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.”
According to a report in the Washington Times (online, 8/19) the New York Fed recently conducted a poll of businesses, twenty percent of those questioned indicated they intend to cut their workforces while simultaneously increasing their levels of part- timers. This is part of an effort to avoid the Obamacare “Employer Mandate.” Other methods employers are considering are hiring freezes or the trimming the hours for part time employees.
Obamacare’s “Employer Mandate”, directs that private sector organizations with 50 or more employees provide health insurance coverage for their employees, or face paying what amounts to an Affordable Care Act penalty, or tax.
Other monetary-related challenges to Obamacare include the fact the Affordable Care Act is actually collecting less of the Medical Device Tax than initially anticipated. Worse, the IRS is currently unable to pinpoint which “FDA-registered” medical device manufacturers should be paying the 2.3 percent levy – on sold medical devices. Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, says “everything form this ill-conceived tax’s structure to its implantation has been a disaster. It’s no surprise that 79 senators went on the record to repeal this job-killing tax.”
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services remain tightlipped about records connected to Obamacare-related computer systems, and the security software deployed in the federal healthcare Web site, HealthCare.gov. The main concern on the part of the Obama White House, about releasing such records, is fear over placing the website in jeopardy – in terms of granting potential hackers an avenue by which they could compromise the system. Yet, U.S. Attorney Eric Holder may be maintaining a favorable view towards releasing a portion of Affordable Care Act tech-related documentation, as long a parts considered by CMS as confidential are redacted.
According to a healthcare industry consultant, David Kennedy, “Security practices aren’t private information.” Kennedy expressed this view in 2013, while testifying about the integrity of HealthCare.gov before the Congress.
How Will Obamacare Fare During the November 2014 Midterm Elections?
The answer to that question may depend upon how far and how long some voter disenchantment with the Affordable Care Act carries over into the 2014 Midterm Elections. As things stand right now, according to the Kaiser Family foundation, only 37 percent of those surveyed have a favorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as it is also known. In approximately the past 30 days, the 53 percent who disapprove of the healthcare law – is reflective of an 8 percent increase in those unfavorable views.
The Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) is a provision of Obamacare which mandates insurers expend a significant portion of their premium earnings on patient’s medical care.
The MLR and other provisions of the Affordable Care Act may require a comprehensive review of several of its key provisions to discern the actual and real benefits purportedly flowing from it – or don’t.
According to a report on the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal Web page (Aug. 8) the Department of Health and Human Services recently trumpeted $332 million in the form of rebates – due to consumers because of the Medical Loss Ratio. Yet, according to Alyene Singer’s Daily Signal article, these savings rapidly shrivel and pale in light of Obamacare’s spending practices nationwide. Specifically, as an example, two states, Oregon and Nevada are headed over to the federal exchange for their 2015 open enrollment sessions. The grants they got from the feds ($305 million and $91 million) have already been spent.
Lawmakers draft, then pass laws which can adversely impact business. Rarely do those legislators feel the impacts of their created legislation themselves. Those impacts are usually in the form of financial losses, which can wind up being covered by the U.S. taxpayer, according to a report by Rick Manning in the Net Right Daily of Aug. 13 (online). The account also elaborates on the increasing cost of health insurance, specifically, as being the reason behind those opting to pay the ACA tax or fine – meaning they have opted to go without health insurance coverage altogether.
If the actual number of individuals paying for their health insurance via Obamacare lessens – this will have an adverse effect on the earnings of health insurance companies. Under the Affordable Care Act, these losses will in part be covered by U.S. taxpayers.
The cost of certain medications, for some most seriously ill patients, is now out of reach. Additionally, treatments described as “targeted therapies” are not covered. This is per certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Thus, the health of those patients requiring such care is now in peril. According to a recent report in the New York Post by Peter J. Pitts (Aug. 10) Obamacare places restrictions on insurers, narrowing their ability to levy higher premiums on less-than-healthy patients. One way of overcoming these limits? Insurers can still promulgate increased individual out-of-pocket expense for so-called “specialty drugs.”