A project of the Galen Institute
American Health Policy Institute
06/02/15
Relying on any system to continue requires that such a system is sustainable. If it is not, then, as the late economist Herb Stein has said, “it will stop.” In stopping, however, such a system will impact those who rely on it and assume that it will continue.
Wall Street Journal
06/01/15
Officials from states across the nation flew to Chicago in early May for a secret 24-hour meeting to discuss their options if the Supreme Court rules they have to operate their own exchanges in order for residents to get health-insurance subsidies.
Politico
05/30/15
The cost of Obamacare could rise for millions of Americans next year, with one insurer proposing a 50 percent hike in premiums, fueling the controversy about just how “affordable” the Affordable Care Act really is.
The Wall Street Journal
05/29/15
Even as federal regulators take steps to constrain administrative spending by private health insurers, government overhead on health coverage has soared. In a Health Affairs blogpost published Wednesday, David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler use actuarial estimates from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to project that between 2014 and 2022, national spending on private insurance overhead and government administration will rise by $273.6 billion related to the health-care overhaul. The authors both favor single-payer health insurance; Mr. Himmelstein co-founded Physicians for a National Health Program, an advocacy organization directed to that end. They close their piece by saying that “In health care, public insurance gives much more bang for each buck.” Yet overhead in the public sector is growing much faster than in the private sector.
Bloomberg View
05/29/15
Sometime in the next few weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on whether the federal government can subsidize people's health insurance in the 37 states that haven't set up Affordable Care Act exchanges. Behind that fight is another one, just as interesting and almost as important: Who gets the blame if the government loses? The case, King v. Burwell, revolves around a phrase in the law that says insurance subsidies are available on exchanges "established by the state." The plaintiffs and their supporters say this shows Congress meant to use the subsidies as a cudgel to compel states to create their own exchanges. Now that the strategy has failed, they argue, with some states refusing to build exchanges and instead defaulting to the one run by the federal government, the government should accept the consequences and withdraw those subsidies.
American Action Forum
05/28/15
The High Cost Plan Excise Tax, or “Cadillac Tax,” is one of the key provisions of Obamacare, both from the perspective of raising revenue and health policy. Beginning in 2018, there will be a tax of 40 percent on the amount of employer-provided insurance that exceeds a threshold. The threshold is set at $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for family coverage in 2018, but is adjusted upward each year based on the Consumer Product Index (CPI). The Cadillac tax has been politically contentious from the outset and is garnering increasing attention, in part because some employers are already exceeding the threshold and are contemplating life with the tax.
The New York Times
05/27/15
WASHINGTON — They are only four words in a 900-page law: “established by the state.” But it is in the ambiguity of those four words in the Affordable Care Act that opponents found a path to challenge the law, all the way to the Supreme Court. How those words became the most contentious part of President Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment has been a mystery. Who wrote them, and why? Were they really intended, as the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell claim, to make the tax subsidies in the law available only in states that established their own health insurance marketplaces, and not in the three dozen states with federal exchanges?
Bloomberg View
05/27/15
So the proposed 2016 Obamacare rates have been filed in many states, and in many states, the numbers are eye-popping. Market leaders are requesting double-digit increases in a lot of places. Some of the biggest are really double-digit: 51 percent in New Mexico, 36 percent in Tennessee, 30 percent in Maryland, 25 percent in Oregon. The reason? They say that with a full year of claims data under their belt for the first time since Obamacare went into effect, they're finding the insurance pool was considerably older and sicker than expected. Don't panic, says Kevin Drum. This is just the opening bid in a regulatory dance that will end up somewhere very different: "A few months from now, the real rate increases — the ones approved by state and federal authorities — will begin to trickle out. They'll mostly be in single digits, with a few in the low teens. The average for the entire country will end up being something like 4-8 percent."
The Wall Street Journal
05/27/15
After the Affordable Care Act kicked in, Michael Kole’s monthly health-insurance premium to cover himself and his family grew to $848 from $513. Like others, he wasn’t happy about it. “It’s taking a lot out of pocket,” he said. The 52-year-old sales and marketing entrepreneur is one of millions of Americans who earn too much to qualify for government subsidies on policies purchased through the federal insurance exchange. To save...
The Hill
05/27/15
Five years after the passage of ObamaCare, there is one expense that’s still causing sticker shock across the healthcare industry: overhead costs. The administrative costs for healthcare plans are expected to explode by more than a quarter of a trillion dollars over the next decade, according to a new study published by the Health Affairs blog. The $270 billion in new costs, for both private insurance companies and government programs, will be “over and above what would have been expected had the law not been enacted,” one of the authors, David Himmelstein, wrote Wednesday. Those costs will be particularly high this year, when overhead is expected to make up 45 percent of all federal spending related to the Affordable Care Act. By 2022, that ratio will decrease to about 20 percent of federal spending related to the law.

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