Most Americans enrolled in health plans through the Affordable Care Act are happy with their coverage. But consumers are increasingly concerned about their monthly premiums and deductibles, reflecting rising anxiety among all Americans about their medical and insurance bills, a new national survey found.
Nearly 6 in 10 working-age Americans who have a health plan through one of the marketplaces created by the law said they are satisfied with their monthly premiums, and just over half say they are satisfied with their deductibles.
. . .
Let’s face it: When it comes to products most of us buy, health insurance is one of the least popular. And new survey results from the Kaiser Family Foundation out Friday morning find that sentiment reaching new lows.
Kaiser’s Larry Levitt said it makes perfect sense why consumers are feeling cranky about their coverage. “People are paying more, and in many cases getting less,” he said. The most obvious reason people aren’t psyched, Levitt said, is due to the explosion in health plans with high deductibles.
. . .
A plan the Clinton campaign unveiled in September would create a refundable tax credit worth as much as $2,500 per individual and $5,000 per family to cover out-of-pocket health-care expenses. Knowing there is a federal credit might give employees incentive to incur additional expenses to exceed the subsidy threshold. That would mean a credit aimed at mitigating the effects of rising health costs for some families could end up exacerbating the problem on a broader scale.
. . .
As senior House Republicans work on a promised replacement for the Affordable Care Act, a pair of GOP lawmakers plan to introduce an alternative Thursday that would dramatically reshape the nation’s healthcare system.
The sweeping legislation – co-sponsored by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) – stands little chance of becoming law as long as a Democrat is in the White House.
But just as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont shook up the Democratic presidential primary by pushing the liberal dream of a “single-payer” government-run health system, Sessions and Cassidy are resurrecting a long-held conservative goal of overhauling of the healthcare system by rewriting an important part of the tax code.
In the process, the two lawmakers are also highlighting the difficult trade-offs that would be necessary in any replacement for the health law President Obama signed in 2010, commonly called Obamacare.
. . .
Americans’ spending on prescription drugs has soared over the past few years. Hillary Clinton has blamed “price gouging” by drug companies and called for more Washington control. A far more likely culprit is actually ObamaCare. The health care law was sold on the false promise that costs would come down if Americans gave Washington more control over their health care. Instead, costs have soared in every aspect of health care, including prescription drugs.
. . .
The Supreme Court unanimously remanded a case challenging the ACA’s contraceptive mandate back to the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fifth, Tenth and D.C. Circuits. The decision will give the parties an opportunity to reach a compromise that “accommodates petitioners’ religious exercise” while ensuring women covered by the petitioner’s health plans receive coverage that includes contraception. The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which brought the lawsuit one behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor, called the ruling a win for the petitioners.
. . .
A federal judge’s decision Thursday that the Obama administration unconstitutionally spent money to pay for part of the Affordable Care Act may not disrupt health plans or beneficiaries right away. But the fresh uncertainty immediately delivered a blow to the share prices of hospitals and health insurers.
House Republicans alleged in a lawsuit that the administration illegally spent money that Congress never appropriated for the ACA’s cost-sharing provisions. Those provisions include reduced deductibles, copayments and coinsurance many Americans receive, depending on income, for plans purchased through the ACA’s insurance exchanges.
U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer agreed with House Republicans on Thursday, writing that appropriating the money without congressional approval violates the U.S. Constitution.
. . .
The House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans can’t find most of the $200 million that the Obama administration claims it recouped from state-based health care exchanges as part of a federal grant program to help them set up shop, according to a new report obtained by Morning Consult.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt told the committee in December that “over $200 million” had been returned to federal coffers from the state exchanges since the grant program went into effect.
. . .
Sen. Bernie Sanders has proposed paying for his policies that transform large sectors of the government and the economy mainly through increased taxes on wealthy Americans. A pair of new studies published Monday suggests Sanders would not come up with enough money using this approach, and that the poor and the middle class would have to pay more than Sanders has projected in order to fund his ideas.
The studies, published jointly by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center and the Urban Institute in Washington, concludes that Sanders’s plans are short a total of more than $18 trillion over a decade. His programs would cost the federal government about $33 trillion over that period, almost all of which would go toward Sanders’s proposed system of national health insurance. Yet the Democratic presidential candidate has put forward just $15 trillion in new taxes, the authors concluded.
The biggest victory for taxpayers in the Obamacare fight so far was the enactment in late 2014 of language prohibiting the Risk Corridor program from being transformed into an open-ended bailout for big insurance companies. Unfortunately that language is now being sidestepped by a scheme in which the Obama administration invited the big insurance companies to sue the government, which in turn is likely to take a dive on the lawsuit and then make the bailout payments anyway. It’s outrageous and must be stopped.
At the time Congress debated the funding restriction, both the Congressional Budget Office and the White House Office of Management and Budget agreed that the provision neither spent nor saved any taxpayer money. That was because the administration maintained the program would, as Obamacare supporters had always claimed, be run in a budget-neutral fashion, paying out to insurance companies only what the program itself had already collected from other insurance companies.
. . .