ObamaCare Watch Newsletter 5/18/18

  • Graham Working on New Obamacare Repeal Bill –
  • Can the Republicans Replace Obamacare Before the Next Election? –
  • The Trump Plan to Reduce Prescription Drug Prices Will Have a Major Impact –
  • Insurers Figured Out How to Make a Profit from Obamacare Last Year –
  • Oregon Insurers Propose Modest Obamacare Rate Increases –
  • Why Are 28 Million Able-Bodied Adults on Medicaid? Expanded Work Requirements Could Help Fix That –
  • New York, Minnesota Settle Lawsuit over Missing Federal Funding for Health Plan Program –
  • Health Law Is Back as Campaign Issue—This Time for Democrats –
  • Democrats Consider How to Reinstate the Individual Mandate Under A Different Name –

New reform plan by November?

Graham Working on New Obamacare Repeal Bill
By Peter Sullivan
The Hill, May 16, 2018

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Wednesday he is working on a new version of his Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill and has not given up on efforts to do away with the law despite Republicans’ failure last year. “I haven’t given up,” Graham said. “Will there be another effort to replace Obamacare with a state-centric plan? I hope so.”Graham said Wednesday that he has been talking to other senators about his effort. “We’re talking to everybody,” he said. Graham’s effort is working in parallel with an effort from conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation and the Galen Institute, which are working with former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and other groups on a new Obamacare replacement plan.

Can the Republicans Replace Obamacare Before the Next Election?
By John C. Goodman
Forbes, May 15, 2018

Republicans could replace Obamacare before the next election, but only if they accept two principles:
1) All the Obamacare money must be used for health care – it can’t be used to cut taxes for the rich or for special interests; and 2) There must be a clear and sustainable path to lower premiums and better access to care.States will need the freedom to stop group insurance from dumping high-cost patients onto the individual market. They also need the ability to stop individuals from gaming the system by acquiring insurance only after they get sick.


Trump Releases Drug Plan

The Trump Plan to Reduce Prescription Drug Prices Will Have a Major Impact
By Avik Roy
Forbes, May 14, 2018

On Friday, the administration released a 44-page blueprint for executive action on drug pricing titled “American Patients First.” The blueprint represents the most comprehensive, serious, and thorough effort by any presidential administration to address the problem of high prescription drug prices. The Trump plan involves two categories of reform: Things the administration can do unilaterally, and things that it will call on Congress to enact. The document focused mainly on unilateral actions, but the Congressional piece is arguably more important, and has gone underappreciated by many observers.


Obamacare Exchange Affordability

Insurers Figured Out How to Make a Profit from Obamacare Last Year
By Zachary Tracer
Bloomberg, May 17, 2018

After years of losses, the U.S. health insurance industry figured out how make money from Obamacare last year, a new analysis shows. The secret? Raising their prices. That left many in a profitable position for the first time since the ACA went into effect, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released Thursday.

Oregon Insurers Propose Modest Obamacare Rate Increases
By Robert King
Washington Examiner, May 15, 2018

Oregon’s seven Obamacare insurers are asking for an average 8% rate increase for 2019, with some plans calling for hikes of as much as 16%. The rates are not final, as the state’s insurance regulator will negotiate with insurers before Obamacare’s open enrollment starts on Nov. 1. Rates for all insurers are expected to become final in the fall. So far, Maryland, Virginia, and Oregon have released proposed preliminary premium increases for their state Obamacare plans.


Reforming Health Programs for Lower-Income Americans

Why Are 28 Million Able-Bodied Adults on Medicaid? Expanded Work Requirements Could Help Fix That
By Paul Winfree
Fox News, May 15, 2018

The Trump administration has taken a commonsense step toward reforming Medicaid. Earlier this year the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released new guidance encouraging states to require work or job training for able-bodied adults as a condition of Medicaid eligibility.By modernizing the Medicaid program through state waivers that would expand work requirements to able-bodied adults, states are simply trying to improve their Medicaid programs. The states are also targeting benefits to people most in need, including seniors, poor children and individuals with disabilities.

New York, Minnesota Settle Lawsuit over Missing Federal Funding for Health Plan Program
By Shelby Livingston
Modern Healthcare, May 10, 2018

New York and Minnesota officials have settled a lawsuit against the Trump administration over its decision to cut federal funding for the states’ Basic Health Program, a program created under the ACA which allows states to use federal dollars to set up health plans for people whose income is above the Medicaid threshold but below 200% of the poverty level. A federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the case after the HHS agreed to pay $151.9 million to New York and $17.3 million to Minnesota by May 14. New York and Minnesota so far are the only states operating the programs.


Democrats’ Strategy

Health Law Is Back as Campaign Issue—This Time for Democrats
By Stephanie Armour and Reid J. Epstein
The Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2018

Republicans have often won support in recent elections by promising to repeal the ACA. This year, Democrats hope to turn the tables by pushing the opposite goal—not just keeping the health law, but expanding government’s role in health care. Democrats acknowledge the law has problems but want to repair and expand it; Republicans are still pushing to dismantle it. Adding to this volatile mix, insurance premiums are set to be announced shortly before the November election.

Democrats Consider How to Reinstate the Individual Mandate Under A Different Name
By Christopher Jacobs
The Federalist, May 17, 2018

Fewer than six months after Congress effectively repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate—and more than six months before that change actually takes effect, in January next year—another liberal group released a plan to reinstate it. The proposal comes as part of the Urban Institute’s recently released “Healthy America” plan.The document says that “uninsured people would lose a percentage of their standard deduction (or the equivalent for the itemized deduction) when they pay income taxes…Half the lost deduction amount could be refunded the following year if the person enrolls in coverage and maintains it for the next full plan year.”