Democrats are crowing over the Congressional Budget Office projection that the House-passed health care bill would leave 23 million fewer Americans with insurance as of 2027 than if ObamaCare stayed intact — while ignoring the fact that ObamaCare can’t remain intact.
That is, the CBO guesstimates are comparing the GOP bill to a fantasy.
We’ve written before of how insurers are fleeing the ObamaCare exchanges because they’re losing too much money. If the law goes unchanged, the nation will soon start seeing “insurance deserts” where no one’s offering exchange coverage. The CBO doesn’t account for that.
When the nation’s largest insurer announced its departure from a few Obamacare state exchanges last year, the law’s defenders pooh-poohed the development as a blip on the radar. Then the health insurance giant pulled out of almost all markets, forcing apologists to insist that all was well because UnitedHealth’s overall Obamacare marketshare was relatively small. Next, the company said it was closing up shop within Covered California, the massive exchange in America’s largest state. And now we get word that another enormous insurer is edging away from participation in the law — withdrawing not just from Minnesota’s Obamacare exchange, but from the state’s entire individual-based market.
Even as Republicans have tried to do away with Obamacare, attempting more than 60 times to repeal or undermine it, they have never agreed on how to replace it.
They will soon, at least according to House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and his Republican colleagues.
Speaker Ryan, the House’s highest-ranking Republican, unveiled an agenda Wednesday to replace parts of the Affordable Care Act, while retaining its most popular features.
Millions of poor Americans have signed up for no-cost health insurance that they could have gotten even without the passage of Obamacare.
These Americans already were eligible for Medicaid, a government-funded program that provides medical coverage at little or no cost, but they didn’t sign up for it because they didn’t have to or because they didn’t realize they could.
In recent years, however, the publicity of Obamacare has driven them to sign up in droves, so much so that economists and health policy wonks have dubbed the phenomenon the “woodwork effect,” or the “welcome mat” population. This group turned out to be larger than anyone anticipated.
Ramesh Ponnuru is a a senior Editor at National Review and also a Bloomberg View columnist. His 6/3 account in Bloomberg View (online) profiles Tom Price, R-Ga., chairman of the congressional House Budget Committee, and his plan to grant tax credits to those consumers seeking to purchase health insurance coverage. According to Ponnuru, “The credits would be based on age but not on income. Everyone between 35 and 50 would get $2,100 per year.”
On the other hand, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has an Obamacare alternative which would “phase out tax credits with income. The credits could be used to but insurance in a much less regulated market than Obamacare creates: No longer would insurance policies have to cover a federally approved list of essential health benefits,” according to Ponnuru.
Price’s plan, according to the Bloomberg View story, poses a “danger” to employer-provided coverage, because if younger workers find “better bargains”. . . “on the individual market,” that could leave employers insuring staff primarily both more elderly and ill. Additional translation? Some employer premiums may sharply increase causing their health plans to fold.
News and politics may be local, especially more so with some issues versus others. This may be said of Obamacare. Now it seems, according to a recent Peter Sullivan article in The Hill (online Mar. 12) Republican governors in the U.S. are scurrying to have at the ready, in-hand, “a response if the Supreme Court cripples Obamacare, leading to a tangle of divergent views that could make it tougher for the GOP to rally around a single solution.”
Sullivan’s article cites Hill blogger’s Ford O’Connell’s blog, which raises this point, “The Republicans potentially have a PR nightmare on their hands, because what’s going to happen when 8 million people are going to be denied subsidies?”
Potentially making this particular political landscape a trickier go (according to The Hill) is “the fact that several GOP governors could be launching presidential campaigns near the time the court reveals its decision, expected in June.”
Some potential 2016 president hopefuls seem to be backing away from putting forth their own ideas about Obamacare replacement alternatives. For example, Gov. Scott Walker, R -Wis., has not eliminated an ACA overhaul from the realm of possibility, but at the same time believes proposals should emanate from Congress.
As it stands now, approximately 180,000 people in Walker’s Badger State could lose their Obamacare subsidies. “While we continue to monitor the federal court case and the pending outcome later this year, ultimately, the responsibility rests with the federal government to fix this federal law,” says Scott Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick – – according to The Hill. “Following the issuance of a decision, we will continue to work with members of Wisconsin’s federal delegation to enact a solution,” Patrick said.
In New Jersey, 200,000 could lose subsidies2/, and The Garden State’s Gov. Chris Christie has not been heard from on this point.
The Hill online reports Wednesday that Democrats who are quickly latching on to the recent U.S. Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision cite it as discrimination against women’s healthcare. But Republicans counter that Democrats’ contraceptive care alternatives are misleading.
Conservatives are prepared to offer a legislative option. Even key Republican Senators like Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appear to be backtracking. While the minority leader previously accused Democrats of exaggerating the ramifications of the Hobby Lobby case, he also says, “We plan to introduce legislation this week that says no employer can block any employee from legal access to her FDA-approved contraceptives.”
McConnell faces an arduous re-election battle against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in his home state of Kentucky.
Are we witnessing an Obamacare secession by several Republican-controlled states? A number of red states have reportedly declined the option of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, according to an April 23 article on Bloomberg BNA.
Those states are also seeking to utilize their own state-specific plans for coverage to low income adults to access the federal funds earmarked for state Medicaid expansion. In doing so, they specifically seek waivers of ACA requirements for Medicaid expansion. This would allow them to include conditions such as copayments, health savings accounts, as well as offer monetary incentives for those engaging in healthy behaviors.
According to University of Michigan researchers, in a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), this direction possibly signals an emergent middle way towards reductions in ranks of the uninsured: “They (the waivers) have enabled governors to persuade enough conservatives to support a modified Medicaid expansion,” allowing them to “remain critical of the ACA while pursuing Medicaid waivers they view as beneficial for their states.”
Noted pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson, recently debuted an initiative: “Save our Healthcare Project”. The end result hoped for? “[T]o replace Obamacare with positive, patient-oriented reforms to ensure all Americans have access to high-quality care.” Carson unveiled the “initial phase” – which lists his seven core principles, including one describing physicians as “the backbone of our healthcare system.”
Carson’s plan also attacks bureaucracy and large scale change, while advocating prudent advancement of technology, and championing consumer freedom.
If it hasn’t started already, it will sooner rather than later. House Republicans are working on plans to kick-off a GOP alternative to Obamacare. The central idea is to come up with healthcare “that actually works, control costs [and] gives the ability for greater choice.” With regard to specific policy components of the emerging GOP proposal, Republicans will have to make decisions about how far coverage will extend, and how their version of healthcare will be addressed in the tax code.
House Republicans are deciding whether their version will be one GOP bill or combination of more than one proposition.