Defying Predictions, Obamacare Insurers See Boom Times Ahead

Health insurers are finding success in ObamaCare this year and are planning to expand their offerings in many states, defying expert’s predictions.

Insurance startup Oscar Health filed to sell ObamaCare plans in Florida, Arizona and Michigan for the first time, and will enter new markets in Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.

Smaller insurers are also making moves, such as Bright Health in Tennessee and Presbyterian Healthcare in New Mexico. It will be the first time Bright Health is selling plans in Tennessee, while Presbyterian is returning to the state exchange after leaving in 2016.

Experts have been hailing these developments, saying that insurers have finally figured out how to become profitable in the ObamaCare marketplace.

But the success is also coming in the face of persistent GOP hostility toward the health-care law and brings the risk of double-digit premium hikes for customers. Read More at The Hill

Once More Into the Breach: Conservative Think Tankers Publish a New Obamacare Replacement

Conservative health care think tank scholars have published a new proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare, hoping that they can persuade Congress to take up the issue one more time before November. Can it succeed where prior efforts have failed?

Graham-Cassidy 2.0

The proposal, entitled “The Health Care Choices Proposal: Policy Recommendations to Congress—Why Congress Must Act,” was published by the Health Policy Consensus Group, a kind of conservative health wonk Jedi Council led by Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute, who is also a Forbes contributor. (I am also a participant in the Consensus Group.)

The plan emerged from the aftermath of the 2017 effort by Senators Bill Cassidy (R., La.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) to put forth an Obamacare replacement after the previous efforts by congressional GOP leadership had failed. The Graham-Cassidy bill, which I reviewed in detail, was designed to preserve the vast majority of Obamacare’s spending on the uninsured, but reformat that spending as block grants to state governments.

The critical flaw in Graham-Cassidy is that it bore the potential to make health insurance markets worse, not better, because due to design flaws in the bill, most states would have been strongly incentivized to eliminate their private individual insurance markets and replace them with an enlarged expansion of Medicaid, a program whose enrollees have health outcomes no better than those who are uninsured.

The Consensus Group proposal improves upon Graham-Cassidy by requiring that “at least 50% of the block grant goes toward supporting people’s purchase of private health coverage” in the individual insurance market. Under the new program, states would be required to offer Medicaid enrollees the opportunity to purchase “commercially available coverage” with their Medicaid dollars, and plans sold under the block grants would be exempted from costly Obamacare rules, like 3:1 age bands that double or triple the cost of insurance for young people. Read More at Forbes

Dems in Denial on Why ObamaCare Premiums Are Through the Roof

America has a health-insurance problem because politicians would rather lie about it than solve it.

ObamaCare regulations caused premiums for people buying their own insurance to more than double between 2013 and 2017, then soar even higher in 2018. With huge hikes predicted again in 2019, ObamaCare will have caused premiums to triple in six years. Ouch. But instead of telling the truth about why this is happening, politicians are dishing out lies.

Read More at New York Post

Your Right to Choose Restored by Health Mandate Repeal

On Dec. 22, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) into law. This legislation simplified and reduced taxes for job creating corporations and millions of Americans. In addition, one of its key provisions removed the individual mandate penalty of the euphemistically-labeled “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (ACA).

This effective repeal of the mandate was urged by President Trump, who has made restoring consumer choice in health care, which was all but eliminated by the costly, regulation-laden, one size fits all ObamaCare, a cornerstone of his administration’s health-care reform policy.

Read More at The Hill.

ObamaCare Call Center Contractor Accused of Wage Theft

The federal contractor that operates ObamaCare call centers was accused of wage theft totaling more than $100 million over five years in complaints filed Monday.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) brought the complaints with the Department of Labor, alleging that the contractor, General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), has been underpaying its workers.

Read More at The Hill.

Senators Say They’ve Reached Bipartisan Deal to Prop Up Obamacare

Senators in both political parties say they’ve reached agreement on fixes to stabilize Obamacare just two weeks before Americans start signing up for 2018 coverage.

The two-year deal would allow crucial subsidies to health insurers to start flowing again, potentially lowering insurance premiums for those in the program next year. President Donald Trump’s administration announced last week that it was cutting off the payments, and on Tuesday Trump called the agreement a short-term solution.

Former Obamacare Administrators Launch Campaign To Revive The Program

Obama administration health policy veterans launched a political advocacy campaign Wednesday  dedicated to increasing Obamacare enrollment in the wake of steep cuts to to the program’s federal marketing budget.

The campaign, “Get America Covered,” is led by Lori Lodes and Joshua Peck, both of whom oversaw enrollment for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) during the Obama administration. The Obamacare advocates embarked on the campaign in an effort to revitalize enrollment marketing efforts in the wake of steep cuts to the advertising budget under the current HHS.

Read more at The Daily Caller

If Congress Doesn’t Fund Obamacare Subsidies Next Month It Could Get Pretty Complicated

  • Insurers can’t wait past a Sept. 30 deadline to set key insurance rates for next year.
  • However, the fate of key subsidy payments under the Affordable Care Act is still unknown.
  • State health insurance regulators expect that subsidies could remain in limbo past key deadlines, and are making plans for that possibility.

Read more at CNBC

Obamacare Premiums Are Set to Rise. Thank Policy Uncertainty.

Insurers are making final decisions about their Obamacare rates for next year. So far, it looks as if many of them will be building in an uncertainty tax.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has compiled proposed insurance prices for coverage in 21 large American cities next year. The rates remain subject to change as insurers and regulators continue to negotiate. But the Kaiser researchers have done similar analyses over the last few years and found the proposed rates to be roughly predictive of the national trend.

Two themes stick out: One is that, while insurance premiums will rise substantially in many cities, the increases are generally not bigger than they were last year. The other is that insurers are being quite explicit about citing the Trump administration’s hostile policy messages as a substantial reason for the higher prices.

Read more at The New York Times

Court Complicates Trump’s Threat to Cut ‘Obamacare’ Funds

President Donald Trump’s bold threat to push “Obamacare” into collapse may get harder to carry out after a new court ruling.

The procedural decision late Tuesday by a federal appeals panel in Washington has implications for millions of consumers. The judges said that a group of states can defend the legality of government “cost-sharing” subsidies for copays and deductibles under the Affordable Care Act if the Trump administration decides to stop paying the money.

Read more at ABC News