ObamaCare Watch Newsletter 4/27/18

  • Health Policy Consensus Group Calls for Renewability of Short-Term Health Plans –
  • Five Steps Policymakers Can Take to Permit the Sale and Renewal of Affordable Alternatives to Obamacare Policies –
  • Short-Term Health Plans Provide Alternative to Premium Hikes –
  • Killing an ObamaCare Alternative –
  • 4 New Ways You Can Avoid Fines for Not Having Health Insurance –
  • Why Aren’t U.S. Liberals Outraged About Alfie Evans? –
  • U.K.’s National Health Service Is in Trouble –
  • Connecticut General Assembly Considers Reviving Individual Insurance Mandate –
  • Officials Aim for Reinsurance Program to Prop up Louisiana’s Individual Health Care Market –
  • TPPF Joins Suit Against Obamacare –
  • ObamaCare Call Center Contractor Accused of Wage Theft –

A Way Out of Expensive ACA Policies

 

Health Policy Consensus Group Calls for Renewability of Short-Term Health Plans
By Grace-Marie Turner and Doug Badger
Forbes, April 24, 2018Thirty-nine health policy experts and representatives of a broad cross-section of organizations joined in signing a comment letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding its proposed rule on Short-Term, Limited-Duration Insurance. They argue that the Obama administration exerted “regulatory overreach” in limiting the sale of short-term policies to 90 days and prohibiting their renewal “in an effort to limit the sale of these policies, constrain consumer choice, and impose federal regulations on a product whose regulation the statute reserves to the states.” They hope that this will convince CMS to amend its proposed rule to allow, among other things, renewability of short-term policies.

Five Steps Policymakers Can Take to Permit the Sale and Renewal of Affordable Alternatives to Obamacare Policies
By Doug Badger and Whitney Jones
The Heritage Foundation, April 26, 2018

Policymakers should provide consumers more freedom to choose the insurance coverage that is best for their families. That may include short-term limited-duration (STLD) health insurance policies that help people stay covered through gaps in employment or other delays in getting permanent coverage. A useful first step: repeal the Obama Administration rule that improperly limits the sale and renewal of STLD policies and restore the previous rule that stood for 20 years.CMS should finalize the STLD regulations expeditiously to allow insurers to begin marketing and consumers to start buying them. State regulators also should permit the sale and renewal of these products.  And Congress should repeal Obamacare and replace it with a solution that returns resources and regulatory authority to the states.

Short-Term Health Plans Provide Alternative to Premium Hikes
By Nathan Nascimento
Morning Consult, April 25, 2018

Some in Washington would have us believe there is only one way to provide relief to the millions of Americans trapped between paying the high cost of Obamacare or dropping coverage altogether: Send billions more taxpayer dollars to health insurance companies. They’re wrong. There is a better way. Short-term plans are just what the name implies—coverage for three to 12 months, but in most cases at a much lower cost to consumers because they are only paying for services they need and no longer paying for care they don’t need. As a result of this increased customization, sky-high deductibles may finally start coming down for some Americans.

Killing an ObamaCare Alternative
By Editorial Board
The Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2018

The Trump Administration has been looking for lifeboats for Americans trapped in ObamaCare exchanges, and one project is to expand “association health plans,” or AHPs, that let employers team up to offer coverage. But the fine print in the proposed Labor Department rule is causing concern and needs to be cleaned up. The issue is whether the Trump rule will let association health plans set prices based on risk, which is how insurance is supposed to work. The point of the rule is to let businesses enjoy the flexibility that large employers have under a law known as ERISA. Under the ACA, bigger businesses have fared much better than those stuck in the small group market, which is heavily regulated.

4 New Ways You Can Avoid Fines for Not Having Health Insurance
By Michelle Andrews
Washington Post, April 24, 2018

The federal government has added four more “hardship exemptions”that exempt people from paying a penalty for not having health insurance. Under the new rules, people can apply for a hardship exemption if they: 1) Live in an area where there are no marketplace plans; 2) Live in an area where there is just one insurer selling marketplace plans; 3) Can’t find an affordable marketplace plan that doesn’t cover abortion; or 4) Experience “personal circumstances” that make it difficult for them to buy a marketplace plan, including not being able to find a plan in their area that gives them access to specialty care they need.


An International Look

Why Aren’t U.S. Liberals Outraged About Alfie Evans?
By Ramesh Ponnuru
Bloomberg View, April 26, 2018

What the British government is doing to a baby and his family is almost unbelievable. The government has determined that Alfie Evans, afflicted as he is by a rare neurodegenerative disorder, has so poor a quality of life that no efforts should be made to keep him alive. He was taken off ventilation, but continued, surprising the doctors, to breathe. He has also been deprived of water and food. His parents want to take him to Italy, where a hospital is willing to treat him. The British government says no, and has police stationed to keep the boy from being rescued.The family is not asking the British government to pay for expensive treatments. They just want the freedom to take their boy to people who will try to keep him alive rather than cause his death.

U.K.’s National Health Service Is in Trouble
By Jenny Gross
The Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2018

Seventy years after its foundation, Britain’s beloved National Health Service, which delivers free care for all, is in trouble. Hospitals were so overcrowded last month that a record 24% of patients waited for more than four hours in emergency rooms to receive medical attention, the worst monthly showing since the service began tracking that metric in 2010. Thousands of operations have been delayed or suspended, patients are being left to recover from major operations in hospital corridors, and the system is struggling with a severe shortage of doctors and nurses.


States

Connecticut General Assembly Considers Reviving Individual Insurance Mandate
By Hayley Sledge
The Heartland Institute, April 25, 2018

Connecticut lawmakers are considering two bills that would impose fines on people for choosing not to buy health insurance. The Connecticut state House Insurance and Real Estate Committee sponsored House Bill 5379 (H.B. 5379), which would require residents who do not purchase health insurance to pay a fine of $10,000 or 9.66% of their annual income, whichever is higher. Alternatively, Connecticut state Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin) sponsored House Bill 5039 (H.B. 5039), which would levy a fine of $500 or 2% of annual income on individuals who decide not to buy health insurance.

Officials Aim for Reinsurance Program to Prop up Louisiana’s Individual Health Care Market
By Sam Karlin
The Advocate, April 22, 2018

Louisiana’s health insurance market for individuals has been plagued in recent years by insurers fleeing the market and double-digit rate increases. This prompted a proposed fix that would tack a fee on policies across the state to create a safety net against insurers’ losses and hold the line on runaway premiums. The state’s Department of Insurance is pushing a bill through the legislature that it says would lower premiums in the individual market by an average of 15% next year. The bill would put a roughly $1.25-a-month fee on every health-insured life in the state. That money, which one critic labeled a tax on business disguised as a fee, would go into what is called a reinsurance pool designed to protect insurers against high-cost patients.


Challenges to the ACA

TPPF Joins Suit Against Obamacare
By Robert Henneke
Texas Public Policy Foundation, April 25, 2018

This week the Texas Public Policy Foundation, on behalf of individual Texans burdened by Obamacare, filed to join the Texas-led, 20 state lawsuit challenging the ACA as unconstitutional as amended by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The U.S. Supreme Court has already held that the individual mandate absent the tax penalty is unconstitutional. Now that Congress has set the tax penalty at zero, it no longer performs the essential function of a tax, which is to generate revenue for the federal government. Therefore, there is no remaining legal basis on which to uphold the individual mandate, which cannot be severed from the ACA as a whole through the processes currently accessible in Congress.

ObamaCare Call Center Contractor Accused of Wage Theft
By Peter Sullivan
The Hill, April 23, 2018

The federal contractor that operates ObamaCare call centers was accused of wage theft totaling more than $100 million over five years in complaints filed Monday. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) brought the complaints with the Department of Labor, alleging that the contractor, General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), has been underpaying its workers. The company employs about 10,000 workers at 11 call centers that help people signing up for ObamaCare or other programs like Medicare, the CWA says.