by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
The Obama administration could bail out Obamacare insurers through its risk-corridor program, according to an expert from the Mercatus Center.
The risk-corridor program was designed to constrain risk for health insurers who had uncertainty in pricing premiums for new plans they offered through Obamacare. The program was established and administered in years 2014, 2015, and 2016 and transferred funds from profitable insurers to insurers with losses.
In 2014, the risk-corridor program experienced a shortfall of more than $2.5 billion. Poorly performing insurers requested $2.87 billion in that year, while profitable insurers could only make up about $362 million, leaving a deficit of about $2.5 billion. Continue reading
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
Obamacare enrollees had trouble affording and accessing health care as well as understanding how to use their plans, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.
The top factors that Obamacare enrollees considered when selecting a plan in 2015 were the cost of premiums, deductibles, and copayments.
The auditors talked to stakeholders including policy experts, state departments of insurance, and exchange officials, and found that some Obamacare enrollees said the out-of-pocket expenses were too expensive before reaching their deductible. Continue reading
Instead of attempting an outright repeal of Obamacare, some in Congress are abdicating conservative principles and throwing the private sector under the bus in a reckless effort to kill the ACA.
The tool of choice in this instance is the so-called “transitional reinsurance” program (“reinsurance”) established by Section 1341 of Obamacare. It was designed as a temporary program to spread out the financial risk associated with providing health insurance to sicker patients in the individual market and exchanges.
Under its terms, health insurers, not the government, were required to pay into a fund that was to be distributed to those insurance plans that had risky patients with medical claims above a certain level.
Now that we’re approaching the end of this temporary program, in place from 2014-2016, some in Congress want to steal the money in this program (in order to precipitate a collapse in the overall ACA program) and instead give it to the U.S. Treasury – but for what? It’ll just be more federal largesse to spent by Obama and big spenders in Congress. Continue reading
New Hampshire residents will have even fewer choices for health insurance next year as Community Health Options announced last week that it is dumping the Granite State to concentrate on its core business in Maine.
One insurance company after another has decided that it can’t operate under the Affordable Care Act, especially after Congress shut down the “risk corridors” they had hoped to use to defray losses.
The entire Obamacare scheme was set up on faulty premises. You can’t force people to buy health insurance they don’t want, subsidize mediocre insurance plans people can’t afford, and still claim to hold down rising medical expenses. Continue reading
by Abigail Stevenson • CNBC
If politicians don’t fix the Affordable Care Act, then the vulnerable Blue Cross and local HMO plans — which serve as the backbone of Obamacare — must exit, said Robert Laszewski, the President of Health Policy and Strategy Associates.
“What the politicians need to do is to understand they have got about a year to fix this,” he said in an interview with CNBC’s “Closing Bell.”
Republicans do not want to fix the existing flaws for Obamacare, Laszewski said. Instead, they want to repeal and replace it. He added that Democrats are now stating that they would rather go to a single-payer insurance plan or a public option within a government-run plan. Continue reading
Aetna’s decision to abandon its ObamaCare expansion plans and rethink its participation altogether came as a surprise to many. It shouldn’t have. Everything that’s happened now was predicted by the law’s critics years ago.
Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said that this was supposed to be a break-even year for its ObamaCare business. Instead, the company has already lost $200 million, which it expect that to hit $320 million before the year it out. He said the company was abandoning plans to expand into five other states and is reviewing whether to stay in the 15 states where Aetna (AET) current sells ObamaCare plans.
Aetna’s announcement follows UnitedHealth Group’s (UNH) decision to leave most ObamaCare markets, Humana’s (HUM) decision to drop out of some, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s announcement that it was quitting the individual market in Minnesota, Continue reading
Administration stonewalled Congress, refusing to comply with subpoenas
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
Obama administration officials circumvented the Constitution and appropriations laws in sending taxpayer dollars to insurance companies for Obamacare payments, according to a joint report from the House Energy and Commerce and House Ways and Means committees.
A provision in Obamacare known as the cost sharing reduction program lowers deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance for individuals who qualify to provide extra savings. The Obama administration has been paying for this program without congressional appropriation since January 2014, despite the fact that the Constitution makes clear that the executive branch cannot spend taxpayer money without the approval of Congress.
The administration has been funding it through a permanent appropriation, which can only be used for specific programs including tax refunds and enumerated refundable tax credits. The permanent appropriation must be amended by Congress to include other programs. Continue reading
By M. Anthony Mills • RealClearPolitics
In 2016, the joker in the deck may come the first week of November — and it won’t be a surprise, just a shock: Fueled by the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, Americans’ health insurance premiums are likely to spike.
The policy debates that preoccupy Beltway insiders are often far removed from the concerns of most American voters. The Export-Import Bank, the intricacies of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory requirements, quantitative easing, and rules promulgated in obscure administrative agencies — this is not the stuff of middle-class anxiety. While such policy and regulatory decisions do affect citizens nationwide, it’s not always immediately obvious how. Not so jobs, wages, schools, and health care — these issues hit home. Continue reading
Says administration usurped Congress’s power of the purse
By Tom Howell Jr. • The Washington Times
A federal judge dealt President Obama and his health care law a major blow Thursday, ruling in favor of House Republicans who said the administration broke the law and trod on Congress’ fundamental powers by paying Obamacare insurers without permission from Capitol Hill.
An appeal is certain, but should U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer’s ruling be upheld, it could spark the economic “death spiral” Republicans have predicted and Democrats feared would doom the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
But the ruling has implications far beyond Obamacare, signaling that federal courts may begin to play a more active role in reeling in executive powers that many legal experts say have grown far beyond what the country’s founders intended. Continue reading
By T. Becket Adams • Washington Examiner
Charlie Rose and a trio of former Obama speechwriters laughed it up this week at the mention of the president’s infamous promise that that under the Affordable Care Act, “if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan.”
The moment occurred during the Monday edition of “Charlie Rose: The Week,” as the host and former speechwriters Jon Lovett, Jon Favreau and David Litt discussed the president’s writing abilities and his gift for oration.
Lovett mentioned that he was most proud of the president’s more serious speeches on the economy and healthcare, and that’s when Favreau ribbed him for the “you can keep your plan” line.
“My point is, do you have equal impact on serious speeches? Because it’s about style, use of language, etc.?” Rose asked. Continue reading
“I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.” That was President Obama in a speech before Congress back in Sept. 2009, pitching the health reform plan he’d sign six months later.
It doesn’t look like he’s going to get his wish.
In the three-plus years since the ObamaCare exchanges opened, the law is teetering on the edge of the abyss. Enrollment is well below expectations, not enough young people are signing up, insurers are failing or dropping out of the program, and, by all appearances, premiums are set to spike even higher than last year.
Now a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released late last week shows that the public is far from satisfied with what Obama claimed was the be-all and end-all of reform. Continue reading
If Hillary Clinton wants to defend Obamacare, fine. But she should explain to voters why the health care law is not working.
By John Daniel Davidson • The Federalist
Obamacare isn’t working. You wouldn’t know it from the scant media coverage, but six years after its passage, federal health-care reform has proven to be exactly what its critics said it would be: a trillion-dollar Rube Goldberg machine that doesn’t really work.
The law, although more unpopular now than it was when it passed, has quietly faded into the background of the presidential primary contests. That’s too bad, because Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has hitched her health-care wagon to this slow-motion disaster, and voters deserve to know why she thinks it’s so great—or at least why she thinks it just needs some tweaks, like larger exchange subsidies and tax credits for out-of-pocket costs. Continue reading
by Victor Davis Hanson • PJ Media
His hard-left politics have insidiously eroded the Democratic Party, which has lost both houses of Congress and the vast majority of the state legislatures, state elected offices, and governorships. Obama has redefined the black vote, as a necessary, no-margin-of-error 95% bloc majority to offset his similar creation of an increasingly monolithic 65% bloc white vote. We are no longer individual voters, but, in Chicago-politics style, merely faceless “Latinos,” “Asians,” “African-Americans,” “gays,” “women,” and now “whites.”
Obama issues a new initiative—and the nation snoozes. He wastes the day on the golf links—and the nation snoozes. He smear his critics, invites a rapper to the White House whose latest album cover has a dead white judge lying in front of the White House—and the nation snoozes. He cozies up to America’s enemies and snubs our friends—and the nation snoozes. For the nth time, he blusters about closing down Guantanamo—and the nation snoozes. He opens the border even wider to welcome in more illegal aliens and future constituents—and the nation snoozes. Lame duckestry means not even being able to wake up your opponents. Continue reading
by Philip Klein • Washington Examiner
On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that fewer than 13 million individuals signed up for Obamacare plans for 2016. Though the administration is trying to argue that this 12.7 million number beat expectations, nobody is buying it.
HHS officials set an artificially low target of 10 million signups for the year – essentially flat from 2015 – so they would have something to beat.
“While exchange enrollment will meet the Administration’s modest 10 million person goal, it does appear that growth in this market has slowed,” Caroline Pearson, a senior vice president of healthcare advisory firm Avalere said in a statement. Continue reading
By Edward Morrissey • The Fiscal Times
First, they argued that the United States had too many uninsured people, with estimates ranging from 30 million to 45 million.
Second, the rise in costs for health care outstripped inflation, and the market required an intervention that would bend the cost curve downward.
Third, Democrats claimed that insurance companies made too much profit and shorted most consumers on care, while those with generous health plans – so-called “Cadillac plans” – drove up utilization rates and costs for everyone else. Continue reading