A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "States"

Sarah Hurtubise: New York Legislature Turns Down Tax On Obamacare Policies

The Daily Caller
Wed, 2015-04-01
The New York legislature voted down Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to tax health insurance policies to fund the state’s Obamacare exchange, calling the fees system used by the Obama administration and other states counterintuitive. The shrinking number of state-run Obamacare exchanges are facing a new problem this year — how to fund their ongoing operations now that start-up grants from the federal government are running out. In New York, like many other states, Cuomo proposed a tax on health insurance premiums to fund the state-run exchange’s operations. That tactic comes with its own concerns: some states, such as Hawaii, have smaller-than-expected enrollment and the per-policy fees aren’t bringing in enough money. Rhode Island is considering adopting a tax itself, but due to small enrollment in the tiny state, fees per Obamacare enrollee would likely climb higher than $30 every month, according to Modern Healthcare.

Liz Zamosky: Rising healthcare costs are pressuring patients

LA Times
Wed, 2015-04-01
Coping with ever-increasing medical bills is frustrating — and getting more so.. A recent survey by private health insurance exchange EHealth highlights the pressure Americans are feeling. It found that more than 6 in 10 people say they're more worried about the financial effect of expensive medical emergencies and paying for healthcare than about funding retirement or covering their kids' education. People who get health insurance through work and on their own have seen their costs rise dramatically over the last decade. According to the Commonwealth Fund, a New York think tank, annual increases in work-based health plan premiums rose three times faster than wages from 2003 to 2013. Out-of-pocket costs have also been climbing. "More people have deductibles than ever before," says Sara Collins, a Commonwealth Fund vice president.

Grace-Marie Turner: Oregon's Failed ObamaCare Exchange Is A Warning For Other States

Forbes
Wed, 2015-04-01
Other states experienced their own particular brand of exchange fiascos. Add Hawaii, Minnesota, New Mexico, Idaho, and Vermont to the list. The Obama administration says it does not have contingency plans should the Supreme Court decide the IRS acted illegally and the subsidies must stop. But Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee has information that suggests otherwise. He said during a recent congressional hearing that he has learned of a 100-page document showing the Obama administration is preparing contingency plans should the Supreme Court invalidate the federal subsidies in King v Burwell. HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell repeatedly denied the existence of such a document, and says she has no legal way around the Supreme Court. “That’s why you’re not hearing plans” from the administration, Burwell told Pitts.

David Schwartz: Arizona governor signs bill blocking abortion coverage through Obamacare

Reuters
Tue, 2015-03-31
(Reuters) - Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed a law on Monday that requires doctors to tell women that drug-induced abortions can be reversed and that blocks the purchase of insurance on the Obamacare health exchange that includes abortion coverage. The requirement that patients be told that the effects of abortion pills may be undone by using high doses of a hormone was the most hotly contested provision during legislative debate. Supporters said there was ample evidence the reversal was possible if acted upon quickly, although they provided no peer-reviewed studies in support of their position.

Ryan: GOP will have 'immediate response' for ObamaCare court ruling

The Hill
Mon, 2015-03-30
When the Supreme Court drops its big ObamaCare ruling this summer, Republican leaders say they will be fully ready to step in — even if it won’t be the party’s official replacement plan. “We have to be prepared, by the time the ruling comes, to have something. Not months later,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters this week. Ryan said he plans to have a bill ready — and priced by the Congressional Budget Office — by late June when a ruling for King v. Burwell is expected.

Health Insurance Exchanges: State of the States

McKenna Long & Aldridge
Mon, 2015-03-30
Breaking with normal tradition, we’re going to open this week’s update with national trends before moving into updates at the federal and state levels. This week there was an interesting report from the Kaiser Family Foundation that estimated that 50 percent of households receiving financial assistance to purchase private health insurance on the Marketplaces will have to return a portion of that subsidy when they file their tax returns as part of the tax credit reconciliation process. Repayments will, in most cases, be deducted from an enrollee’s refund check and the Kaiser report estimates that the average repayment will be $794. Roughly seven percent of enrollees could owe a repayment of between $2,000 and $5,000 and two percent could have to repay more than $5,000. A slightly smaller percentage of households, 45 percent, are estimated to receive additional money with their tax refund because they received underpayments in tax credits, with the average refund estimated to be $773.

Obamacare, at 5, still a problem child

The Orange County Register
Tue, 2015-03-24
During a 2014 Valentine’s Day meet-up with House Democrats, President Obama thanked them for their unstinting support of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. “I think,” he said, “10 years, five years from now, we’re going to look back and say this was a monumental achievement.” Well, the president’s health care law marks its fifth anniversary this week. And most Americans are not, in fact, looking back and saying the law enacted in 2010 – with not one Republican vote in either the House or Senate – was a monumental achievement. Indeed, in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll this month, a 44-34 plurality of respondents thought Obamacare a “bad idea.” And a 62-22 percent majority said that what they had seen, read or heard in recent weeks about the Affordable Care Act had made them “less confident” about the law. Some suggest the public’s misgivings about Obamacare are almost entirely attributable to GOP opposition to the law.

Stuart M. Butler: Let the states fix Obamacare

The Brookings Institute
Tue, 2015-03-24
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), like President Clinton’s health plan in the 1990s, made the mistake of trying to achieve coast-to-coast health care coverage with a system that essentially looks the same everywhere. That approach was always going to be a challenge. US health care is an enormous and complex economy in its own right. If the US health system were a separate national economy, for instance, it would be the fifth largest economy in the world – larger than the entire economy of France or of Britain. The idea that a single piece of legislation could successfully reorganize the world’s fifth largest economy was a fantasy, especially when the bill had to go through the congressional sausage-making machine. It’s true that the ACA gave Americans a choice of plan on federal or state-run exchanges. But the ACA still sought a template for insurance rules, benefits and other structural features that would be the same from Vermont to Texas and Florida to Alaska. That was unwise.

Grace-Marie Turner: For Many Americans, Opposition To ObamaCare Has Become Personal

Forbes
Tue, 2015-03-24
ObamaCare is celebrating its fifth anniversary, but few Americas are cheering. The Real Clear Politics average of the latest major opinion polls about the health law shows that 52.5% oppose it and only 42% approve. The 10.5% spread is identical to the average of polls taken when the law was signed five years ago. Approval numbers never have topped disapproval numbers since the law was enacted. It is not getting more popular and it is not settled law, as President Obama claims. President Obama is touting the increased number of people who have health insurance as a result of the law. According to Gallup, the uninsured rate among U.S. adults averaged 12.9% in the fourth quarter of last year.

Brandon Rittiman: Colo. to end ACA exception for 190K people

9 News NBC
Mon, 2015-03-16
DENVER - About 190,000 Coloradans will lose access next year to health insurance plans which don't comply with the Affordable Care Act, the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) decided. In March of 2014, President Barack Obama decided to give states the option of allowing people on noncompliant health plans to be grandfathered in by renewing their old plans early, while problems with insurance exchanges were ironed out. Colorado insurance commissioner Marguerite Salazar opted to do that for 2015, but told 9NEWS on Friday that the exception is no longer needed for plans in 2016, even though Colorado could have continued them an additional year. "By delaying it, it doesn't give us a good pathway into full implementation of the ACA," Salazar told 9NEWS. "I feel like we gave people that year, we have a great robust market in terms of health insurance in Colorado."

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