“The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear the most serious challenge to the Affordable Care Act since the justices found it constitutional more than two years ago: a lawsuit targeting the federal subsidies that help millions of Americans buy health insurance.
More than 4 million people receive the subsidies, which the Obama administration contends are essential to the act by making insurance more affordable for low- and middle-income families.”
“President Reagan gauged the success of a welfare program by how quickly people were able to move off government assistance and into remunerative work. Yet President Obama, the White House, and their allies are measuring the success of Obamacare by how many people can be enrolled in their new government entitlement programs.
The president celebrated the law’s “success” in getting seven million people enrolled in Medicaid and eight million (or so) people enrolled in exchange coverage, 87 percent of whom are receiving government subsidies for their insurance. And he hopes to lure another five million people onto Obamacare programs starting with the November 15 enrollment period. There is no expectation that participation in these government programs will be a temporary boost but rather that they will become a permanent fixture in people’s lives.”
“Tuesday’s re-election of Republican governors in closely contested races in Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin, Maine and Kansas dims the chances of Medicaid expansion in those states.
Advocates hoping for Democratic victories in those states were disappointed by the outcomes, but Alaska, which also has a Republican incumbent, remains in play as an independent challenger holds a narrow lead going into a count of absentee ballots.
“No one would say it was a good night for the prospects of Medicaid expansion,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University.”
“A lot of attention has been paid to what a shift in control of the Senate in the midterms might mean for the Affordable Care Act and other big policy issues. As ACA implementation has shifted to the states, governor’s races may be just as important, particularly when it comes to whether states expand Medicaid.
Six of the 23 states that have not expanded Medicaid have toss-up governor’s races: Alaska, where Republican incumbent Sean Parnell is running against independent Bill Walker; Florida, the most closely watched race, where former governor Charlie Christ, now running as a Democrat, is trying to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Scott; Georgia, where incumbent Republican Nathan Deal is trying to hold off Democratic state legislator Jason Carter; Kansas, where state legislator Paul Davis is challenging Gov. Sam Brownback; and Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker is being challenged by Mary Burke; and Maine, where Democratic state legislator Mike Michaud and independent Eliot Cutler are running against Gov. Paul LePage.”
“Health insurers increasingly are building and staffing bricks-and-mortar retail centers to potentially expand their membership base and, most importantly for now, enhance their brand image with the public.
The retail approach represents a major pivot in insurer tactics to grow their books of business brought on by changes in how consumers get insurance thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
“Most of us have long realized that the New York Times’ standards are low. Just look at who the Gray Lady endorses for president and other high political offices. But even we were a little surprised at what little it takes for the editors to call Obamacare a success.
The Times poses the question “Is the Affordable Care Act Working?” Given all the ACA’s problems, one could be forgiven for thinking it was a rhetorical question. It wasn’t. The paper asserts, “After a year fully in place, the Affordable Care Act has largely succeeded in delivering on President Obama’s main promises, an analysis by a team of reporters and data researchers shows.””
“Plans to find a way to expand Medicaid eligibility for Tennessee residents aren’t moving as quickly as expected, Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday morning.
The governor said he continues to work with federal health officials to find a solution that will work, but it’s taking longer than he had hoped.
“I would have hoped we would have made more progress by now, after the meeting we had up there five or six weeks ago,” Haslam said Tuesday morning after speaking at an education conference in Nashville.”
“Spoiler alert! When it comes to covering the uninsured, Obamacare has proven itself to be one giant expansion of Medicaid. A new report released Wednesday reveals the total coverage increase for the first half of 2014. While total coverage increased by 8,538,327 individuals, enrollment in Medicaid accounted for 71 percent of that growth. Check out the infographic below for the full breakdown of the numbers.”
“New language in contracts between the CMS and insurers operating on HealthCare.gov is grabbing attention, with some calling it an admission by the government that it might lose upcoming court battles dealing with insurance subsidies on the health portal and others saying the new wording is just a practical precaution.
The new language appears to allow insurers to stop offering their plans should federal premium subsidies disappear. A number of cases regarding the legality of the subsidies in states without their own exchanges are now working their way through the courts.
The language says, “CMS acknowledges that (the insurer) has developed its products for the (federal exchange) based on the assumption that (advance payments of the premium tax credit) and (cost-sharing reductions) will be available to qualifying enrollees. In the event that this assumption ceases to be valid during the term of this agreement, CMS acknowledges that issuer could have cause to terminate this agreement subject to applicable state and federal law.””
“The millions of health insurance cancellations caused by Obamacare don’t mean people are “losing insurance,” according to a top Health and Human Services official — they just mean people are being invited to join an Obamacare exchange.
HHS regional director Joanne Grossie spoke to the Virginia legislature about widespread cancellations. At least 250,000 Virginians will be losing their health insurance Jan. 1 because they don’t meet Obamacare regulations.
Republican state Sen. Jeff McWaters asked Grossie whether HHS knows how many people are going to lose coverage, but Grossie took issue with the idea that customers are even losing insurance.”