A report in Monday’s Forbes online says some publicly traded health insurance companies are releasing their latest round of earnings information with some showing an increase in either earnings or anticipated revenues. They also intend to greatly enlarge their potential markets where they can offer government-run plans on exchanges or marketplaces.
Approximately 10 million people have enrolled for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. On the not so optimistic side, as a result of the recent federal appellate level court decisions, there are two rulings which contradict one another. One said federal insurance premium subsidies to healthcare subscribers are unlawful in 36 states. Yet another court, for the District of Columbia, ruled no affect or change exists against those buying insurance on the federal exchange.
According to Forbes, Fitch Ratings, a global credit rating agency, “In the near term, Fitch Ratings expects existing benefits to be questioned and confusion about them to lead to lower enrollments in exchange plans in 2015.”
According to the Washington Post online, July 25, campaign rhetoric against the Affordable Care Act may be taking a back seat to issues such as the economy and employment numbers. Will victors in the Republican primaries, before the 2014 midterm elections, discover the benefits of mentioning Obamacare, or not?
While some conservatives running for office have not run anti-Obamacare advertisements, they know they can still elicit strong feelings in voters over issues like immigration reform or veterans’ affairs. And still they are likely to vote against the Affordable Care Act and its provisions – if they win.
The Washington Post article says these conservative candidates may be on to something. In Kansas, for example, 38 percent of Kansans believe employment, jobs, and the economy are the predominant factors affecting their voting decisions. Only 24 percent cited Obamacare as a major issue.
Matt Sissel is a self-supporting Iowa artist who also serves in the National Guard. Sissel is also the plaintiff in a case against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), according to a Los Angeles Times article on Tuesday.
Sissel contends that if he wants health insurance he could purchase it, however he does not either need or desire to have it. The artist and guardsman has challenged the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act – specifically its “origination clause.” Recently, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia didn’t see things Sissel’s way and voted 3-0 saying “such procedural sleight of hand was beside the point.”
The court also said not every bill that includes a tax (such as Obamacare), is a “bill for raising revenue.” Bills raising revenue must be passed by the House first, according to the court. Sissel is being represented by the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation whose lead counsel, Timothy Sandefur, predicts, “Eventually, this case will likely have to go to the Supreme Court.”
Instant communication provides increased opportunities for much of what is said and done to be archived for posterity; allowing playback at inconvenient times for the speaker. Falling victim to this reality is Jonathan Gruber.
During the initial phases of the Obamacare start-up, Gruber garnered $400,000 in consulting fees from the Obama White House. According to a report in Forbes online on, July 25, Gruber referred to the idea of Obamacare subsidies via the marketplaces (or exchanges), as being “nutty,” or “stupid” in January. Yet in 2009, Gruber told journalist and blogger Ezra Klein, “[Obamacare] will lower the cost of buying non-group health insurance.”
Forbes also reports that under Obamacare the cost of insurance not obtained through a group has increased by just under 50 percent on average. Gruber also now says Obamacare isn’t designed to save money.
The Affordable Care Act is viewed by the Obama Administration as one of its major accomplishments. The White House is quick to reveal substantial enrollment numbers for Obamacare.
A Reuters report on MSN online, July 24, says a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine provides healthcare enrollment numbers indicating more than 10 million adults have subscribed to Obamacare. Reuters sources researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, as published in the New England Journal of Medicine, saying there is a drop in the number of those without insurance. Additionally, more Americans are finding a doctor of their own and a less issues have arisen in paying for the coverage.
Yet the findings were careful to point out the incompleteness of the data – and thus it was not able to show a direct relationship between the ACA and the number of uninsured.
In advance of the midterm elections, Democrats are latching onto the issue of Medicaid expansion as one way to attack the Affordable Care Act’s opponents. This may be an attempt at aiding incumbent Democrats in conservative-leaning states who are at-risk of losing their seat. While U.S. Democratic governors are consistently in favor of Medicaid expansion under the umbrella of Obamacare, Republican governors are in disharmony over their own ACA support or lack of it.
According to a report in Tuesday’s The Hill, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is seeking documents from Republican Gov. Rick Perry requesting specific information on why healthcare for the poor was rejected in the governor’s home state of Texas.
The inquiry also seeks information on how much healthcare funding Perry and other governors might turn down over the next decade, the cost of coverage for those who are Medicaid-ineligible, and the total number of those without added coverage.
The recent ruling by the D.C. Circuit that the implementation of Obamacare is illegal has uncovered the possibility that the Obama administration was aware of this all along.
A decision by a federal appeals courts put into doubt a key feature of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. It ruled that residents in the 36 states that have not set up their own insurance “exchanges” aren’t eligible for tax credits when they buy coverage. Those credits are crucial to making the law work because they make insurance plans affordable. (The ruling may not stand; another court the same day made the opposite call.)
In October 2013, a tech company now known as Optum Insight QSSI, was charged with rescuing Healthcare.gov – following its tech-flawed debut. According to a report in Wednesday’s Daily Signal, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and UnitedHealth are now silent following some senators’ inquiries regarding an ethics waiver which has been granted to Andrew Slavitt.
The waiver, by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), allows the agency to begin working with Slavitt’s former company – Optum Insight QSSI. Slavitt currently has the second in command administrative position at CMS, as its principal deputy administrator. The waiver has been issued in spite of concerns about potential conflicts of interest by Republican senators Orrin Hatch of Utah, and Chuck Grassley, of Iowa. Hatch and Grassley have sent letters to both CMS and United Health, which acquired QSSI in September, 2012.
Aaron Albright, spokesman for CMS, told the Daily Signal: “Andy Slavitt has taken all appropriate steps, such as severing financial ties with his former employer, which allow him to execute his duties as principal deputy and participate in broad policy matters, including those affecting the health care industry. He will be recused, as appropriate, from participation in specific party matters, such as contracts or claims, involving his former employer.”
The Hill reports Tuesday that though supporters of the plaintiffs in the federal case of Halbig v. Burwell say they only want to ensure Obamacare is adhered to as written, the net effect is that an appeals court decision on Tuesday ruled subsidies for millions of enrollees may be in jeopardy. While that may not be an immediate scenario, speculation now ensues that consumers may at some point have to pay back the subsidies they received from the government; an outcome which could be potentially politically disastrous for the Obama administration.
At the same time, another federal court decision at the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, reflected a completely different opinion that the IRS can grant such subsidies on the federal healthcare exchanges. The court cited the lack of clarity in the language of the Affordable Care Act. Though, if things eventually go the Halbig way, 5 million individuals could lose their health coverage subsidy.