According to a report in the Washington Post’s Wonk Blog (online, Aug. 27) for some time, businesses have been able to deduct salaries paid to top executives from their annual federal tax debts. However, that amount, since 1990, has been capped at $1 million. The goal of this was to thwart egregious surplus executive compensation. For executives at health insurers this amount is limited to $500,000.00. The Affordable Care Act now places restrictions on how much companies may not include in their reported federal corporate tax income. Still, the top five executives at some of the largest of health insurers firms received pay increases. The amounts: $5.1 million in 2012, growing to $5.4 million in 2013. This information comes from the Institute for Policy Studies – according to the Washington Post.
The Washington Post article also quotes Brennan Buck of America’s Health Insurance Plans, who says, “Requiring plans to pay higher taxes does nothing to make coverage more affordable or accessible.”
In an Aug. 26 article posted on the Web page for Insurance and Financial Advisor, an insurance industry trade publication, Florida’s 18th congressional district is highlighted as an uncommonly contentious U.S. House Race. One candidate, Carl Domino, is a former state legislator, currently leading to win the GOP nomination. Domino claims most people have told him that they have been adversely impacted by having to pay higher premiums or co-pays — under Obamacare. Dominos adds, “None of the promises made by those who passed the law turned out to be true.” Beverly Hires a former Fla. Nurse is running for Congress, while doing so she rattles off the inherent problems of federally-based healthcare: higher premiums, cancelled policies, and employers cutting full-time jobs.
Sean Foreman is an associate professor of political science at Miami- based Barry University.
His view, cited in the IFA report, is that GOP candidates employ the Affordable Care Act to paint a picture of an incompetent Obama White House, highlighting the botched website rollout in addition to a noticeable percentage of healthcare insurers raising prices. “This is red meat on the campaign trail for Republicans,” Foreman says.
The Affordable Care Act continues to be a story of the states as much as it is a federal one. An opinion in Forbes (online, Aug. 25) cites the state of Indiana, as an example. There, those planning on retaining their current health insurance coverage plans could possibly not fare well thanks to an Obamacare subsidy scheme – as it is under the ACA. The law parcels out such subsidies after taking into account a consumer’s income and the price of a “benchmark” plan in that state. Californians are now looking at premium hikes. It is anticipated those increases will be by 4.2 percent in 2015. Additionally, those falling within the category of younger and healthier are more prone to discontinue health coverage. This may turn out to be a major earnings issue for insurers. They require the premiums from such a demographic to counter-balance costs of funding treatments for both the elderly and unhealthy.
The Forbes account is by Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute, who concludes, “As long as Obamacare is about mandates, taxes, regulations, and subsidies – the cost of health insurance premiums will continue increase.”
Another report in the Washington Post (Aug. 28) says Massachusetts Senate Republican candidate Scott Brown mimics the campaign strategy of other candidates running in the 2014 Mid-Term Elections. According to the Washington Post story, tactics by Joni Ernst, Tom Cotton, and Thom Tillis, pretty much describe Obamacare as a calamity for Democrats. Yet, some Republicans say they would permit people all the positives of Obamacare, while simultaneously somehow eliminating its minuses. Brown, for his part, believes the states can do Obamacare better.
Recently, an audio recording of Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has come to light. On the recording, McConnell is heard saying: “We’re going to go after them [the Democrats] on health care, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board. All across the federal government, we’re going to go after it.”
Among the less-talked-about implications of the Affordable Care Actis the relief it is providing to many transgender people, many of whom are low-income and who have struggled to obtain health coverage.
As it stands now, the feds bar health insurers from discriminating against Transgenders; it also precludes insurers from withholding health coverage claiming: pre-existing conditions. Additionally, more transgendered individuals may now purchase private health insurance plans. In states going along with expansion of their Medicaid programs, those with low-earnings may obtain free coverage.
In California, insurance regulators mandate that health insurance companies must treat transgender patients as equally as others.
According to the Dallas, Texas Federal Reserve Bank, over one third of businesses recently studied are converting their higher increasing healthcare costs into higher prices for health insurance coverage. An article in the Daily Caller (Aug. 25) says the Dallas Fed survey furthermore cites the Affordable Care Act as being the root cause of what is driving an appreciable number of businesses to cut workforces and, in addition to passing higher healthcare costs on to their employees, raising prices on those consumers patronizing their establishments.
Over 16 percent of businesses studied by the Dallas Fed now have a higher ratio of part-time workers.
A new article about Obamacare, by John R. Graham, is on the National Center For Policy Analysis Web page (08/19). Health insurers and providers are indicating that making significant profits under the Affordable Care Act is becoming challenging. For example, Express Scripts elaborates on this scenario this way, “[M]ore than six in every 1,000 prescriptions in the Exchange plans were for a medication to treat HIV. This proportion is nearly four times higher Exchange plans than in commercial health plans.” Also according to Graham’s NCPA report, “In March 2014, the administration proposed a rule that, among other things, increased taxpayers’ exposure to Obamacare’s risk corridors by adjusting the risk corridors formula. The rule would “raise the administrative cost ceiling by 2 percentage points, form 20 percent to 22 percent,” and “increase the profit margin floor in the risk corridors formula (currently set at 3 percent, plus the adjustment percentage, of after-tax premiums) “from 3 percent to 5 percent.”
Recent federal court rulings have negatively impacted the Affordable Care Act. For example the Federal 4th District Court recently ruled a key component of the Affordable Care Act could be interpreted as precluding subsidies to individuals purchasing health insurance coverage on HealthCare.gov, it could also be viewed as permitting them. According to a recent in report on Salon.com (08/18) – this leaves it to the IRS – whether the Affordable Care Act grants such subsidies. So, how does this all fit in with the next president? If the person elected in 2016 is a Republican, according to Salon.com, “it’s entirely possible, under the 4th Circuit’s ruling, that the next administration could promulgate new rules denying subsidies to people who purchase insurance on HelathCare.gov.” A potential Obamacare killer.
According to some, there is still plenty of fodder left in Obamacare, especially for current Senate GOP candidates. According to a recent article in the Fiscal Times (online, Aug. 20) Real Clear Politics claims there are 9 Senate seats currently up for grabs. As a simultaneous backdrop to this, only 37 percent of the U.S. regards the Affordable Care Act positively.
The Fiscal Times article by Liz Peek, enumerates specific reasons the Senate could fall to the GOP this November:
● The Affordable Care Act is undermining job creation.
● The ACA was not developed correctly – in legal terms. This is highlighted by at least one recent federal court ruling, finding illegal, those subsidies/payments made to Obamacare applicants in states that have not set up their own exchanges – or marketplaces, as they are also known.
●Many find the narrower choices of doctors and hospitals – due to changes in health insurer networks – disconcerting.
Noted Obamacare critic Arvik Roy, a Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow For Policy Research, is being heard from again. This time in Forbes Magazine (online, Aug. 20).
Roy’s Forbes report says the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) indicates that by the time of the next U.S. presidential election, in 2016, 36 million Americans are projected to be on some sort of an Obamacare-oriented health insurance plan. Roy says, “Whether they admit it or not, no Republican can win the White House in 2016 campaigning on taking away health coverage for 26 million people.”
Roy adds three points to support his arguments, “The overall framework is fairly simple: First, de-regulate the Obamacare exchanges so people can truly shop for coverage they want and need. Second, migrate Medicaid enrollees and future retirees onto the reformed exchanges. Third, tackle the problem of consolidated hospital systems that exploit their market power to charge prices far above what a free market would bear.”