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Commentary

Megan McArdle
Bloomberg
Mon, 2014-09-15
"Last week, we finally learned the prices for the new benchmark plans for Obamacare. The good news: Prices are falling slightly. The bad news: Contrary to optimistic early reports, that doesn’t mean that everyone’s costs are falling; consumers will have to be attentive to make sure that their costs don’t go up. The worse news: We won’t actually know what effect the Affordable Care Act is having on insurance prices until 2017, when a bunch of temporary subsidies for insurers expire. The important thing to keep in mind is that when the “benchmark rate” goes down, that doesn’t mean that the cost of the old benchmark plan has fallen. It just means that whatever plan is now the second-cheapest "silver" plan on the exchanges is cheaper than whatever was the second-cheapest plan last year."
Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
Associated Press
Mon, 2014-09-15
"Potential complications await consumers as President Barack Obama's health care law approaches its second open enrollment season, just two months away. Don't expect a repeat of last year's website meltdown, but the new sign-up period could expose underlying problems with the law itself that are less easily fixed than a computer system. Getting those who signed up this year enrolled again for 2015 won't be as easy as it might seem. And the law's interaction between insurance and taxes looks like a sure-fire formula for confusion."
Chris Conover
Forbes magazine
Mon, 2014-09-15
"There’s been a fierce debate over whether Obamacare has increased health insurance premiums. Progressives have argued Obamacare is working due to modest projected premium increases on the Exchanges for 2015. Conservatives have retorted that “there can be no doubt that health care today is more costly than it would have been without Obamacare.” But this argument has focused on the health Exchanges, where only 7-8 million people bought their coverage in 2014. Readers would do well to remember that more than 20 times that number of people rely on employer-provided health benefits (Table C-1). In the employer-based market, the adverse effects of Obamacare on premiums and affordability are strikingly obvious. The growing burden of employer-provided health care has accelerated under Obamacare. And yet the New York Times would have you believe everything is hunky-dory since “the growth in health insurance premiums was only 3 percent between 2013 and 2014.
Alyene Senger
Daily Signal
Fri, 2014-09-12
"Some of Obamacare’s big supporters say the new law has already contributed to decreases in the rate of growth of health spending. But a new report from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of the Actuary says the rate slowed because of a slow economic recovery, increased cost-sharing for those enrolled in private plans and sequestration. Indeed, the report does not even mention Obamacare when assessing the situation. “The recent period is marked by a four-year historically low rate of health spending growth, which is primarily attributable to the sluggish economic recovery and constrained state and local government budgets following the 2007-09 recession,” the report states."
Kaiser Health News
Fri, 2014-09-12
"The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires most private health insurance plans to provide coverage for a broad range of preventive services including Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved prescription contraceptives and services for women. Since the implementation of this provision in 2012, some nonprofit and for profit employers with religious objections to contraceptives have brought legal challenges to this rule. For many women today, their contraceptive coverage depends on their employer or when they purchased their individual insurance plan."
The Associated Press
The New York Times
Fri, 2014-09-12
"A federal judge on Thursday struck down Ohio’s law barring people from knowingly or recklessly making false statements about candidates in a case that the United States Supreme Court said needed to be heard. The judge, Timothy Black, said that the answer to false statements in politics is “not to force silence, but to encourage truthful speech in response, and to let the voters, not the government, decide what the political truth is.” The case began in the 2010 congressional race after Steve Driehaus, a congressman at the time, filed a complaint when the Susan B. Anthony List planned to post billboards claiming the Democrat’s support for President Obama’s health care overhaul equated with support for abortion, even though he opposed abortion."
James Capretta and Yuval Levin
Weekly Standard
Fri, 2014-09-12
"Obamacare—or at least the version of it that the president and his advisers currently think they can get away with putting into place—has been upending arrangements and reshuffling the deck in the health system since the beginning of the year. That’s when the new insurance rules, subsidies, and optional state Medicaid expansions went into effect. The law’s defenders say the changes that have been set in motion are irreversible, in large part because several million people are now covered by insurance plans sold through the exchanges, and a few million more are enrolled in Medicaid as a result of Obamacare. President Obama has stated repeatedly that these developments should effectively shut the door on further debate over the matter. Of course, the president does not get to decide when public debates begin or end, and the public seems to be in no mood to declare the Obamacare case closed.
Drew Altman
Wall Street Journal
Fri, 2014-09-12
"Employers have complained for years about their rising health-care costs. But over the past decade, as the chart above shows, premium increases for employer health insurance have moderated sharply and stabilized. Premiums for family policies in the group market grew 72% between 1999 and 2004; 34% between 2004 and 2009; and 26% between 2009 and 2014. Even as premium growth moderated, health insurance costs still outpaced inflation and wage growth. But this year premiums grew 3%, about the same rate as wages and inflation. Despite fears that premiums would rise in the group market because of the Affordable Care Act, they have remained stable. Policy experts do not fully understand why health-care costs have moderated or when and how rapidly they might begin to again rise more quickly.
Jim Angle
Fox News
Fri, 2014-09-12
"The politically divisive legacy of ObamaCare has vulnerable Democrats trying to downplay their past support of the legislation ahead of Election Day – by criticizing the president’s execution of the law or by sidestepping the issue altogether. Lately, Democrats in tough Senate races have been slamming President Obama for breaking his pledge that everyone could keep their health plans and doctors "no matter what." Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, locked in a race with Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, says of Obama in a recent ad: "This is a promise you made. This is a promise you should keep." Landrieu previously offered legislation requiring people be allowed to keep their plans and doctors and not be forced into ObamaCare, though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has yet to schedule a vote on it."
Alyene Senger
The Daily Signal
Thu, 2014-09-11
"Some of Obamacare’s big supporters say the new law has already contributed to decreases in the rate of growth of health spending. But a new report from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of the Actuary says the rate slowed because of a slow economic recovery, increased cost-sharing for those enrolled in private plans and sequestration. Indeed, the report does not mention Obamacare when assessing the situation. “The recent period is marked by a four-year historically low rate of health spending growth, which is primarily attributable to the sluggish economic recovery and constrained state and local government budgets following the 2007-09 recession,” the report states."

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