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Controversy — Small Business & Health Insurance

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, November 6, 2018


Small businesses around the country are shopping for health insurance. In some states for the first time since the advent of ObamaCare, you may have the choice of joining forces with other businesses to buy cheaper insurance.

The Labor Department has issued rules that let sole proprietors and other business owners to combine to form association health plans or AHIP. Those plans are not required to have the Affordable Care Act’s rules on basic coverage.

At least for now those plans won’t be available in some states — like the PIA Western Alliance states of Oregon, Washington and California. Those states are involved in a lawsuit to overturn the Trump administration rule to allow these policies to be sold and for these groups to be formed.

And many insurance departments — since states regulate insurance and not the federal government — have rules against the administration’s rule changes. So that may make it nearly impossible — in many cases — for those plans to form.

Though some who’ve been part of groups like this say they’ve saved up to 20% in premium costs, critics worry that the businesses forming these associations will become victims of scammers.

Besides Oregon, Washington and California, the other states participating in the suit are New York, Massachusetts, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia and Virginia.

Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is a very vocal critic of the administration’s relaxation of ObamaCare regulations. He has adopted a rule for his state that restricts the sale of short-term limited duration (STLD) medical plans to three months. It also prohibits renewal, and requires improved disclosure to consumers about coverage limits.

In other words, Kreidler says short-term, limited duration plans are not considered health insurance under Washington’s laws.

“Some consumers may be caught in a coverage gap and really need a short-term medical plan. But they need to beware of the limits of the coverage they’re buying. We’ve heard horror stories from people who either had or developed a serious medical condition while covered by one of these plans and were left with huge medical bills,” he said.

He also worries that these plans do away with pre-existing conditions coverage and he has been critical of the Trump administration’s push to not enforce them. “The only coverage that guarantees that protection is the Affordable Care Act. Currently, President Trump and 20 states have asked a Texas federal court to overturn the law and revoke protections for pre-existing conditions,” Kreidler said.

Including Washington, the states fighting the issue is the PIA Western Alliance states of Arizona and  Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.


Source links: Insurance Journal, Washington Department of Insurance

Tags:  ACA  cheap insurance  obamacare  small business news 

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Reuters Poll — Medicare for All? Free College?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 28, 2018


The debate continues on what to do about health care in the United States. No one, it seems, is happy with the current mess. While the Trump administration and some Republicans in Congress work to undo the Affordable Care Act, others — mostly Democrats — are trying to find ways to not only save ObamaCare but to add to the program.

We all pretty much know what the two political parties want. But what do the people want?

A poll from Reuters-Ipsos finds 85% of those identifying themselves as Democrats say they want Medicare for all. A majority of people who say they’re Republicans — 52% — agree with the concept.

But is Medicare for all feasible? The libertarian leaning Mercasus Center at George Mason University says probably not. It calculates the cost at $32.6 trillion of additional federal government spending in a 10-year period. Thus, study author Charles Blahous told The Wall Street Journal even doubling taxes will not completely pay for a single-payer healthcare system.

Opponents — like Sen. Bernie Sanders who has introduced Medicare for all legislation — disagree with Blahous’ study. Sanders said his study is “grossly misleading and biased.”

The senator — and his supporters — say healthcare costs will drop by $2 trillion by 2031 if Medicare for all became law.

What else in the socialist vein do Americans want? Lots it appears:

  79% of Democrats support free college tuition

  41% of Republicans agree

The attempt by some — and some very loud and sometimes violent — protestors to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) is not popular with most respondents.

  70% of Republicans say ICE must be kept

  44% of Democrats agree it must be kept

  44% of Democrats disagree

Source link: The Hill

Tags:  Affordable Care Act  health care in the United States  Medicare  Obamacare 

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Trump Insists on ObamaCare Changes — Short-term, Lower Cost Plans

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

In its continuing effort to undo the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration is close to allowing insurers to sell short-term, lower cost health insurance plans. Health And Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said they’re an alternative to the very expensive policies mandated under ObamaCare law. Some people — he says — are struggling to pay those premiums, make too much money for subsidies and need an alternative.

What those policies don’t have to do is cover pre-existing conditions and they can offer limited benefits. While that sounds ominous, Azar said not all that many people are going to find it appealing.

“For many who’ve got pre-existing conditions or who have other health worries, the Obamacare plans might be right for them. We’re just providing more options,” he said.

Plans — under this plan — can last 12-months and be renewed for as many as 36-months. They are expected to be about a third the cost of comprehensive coverage. As it stands now the silver plan under ObamaCare is $481 a month for someone 40 who is a non-smoker. Under this plan it would run $160 a month or less.

However, there is no guarantee that insurers have to renew and the plans have a disclaimer that they don’t meet the ACA’s requirements.

Jim Parker who is an advisor on ObamaCare for the HHS said, “We make no representation that it’s equivalent coverage. But what we do know is that there are individuals today who have been priced out of coverage.”

President Trump is enthusiastic about the plan and with a typical Trump response said, “Much less expensive health care at a much lower price. Will cost our country nothing. We’re finally taking care of our people.”

Democrats immediately attacked. Washington Sen. Patty Murray called this “a new sabotage step that will do even more to let insurance companies offer junk plans.”

Azar disagrees. “It may not cover every condition, but it’s a really important option for a lot of people in transition between jobs, those gig economy workers who work on their own as independent contractors or the folks who are struggling with three part-time jobs and don’t get insurance through any one employer.”

Wisconsin Democrat Sen. Tammy Baldwin is going to introduce a resolution of disapproval in the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer noted it all Democrats will back the resolution but the real question is how many Republicans will jump on board. “All it takes is one or two Republicans who claim to support preexisting condition protections,” Schumer said.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) thinks close to six-million more people will enroll in these plans once they are offered. The Trump administration estimates aren’t so high. It is estimating 1.6 million.

Source links: Insurance Business America, The Hill

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  ObamaCare  Weekly Industry News 

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Update: Obamacare from CSRs, Defense of the Law to a Vote in Idaho

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Trump administration says it is not going to make the $10.4 billion payment to health insurers as required by the Affordable Care Act. They are called cost sharing reduction payments — or CSR — and are designed to help health insurers offset the cost of insuring those on Obamacare subsidies who are the least healthy.

This is not taxpayer money per se and is funds generated from fees on health insurance policies and insurers and consumers.

The administration says it cannot make the payments because a federal judge in New Mexico has ruled that the administration did not fully justify the formula it uses to dole out the funds.

Critics — Democrats and Republicans — say the administration didn’t need to go quite that far when the ruling was issued. It could have simply refined the formula and then send it back the court.

Republican House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas is urging the administration to continue the payments. The concern from members of both parties is a serious jump in health insurance rates that will likely come about if the payments aren’t made. Brady has been in communication with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar who — he says — is anxious for a fix.

“The administration wants to restore those payments, so we're looking at ways that we can help them do that,” Brady said.

Legislative action is one possibility though that option died in the Senate late last year.

Democrats have sent a letter to the administration — and the HHS specifically — urging that the payments be made. Signing on are the top Democrats on the health care committees in Congress. They are Washington and Oregon State Senators Patty Murray and Ron Wyden and Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, Richard Neal of Massachusetts and Bobby Scott of Virginia.

“The Administration's decision to suspend these collections and payments, which are required under federal law, appears to be yet another attempt by the Trump Administration to sabotage the nation's health care system for partisan gain,” the letter said.

It went on to say, “We ask that you take immediate action to reverse this destructive decision that will further destabilize the individual and small group markets that millions of Americans rely on for health insurance.”

Democrats are also organizing to protect the law overall. It has been under attack from Republicans since Obamacare became law. Now — it appears — the Trump administration is going all out to do away with it completely.

A lawsuit has been filed in Texas by the attorney generals of 19 states arguing since the individual mandate has been legislated out of existence the rest of the law — including preexisting conditions — is unconstitutional and can be ignored by states, health providers and insurers.

Democrats in the Senate are urging Republicans to sign onto a resolution that will let the Senate intervene on that lawsuit since the administration refuses to do a defense. The resolution — if adopted — will allow the Office of Senate Legal Counsel to step into the fray.

The administration’s decision not to defend has angered both Democrats and Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said “everybody” in the Senate is in favor of this. Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander — a Republican from Tennessee — said this action is “as far-fetched as any I've ever heard.”

Democrats — as you know — are very opposed and upset with the administration’s actions.

Sen. Bob Casey — a Democrat from Pennsylvania — is behind the resolution. “This is a test of the Republican Party, whether or not they're going to do the right thing when it comes to protecting people with pre-existing conditions. I would hope my Republican friends who have said over and over again ... they agree with the protections for people with pre-existing protections,” he said.

Experts on political doings in Congress say it is unlikely Republicans will support the resolution.

Meanwhile, the PIA Western Alliance state of Idaho’s voters will be able to decide in November on whether to expand Medicaid to the 62,000 people in the state who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to get a subsidy from the state’s Obamacare exchange.

If voters approve then the federal government will pay for 90% of the cost for that insurance.

BTW, Idaho is one of the 18 states that opted to not expand Obamacare coverage using federal money.

Source links: The Hill — link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  ObamaCare  Weekly Industry News 

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Update: Trump Administration Responds to ObamaCare Payment Stoppage

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Early last week the Trump administration indicated it will stop making the cost sharing reduction payments to health insurers. Those funds — in this case, $10.4 billion — are used to offset the costs to insurers of insuring the most unhealthy among us. The purpose was the help insurers keep rates down until more healthy people came on board.

The doing away with the individual mandate in last year’s tax reforms means people are no longer “required” to participate. That makes the payments even more critical for insurers.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma said the administration — in spite of the criticism you hear — is forced to stop the payments because of a decision by a federal court. The court said the administration did not properly justify its formula for distributing the money.

“We really are in a tough spot. I think that there’s been a lot of discussion about whether the Trump administration is making a decision. We’re not making a decision. The court has told us what to do here … at the end of the day, we have to abide by the court’s ruling,” she said.

However, Verma added that her department is appealing the decision from that New Mexico court. Until a decision on the appeal is made, she said her hands are tied.

We’ve been trying to figure out, is there a solution? We understand the impact to the market [but] we have to follow what the courts say,” Verma said.

Legal expert question the validity of the excuse her hands are tied and statement the administration is doing all it can to get the issue resolved. Others say the administration is doing this because of its dislike for the Affordable Care Act.

Insurers are certainly upset by the decision.

Individual insurers and insurance groups say CMS and the administration is game playing and can issue what’s known as an interim final rule and resume the payments. Kris Haltmeyer of Blue Cross Blue Shield Association said it’s a logical step.

We’re urging CMS to find a legal or regulatory path that allows immediate action to reinstate these payment transfers and ensure that coverage for millions of Americans is not disrupted. Quickly issuing an interim final rule to justify the use of the current process is one route,” Haltmeyer said.

Ceci Connolly of the Alliance of Community Health Plans agrees and says the alternative is insurers raising prices. “The insurance business is about predictability and certainty and this is just one more twist. If you’re an actuary and you’re pricing risk, you price to cover uncertainty, and so it is natural to expect that some plans will have to increase premiums,” she said.

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has joined those being critical of the administration’s actions. He said, “The Trump Administration's action to halt an essential component of the Affordable Care Act may adversely impact the willingness of insurers to continue to sell policies to individuals, families and small employers, as well as cause insurers to raise prices. The Trump Administration's action introduces needless uncertainty into the ACA insurance market.”

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler agrees.

”The Trump administration’s suspension of risk adjustment payments is just the latest attempt to undermine health care for millions of consumers across the country, including about 270,000 people enrolled in Washington state’s individual market. Without this program, insurers might have taken on less risk in the market, especially in rural counties,” he said.

Kreidler says it’s very clear that the Trump administration is trying to increase insurance market stability.

“I fear this latest decision, if it stands, will lead to fewer choices for consumers and higher premiums they would pay for health plans in 2019. Insurers proposed rates in May. With suspension of the risk adjustment payments, insurers must now contend with another disruption to the market by the time they finalize rates early this fall. This is another act of sabotage by the administration,” Kreidler said.

Source link: The Hill, Insurance Business America

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  ObamaCare  Weekly Industry News 

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ObamaCare Repeal Still a Circus

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Insurers are baffled and concerned. The deadline is June 21st — and by the time you read this it will have passed — on whether or not to make massive rate hikes for those getting insurance at the ObamaCare marketplaces or whether to bag them altogether.

The House has passed a very unpopular replacement bill. It arrived dead in the Senate and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now “secretly” putting a new plan together that some say will see the Senate floor by the end of June.

At least at this point there is no word from the Trump administration as to whether the Medicaid cost-sharing subsidies (CSR) covering low-income enrollees will continue.

Even then, Kaiser Family Foundation spokeswoman and insurance expert Cynthia Cox said insurers are saying the hikes will be double-digit.

We’ve seen so far pretty high premium increases in a number of states. Some of that seems to be because of uncertainty insurers are facing over CSR payments and individual mandate enforcement. If we do get information on premiums, I would expect to see some of those premiums quite high,” she said.

Insurance commissioners — like Washington’s Mike Kriedler — are concerned. He said he’s working with insurers to keep rates down and blames the Trump administration for the confusion. “No. 1, by far, is what’s happening at the federal level with CSRs not being funded in a multiyear fashion so there’s predictability, and you have an administration that’s already indicating they’re not going to enforce the individual mandate,” Kreidler said.

In his efforts to get something passed, President Trump — who once praised the now ill-conceived House repeal and replacement plan — is now calling it “mean.” The comment was made just after his meeting with Senate Republicans on what it is doing to “fix” the problem.

After calling the House plan mean, Trump told the senators attending the meeting, “I really appreciate what you're doing to come out with a bill that's going to be a phenomenal bill to the people of our country: generous, kind, with heart. That's what I'm saying.”

South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune agreed with the president that something needs to be done and fast. “His message was that there's a sense of urgency about this. We can't afford to fail; we've got to get it done, and he's certainly fine with the Senate taking a different direction than what the House [did].”

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn thinks the Senate will keep 80% of the House bill.

One of the main hang-ups is what to do with Medicaid funding for those who can’t afford insurance and what to do about all those unpopular with Republicans ObamaCare taxes.

South Dakota’s other Republican senator Sen. Mike Rounds said, It’s an “ObamaCare hangover. You can’t just simply let the American public get hit with these huge price increases without providing those that need it the most some assistance. In order to do that, you’ve got to have revenue streams.”

Even ultra-conservative Sen. Ted Cruz agrees to keep prices down a revenue stream must be maintained.

Republicans and the president have pointed sharp fingers at Democrats for not assisting with the ObamaCare fix. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer accepted the challenge last week and said he wants the entire Senate to meet this week to discuss health care.

He called for the summit in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and said both parties “need to come together to find solutions to America's challenges. Please accept our invitation to sit down together in the old Senate Chamber so we can hear your plans and discuss how to make health care more affordable and accessible.”

On the behind closed door meetings McConnell and other senate leaders have been doing, Schumer said, “We all owe it to our constituents to meet to discuss your potential legislation that would profoundly impact so many American lives. The U.S. Senate has long been considered the world's greatest deliberative body and, as members of that body, we should each support open and robust debate. That is why we are dismayed at the reports that there will be no public hearings on your proposed changes to the American health care system," he wrote.

Source links: The Hill — link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4, MSN, The Washington Post

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  ObamaCare  ObamaCare Repeal Still a Circus  Weekly Industry News 

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The Senate Goes to Work on ObamaCare

Posted By Administration, Monday, June 12, 2017

The U.S. Senate is now going to work on the repeal and replacement — maybe — of the Affordable Care Act. The House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) is pretty much dead on arrival. While some parts of the House plan will survive, a lot of it will have to change.

Republicans also must find a way around a potential — but very likely — filibuster.

And while both political parties pose and posture, insurance commissioners in state after state are doing all they can to keep the few insurers participating in the ObamaCare exchanges in the game. To do it they are offering new — and never heard of before — incentives to stick with it for another year.

Insurers meanwhile continue to look to Washington and at Congress and the Trump administration for some sign of what they should do. They’re not sure if the Trump administration is going to continue to subsidize the out-of-pocket costs for lower-income households.

That’s a deal-breaker for most.

On the table is $7 billion that will help keep insurers participating. The president has said yes to the money but has made no move in that direction. That has insurance commissioners extending rating filing deadlines and giving other concessions that would not be the normal order of business.

John Franchini is the insurance commissioner of the PIA Western Alliance state of New Mexico. He said, “As a regulator, instead of being rigid on timelines, the type of pricing I’m going to want, I’m being more open about this. I’m trying to be more flexible to give them confidence that if things change, we as regulators will be flexible with them.”

In California — also a PIA Western Alliance state — commissioner Dave Jones has let insurers submit two different sets of rate requests. One is if ObamaCare continues and the other if it goes away. “Based on what we were hearing from insurers, we anticipated Trump rates would be double-digit increases over the past year. I wanted to give insurers the opportunity to file rates based on Trump,” Jones said.

In the PIA Western Alliance state of Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said he’s thinking of following Alaska’s lead and developing a reinsurance program that is a mix of state and federal money to help subsidize insurers. However, Kreidler said, “I don’t have any leverage to tell a health insurer they have to stay in the market. The GOP is scaring the bejesus out of them, and I’m trying to calm things down and work it out.”

House Ways and Means Chairman and Texas Republican Rep. Kevin Brady said the administration needs to make those payments to keep insurers involved. “We should act within our constitutional authority now to temporarily and legally fund Cost Sharing Reduction payments as we move away from ObamaCare and toward a patient-centered system that truly works for the American people,” Brady said.

Republicans — upon the election of Donald Trump — said they’d immediately repeal and replace ObamaCare. The self-imposed deadline at that time passed about two months ago. In other words, it’s kind of a mess.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to take a vote on something by the end of July before the annual August recess but what that something will look like is anybody’s guess. And McConnell and others in Republican leadership admit that it is going to be hard to get enough votes to pass reforms.

A sort of a plan was put forth last week and it is already raising hackles on hardcore conservative Republicans and on the more moderate of the party. The issues range from preexisting conditions to essential health benefits and a plan to let states dump them to allowing states to repeal all ObamaCare regulations.

And then there’s Medicaid and what to do with it.

Part of the problem is there are four groups vying for control. A task force of 13 men started the process but criticism that no women are involved led the group to open its planning to any senators wanting to come.

Then there’s the group led by Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy and Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins. They have blasted the House’s American Health Care Act and crafted a plan of their own called the Patient Freedom Act.


A conservative group led by Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman is completely focused on Medicaid expansion.

The last group is made up of ultra-conservatives led by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee. They want whatever the Senate does to be as close as possible to the House bill.

In what may be bad news for employers, some Republicans want to tax employer-sponsored health insurance plans to help support and stabilize the public health insurance market. As it stands today, those plans aren’t taxed but the tax-favored status of employer-sponsored insurance cost the federal government $250 million in 2016.

Taxing that insurance could affect 177 million employees around the country.

Joel Wood does government affairs for the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers (CIAB). His group is totally opposed to the idea. “I’m not saying we feel naked, but we feel vulnerable. All we are trying to do is keep that drumbeat going on whatever Congress decides to do to resolve issues associated with exchanges, high risk pools, Medicaid. [We want to ensure that Congress does not] solve those problems at the expense of the employer-provided system,” he said.

Nevada is a PIA Western Alliance state. Sen. Dead Heller is that state’s Republican in the Senate and he thinks in the end the Senate will move more in the direction of preserving much of what is good about ObamaCare.

Dan Holler of the group Heritage Action for America said that kind of talk is going to make it difficult for the party’s very conservative Senators to vote in favor. “There has to be a give and take, and right now it seems like conservatives are being told just to take it all and not get anything,” he said.

And while the Republicans in the Senate can’t quite figure out what they want to do, President Trump took to criticizing Democrats. “We're having no help; it's only obstruction from the Democrats. The Democrats are destroying health care in this country. If we gave you the greatest health plan in the world we would get no votes. The Democrats are really in our way,” the president said.

Source links: The Hill — link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4, The Washington Post, Employee Benefit Advisor

Tags:  Healthcare  HealthCare.gov  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance news  ObamaCare  The Affordable Care Act  The Senate Goes to Work on ObamaCare  Weekly Industry News 

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UnitedHealth Group May be in Trouble with Feds

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Department of Justice has filed charges against UnitedHealth Group for overcharging the federal government more than $1 billion through its Medicare Advantage packages.

The suit — filed in a Los Angeles court — said UnitedHealth made patients appear to be much more infirm than they actually were so they could collect higher Medicare payments.

A report from Salon.com said the federal government’s conservative estimate is that UnitedHealth “knowingly and improperly avoided repaying Medicare” for the more than $1 billion in overcharges during the decade ending in 2016.

U.S Attorney Sandra Brown said, “To ensure that the program remains viable for all beneficiaries, the Justice Department remains tireless in its pursuit of Medicare fraud perpetrated by healthcare providers and insurers. The primary goal of publicly funded health care programs like Medicare is to provide high quality services to those in need — not to line the pockets of participants willing to abuse the system,” she said.

This is the second time UnitedHealth has been under Justice Department scrutiny under the False Claims Act. In 2011 a similar complaint was filed by the firm’s former finance director.

UnitedHealth is the nation’s biggest Medicare Advantage participant and in 2016 it covered 3.6 million policyholders. The price tag for that insurance was $56 billion.

The company denies any wrongdoing and spokesman Matt Burns said it will go to battle over the accusations. “We are confident our company and our employees complied with the government’s Medicare Advantage program rules, and we have been transparent with (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) about our approach under its unclear policies.”

CMS declined to comment.


Source link: Insurance Business America

Tags:  Healthcare  HealthCare.gov  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  ObamaCare  The Affordable Care Act  UnitedHealth Group May be in Trouble with Feds  Weekly Industry News 

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ObamaCare Repeal & Replace: The Usual Confusion

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Senate is back in session. They’ll go to work on the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. Or we should say, Republicans will go to work. Democrats will sit on the sidelines and complain.

Most Republican leaders are skeptical that anything can get done before the July 4th break or even before August’s month-long recess. The Trump administration — and in particular Vice President Mike Pence — wants it done and done quickly. Several things will make that difficult starting with the enormous unpopularity of the bill Republicans in the House sent over a few weeks ago.

The unpopularity is with many moderate Republicans in the Senate and with many consumers. A tracking poll released by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Kaiser Health says 55% of Americans have a negative view of the House bill. And equal number want the Senate to dump it or make major changes. Just 8% of those polled want the House version passed.

Breaking it down by political party:

  66% of Republicans want the Senate to pass the House bill

  78% of Democrats view the Affordable Care Act positively

  48% of Independents like the ACA

  30% of Independents like the House bill

Kaiser also looked at the popularity numbers for ObamaCare and found 49% view it positively compared to just 42% with a negative view. Spokesman Drew Altman said, “There is nothing in this poll, that if you were in the Senate, would cause you to rush out and pass the House bill.”

One of the biggest problems facing Republicans in the Senate is the whether to keep the House’s $664 billion in tax cuts that are repealed in the House bill. They stretch from the Cadillac tax to investment income.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah laughed at the reluctance of some of his Republican colleagues. He says those taxes all must go and they have to go soon or the party will be very embarrassed. Why? The party has spent a better part of the last seven years trying to get it repealed.

“We should not be treating the Obamacare taxes as a smorgasbord, picking and choosing which ones to keep and which to discard. I don’t think there is a single tax increase in Obamacare that has enjoyed support on this Republican side,” Hatch said.

Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana — who along with Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins — has authored the Patient Freedom Act. It’s an alternative that’s more or less in the middle between the Draconian House bill and ObamaCare. He and Collins think President Trump’s pledge to give the American people a healthcare plan to be proud of ought to be honored. 

President Trump’s contract with the voter, when he was running, was that he would continue coverage caring for pre-existing conditions, eliminating mandates but also lowering premiums. If we think that Trump’s contract with the voters is important to us, then the fiscally conservative thing to do is to pay for it,” Cassidy said in a statement.

To keep Collins in the fold and to placate Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Mitch McConnell and the other very conservative Republicans are going to have to keep some of those taxes to pay for a better repeal and replacement plan. 

As for the president? These days it’s hard to figure out where Trump stands on the issue.

Stan Collender is the executive vice president Qorvis MSL Group. He is also a former congressional budget aide. He said, “This is undoubtedly one of the things that has to be driving Mitch McConnell crazy. It’s the key difference between the House and Senate Republicans. Tea Party members of the House want to cut taxes all the time, any way they can on any legislation. The Senate is willing to be more moderate and almost has to be, given its constituency.”

As to what direction all this will go? We’ll keep you posted.


Source links: The Washington Post, Insurance Business America

Tags:  Healthcare  HealthCare.gov  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance news  ObamaCare  ObamaCare Repeal & Replace: The Usual Confusion  The Affordable Care Act  Weekly Industry News 

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Huge: California’s Single Payer System Price Tag

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Democratic California Sen. Ricardo Lara — Bell Gardens — wants California to do away with health insurance companies and put together a government-run health care system. He proposed it a few weeks ago and it is being pushed by the California Nurses Association.

Late last week the price tag became clear. It’s $400 billion a year.

Lara says the plan is to have much of that cost to be offset by state, federal and private spending but the rest will have to come via significant tax increases. And then there’s the prediction of annual health care costs jumping by $50 billion to $100 billion a year. These figures are massive and the task daunting when you consider the yearly California state budget for the entire general fund is $125 billion.

Here’s how Lara’s plan works. Health coverage with absolutely no out-of-pocket costs will be provided to all living in California and that’s including those here illegally. The state then contracts with doctors, hospitals and other health care providers for prices and then pays all the bills.

This is much how the federal government does Medicare.

All public money spent on healthcare — from Medicare, Medicaid and other federal public health funds and ObamaCare subsidy dollars will go into the pot to pay the bills.

The current estimate is that’s about half of what is needed to support Lara’s single payer system. The rest will have to come from higher taxes on business and a 15% payroll tax.

Tax increases? No problem Lara said. He, the California Nurses Association and other liberal supporters are totally energized by the idea and a tax plan to pay for the system is currently on the drawing board. The good news — they say — is we’ll be doing away with insurance company profits and the administrative costs of insurers. That will mean more money can be spent on the care of patients.

Republicans like Sen. Jim Nielsen of Gerber and business groups and health insurers aren’t too keen on the idea. “The impact on employers I think is going to be absolutely astounding. How can you possibly say this is going to be fiscally prudent for the state of California, not a burden for the state?” Nielsen said.

Businesses say — if this passes and is enacted — it will be much harder to expand their workforce.

For the tax increases to be implemented, two-thirds of the Assembly and two-thirds of the Senate must approve. That’s a daunting task. Even if it does pass, it must pass muster with Governor Jerry Brown. He’s a Democrat but has expressed skepticism at the logistics of the plan and the high cost.

Then if by some miracle the Legislature gets the two-thirds vote and Brown signs it into law, California will need to convince the Trump administration to waive the rules about how Medicaid and Medicare dollars are spent in California.

By the way, if you’re curious, Lara’s bill is SB562.


Source link: Insurance Journal

Tags:  Healthcare  HealthCare.gov  Huge: California’s Single Payer System Price Tag  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  ObamaCare  The Affordable Care Act  Weekly Industry News 

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