or energy costs. With this year’s $194-a-month premium increase, I could roughly buy a Chevy Sonic or Ford Fiesta. Since 1999 our premiums are up 350%. Bad as this is, the story gets worse.
Each year our family is subject to paying health-insurance premiums and, if we see a doctor, deductibles and copays. Think of this total exposure as “health-care cost risk”—the sum of certain payments (premiums) plus the potential payments you could incur (copays and deductibles).
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As of the end of the third open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, 12.7 million people had signed up for coverage in the health insurance marketplaces, up from 11.7 million last year and 8.0 million in 2014.
Actual enrollment will end up somewhat lower than this because some people will not pay their premiums or will have their coverage terminated due to inconsistencies on their applications, and there is typically additional attrition as the year progresses (e.g., as some enrollees get jobs with health benefits).
While enrollment is in line with the HHS target announced in advance of this year’s open enrollment, it is short of earlier projections by the Congressional Budget Office, which became an implicit yardstick for judging the law. In March 2015, CBO projected average monthly marketplace enrollment of 21 million in calendar year 2016, though recently lowered that forecast to 13 million.
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The Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, is one of the more notorious provisions of the Affordable Care Act because it is the perfect embodiment of belief in technocratic expertise. The IPAB’s 15 “expert” members would have great power and little accountability.
Since the law’s passage in 2010, opponents have successfully publicized the danger the IPAB poses to sensible Medicare policy and constitutional self-government, to the point that many in Congress now assume it will never go into effect. In June 2015, the House passed legislation to repeal the IPAB in its entirety.
And, yet, it is also clear that Congress’ attention is elsewhere. The slowdown in Medicare spending growth in recent years has made the IPAB less relevant – for now.
But IPAB’s demise is not a foregone conclusion, especially when Medicare spending growth accelerates again, as it almost inevitably will.