According to industry-related Life Health Pro.com, a site for life and health insurance advisors, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the newest nominee for the job of secretary of HHS, slated to replace Kathleen Sebelius, previously worked with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan on health policy.
“Sylvia Mathews Burwell did not write many of the Clinton-era health policy memos now online at the Clinton Library website, but she got the carbon copies,” says Life Health Pro in the April 23 article. In 1997, while Kagan was a domestic policy advisor in the Clinton White House, she counseled Burwell on a Partial Birth Abortion Act bill, one that then Sen. Tom Daschle (D – SD) was sponsoring.
The writer’s author, Allison Bell, added, “Health policy ideas included a ban on human cloning, regulation of tobacco companies’ use of the Internet to advertise tobacco products, strengthening protections for human subjects involved in secret research projects, home health care regulation, and efforts to create a patients’ bill of rights and a health care quality commission.”
According to a recent report in the Huffington Post.com, the number of uninsured in the U.S. is at its lowest since 2008. Findings by the polling organization Gallup indicate 13.4 of Americans were without health coverage in April, versus 18 percent in 2013’s third quarter.
Contention over the extent of actual Obamacare success continues, with key Republicans still wanting to see its repeal. “The percentages of uninsured blacks and Hispanics – who are more likely to be uninsured than whites, Gallup found – have also fallen by 7.1 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively.”
Is Obamacare a caste system of health coverage? One type of coverage for the poor, another for the well-off? Scott W. Atlas, a physician and senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, raised these questions in the Wall Street Journal article on April 30. Atlas said while millions may have enrolled in coverage under the auspices of the ACA, others are suddenly without their insurance, because it no longer complies with Obamacare.
The Journal reports the healthcare law was promoted by an administration viewing the government program as a solution to coverage inequality. Yet, the reality may be one of coverage at varying levels. One for the poor and middle class, the other for those who can afford to get around ACA mandates. Also, according to the Journal, Avik Roy and others at the conservative Manhattan Institute think tank, say premiums have increased “by 20% to 200% in more than 40 states.”
The Journal report also says, unless the Affordable Care Act significantly changes, America’s healthcare will become increasingly divided, accompanied by higher levels of inequity. In Great Britain and other countries, governments have adopted a domineering role in mandating health-care policy. “. . . only the lower and middle classes in America will suffer the full consequences of ObamaCare,” adds Atlas.
According to a Sunday story on The Hill.com, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has been asked by the chairman of the House Science Committee, Rep. Lamar Smith (R – Texas) to broaden its research of security lapses at HealthCare.gov. The Texas Republican says the Obama Administration is attempting to “cut corners that have put the personal data of millions of Americans at risk.” Smith adds, “In addition to the website’s internal security failings, many Americans now worry about how the Heartbleed bug may compound the risk of financial or medical identity theft for those forced by the government to create Healthcare.gov accounts.”
HealthCare.gov has been a major annoyance for the White House. The “Heartbleed” virus affected numerous sites across the Internet, including Facebook and Google. The bug was online for about 24 months without being detected, though it has not been reported to have been implicated in any major cyberattacks. A GAO audit is on-going of both the website’s security and privacy. “The American people deserve a thorough audit of the website to ensure that their personal data, including birth dates, social security numbers and household incomes, is secured,” said Smith.
HealthCare.gov got a bit of a tech boost to help get the troubled site balanced. However, congressional Republicans have maintained steady pressure, fretting that mishandling of the site’s introduction indicates wider security breaches, according to The Hill.com.
If new, suggested federal rules go into effect, employers would be required to notify employees quitting their jobs that they are eligible to purchase Obamacare under a new Department of Labor proposal. The report appeared May 2 on DailyCaller.com.
A 1985 law grants workers an avenue by which to buy their own health benefits, but only for a limited period after leaving employment. Life changes are eligible, for example, a cut in hours, which makes them qualified for employer-backed healthcare. Employers are already bound by law to advise departing employees of COBRA choices.
The Daily Caller said the most recent Affordable Care Act sign-up report has found 85 percent of ACA enrollees were eligible for subsidies.
Is what is happening to Massachusetts’ health coverage a sign of things to come elsewhere? Politico.com reports Monday that Romneycare, established in 2006, will soon be scrapped by the Bay State. Romneycare insured 97 percent of Massachusetts state residents and “became the template for the Obamacare version.”
Massachusetts officials are moving towards eliminating several components of their malfunctioning health insurance marketplace with a strategy that includes combining with Healthcare.gov. This recent action is part of a costly plan to construct a workable, state-level healthcare website and is viewed as a last ditch attempt to do so.
Massachusetts is the second state to begin changing over to HealthCare.gov. Late in April, 2014, Oregon decided to terminate its system, which cost $200 million, and become part of the federal exchange, according to Politico.com. It is unclear who will pay for implementation of the new website and rollout.
A report by the National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation, a nonprofit association of business owners, found that the Health Insurance Tax in the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) will increase the cost of employer-sponsored insurance to such an extent that the private sector will be forced to cut employment between 152,000 and 286,000 jobs by 2023.
As the Obama Administration reports supposed achievements of the Obamacare rollout, has it done so by puffing numbers, churning enrollees, or otherwise cooking the books? Red State.com, in an April 18 article, claims it’s impossible to clearly discern (in terms of actual totals) the Affordable Care Act’s successful accomplishments. Red State adds that the administration, “has been quietly declaring war on anything that could be seen as providing a way for people to opt-out of Obamacare.”
The latest target may possibly be the fixed indemnity insurance market. In short, fixed indemnity works similarly to a homeowner’s policy. In healthcare terms, a policyholder files a claim with their insurance company for a specific medical treatment. They are subsequently paid a set rate. It’s ultimately the policyholder’s discretion how that money is really spent. Fixed indemnity policies may not suit everyone, but they are relatively cheap and currently exempt from Obamacare mandates and, there are no deductibles.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La) and four Republican Congressmen from Louisiana are requesting the Senators hold the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell for HHS Secretary.
The Rep. Scalise is asking Senators Landrieu (D-La) and David Vitter (R-La) to use the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell as a bargaining chip to try and change the healthcare law, suggesting that the individual mandate to purchase coverage should be eliminated, according to Tuesday’s story in TheHill.com. “Landrieu (D. La.) faces a tough re-election battle that has Obamacare at the center of debate,” said Elise Viebeck, the writer of the article.
Whether this brings about any changes remains to be seen as Senate Democrats reportedly have the votes to confirm a new HHS secretary.
According to Tuesday’s story on Politico.com, one long-anticipated Obamacare battle expected to control the Senate in May, could possibly evaporate. During the first week of May, the Senate will consider the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace recently resigned Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. HHS is the agency charged with implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
At the outset, it appeared Republicans seemed poised to utilize the confirmation process to continue attacks on Obamacare. “Cursorily, she looks very good, but she’s going to have to answer some really tough questions, is all I can say,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the high-level Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. Another Finance Committee member, Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said, “She’s not the one to go after [over] the policy or ideological differences.” He added, “She’s got to go in and try to run the place. I’m much more concerned that she’s up to snuff.”
Several democrats facing re-election in this fall’s midterm say they will support Burwell.