A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Mandates"

More plan cancellations coming before the elections

Elise Viebeck, The Hill
Thu, 2014-10-02
"Thousands of Americans will see their health plans cancelled before the November elections in a development that could boost critics of ObamaCare. The Morning Consult, a Washington-based policy publication, reported that nearly 50,000 people will lose their current health coverage in the coming weeks. The figure encompasses cancellations announced by insurance departments and providers in Kentucky, Alaska, Tennessee, New Mexico, North Carolina, Maine and Colorado. The possible political consequences are clear in states like Kentucky, where Senate Minority Leader and leading ObamaCare critic Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is defending his seat against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes."

Debate Grows Over Employer Plans With No Hospital Benefits

Jay Hancock
Kaiser Health News
Thu, 2014-10-02
"Lance Shnider is confident Obamacare regulators knew exactly what they were doing when they created an online calculator that gives a green light to new employer coverage without hospital benefits. “There’s not a glitch in this system,” said Shnider, president of Voluntary Benefits Agency, an Ohio firm working with some 100 employers to implement such plans. “This is the way the calculator was designed.” Timothy Jost is pretty sure the whole thing was a mistake. “There’s got to be a problem with the calculator,” said Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University and health-benefits authority. Letting employers avoid health-law penalties by offering plans without hospital benefits “is certainly not what Congress intended,” he said."

One Year Later: The Affordable Care Act's Launch on October 1, 2013––So How Did it Go?

Bob Laszewski
Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review
Thu, 2014-10-02
"Here unedited is what I posted on September 29, 2013: The Affordable Health Care Act's Launch On October 1st––So How Did it Go? Unavoidably, that will be the big question come Tuesday. But there will be much more to it than that. A 180-Day Open Enrollment––Not a One-Day Open Enrollment What happens on the first day, for good or bad, will constitute only a tiny percentage of the open enrollment period. Consumers will likely visit the new websites many times before they make any decisions, and that is exactly as it should be. Many of the health plans touted as being low-cost plans are going to be very limited access plans. It won't be easy for consumers to compare one plan's provider network to the other. In the best of circumstances, consumers will be confused by what is being offered for some time and will have to make a major effort to make sense of it for themselves."

Supreme Court Poised For A Do-Over On Obamacare

Chris Conover
Forbes magazine
Wed, 2014-10-01
"The majority of Americans who continue to oppose Obamacare should be greatly pleased to learn that the Supreme Court is likely to get a do-over on this misguided and too-often-lawlessly-implemented law. Ours is a nation of fresh starts and second chances: it is only fitting that SCOTUS be handed an opportunity to undo the convoluted, flagrantly political and highly controversial decision it made in June 2012. As eloquently detailed by fellow Forbes blogger Michael Cannon on September 30, “The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma handed the Obama administration another – and a much harsher — defeat in one of four lawsuits challenging the IRS’s attempt to implement ObamaCare’s major taxing and spending provisions where the law does not authorize them.”"

As the courts turn: The continuing legal perils of Obamacare

Thomas P. Miller
AEI
Tue, 2014-09-30
"Legal challenges to various aspects of Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act) keep traveling on a rollercoaster. Today’s episode of the law’s continuing courtroom soap opera involves a ruling by a federal district court in Oklahoma, which overturned a 2012 IRS rule authorizing premium assistance tax credits in federal exchanges (since rebranded as “federally facilitated marketplaces”). The decision improves the likelihood that the Supreme Court ultimately will consider this issue on appeal; either in the spring of 2015 or during its next 2015-2016 term. Judge Ronald White ruled in State of Oklahoma v. Burwell that the IRS rule is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion not in accordance with law, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. section 706(2)(A), in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory right, pursuant to 5 U.S.C.

BREAKING: Judge rules against Obamacare subsidies

Paul Demko, Modern Healthcare
Tue, 2014-09-30
"In a legal setback for the Obama administration, a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled Tuesday that people in states that rely on the federal insurance exchange are not eligible for Obamacare premium subsidies to help them pay for coverage. Judge Ronald White, a George W. Bush appointee, invalidated an Internal Revenue Service rule interpreting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to allow the premium tax credits in states that have not established their own exchange. “The court holds that the IRS Rule is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law,” White wrote. In his ruling, White rejected the argument that striking down the subsidies would cripple the entire healthcare reform law. “Congress is free to amend the ACA to provide for tax credits in both state and federal exchanges, if that is the legislative will,” he wrote."

The government's own watchdogs tried to hack into HealthCare.gov earlier this year and found what they termed a critical vulnerability - but also came away with respect for some of the health insurance site's security features.

Sat, 2014-09-27
"The Affordable Care Act changed the rules on how health insurance plans dealt with pre-existing conditions, outlawing the practice of turning away patients with expensive conditions or charging them a drastically higher cost for coverage. But an editorial alleges some health insurance companies operating on the new marketplaces created by Obamacare may have found a loophole that allows them to discourage sick patients from enrolling in a specific plan. The change has to do with how drugs are categorized in health systems. From the editorial published online at the American Journal of Managed Care: "For many years, most insurers had formularies that consisted of only three tiers: Tier 1 was for generic drugs (lowest copay), Tier 2 was for branded drugs that were designated “preferred” (higher co- pay), and Tier 3 was for “nonpreferred” branded drugs (highest copay).

Survey: Employers passing Obamacare costs to employees

Rudolph Bell
Greeneville, S.C., News
Fri, 2014-09-26
"New survey data show that companies are passing on to their employees additional costs they have incurred as a result of the Affordable Care Act, according to a management professor at the University of South Carolina's Moore School of Business. And that means employees who get their health insurance through work are bearing the cost of subsidizing people newly covered under President Obama's healthcare reform law, said Professor Patrick M. Wright."

Cover Oregon health exchange discovers new tax credit problem, number affected unknown

Nick Budnick, Oregonian
Thu, 2014-09-25
"Officials at Cover Oregon have realized the number of people affected by tax credit errors is much larger than previously thought -- meaning they may owe money at tax time. Early this month, The Oregonian revealed the existence of the erroneous formula, which had to do with the tax credits used by qualified individuals to reduce their premiums. Cover Oregon first noted the formula was wrong in January, but correcting it took a back seat to fixing the exchange's technological problems, officials said."

We Still Don't Know How Many People Obamacare Enrolled

Joseph Antos, AEI
Thu, 2014-09-25
"This week’s double-barreled release of government statistics on health insurance coverage leaves us with only one question: How many Americans are insured because of Obamacare? Remarkably, the two highly-regarded government surveys released this week do not even agree whether the number of uninsured increased or decreased. The survey that received a great deal of attention said there were 3.8 million fewer uninsured. The other, which was hardly noticed, found that there were 1.3 million more uninsured. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported preliminary results on the expansion of health insurance coverage. Its National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) interviewed 27,000 people in the first three months of this year. The survey estimates that the number of uninsured dropped by 3.8 million since 2013. That represents a 1.3 percentage point decline in the uninsured rate, from 14.4 percent last year to 13.1 percent early this year."

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