The Trump administration announced Monday that those who live in counties with no insurer or with only one choice will be able to apply for a hardship exemption from the mandate, which requires nearly all Americans to get health insurance or pay a penalty.
Also, pro-life Americans who can only buy plans that cover abortion can receive an exemption.
Half of Americans think the Obamacare marketplaces are falling apart. But they’re not — even though Republicans have pulled out some legs from under them.
Fifty-three percent of people believe the individual marketplaces — where those without workplace coverage can get subsidized health-care plans — are “collapsing,” according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released this morning. And while 64 percent of Republicans believe this narrative, nearly half of all Democrats buy into it, too.
Such public sentiment is perhaps not surprising, given the marketplaces’ turbulent year under the GOP’s congressional and executive branch rule. Democrats are responsible for the structure of the marketplaces — and new health benefit mandates that pushed premiums higher. But Republicans have not solved the existing problems and perhaps even made them worse.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has teamed up with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. to offer a bill to — in their words — “stabilize individual market premiums.” It comes at a moment when there is a lot of uncertainty around how much marketplace health plans will cost in 2019 — and just a few months before insurance plans will be setting those premiums.
The plan arguably signals Congress is moving away from a stabilization plan that could pass with Democratic votes and toward a more typical, partisan Obamacare agenda from each side.
Congressional Republicans spent the better part of 2017 trying and failing to repeal and replace Obamacare. They have now largely abandoned the project to pursue other goals. Yet in a sense they have succeeded anyway — just not in the manner they expected.
Consider for a moment what a successor to the Affordable Care Act might have looked like if Republicans had somehow managed to both repeal and replace the law last year.
New Kaiser tracking poll results are out today, and Obamacare favorability took yet another jump upward. Overall, Obamacare is continuing its steady march toward widespread acceptance.
Since Obamacare kicked off in 2014, favorability ratings have steadily increased among Democrats (+25 points), independents (+23 points) and even among Republicans (+10 points). Among the entire country, favorability has increased from 34 percent to 54 percent. More than half of that gain has come since mid-2016, when acceptance of Obamacare inflected upward and just kept on going. At the same time, unfavorable opinions have dropped. The net approval rating of Obamacare since 2014 has increased from -16 percent to +12 percent.
It has been well-publicized that premiums for Obamacare insurance plans have been rising at a disturbing rate. Local news is filled with reports of 21.5%, 36.3%, and even higher price hikes. President Trump complained in February that Obamacare premiums “have increased by double and triple digits,” even remarking that premiums in Arizona “went up 116% last year alone.” If the cost of buying insurance was really rising this rapidly, we’d have a reason for bipartisan agreement that the Obamacare insurance experiment is a failure. But the rise in Obamacare premiums isn’t even close to the magnitude we are hearing about from reporters and politicians. And it is not because of fake news or dishonest discourse. It’s because everyone is looking at what’s for sale rather than what’s being sold.
Republicans in Congress failed to repeal Obamacare, but Republicans in Idaho are trying to do it themselves — law of the land be damned.
The state has rolled out the most audacious anti-Obamacare proposal yet, one that openly defies the fact that the Affordable Care Act is still in effect and in force. Idaho officials announced last month that they would allow insurance plans to be sold in the state that don’t comply with the health care law’s regulations. This means that plans can discriminate against people with preexisting medical conditions, by charging them higher premiums, and impose caps on the benefits their customers receive.
The ploy seems plainly illegal: Federal law, as amended by the ACA, flatly forbids health insurers from selling such plans. But Idaho is planning to permit them anyway — and it is not immediately clear who is going to stop it.
If conservatives don’t coalesce behind a new repeal plan soon soon, they will find themselves bystanders as their Republican colleagues link arms with Democrats.
ongressional Republicans were elected to repeal Obamacare. They may run this year as the politicians who saved it. Since late last year, GOP leaders have been planning to pump tens of billions of dollars’ worth of new federal spending into the veins of insurance companies that are hemorrhaging red ink on the Obamacare exchanges.
Health care is the most desired topic for the upcoming State of the Union address: 82% of voters voters want President Trump to discuss improving the health care system.
Health care is also the most important issue for voters in the upcoming 2018 congressional elections, according to a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. A fifth of voters in battleground states consider health care to be their top issue.