Back in 1998, the Wall Street Journal featured an article about the then widely publicized practice of telecommunications slamming. Simply put, long-distance consumers were routinely “slammed” to new long-distance providers – – without prior consent. Now, Dr. Jeffrey A. Singer, also in the Wall Street Journal (online Oct. 20, 2014) reports several of his patients who had have been funding their own individual health insurance plans, have been ejected from those plans, then finding themselves Medicaid placed. This occurred, according to Dr. Singer, when those persons signed up for health insurance on HelalthCare.gov. Dr. Singer adds, those patients are, “Knocked out of private insurance, they are forced to settle for longer waits and worse care.” Dr. Singer elaborates, “Even if my patients save money by no longer paying premiums, they suffer in the long run by being trapped in a subpar health-care system. A Medicaid card does not translate into quality medical care. In some cases, it does not translate into medical care at all.” The recent Wall Street report cites a new polling study conducted by the healthcare company Merritt Hawkins, which says, “Only 45 percent of doctors currently accept new Medicaid patients, and that number has declined from 55 percent in the past five years.”
Medicaid patients are more likely to die, following major surgery, while still hospital-bound. This is according to 2010 study by the University of Virginia, so says the Wall Street Journal.
More details on potential budget deficit implications – – due to Obamacare. Those on the Senate Budget Committee Staff, who are actually analysts, may be contributing meaningfully to the continuing debate over Obamacare. A recent report in the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal (online, Oct. 14) recounts that the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) initial “baseline projections”, said “Medicare and Medicaid spending was even lower than originally anticipated; the CBO baseline changed, and thus the expected healthcare savings are now projected to be lower – by as much as $132 billion.”
The Daily Signal Report also says – – at one point – – the Republican Senate Committee staff looked at the impact of the ACA’s taxation provisions on labor. In 2014, CBO reported that the law would reduce the total number of hours worked in and thus reduce the actually monies, or wages, received by labor by 1 percent – – by the year 2024. Based on such labor force statistics RSC staff “estimated that the total federal revenue loss over the period of 2017 to 2024 would amount to a net $262 billion,” so says the Daily Signal report. Another conclusion: the deficit grows by $131 billion.
A new National Memo Web page post (Oct. 10) by Jonathan Bernstein, citing Bloomberg View, alludes to any negative views of Obamacare, not being due to President Barack Obama, but rather to inherent structural flaws of the Affordable Care Act itself. Very recently the Gallup organization released survey results showing 16 percent of those polled feel Obamacare has been a help, while 27 percent view the Affordable Care Act as a hindrance. These responses of course point up – pocketbook issues.
The National Memo Report adds, “For one thing, even though the ACA may have moderated the rise in the cost of healthcare, even smaller price increases will be perceived as a harmful result of the law. There is always a variation in costs, and Republicans are going to publicize any spikes and Democrats aren’t going to trumpet increases, even when they are at or below trend. Indeed, Republicans will blame reform for every bad healthcare story, regardless of whether it is ACA-related.”
Persistent bad, or at least unresolved feelings about Obamacare, overall, may persist (according to the National Memo report) due to:
●How many young people who are able to remain on their parents’ insurance, know it is due to a provision in the Affordable Care Act?
●How many individuals with “Expanded Medicaid” know they are actually getting Obamacare benefits?
●How many people know Obamacare is the reason they don’t surpass yearly or lifetime income reimbursement limitations?
A new report on Politico.com (online, Oct. 13) outlines the likely, central sticking point, as to why there is not simply just one alternative GOP Obamacare option. Maybe conservatives overall can’t agree whether “it should be one big alternative or a bunch of smaller ones,” suggests Politico.
Alternatives previously put forth by the likes of Sens. Orrin Hatch, Tom Coburn, and Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute, have each garnered serious looks by the GOP. Each focuses in on what conservatives philosophically contend are the least-desirable components of the Affordable Care Act: higher coverage expenses and narrow choices, etc. Yet, these same parties can’t agree — as to “how much of the law they’d wipe away”, adds Politico.
Reformers may want to tread carefully. Tom Miller, a healthcare expert at the American Enterprise Institute, in describing Medicare changes over the decades, comments, “You never get back to a blank slate.”
Courtesy of Lanhee Chen in a recent Bloomberg View post (Oct. 14) is a report that Obamacare will likely send budget deficits higher – not lower. Chen cites findings by Senate Budget Committee Republicans. Chen says in his Bloomberg piece, “Fewer people working means less aggregate income is being earned, which translates less tax revenue for the federal government. That in turn leads to increased deficits.” Chen’s report also claims that Obamacare may affect the working labor force in two ways. First, by decreasing the actual supply of labor (meaning, the actual number of persons in the labor market). Second, by reducing the marketplace for such labor.
In his report, Chen adds, “[T]he law creates strong incentives for millions of people to just stop working – even though the Obama administration tried to spin this outcome as a good thing since it would allow people to pursue their dreams.”
According to a report in the Washington Times (online, Oct. 14) three U.S. states are currently struggling with health insurance premium hikes; they happen to be key states in equally key U.S. Senate races for 2014. Those states are Alaska, Iowa, and Louisiana. Predictably, this has led to another bevy of Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act. Former Alaska Atty. Gen. Dan Sullivan is the opponent to Sen. Mark Begich – – in Alaska’s U.S. Senate Race. Sullivan asks on his very recent Web Post, “Did you lose your coverage due to Obamacare? Are your premiums set to skyrocket? Follow the link to share your Obamacare story and stand up to the elected leaders in D.C. who sold Alaskans out.” The post is dated Sept. 12. In Louisiana, Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican Bill Cassidy are locked in the U.S. Senate race there. Cassidy says, “Premiums have gone up by 53 percent for the average Louisiana policyholder and many of these policies will again see double-digit increases,” . . . “It’s unfair to Louisianans who have to balance their budgets and their businesses.”
Meanwhile, in Iowa, some in that state are facing out-of-pocket expenditures which could grow by as much as 19 percent.
A report by Ken Blackwell in the Daily Caller (online, Oct. 15) makes references to a type of drug known as “Biosimilars”. These medically equivalent to drugs known as “Biologics” – – which are extracted from living organisms. They can treat diseases ranging from Alzheimer’s, to AIDS, to Rheumatoid Arthritis, this according to Blackwell’s Daily Caller report. Blackwell makes the case for permitting biosimilars’ use in the United States, “America needs to allow for biosimilars to enter this already enormous global marketplace. If America does not promote an environment that supports research and developments of these new treatments, other countries will pick up the slack.” This points directly to the FDA who needs to “complete the pathway” for such drugs – as the Daily Caller sees it.
Biologic drugs are not cheap, with costs being as high as $35,000.00.
An article in Human Events (online, Oct. 9, by Eric Boehm) provides background regarding health insurers’ experiences with the Affordable Care Act, at least during its more or less preliminary phase. According to Human Events, insurance companies made out fairly well with the passage of Obamacare, as they were virtually promised a built-in, captive customer-base thanks to the law’s requirement that every American purchase health insurance. If the insurance companies wound up suffering losses due to fresh round coverage the Affordable Care Act mandated, health insurers then had their version of Plan B. The Obamacare provision permitting the government to rescue an insurer suddenly finding its balance sheet at deficit levels: prior to 2016. While great for insurance companies, it’s not so great for consumers, who are then compelled to pay health insurance companies’ services in advance, while simultaneously paying increased higher premiums. However, taxpayers could see a reprieve if Congress winds up disallowing The Obama White House to go all the way with its “risk corridor” program – one which would “bail out” insurers over the next 24 months if they wind up with losses, not profits. So says Human Events.
According to a recent post in the Daily Caller (online, Oct. 7) a new study by the Mercantus Center, one written by University of Chicago economics professor Casey Mulligan, investigates the potential results of several overt, and perhaps not so overt, Obamacare tax increases on weekly work hours, and employment overall.
Per Obamacare, full-time employees are defined as those working a minimum of 30 hours per week. Also, as it stands now under the Affordable Care Act, full time workers and their families are not entitled to subsidized health insurance coverage – – that is unless their employer does not provide for affordable healthcare. Professor Mulligan is quoted by the Daily Caller as saying, “This amounts to an implicit tax on full-time employment.” Mulligan continues, “Employees of an employer that offers insurance coverage will only receive a government subsidy if they work part time or spend time off the payroll entirely.”
Professor Mulligan adds, “Three major provisions of the [Affordable Care Act] introduce incentives to change the work week.” Mulligan claims the most blatant of these is, “the explicit penalty on assessable large employers that do not offer health insurance to their full-time employees,” according to the Daily Caller.
According to a report on Investors.com (online 10/7) Barack Obama’s recent response to a question by the general manager of Millennium Steel, based in Indiana, about the company looking at what amounts to double-digit health insurance premium hikes, was, “The question is whether you guys are shopping effectively enough.” Currently, according to the Investors.com, retailers cannot be guaranteed that any amount of foot traffic will protect them from the effects of the Affordable Care Act — on their bottom lines. Such impacts are being felt in the New York, Philadelphia, and Dallas metropolitan regions, prompting workforce reductions, and / or reduced staff hours.
Also, according to the Investors.com Oct. 7 story, a survey by the American Action Forum, reveals found that full time workers at medium-sized firms are looking at losing $935.00 per year because additional Obamacare costs.