ObamaCare Watch Newsletter 2/23/18

  • New Trump Health Policy Would Make Coverage Options More Affordable –
  • The Short-Term Future for ObamaCare –
  • Conservatives Cheer Reversal of 11th-Hour Obama Health Rule –
  • Patients Deserve the Right to Shop –
  • It’s Time to Revamp Medicare ACOs –
  • As Some Got Free Health Care, Gwen Got Squeezed: An Obamacare Dilemma –
  • The Center for American Progress’s ‘Medicare Extra for All’ Plan –
  • Advocates for Single-Payer Health Care Play the Long Game in California –
  • D.C. Marketplace Formally Recommends District-Level Individual Mandate –
  • GOP, Dem Governors Push National Health Care Compromise –
  • Kentucky Governor Countersues Over Medicaid Work Requirements –
  • Ohio Will Try to Exempt Residents from ACA Mandate, Add Work Requirement for Some on Medicaid –

Expanding Patient Choice

New Trump Health Policy Would Make Coverage Options More Affordable
By Whitney Jones and Doug Badger
The Daily Signal, Feb. 20, 2018

The Trump administration moved on Tuesday to deliver affordable health care to Americans with a proposed rule that would expand the availability of short-term, limited duration plans to one year. The rule comes as a result of the president’s executive order calling on federal agencies to take the necessary measures to scale back Obamacare’s burdensome regulations. For consumers who do not have access to employer-based coverage and do not qualify for federal subsidies in the individual market, these short-term plans provide a cost-effective alternative to Obamacare plans.

The Short-Term Future for ObamaCare
By Editorial Board
The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 20, 2018

Some Republicans would be happy to dump money into the exchanges and move on, so credit the Trump Administration for their proposal on short-term plans that puts consumer choice ahead of politics. An Administration fact sheet estimates that in 2016 a short-term plan ran about $124 a month, versus $393 for an unsubsidized ObamaCare plan. The people who could benefit most from this alternative are those the law has slammed: Americans above 400% of the poverty line—a couple making about $65,000—who have been coerced to buy a product without subsidies.

Conservatives Cheer Reversal of 11th-Hour Obama Health Rule
By Brendan Kirby
LifeZette, Feb. 21, 2018

Doug Badger, senior fellow at Galen Institute, said that the Trump administration’s proposed rule change on short-term health plans is the latest evidence that President Trump is moving wherever possible to undo Obamacare restrictions on the health insurance market. For many people, the option is to have a short-term plan or none at all. The previous Obamacare regulations reflected President Obama’s philosophy of one-size-fits-all health care. “They want people to be either uninsured or have Obamacare policies,” Badger said.

Patients Deserve the Right to Shop
By Kelly McCutchen and Josh Archambault
Georgia Public Policy Foundation, Feb. 16, 2018

As Georgia seeks relief from high and unpredictable health care costs, leaders must look beyond the failed approaches from Washington and look instead toward innovative solutions from other states. For example, in 2017, Maine unanimously passed a bipartisan health care bill that provides a solution “Right to Shop,” which lowers health care costs by empowering consumers to choose among health care providers, and rewards them financially (i.e. cash, a gift card or reductions in what a patient has to pay) for making smart choices that save money without affecting the quality of their care.  Right to Shop works because it puts the patient first. Right to Shop also opens the door to more options for patients: They have the right to pick any qualified health care provider out-of-network as well, as long as they are a good value.


Obamacare Impact

It’s Time to Revamp Medicare ACOs
By James C. Capretta
American Enterprise Institute, Dec. 13, 2017

Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) were created by the ACA to improve the efficiency of the networks of hospitals and doctors that deliver services to Medicare patients and thereby lower the government’s costs. So far, however, ACOs haven’t produced any savings for the federal government. ACOs would become more efficient and innovative if they were forced to compete with the other options beneficiaries have for getting their Medicare-covered benefits.

As Some Got Free Health Care, Gwen Got Squeezed: An Obamacare Dilemma
By Abby Goodnough
The New York Times, Feb. 19, 2018

Gwen Hurd got the letter just before her shift at the outlet mall. Her health insurance company informed her that coverage for her family of three, purchased through the ACA marketplace, would cost almost 60% more this year—$1,200 a month. She and her husband, a contractor, found a less expensive plan, but at $928 a month, it meant giving up date nights and saving for their future. Worse, the new policy required them to spend more than $6,000 per person before it covered much of anything. “It seems to me that people who earn nothing and contribute nothing get everything for free,” said Ms. Hurd. “And the people who work hard and struggle for every penny barely end up surviving.”


Single-Payer

The Center for American Progress’s ‘Medicare Extra for All’ Plan
By Reihan Salam
National Review, Feb. 22, 2018

The liberal think tank Center for American Progress has offered a “Medicare Extra for All” proposal that is a repackaged version of the congressional Democrats’ 2009’s “public option” proposal.  As more Democrats embrace the idea of Medicare-for-all, a process that’s accelerated since the Bernie Sanders insurgency and the election of Donald Trump, the idea of a public option is no longer the leftward edge of the debate. In short order, I suspect it will become Democratic orthodoxy.  It imagines that large savings can be generated by extending Medicare’s price controls for hospital care. But if holding down provider payments were a snap, any number of utopian health-system reforms, whether from the right or the left, would be within our grasp.  Here’s another take on the liberal plan.

Advocates for Single-Payer Health Care Play the Long Game in California
By Laurel Rosenhall
The Mercury News, Feb. 18, 2018

Riding a wave of enthusiasm from progressive Democrats, supporters of single-payer have effectively made it a front-and-center issue in California’s 2018 elections. It’s been discussed in virtually every forum with the candidates running for governor, emerged as a point of contention in some legislative races, and will likely be a rallying cry at the upcoming California Democratic Party convention. Conservatives should realize that advocates of single-payer know that it’s not going to happen now, it’s not going to happen tomorrow, but long-term, they hope to make single-payer a reality.


States

D.C. Marketplace Formally Recommends District-Level Individual Mandate
By Katie Keith
HealthAffairs, Feb. 22, 2018

The District of Columbia has moved one step closer toward becoming the second in the nation, behind Massachusetts, to adopt an individual health insurance mandate. The Executive Board of the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority (Authority) approved a resolution recommending the adoption of a District-level mandate as well as a number of other policy proposals. The resolution will have to be approved by the D.C. Council before going into effect. The District would be the first to adopt its own mandate in the wake of repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate, but it joins at least eight states considering or studying their own individual mandate.

GOP, Dem Governors Push National Health Care Compromise
By Julie Carr Smyth
The Associated Press, Feb. 23, 2018

A bipartisan group of governors working to strike compromise on hot-button policy issues will take on health care at an event today in Washington D.C. Governors John Kasich (R-OH), John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and Bill Walker (I-AK) are among governors scheduled to headline a briefing to discuss their latest ideas for improving the nation’s health care system. The governors’ biggest ask is for more flexibility for states to maximize value in health spending.  “Within standards that protect the most vulnerable, states should have appropriate flexibility to implement reforms in a manner that is responsive to local and regional market conditions,” they write.  “Material, lasting improvement to our health care system requires harnessing private sector innovation and competition to the benefit of all,” they write. (It would seem that block grants to the states, with as much regulatory flexibility as the congressional process would allow, would be the best way to restore power to the states to reform their insurance markets.)

Kentucky Governor Countersues Over Medicaid Work Requirements
By Nathaniel Weixel
The Hill, Feb. 20, 2018

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) is countersuing to stop a lawsuit filed by critics of the state’s plan to institute Medicaid work requirements. The Bevin administration filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Kentucky on Monday seeking a ruling that the state’s Medicaid waiver fully complies with federal law. The waiver, which was approved in January, will allow Kentucky to impose work requirements on some Medicaid beneficiaries as well as charge monthly premiums.

Ohio Will Try to Exempt Residents from ACA Mandate, Add Work Requirement for Some on Medicaid
By Stephen Koff
Cleveland.com, Feb. 16, 2018

Ohio will soon ask the federal government to waive an Obamacare requirement that nearly everyone in the state get health insurance coverage in 2018. It will also ask permission to make some Medicaid recipients work 20 hours a week, go to school or take on similar activities. The state announced both these actions today, anticipating it will submit separate applications to Washington in about a month, after holding public hearings.

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