ObamaCare Watch Newsletter 6/01/18

  • Conservative Activists Aren’t Giving up Their Obamacare Repeal Dream
  • Obamacare Repeal Effort Quietly Poised for Success
  • A Chance to Overcome ObamaCare
  • Democrats, Long Blamed for Health-Care Costs, Seek to Shift Ownership to GOP
  • 86 Percent of Health Law Enrollees Receive Subsidies, White House Says
  • Reality Check: Obamacare Greatly Worsened Retention Rates In The Non-Group Market
  • Virginia Senate Approves Medicaid Expansion
  • Utah to Vote on Medicaid Expansion, Medical Marijuana This Fall
  • Phil Murphy Signs Law Protecting Obamacare with N.J. Mandate to Have Health Insurance

The Need for Reform

Conservative Activists Aren’t Giving up Their Obamacare Repeal Dream
By Paige Winfield Cunningham
The Washington Post, May 29, 2018

Some conservative activists are poised to release a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare next month. The latest plan is being forged by leaders at the conservative think tanks Heritage Foundation and the Galen Institute, along with former senator Rick Santorum and Yuval Levin of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. They’ve been meeting regularly over the past eight months to craft a recommendation for Congress to repeal much of the ACA’s coverage requirements and taxes, turn over some of its spending to states through block grants and expand the use of tax-free health savings accounts.

Obamacare Repeal Effort Quietly Poised for Success
By Quinn Hillyer
Washington Examiner, May 25, 2018

New numbers on health care costs highlight, yet again, how much of a dereliction of duty it will be if congressional Republicans don’t take another crack this year at replacing Obamacare. There is good reason to believe that a system of block grants plus vastly expanded health savings accounts, opt-out plans for individuals, and funds dedicated to the states for patients facing the greatest health challenges can both work better in practice than Obamacare and secure the votes needed for Senate passage.

A Chance to Overcome ObamaCare
By Michael F. Cannon
The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2018

Alex Azar will soon make his most consequential decision as health and human services secretary. President Trump has asked HHS to expand health-insurance protections in a way that could make coverage more affordable and improve the outlook for ObamaCare’s risk pools. Whether Mr. Azar will oblige is uncertain. Some officials don’t understand that Mr. Trump’s request would expand consumer protections, or mistakenly believe HHS lacks the authority to grant it. The need for action is clear, as ObamaCare premiums keep skyrocketing. Rate hikes as high as 91% will hit many consumers just before Election Day.

Democrats, Long Blamed for Health-Care Costs, Seek to Shift Ownership to GOP
By Stephanie Armour
The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2018

In recent elections, Democrats have faced attacks related to health-care costs, with the party being blamed for premium increases on Affordable Care Act exchanges during the Obama years. Now, as many health insurers are seeking to impose double-digit rate increases on those marketplaces, a number of recent surveys suggest Republicans may take the lion’s share of the blame, with Democrats viewed more favorably on the issue ahead of November’s midterm elections. For example, 61% of voters said President Donald Trump and Republicans would be responsible for problems with the ACA going forward, according to a late 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation poll.


Obamacare Exchanges

86 Percent of Health Law Enrollees Receive Subsidies, White House Says
By Robert Pear
The New York Times, March 10, 2015

The Obama administration said Tuesday that 11.7 million Americans now have private health insurance through federal and state ACA marketplaces, with 86% of them receiving financial assistance from the federal government to help pay premiums. About three-fourths of people with marketplace coverage—8.8 million consumers—live in the 37 states served by HealthCare.gov, the website for the federal insurance exchange. The other 2.9 million people are in states that created and operate their own exchanges.

Reality Check: Obamacare Greatly Worsened Retention Rates In The Non-Group Market
By Chris Conover
Forbes, May 25, 2018

People with ACA plans drop their plans at a much higher rate than in the pre-Obamacare era.  The average monthly attrition rate under Obamacare in 2015 (3.6%) was nearly two-thirds higher than the average monthly attrition rate in the non-group market in 2006 (2.2%). This occurred even though 86% of Obamacare enrollees were receiving subsidized coverage. We can only imagine what would have happened had enrollees borne the full cost of their premiums (as was the case in 2006).  The reality is that while the non-group market was never perfect, it performed much more smoothly before the ACA than most critics ever gave it credit.


Medicaid Expansion

Virginia Senate Approves Medicaid Expansion
By Nathaniel Weixel
The Hill, May 30, 2018

Virginia is on the cusp of expanding Medicaid after the Senate on Wednesday narrowly approved a budget that would allow the state to cover as many as 400,000 low-income people. The House, which already voted in favor of expansion earlier this year, will have to vote again before the bill can go to Gov. Ralph Northam (D). Northam has made expansion one of the top priorities of his administration. When it passes, Virginia will become the 33rd state, along with Washington, D.C., to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare.

Utah to Vote on Medicaid Expansion, Medical Marijuana This Fall
By Robert King
Washington Examiner, May 29, 2018

Utah voters will decide on ballot measures to expand Medicaid and to legalize medical marijuana this fall.  Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox released Tuesday what measures will be on the ballot in the 2018 elections this November. A measure to expand Medicaid under Obamacare got enough signatures to make it onto the ballot. Activists behind the measure are hoping to have the same success as Maine, which approved the Medicaid expansion in a ballot measure last year. However, Maine Gov. Paul LePage has vowed to not abide by the ballot measure because he says the state doesn’t have the money to pay for expansion, prompting a lawsuit.


State-Based Individual Mandates

Phil Murphy Signs Law Protecting Obamacare with N.J. Mandate to Have Health Insurance
By Susan K. Livio
NJ.com, May 30, 2018

Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday signed a law preserving a critical yet controversial part of the Affordable Care Act that [Congress] repealed last year. One of the laws creates a statewide individual mandate, which will require all New Jerseyans who don’t have health coverage through a government program like Medicare or their jobs to buy a policy or pay a fee at tax time.