Political uncertainty isn’t the only threat to the Affordable Care Act’s future. Cracks also are spreading through a major pillar supporting the law
Health insurance exchanges created to help millions of people find coverage are turning into money-losing ventures for many insurers.
The nation’s largest, UnitedHealth Group Inc., could lose as much as $475 million on its exchange business this year and may not participate in 2017. Another major insurer, Aetna, has questioned the viability of the exchanges. And a dozen nonprofit insurance cooperatives created by the law have already closed, forcing around 750,000 people to find new plans.
More insurer defections would lead to fewer coverage choices on the exchanges and could eventually undermine the law, provided the next president wants to keep it.
The recent lawsuit filed by the Health Republic Insurance Company of Oregon regarding ObamaCare’s “risk corridor” program raises the question: Does the federal government have a duty to defend the lawsuit? Could they confess that the plaintiffs are right, or, better still, settle the case for the face value? Nicholas Bagley of the University Of Michigan School Of Law does not think the feds will do that while they can still argue that the claims are unripe. But if the case gets past the initial procedural hurdles, they’ll be sorely tempted to cut a deal.
Consumers who try to sign up for insurance after the Obamacare open enrollment period will soon need to submit proof that they are eligible for most special enrollment periods, federal health officials announced Wednesday.
This new confirmation process, which is expected to start in the next few months, will only affect those living in the 38 states that use the federal Healthcare.gov site.
It addresses complaints from insurance companies that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was allowing too many people to buy insurance after the open enrollment deadline passed. This, insurers said, left them with many consumers who waited until they were sick to sign up and then dropped coverage after they received treatment. And the companies claim that created a sicker-than-expected pool of customers that was contributing to the losses on Affordable Care Act exchange plans.
Leaders of some health cooperatives set up under the Affordable Care Act said it would be hard for the Obama administration to recoup more than $1 billion in federal loans made to some of the organizations that are now defunct, because most of the money has been spent.
A group representing existing co-ops, as well as leaders of some of the organizations, said there is little of the federal loan money remaining and some of what is left is needed to pay providers whose bills have yet to be paid. Obama administration officials have said they plan to use every available tool to recoup the federal loans, including legal action.
Thousands of doctors, hospitals and other providers in some states still haven’t been paid for health services they provided to members insured by the co-ops, which are organizations set up under the health law to offer health insurance to consumers and cut costs by giving established insurers more competition.
Health Republic Insurance Company of Oregon, a Lake Oswego-based insurer that is phasing down its operations, on Wednesday filed a $5 billion class action lawsuit on behalf of insurers it says were shorted by the federal government under an ObamaCare program.
The lawsuit, filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims, focuses on a program that was intended to offset insurer losses in the early years of the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Instead, payments to insurers under the “risk corridor” program amounted to 12.6 percent of the amount expected for 2014, and are expected to be similarly low for 2015.
Federal law and regulations “are unequivocal about the payments the Government must make,” according to the lawsuit. “The law is clear: the Government must abide by its statutory obligations.”
With billions in taxpayer dollars at stake, the Obama administration has taken a “passive” approach to identifying potential fraud involving the president’s health care law, nonpartisan congressional investigators say in a report released Wednesday.
While the Government Accountability Office stopped short of alleging widespread cheating in President Barack Obama’s signature program, investigators found that the administration has struggled to resolve eligibility questions affecting millions of initial applications and hundreds of thousands of consumers who were actually approved for benefits.
The agency administering the health law — the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services — “has assumed a passive approach to identifying and preventing fraud,” the GAO report said. In a formal written response, the administration agreed with eight GAO recommendations while maintaining that it applies “best practices” to fraud control.
A new report dives into the problem-plagued development of the ObamaCare website and finds repeated warning signs that went unheeded before its failed launch.
President Obama has called the launch of healthcare.gov a “well-documented disaster,” and a Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General report provides a new in-depth look at the problems and lessons learned.
The IG report finds that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees healthcare.gov, received 18 “documented warnings” of problems with the site’s construction between July 2011 and July 2013. But the warnings were either not communicated across the agency or not acted upon, the report says.
A response to questions from Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) about federal spending on state-based ObamaCare exchanges reveals the improper spending of one million dollars in Arkansas. The states setting up their own exchanges have spent more than $3.2 billion in federal funds, and many of those states have presided over failed exchanges and have opted to have their citizens routed to the federal healthcare.gov ObamaCare exchange.
Responding to Sen. Cornyn, Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services Acting Administration Andrew Slavitt wrote, “as part of CMS’s routine federal oversight of (exchanges), CMS found that the Arkansas SBM spent approximately $1 million of the state’s federal grant funding for activities that are not allowed under regulations.”
In a recent letter addressed to Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), ObamaCare chief Andy Slavitt said the federal government will “recover its fair portion” of funds in the event a failed ObamaCare state exchange reaches a settlement with contractors.
Given that the federal government funded the overwhelming majority of state exchange projects with $5.5 billion in taxpayer funds, “fair portion” should be close to 100 percent.
Recently, Maryland reached a $45 million settlement with a contractor stemming from its state exchange debacle. But despite financing the Maryland exchange to the tune of nearly $200 million the federal government will receive only 70 percent of funds from the settlement.
Earlier this year a report from the University of Pennsylvania found all but the most heavily subsidized ObamaCare enrollees would generally be better off financially if they forgo coverage and pay for their own medical care out of pocket. The group whose incomes fall between 1.38 and 1.75 times the poverty level will spend about three times the amount on premiums for a Silver plan as their out of pocket health care spending had they remained uninsured. For those earning more than 250 percent of poverty, most will be worse off financially compared to having remained uninsured. By design Obamacare is a bad deal for most people! Basically, except for the unlucky few who experience catastrophic health complaints, the vast majority of ObamaCare enrollees would be better off uninsured.