Audits and investigations into the effects of ObamaCare from congressional committees, government auditors, advocacy groups, and others.
The federal government shelled out $2.4 billion in loans to a series of non-profit health plans under Obamacare, but now they’re struggling to stay alive.
The plans, dubbed CO-OPs (Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans) were intended to increase competition in the insurance market and serve as a check on private insurers by providing an alternative that wasn’t focused on profit. They were a compromise measure intended to satisfy liberals who wanted the law to set up a fully government-run health insurance option.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken formal action in response to concerns about the finances of four of the new nonprofit, member-owned CO-OP health plans, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS OIG).
Across the country, governors and state lawmakers have circled “2017” on their calendars. This is the first year that the enhanced federal funding for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion starts to fade away and states will have to scramble to find new funds to pick up their share of the expense. As it turns out, “free money” comes at a cost.
But a new report from the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) reveals that the fiscal pain soon coming to states may be even worse than anticipated.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said Tuesday that the Government Accountability Office has not told HHS how 11 fictitious applicants were able to maintain coverage as fictitious applicants on Healthcare.gov in an undercover investigation.
“We have asked the GAO in terms of ‘can we understand how you did this, they believe they are protecting their sources and methods,” Burwell said at a House Education and Workforce hearing Tuesday.
After the Supreme Court’s bizarre decision validating the IRS’ illegal Obamacare rule, Congress is opening a new chapter in the debate over the health overhaul law by focusing on oversight and investigations to protect taxpayers and the rule of law.
One primary goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to expand access to affordable health care. However, in the five years since the ACA’s passage, we have found that while more people have health insurance, they do not necessarily have access to affordable health care.
In order to pay for the subsidies that have facilitated the expansion of health insurance coverage, many recipients of federal funds were forced to accept payment reductions. Hospitals were faced with cuts of $260 billion over ten years. These reductions came in the form of delayed payment updates for Medicare hospital services and reduced Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments meant to compensate hospitals for treating a high percentage of patients for whom the hospital is often inadequately reimbursed. The justification for the cuts to hospital payments was based on assumptions that, by increasing insurance coverage to millions of people, fewer individuals would go to the emergency room (ER) to receive care—where they would potentially be treated for free subject to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA)—and instead could seek care in non-hospital settings such as physician offices, outpatient clinics, urgent care centers, etc.
A report scheduled for release Monday by a conservative-leaning think tank accuses state officials of misleading the federal government and the public about the Massachusetts Health Connector’s readiness to launch its new website in October 2013.
The report from the Pioneer Institute draws on public audit reports and interviews with anonymous people described as “whistle-blowers” to detail what they characterize as a bungled effort by the University of Massachusetts Medical School, software developer CGI, and the Connector to upgrade the Connector’s software in 2012 and 2013.
The Connector — designed to link people with health insurance when they don’t have another source — eventually ended its relationships with UMass and CGI.
In 2011, analysts were speculating that Assurant Health might exit the insurance business, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last week. So the recent news that Assurant’s parent company was looking to “sell or shut down” the insurance carrier by year’s end was not a total surprise. The issue now is whether its demise holds larger lessons about Obamacare’s impact on insurance markets.
One analyst called Assurant, which reported operating losses of nearly $64 million in fiscal 2014 and $84 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2015, a “casualty” of the law. The Affordable Care Act “required health plans to cover a package of basic benefits and required health insurers to spend at least 80 cents of every premium dollar on medical care or quality initiatives,” the Journal-Sentinel reported. Simply put, the law made health insurance more like a regulated utility—with plan designs, benefits, and overhead costs strictly regulated.
Obamacare supporters generally argue that these regulatory changes eliminate the potential for customer confusion or the sale of “substandard” insurance products. But further Journal-Sentinel reporting underscores a complication of that approach:
Three-quarters of emergency physicians say they’ve seen ER patient visits surge since Obamacare took effect — just the opposite of what many Americans expected would happen.
A poll released today by the American College of Emergency Physicians shows that 28% of 2,099 doctors surveyed nationally saw large increases in volume, while 47% saw slight increases. By contrast, fewer than half of doctors reported any increases last year in the early days of the Affordable Care Act.
Such hikes run counter to one of the goals of the health care overhaul, which is to reduce pressure on emergency rooms by getting more people insured through Medicaid or subsidized private coverage and providing better access to primary care.
A major reason that hasn’t happened is there simply aren’t enough primary care physicians to handle all the newly insured patients, says ACEP President Mike Gerardi, an emergency physician in New Jersey.
Republicans are being ridiculed by the right and the left for weighing ideas that would rescue ObamaCare health insurance policies for people in 37 states if the petitioners prevail in King v Burwell.
“Republicans Are Now Trying To Pass Obamacare Extension To Save Their Own Asses,” writes Allen Clifton in Forward Progressives. “GOP Gets Ready to Save the Day If the Court Strikes Down Obamacare Subsidies,” says Rush Limbaugh.
If the Supreme Court decides against the Obama administration in the case, leaders in Congress are indeed determined to pass legislation to protect coverage for an estimated six million people. ObamaCare has so distorted the market for individually-purchased and small group health insurance that Congress has little choice but to throw them a safety net.