ObamaCare's Destructive Impact Already Being Felt

Long before most of ObamaCare’s provisions go into effect in 2014, the cascade of destruction from the law already is hitting virtually every corner of the health sector, from doctors, to health insurance brokers, to health insurers serving seniors, children, small businesses, and families.

  • Doctors: A California plastic surgeon, Lloyd Krieger, wrote in The Wall Street Journal Wednesday that “the law has already yielded profound, destructive changes.” He says the “most significant change is a wave of frantic consolidation in the health industry” which will lead to system-wide collectivization. “Doctors and hospitals … have decided that they cannot survive unless they achieve massive size — and fast.” This means that “government bureaucrats will be able to impose controls with much greater ease.”

  • Brokers: Health insurance brokers are in dire straits as insurers are cutting or even eliminating their commissions in order to meet the government’s arbitrary and punitive medical loss ratio requirements. These brokers provide valuable services to their clients in finding coverage options and navigating the claims process for smaller employers who use them as external human resource directors. Patients and companies will suffer if these experts are shoved out and replaced by the law’s so-far non-existent “navigators.”

  • Health insurers: The impact of new rules on health insurance is causing people throughout the country to “lose the coverage they have now” and to have many fewer options. We all keep hearing the news in a drip-drip-drip of reports, but it seems particularly stark when you pull together in one paper, as we have done, the number of companies that have withdrawn from various markets in response to new rules. This leaves customers with fewer options of affordable coverage in an increasingly non-competitive market.

Here is our latest paper, out today, entitled “Negative consequences of health law force health insurers to withdraw from markets across the country.”

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Medicare Advantage: And it’s really hard not to be cynical about the tactics of the Obama administration in implementing the law.

So far, Medicare Advantage plans serving at least 700,000 seniors have announced they are leaving certain markets as a result of the deep payment cuts to the program in ObamaCare.

Wanting to avoid an even larger cascade of lost coverage and growing anger of the important senior vote in the coming election year, Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent out her annual “call letter” to carriers on February 18 with the surprising news that per capita Medicare Advantage payments will increase by 1.6 percent on average for 2012.

The Medicare Advantage update for 2011 was zero and was the major contributor to the loss of coverage we report about in our new paper. Given that PPACA requires the $145 billion in payment reductions to MA over 10 years, that will mean even more draconian cuts in the future — after the elections.

Seniors are unlikely to be fooled by this political ploy.

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Kaiser poll: Notably, a recent health tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the American people increasingly are confused about whether or not the health law is still in place. As we know, the House voted to repeal the law on January 19 by a vote of 245-189, but the measure failed in the Senate, and the president has vowed to veto the legislation if it were to reach his desk.

Yet, according to the Kaiser survey, 22 percent of people think the law has been repealed and 26 percent are unsure. Just over half accurately believe the legislation still stands.

The danger is that the American people think that because of the November elections, the court cases declaring the law unconstitutional, and the repeal vote in the House, that ObamaCare is over.

But the law is very much in place, and its destructive impact already is being felt.

CLIP OF THE WEEK

Reforming Medicare At Last

In this week’s video, Joe Antos of the American Enterprise Institute and a panel of experts discuss what reforms are necessary for Medicare and how it might be possible to actually achieve those reforms.
Watch now >>

 

GALEN IN THE NEWS

Negative Consequences of Health Law Force Health Insurers to Withdraw from Markets Across the Country

Grace-Marie Turner
Galen Institute, 02/25/11

This new paper pulls together the number of companies that have withdrawn from various markets in response to new rules of the health overhaul law, which leaves customers with fewer options of affordable coverage in an increasingly non-competitive market.
Read More »

States Are Forced To Pay For Measures They Can’t Afford

Grace-Marie Turner
The Sacramento Bee, 02/24/11

Less than a year since Congress passed the health overhaul law, the government is handing out hundreds and hundreds of waivers exempting a favored few from some of its expensive and burdensome provisions. States are clamoring loudest for relief. In fact, 28 of them are challenging the law’s constitutionality in the courts. And at least four states have requested and received waivers to protect health insurance for state employees — despite the fact that the waivers don’t meet new federal tests. The states are also pleading with Washington to allow them to reduce the number of people on their Medicaid rolls. With states facing billions in revenue shortfalls, they are desperate to find ways to balance their budgets — as most state constitutions require. The health law’s centralized, top-down approach grabs more and more power for Washington while putting states under the federal thumb. This defines the essence of the constitutional battle that will be waged until 2012.
Read More »

To Speed Drug Development, Government Must Get Out of the Way

Grace-Marie Turner
Real Clear Markets, 02/18/11

The Obama administration proposes in its latest budget to create a new billion-dollar federal agency to help develop new medicines. The reason? The government is concerned that private companies aren’t doing enough to get new drugs to market. Patients and taxpayers would be better served if the government would instead use the money to modernize the regulatory process that is discouraging private investment and clogging the pipeline of new drugs. Instead of setting itself up as a competitor in drug development, the government should get out of the way by fulfilling its crucial goal in modernizing its out-dated technologies for FDA review and stop blocking payment for drugs and devices that are proven effective.
Read More »

HEALTH REFORM

ObamaCare Is Already Damaging Health Care
Lloyd M. Krieger, The Wall Street Journal, 02/23/11

An Economic Perspective on the Individual Mandate’s Severability from the ACA
Bradley Herring, Ph.D., The New England Journal of Medicine, 02/23/11

The Wisconsin Protests and the New Medical Ethics
Paul Hsieh, Pajamas Media, 02/21/11

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll
Kaiser Family Foundation, 02/11

A Little Learning about Testing Medical Devices
John E. Calfee and Gabriel Sudduth, The American, 02/18/11

Don’t Fight Crime with More Health Care Mandates
Merrill Matthews, Forbes: Right Directions, 02/23/11

ObamaCare Is Starting To Bleed Insurers Dry
Sally C. Pipes, Forbes.com, 2/24/11

MEDICARE AND MEDICAID

When Care Is Split Between Medicare And Medicaid: KHN Interview With Melanie Bella
Joanne Kenen, Kaiser Health News, 02/24/11

Events

Next Steps in Health Reform
KaiserEDU Essay Contest
Deadline is February 28, 2011

The Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate: An Oxford Style Debate
The Brookings Institution Event
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
10:00am – 12:00pm
Washington, DC

Reforming America’s Health Care System: The Flawed Vision of ObamaCare
Cato Institute Book Forum
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
4:00pm
Washington, DC
Grace-Marie Turner will discuss her contribution to this new book from Hoover Institution Press.

Regulation in a 21st Century Economy
Mercatus Center at George Mason University Event
Thursday, March 3, 2011
8:30am – 1:00pm
Washington, DC

Annual Benefits Forum
Atlanta Association of Health Underwriters Event
Thursday, March 3, 2011
7:00am – 4:00pm
Atlanta, GA
Grace-Marie Turner will provide an update on health reform.

Living Well at the End of Life
National Journal Policy Summit Series
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
8:00am – 10:30am
Washington, DC

The Welfare State After the Crisis
Stockholm Network Event
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
London, England

Health Care Cost Summit
AHIP Conference
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Washington, DC

The Budgetary Impact of Federal Health Care Reform
Pioneer Institute Hewitt Health Care Lecture
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
5:30pm – 8:00pm
Washington, DC

ObamaCare and the Challenges to Catholic Conscience
St. John Church Event
Friday, March 11, 2011
8:15pm
McLean, VA

Innovation in Healthcare: Perspectives on Access, Delivery and Development
University of California Haas School of Business Conference
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Berkeley, CA

ObamaCare Anniversary Video Contest
Independent Women’s Voice Contest
Deadline is March 19, 2011

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