The Obama administration has funded a new study by top consulting firm RAND Health that startlingly finds that if taxpayer subsidies are eliminated, Obamacare exchanges will fall into a “death spiral.”
The study comes in the wake of a number of lawsuits which are challenging the Obama administration’s implementation of Obamacare subsidies. Three lawsuits have made it to U.S. Circuit Courts, just one step from the Supreme Court, arguing that the text of the Affordable Care Act allows premium subsidies for state-run exchanges only.
The key finding from the report belies HHS’s pro-Obamacare position. Eliminating premium subsidies entirely would “cause large declines in enrollment and substantial increases in premiums,” RAND Health concluded. In short — Americans are far less likely to want Obamacare coverage, or to be able to afford it, when taxpayers aren’t footing the bill.
“In scenarios in which the tax credits are eliminated, our model predicts a near ‘death spiral,’ with very sharp premium increases and drastic declines in individual market enrollment,” the study concluded.
Read the full article at The Daily Caller.
The Nebraska hospital at the center of U.S. medical efforts to fight Ebola recently laid off staff due to budget cuts caused by Obamacare, and its Ebola-fighting resources are now limited due to staff constraints.
The Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha recently treated journalist Ashoka Mukpo after the NBC News freelancer contracted Ebola. The center is one of the only hospitals in the country that can adequately treat Ebola patients in its biocontainment units. The center is used as an example by officials who favor the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s plan of having a dedicated Ebola hospital in every state.
But the center’s Ebola-fighting capacity is limited due in part to staff constraints.
“That’s pretty much the level of staffing that we have as well,” said the center’s biocontainment unit nursing director Shelly Schwedhelm, referring to the center’s capability to hold only two or three Ebola patients at once.
The Nebraska Medical Center announced 38 layoffs, including those of top officials, in October 2012 with more possible layoffs to come. The center directly blamed the layoffs on decreased revenue from Obamacare’s reduction of Medicare reimbursement rates.
Read the full story at The Daily Caller.
Everyone now knows that federal officials are challenged when it comes to setting up a website. But they’ve demonstrated the ability to dole out a huge amount of taxpayers’ money for millions of people signing up for Medicaid, a welfare program. And they’ve proved they can send hundreds of millions of federal taxpayers’ dollars to their bureaucratic counterparts in states, like Maryland and Oregon, that can’t manage their own exchanges. But there are many other lessons to be gleaned from Year One of Obamacare. Here are three of the most important ones.
1. Health costs jumped—big time. Huge increases in deductibles in policies sold through the exchanges were a big story in Florida, Illinois and elsewhere. While the average annual deductible for employer-based coverage was a little over $1,000, the exchange deductibles nationwide normally topped $2,000.
2. The law reduced competition in most health-insurance markets. A limited analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that in 2014, large states like California and New York were more competitive, but Connecticut and Washington were less competitive. The Heritage Foundation conducted a national analysis and found that between 2013 and 2014, the number of insurers offering coverage on the individual markets in all fifty states declined nationwide by 29 percent.
3. We still don’t know for sure how many people are actually insured. Following the disastrous October 2013 Obamacare “roll-out,” the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that about 6 million (rather than 7 million) would enroll in the exchanges. Last April, administration officials reported that they reached and surpassed their goal, enrolling over 8 million people in the health-insurance exchanges. The administration now concedes that there are 700,000 fewer persons in the exchanges. Between October 1, 2013, and March 31, 2014, there was a net increase in individual coverage of 2,236,942, but there was a net decrease in group (employment-based) enrollment: it fell by 1,716,540. Enrollment in Medicaid and the Childrens’ Health Insurance Program (CHIP) increased by about 5 million over that same period.
Read the full article at The Daily Signal.
The Washington, D.C. Circuit Court ruled in Halbig v. Burwell that Obamacare’s tax credits are only applicable to the several state-run exchanges; but hours later, the Fourth Circuit Court ruled that the IRS was within its rights to make the adjustments in its extension of the subsidies.
But at the Department of Justice’s request, the D.C. Circuit Court agreed to re-hear its case with a full court — which has been packed with three new judges appointed by President Obama since Senate majority leader Harry Reid deployed his nuclear option to avoid Republican opposition last fall.
With liberal judges outnumbering conservatives now by eight to five, it’s likely that the court will take back its initial ruling and approve the subsidies, taking the pressure off the Supreme Court to hear the case.
The question comes down to the repeated instruction in the text of the Affordable Care Act that advanced premium tax credits are to go only to customers of exchanges “established by the state.” The plaintiff in this case, Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt, argues that Congress’ text says customers in Oklahoma, which doesn’t run its own exchange, aren’t eligible for the subsidies.
Read the full article at The Daily Caller.
In addition to sending taxpayer money to plans that cover abortion, the massive health care law has created new avenues of public funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.
Just a few weeks ago, the Department of Health and Human Services announced the award of more than $500,000 in taxpayer grants to Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers in Iowa and Montana to act as “navigators,” helping enroll Americans in federally facilitated insurance exchanges under Obamacare. Those grants are in addition to the more than $655,000 Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers received from the federal government under the same program last year.
As Obamacare enters its second enrollment period, both the federal and state governments are continuing to fund an army of taxpayer-compensated community groups often called “navigators” or “in-person assisters,” that will market the health care law and facilitate entrance into the health plan marketplaces.
For the 2015 enrollment period thus far, local Planned Parenthoods in and Minnesota have been awarded “assister” grants totaling more than $160,000 and other states are expected to follow suit. Again, that funding is in addition to the more than $1 million in total grants awarded to local affiliate health centers from California, Minnesota, Vermont and the District of Columbia alone last year.
Planned Parenthood also could financially benefit from an Obamacare requirement that qualified insurance plans cover a certain percentage of “essential community providers.” Those providers, according to a “non-exhaustive” list updated by the Department of Health and Human Services for 2015, can include nearly 300 local Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers—although covering the centers is not mandated. Some states have implemented more stringent requirements for coverage of essential community providers. In Minnesota, for example, insurers are required to offer contracts to certain local Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers, among other providers.
Read the full article at The Daily Signal.
Swiss voters on Sunday rejected a plan for a seismic shift from the country’s all-private health insurance system to a state-run scheme.
Referendum results showed that almost 62 percent of voters had shot down a reform pushed by left-leaning parties which say the current private system is busting the budgets of ordinary residents.
The results also underlined the national divisions over the hotly-contested issue as the country’s German-speaking regions voted against the plan, while their French-speaking counterparts were in favor.
The rejection of the plan by nearly two-thirds of voters is a major blow for pro-reform campaigners, given that opinion polls had shown the ‘No’ vote was likely to be around 54 percent.
Read the full article at Yahoo News.
Both state and private insurance officials are now admitting that their ObamaCare enrollments were shrinking.
“They’ve deteriorated quite a bit, this was anticipated to some degree, but I think it’s exceeded expectations in some cases,” said Jim Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
For instance, state officials in Florida say their enrollments are now 220,000 lower than the administration’s count in April, going from some 983,000 to just over 762,000, a drop of more than 20 percent.
A state official said some may have been duplicate enrollments because of website problems on Healthcare.gov. The others, he said, just didn’t pay their premiums and lost their coverage, a problem insurance companies are also reporting.
Robert Laszewski, of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, said, “I’ve talked to a number of insurance companies around the industry and they’re indicating that they’re down as low as 70 percent of the original enrollments they had.”
Read the full article at FoxNews.com.
During testimony before the House Oversight Committee Thursday, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator Marilyn Tavenner admitted that the White House’s original number of eight million Obamacare enrollments was inflated. The real number, Tavenner now claims, is 7.3 million.
Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) said the Obama administration’s new numbers represent a “precipitous drop.”
Other Republicans, like Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), also took aim at the administration’s Obamacare revision.
“For the past five months, the administration has been silent on enrollment details for the president’s health care law, and now we know why: the number was going down,” said Burgess. “Sadly, this comes as no surprise.”
Read the full article at Breitbart.com.