A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Jobs/Economic Impact"

The obscure part of Obamacare that takes on executive pay

Jason Millman
The Washington Post
Thu, 2014-08-28
"We all know Obamacare is a pretty big law, with plenty of obscure provisions that don't get much attention. For one, the law targets big executive pay packages at health insurance companies — and based on data released Wednesday, the provision is already going a long way. Companies have long been able to deduct salaries to top executives from their federal tax bills, although since the early 1990s — in an effort to reduce excessive pay — the government has limited the amount to $1 million. Starting last year, a piece of the Affordable Care Act lowered the limit to $500,000 for health insurers (although the $1 million limit still applies to the rest of corporate America). It also eliminates the tax carve out for what tends to be much more lucrative performance pay, like stock options, for health insurers.

Universities nationwide limit student employment to comply with Obamacare

Caleb Bonham, Campus Reform
Wed, 2014-08-27
"Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) is restricting student work because of compliance issues associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare. In an email last week, MTSU President Sidney McPhee explained that “due to our interpretation of the reporting requirements of ACA,” graduate assistants, adjunct faculty members, and resident assistants are barred from working on-campus jobs that exceed 29 hours of work per week. "[E]ffective beginning with the fall semester, we will no longer allow part-time employees, or those receiving monthly stipends from the university, to accept multiple work assignments on campus." Tweet This Now, they cannot take on multiple campus jobs. “[E]ffective beginning with the fall semester, we will no longer allow part-time employees, or those receiving monthly stipends from the university, to accept multiple work assignments on campus," the email stated. McPhee noted that violations of the law “could add up as high as

Hospitals squeezed as revenue growth slows to all-time low

Beth Kutscher, Modern Healthcare
Wed, 2014-08-27
"Revenue at not-for-profit hospitals grew at an all-time low of 3.9% last year with sluggish gains in both inpatient and outpatient activity, according to a report on 2013 medians from Moody's Investors Service. In comparison, hospital revenue increased 5.1% in 2012 and historically has grown about 7% per year. Moody's pegged the increased popularity of high-deductible health plans for leading people to postpone care or seek out lower cost retail clinics. “Patients have more skin in the game,” said Jennifer Ewing, an analyst at Moody's. The volume decline also is coming amid a number of Medicare reimbursement cuts, including the ones known as sequestration triggered by the 2012 Budget Control Act and reductions in disproportionate-share hospital payments under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Hospitals reassess charitable programs with Affordable Care Act in mind

Julie Appleby
Kaiser Health News
Mon, 2014-08-25
"As more Americans gain insurance under the federal health law, hospitals are rethinking their charity programs, with some scaling back help for those who could have signed up for coverage but didn’t. The move is prompted by concerns that offering free or discounted care to low-income, uninsured patients might dissuade them from getting government-subsidized coverage. It also reflects hospitals’ strong financial interest in having more patients covered by insurance as the federal government makes big cuts in funding for uncompensated care. If a patient is eligible to purchase subsidized coverage through the law’s online marketplaces but doesn’t sign up, should hospitals “provide charity care on the same level of generosity as they were previously?” asks Peter Cunningham, a health policy expert at Virginia Commonwealth University. Most hospitals are still wrestling with that question, but a few have changed their programs, Cunningham says."

The Affordable Care Act may fail to reduce health care costs, but was that its goal?

Owen Covington
Triad Business Journal
Mon, 2014-08-25
"Listing to a panel discussion sponsored by the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning, I heard reference to a metaphor for the Affordable Care Act that I've heard a number of time before — the three-legged stool. Describing the different core components of the health care reform law, three primary tenets offer their support to the law, with, each complementing and reliant upon the others, and the stool falling over if one of the legs falters. They are: guaranteed issue and community rating (meaning an insurer can't deny coverage or charge astronomical rates coverage because of pre-existing conditions), the individual mandate (everyone must have coverage or face a fine) and subsidies (financial assistance from the federal government to help low-income consumers can pay for coverage). I've sat in on numerous, similar discussions, and had heard the metaphor before.

Top Health Stories of the Summer

Jonathan Easley
Morning Consult
Mon, 2014-08-25
"From Halbig to Sovaldi, this summer was a busy one for health policy and politics. We’ve made it easy to catch up, collecting all of the top stories you clicked on over the past few months. Together, they tell a story about the state of healthcare in the U.S., and offer clues as to where things may be headed when Congress returns in the fall. Among them: The political battle over Obmacare has become more complicated for Republicans since the government cleaned up the Healthcare.gov mess, and with midterm elections around the corner, the focus will be on how much either party continues to attack or ignore the law. There are policy, legal and business matters to be settled as well – the employer mandate is under attack from the left and the right, the courts have been a wildcard for the health law to this point and could continue to be so, and employers and employees are finding themselves wading through the on-the-ground impacts of the law.

Obamacare rates are rising once again

Philip Klein
The Examiner
Sat, 2014-08-23
"Supporters of President Obama’s health care law have been touting proposed insurance rates for 2015 — arguing that they aren’t as high as some of the dire warnings of the law’s critics. But it’s worth considering some additional context. Data compiled by the Health Research Institute of PricewaterhouseCoopers from about 29 states plus the District of Columbia show that the average premium increase for insurance starting next year is currently 8.2 percent. But within that average, there’s a wide range. In Arizona, for instance, the average premium increase submitted was 11.2 percent, but rates ranged from a decrease of 23 percent to a spike of 27 percent.

Health care success cuts revenue to Uptown clinic, forcing it to close

Matt Sepic, Minnesota Public Radio
Sat, 2014-08-23
"A clinic in Minneapolis that provides medical care to thousands of uninsured and underinsured people is closing its doors next week, in large part because more people are obtaining health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and seeking care elsewhere. When the Neighborhood Involvement Program shuts down Aug. 29, the 3,000 patients that visit its Uptown clinic will be without a medical provider. But its dental and mental health clinics, as well as its senior and youth programs, will continue operating in Uptown. But managers of the NIP Community Medical Clinic say many people still need the low-cost care and customer service they provide. Medical bills at the clinic on Hennepin Avenue are as easy to understand as a restaurant check, with a price list like a menu: $10 for a strep test, for example, and $80 for a basic doctor visit. If a patient's monthly income is less than $1,900 dollars, those fees drop considerably."

Cubs cut grounds crew’s hours to avoid paying health benefits — sources

Gordon Wittenmyer, Chicago Sun-Times
Sat, 2014-08-23
"Thanks a lot, Obama. Add the Affordable Care Act – or, specifically, the big-business Cubs’ response to it – to the causes behind Tuesday night’s tarp fiasco and rare successful protest by the San Francisco Giants. The staffing issues that hamstrung the grounds crew Tuesday during a mad dash with the tarp under a sudden rainstorm were created in part by a wide-ranging reorganization last winter of game-day personnel, job descriptions and work limits designed to keep the seasonal workers – including much of the grounds crew – under 130 hours per month, according to numerous sources with direct knowledge. That’s the full-time worker definition under “Obamacare,” which requires employer-provided healthcare benefits for “big businesses” such as a major league team. Cheap,” said one of three high-ranking officials from other organizations the Sun-Times contacted Thursday – all of whom fall below the Cubs on Forbes’ annual revenues list."

Unemployed by ObamaCare

Fri, 2014-08-22
NOTE: This story is behind a pay wall. "Most of the political class seems to have decided that ObamaCare is working well enough, the opposition is fading, and the subsidies and regulation are settling in as the latest wing of the entitlement state. This flight from reality can't last forever, especially as the evidence continues to pile up that the law is harming the labor market. On Thursday the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported the results of a special business survey on the Affordable Care Act and its influence on employment, compensation and benefits. Liberals claim ObamaCare is of little consequence to jobs, but the Philly Fed went to the source and asked employers qualitative questions about how they are responding in practice. The bank reports that 78.8% of businesses in the district have made no change to the number of workers they employ as the specific result of ObamaCare and 3% are hiring more. More troubling, 18.2% are cutting jobs and employees.

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