The conservative dream of complete Obamacare repeal may be mostly dead, as Vox’s Dylan Scott suggested early this week, but as fans of The Princess Bride know, there’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.
The Hill reports that, in an effort to keep their repeal chances from expiring completely, conservative groups led by the Heritage Foundation, the Galen Institute and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) are hoping to issue a new Obamacare replacement plan this month.
. . .
Any Republican attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act must address Medicaid, which has literally become the 800-pound gorilla in the health-care policy room. Simply rolling back the ACA’s Medicaid expansion would spike the number of uninsured Americans and expose Congress and the Trump administration to withering criticism. On the other hand, leaving Medicaid unchanged exposes the federal budget to the program’s unsustainable cost trajectory: Federal Medicaid spending has doubled over the past decade.
. . .
Major insurers participating in Obamacare have won approval for substantial premium hikes next year in a dozen or more states. The increases range as high as 30 percent to 50 percent, according to new data.
Shaken by the decisions of Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield and other giants to pull out of many states after incurring hundreds of millions in losses, state insurance regulators appear more than willing to go along with these rate increases to prop up insurers remaining in the program.
. . .
The odds remain fairly good that the Democrats can regain control of the Senate in November, especially if Democratic presidential nominee continues her strong showing against Republican businessman Donald Trump in the polls.
At least seven Republican-held seats are seen as being in play, including Illinois, New Hampshire, Indiana and Wisconsin, as well as the three crucial swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Four other races — including veteran Republican Sen. John McCain’s reelection effort in Arizona — are deemed competitive by political experts.
. . .
In the wake of Aetna’s recent announcement that it was pulling up stakes in 11 of 15 states where it had been selling insurance on Obamacare exchanges, there are more alarming signs that other major insurers are struggling to remain in the game.
On Tuesday, three of the major players in Tennessee — Cigna Health Insurance, Humana and Blue Cross Blue Shield — were granted huge double-digit premium increases for the 2017 season beginning in January amid a warning from the state’s insurance commissioner that the Obamacare markets were “very near collapse.”
. . .
Over the past year, a new wrinkle has emerged. Federally subsidized co-ops included in the ACA after the defeat of the government-payer “public option” began failing rapidly when Congress limited their potential subsidy to taxes collected through the ACA. Most of them have now closed after having lost access to nearly unlimited amounts of red ink in the HHS budget. Joining them are a growing number of private insurers, unhappy about the losses they continue to absorb in Obamacare exchanges.
In short, the individual markets keep marching closer and closer to collapse. Whether or not the imposition of a single-payer system on all Americans in a crisis was the secret plan all along for ACA advocates, the existential crisis for this market is nearly upon us. This is the time to spring socialized medicine in the US, right?
. . .
Consumers who purchase their insurance through the public exchanges will likely see prices rise again next year, according to a new analysis of proposed premiums for next year.
The Avalere Health analysis of 14 states where data is available finds that premium increases for average silver plans would go up by 11 percent. Lower-cost silver plans would increase a bit less, by 8 percent.
. . .
As Hillary Clinton prepares to take another big step toward supporting liberal calls for universal health care coverage, a new study concludes that Donald Trump’s proposals for replacing Obamacare would strip nearly 18 million mostly low-income Americans of their current coverage.
The study by the non-partisan Center for Health and Economy provides the first detailed analysis of the presumptive GOP nominee’s scattershot proposals on health care. They include removing barriers to the sale of health insurance across state lines, expanding the use of health savings accounts to mitigate the cost of high-deductible insurance policies and allowing households to deduct premiums from their taxable income.
. . .
Insurers helped cheerlead the creation of Obamacare, with plenty of encouragement – and pressure – from Democrats and the Obama administration. As long as the Affordable Care Act included an individual mandate that forced Americans to buy its product, insurers offered political cover for the government takeover of the individual-plan marketplaces. With the prospect of tens of millions of new customers forced into the market for comprehensive health-insurance plans, whether they needed that coverage or not, underwriters saw potential for a massive windfall of profits.
Six years later, those dreams have failed to materialize. Now some insurers want taxpayers to provide them the profits to which they feel entitled — not through superior products and services, but through lawsuits.
. . .
The number of part-time workers in jobs for economic reasons shot up by 468,000, apart from the 458,000 that left the workforce altogether. Slack work or business conditions accounted for 181,000 of these jobs, while another 77,000 could only find part-time work.
Analysts at Goldman Sachs have noticed this trend for some time, and put the blame on Obamacare.
“The evidence suggests that the [Affordable Care Act] has at least modestly elevated involuntary part-time employment,” Goldman Sachs economist Alec Philips wrote in a research note published on Wednesday. Obamacare had the greatest impact on industries that traditionally do not offer strong health insurance coverage, such as retail stores and the hospitality industry. Phillips noted that these have the highest levels of involuntary part-time workers, and believes that the ACA has forced “a few hundred thousand” to take cuts in hours or accept part-time work as a result.
. . .