Tag Archives: Obamacare

Individual Mandate Repealing Itself

Here’s an interesting look from National Review.

Premiums for Obamacare policies next year will be so high that millions will be exempt from the tax penalty whether Congress repeals it or not. Even the skimpiest coverage now costs so much that many uninsured people with six-figure incomes will be exempt. The individual mandate is repealing itself.

[…]

For a 35-year-old couple, subsidies end at about $65,000 in income — but Bronze-level coverage costs an average of nearly $7,800, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s premium calculator. This premium will exceed 8 percent of the couple’s income unless their earnings approach $97,400. A 31-year-old couple with a toddler loses subsidies at an income of about $82,000, but would have to pay more than $9,800 for a Bronze plan — meaning they would be exempt from the penalty unless their earnings total nearly $123,000.

Middle-aged people pay higher premiums under Obamacare, making them even more likely to qualify for exemptions. A 50-year-old couple ineligible for subsidies (which end around $65,000) would face premiums of nearly $11,400 for a Bronze policy, freeing them from the penalty if their income is below $142,000. At the extreme, a 64-year-old couple (facing the same $65,000 subsidy cutoff) wouldn’t have to pay the tax penalty unless their earnings topped $239,000.

Lavish premiums don’t buy lavish coverage. Family deductibles for Bronze plans average more than $12,000, and limits on out-of-pocket spending for covered, in-network services average nearly $14,000. Our hypothetical 35-year-old couple would have to shell out more than $21,700 in premiums and medical bills before their insurance company began bearing the full cost of their in-network expenses. Hardly an appealing proposition.

I looked at an Obamacare plan for my family last month. Thankfully, I don’t need it, because it was ridiculous. The Bronze plan was $28,992 per year with a $12,500 deductible. We do not qualify for subsidies, so a full year of coverage plus the deductible totals $41,492. And we are a pretty healthy family. Affordable? Hardly.

CBO Spins for Democrats

Wow.

Poor Americans would lose billions of dollars worth of federal benefits under the Senate GOP tax bill, according to a new Congressional Budget Office report.

This is largely because the legislation would eliminate the individual mandate, which requires nearly all Americans to get health insurance or pay a penalty. This would result in 13 million fewer people having coverage in 2027, the CBO found.

Many of the folks who would forgo coverage would have lower or moderate incomes and would have qualified for Medicaid or federal help paying their premiums or out-of-pocket health expenses, CBO found.

So follow their “logic”… if we repeal the unconstitutional individual mandate that forces people to purchase health insurance, millions of people would choose to exercise their Gog-given free will to forgo buying said insurance. But by doing so, those same people won’t be taking advantage of subsidies that are funded by other people. So… somehow that’s a bad thing?

Murkowski Won’t Oppose Tax Bill For Ending Obamacare Diktat

She still won’t commit to voting for the bill, but at least she appears to be leaning that way. The Senate just jumped a huge hurdle

With Republicans preparing to vote on tax cut legislation next week, Murkowski announced on Tuesday that she would not oppose the bill simply because it includes a provision repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

Murkowski made the announcement in an op-ed for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. And she was careful not to promise she’d vote for the final tax legislation.

The Myth of “Free”

The news media is engaging in grotesque propaganda when “reporting” on the Obamacare premiums. Take this story:

Almost every county in the U.S.’s HealthCare.gov exchange has free health insurance plans available on the individual exchanges during the current open enrollment, according to a new analysis from Avalere, a public health care firm.

The Center for American Progress and the Kaiser Family Foundation also detailed significant swaths of plans that are inexpensive for people eligible for subsidies.

THE PLANS ARE NOT “FREE”!!! They are paid for by the taxpayers in some cases, but that does not make them “free.” What it means is that the government took a dollar from one American and gave it to another to pay for health insurance. That is not “free.” That is “welfare.”

Trump acts on Obamacare

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

President Trump, frustrated with Congress’ failure to repeal Obamacare, has begun to take unilateral action to reintroduce market forces into the health insurance market and pick at the pillars of Obamacare. His actions are a great first step.

Before getting into the specifics of Trump’s actions, we must note that the continued concentration of power in the presidency is abhorrent and an existential threat to liberty. That concentration has been progressing for decades, but greatly accelerated during the President Obama’s terms. Whereby Obama bragged about governing with a “phone and a pen,” Trump is exercising that same arbitrary authority. And while Trump’s most recent orders are good policy, the same power can and will be used for bad policy and worse. The fact remains that so much arbitrary power — the power over the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans and trillions of dollars — should never be concentrated in the pen of one person.

Obama used that arbitrary authority to implement Obamacare and make changes to our health care insurance market — sometimes in ways not legal. Trump is using that same arbitrary authority to make different changes to our health care insurance market.

Trump’s first executive order was a series of directives to various cabinet agencies and tweaks to find ways to allow more health insurance options and more flexibility in the health insurance market. The first directive was to the Labor Department to find ways to allow small businesses and individuals to collectively buy insurance through association health plans.

Allowing small businesses and individuals to group together — particularly if they are allowed to do so across state lines — would allow them to gain more purchasing power, better rates and in some circumstances, alleviate them of many of Obamacare’s regulations by shifting their plans under federal regulation instead of state regulations.

The second thing Trump’s order did was to allow people to buy more kinds of short-term health insurance plans. Obama limited these plans to 90 days, but allowing people to by plans for up to a year provides much more flexibility to people between jobs or open enrollment periods.

The third thing Trump’s order did was allow employers more ways to give employees tax-free money to pay for health care expenses elsewhere. In the past, some employers that did not provide health insurance could instead give their employees money to buy insurance on the individual market through a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA). Obamacare forbade this accommodation and Trump’s order allows it again.

These series of changes are all positive and allow for more flexibility and competition in the health insurance market. It was Trump’s second action, however, that really undercut Obamacare. When the Obamacare law was written, the lawmakers knew that it would dramatically increase the cost of health care insurance. It sought to address that by shifting costs to the taxpayers in two primary ways. The first way was to give subsidies to people buying Obamacare policies if they couldn’t afford it through a tax credit.

The second way was to mandate that the insurance companies providing Obamacare policies cut what they charge health care providers — even if those cuts results in a loss to the insurance company. This was done with the understanding that the taxpayers would pick up the losses of the health insurance companies, but the Obamacare law never appropriated any money for such subsidies. Lawmakers at the time were justifiably fearful of being accused of subsidizing the profits of big health insurance companies, so they did not appropriate the money. President Obama picked up the ball and began illegally giving the health insurance companies subsidies to prop up their profits beginning in 2014.

Trump is ending this illegal practice. Ironically, all Trump is doing is following the law as written. The result is that the insurance companies are still required by law to keep their billings lower — sometimes below costs — but they will not get a check from the taxpayers to cover those losses. They will be forced to either pass those costs on to policy holders through massive premium increases, or exit the Obamacare exchanges. The structural flaws of Obamacare will no longer be covered up with billions of taxpayer dollars illegally funneled to insurance companies.

Obamacare has already failed America. Trump is just trying to mitigate and hopefully reverse some of the damage.

Anthem Exits More Markets

Yes, Obamacare is still collapsing around us and hurting families every day.

Anthem (ANTM) is pulling out of Nevada’s Obamacare exchange for 2018 and cutting its presence in Georgia’s marketplace roughly in half, the company announced Monday.

Other insurers are also expected to downsize their involvement or to hike rates in coming weeks.

Obamacare Premiums Continue Rise as Providers Exit

Despite the fact that the Republicans in the Senate failed to repeal Obamacare as they promised the American people, this is still a massive problem that is harming everyday Americans.

MacIver News Service | August 2, 2017

By Chris Rochester

Update: Molina Healthcare announced Wednesday it will withdraw from Obamacare exchanges in Wisconsin and Utah, citing a $230 million quarterly loss. The company had requested rate increases of 40+ percent for 2018 prior to the announcement. Read the company’s announcement here.

[Madison, Wis…] Obamacare premium increases will likely continue their rapid upward trajectory in 2018, according to new numbers from healthcare.gov.

Premiums for health insurance plans on Wisconsin’s Obamacare exchange could increase by 12 percent in 2018. Preliminary rate increase requests by Wisconsin insurance companies were posted Monday to the federal website

Of the 90 Obamacare-compliant health insurance plans that reported rate changes to healthcare.gov, the average increase was 12 percent. Rate changes range from a modest 6.15 percent decrease to a staggering 46.25 percent increase.

Obamacare Here to Stay

Thanks for nothing, GOP.

Washington (CNN)The Senate has dealt a devastating setback to Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, defeating a GOP “skinny repeal” bill early Friday morning.

Sens. John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins joined with Democrats to oppose the measure, a major blow to President Donald Trump and the Republican congressional agenda.
McCain, who had voted for a motion to proceed to the bill Tuesday after returning to Washington following surgery for a brain tumor, held out all day, including in a news conference where he criticized the partisan process that led to the after-midnight vote.

Senate Advances Obamacare Repeal

Finally. Republicans can guarantee themselves the minority if they fail on this key promise.

Washington (CNN)Senate Republicans voted to advance to floor debate on their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Vice President Mike Pence cast the tiebreaking vote.
In a dramatic moment, Sen. John McCain returned from Arizona to applause from fellow senators. He cast a necessary Republican vote for the motion after two GOP senators — Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — sided with all Democrats in opposition.
As the vote began, protesters in the Senate gallery shouted “kill the bill” and “shame, shame, shame!”
The vote came as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump dared their fellow Republicans to block their seven-year campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

22 Million More Uninsured

Good.

Some 22 million Americans could lose their health insurance over the next decade under a Senate bill to replace Obamacare, a congressional report says.

However, the bill would reduce the budget deficit, the non-partisan Congressional Budgetary Office said.

Similar legislation passed by the House was also said to leave millions uninsured. Some Republicans have voiced reservations about the plan.

But the White House disputed the CBO’s figures.

Responding to Monday’s report, it said: “The CBO has consistently proven it cannot accurately predict how healthcare legislation will impact insurance coverage.”

The report is a review of draft legislation unveiled by the Republican party last week.

It is unlikely to be approved by Democrats, who see the proposals as cruel and unfair.

The CBO said that 15 million more people would be uninsured by 2018 under the proposed legislation than under current law, largely because the penalty for not having insurance would be eliminated.

First, I would point out that the CBO estimates for what would happen if we passed Obamacare were waaaaaay off. Remember that this is just a group of people sitting around trying to make an educated guess of how legislation will impact a very dynamic world. I wish they would give a margin of error and standard deviation of their predictions to put them into context. They do, however, couch their predictions with words like “could” and “might,” so it is really on the reporters who run with these reports like they are Gospel.

Second, if the prediction is accurate that 15 million people will have their right to choose restored, then that’s a good thing. That indicates that right now they are being forced to purchase a product that they think they don’t need or want. If we truly are a nation that values liberty and the freedom of Americans to make choices about their own lives, then the CBO report is a welcome tonic.

Ron Johnson Waffles on Obamacare Repeal

Fer cryin’ out loud

Four conservative GOP senators, including Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, quickly announced initial opposition to the measure and others were evasive, raising the specter of a jarring rejection by the Republican-controlled body. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., indicated he was open to discussion and seemed determined to muscle the measure through his chamber next week.

 Johnson ran for office twice on the promise to repeal Obamacare. If he can’t bring himself to actually act after years of promises to his constituents, then he is the lowest form of politician – and that’s starting from a very low point, indeed.

Iowa Obamacare Insurer Jacks Up Rates

Wow. Working?

One of the last insurers on Iowa’s ObamaCare exchanges announced Monday it would sell plans in 2018 but proposed an average rate increase of 43.5 percent.

Medica’s decision means every county in Iowa will have at least one insurer on the exchanges next year.

There were questions about whether or not Medica would participate next year after two other insurance carriers announced they would not.

If Medica pulled out, nearly all the counties in Iowa would have had zero insurers on the ObamaCare exchanges in 2018.

Senate Republicans Still Won’t Repeal Obamacare

By definition, if there are 5 plans floating around, they are not planning to actually repeal Obamacare.

While Senate Republicans insist they are making progress on health care reform, they are not confident that they can meet the summer timeline being put forth by the White House.

Instead, Republicans on Capitol Hill are trying to manage expectations.

“We’re getting closer to having a proposal that we’ll be bringing up in the near future,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) said Republicans have whittled their options down to about “five” different plans. And Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri echoed that the discussions are now at the “granular” level.

That said, there are just 18 days until the week-long Fourth of July recess, and 31 days until the five-week-long August recess.

Even if Republicans can hammer out the framework, as Lankford underscored, “once we get that part settled on … we’re still gonna draft it, get a score, try to go through the process. Does the score work? Does it not work? What do we need changed from it, so we still got a ways to go.”

While Republicans debate, an increasing number of insurers have been pulling out of the market place, including in Ohio today. Now, some Republicans are calling for a short-term solution to stabilize the markets.

“What’s Plan B if we can’t get something more comprehensive?” Senator Ron Johnson asked.

“We’re running out of time in terms of stabilizing the markets…you really need to fish or cut bait here on something short term to stabilize the markets,” he said.

Obamacare Still Collapsing

Ahem… Senate? This is still a problem.

Aetna’s withdrawal is the latest in a series of insurers leaving Obamacare. The exodus began last year, when several carriers announced they were exiting or downsizing in 2017 after suffering large losses. Humana (HUM) already announced it is completely abandoning the individual market in 2018. UnitedHealthcare (UNH) pulled out of Virginia, and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield said it would stop selling individual policies in Iowa in 2018.

Several insurers remaining in Obamacare are requesting big rate hikes for next year. CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield is looking for an average rate increase of 52% for its individual market plans in Maryland. It also requested hikes of 35% in Virginia and 29% in Washington D.C.

In Virginia, Cigna wants to raise rates by an average of 45%, while HealthKeepers, an affiliate of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, is looking for an 38% increase.

Vote on Obamacare Repeal Today?

Dare we hope?

Lawmakers are scheduled to vote Thursday after some last-minute changes to the legislation convinced enough conservatives and moderates to support it.

The bill’s passage isn’t guaranteed, and even if it makes it to the Senate, that chamber is likely to make substantial revisions.

U.N. Says Obamacare Repeal Might Violate Human Rights

One more reason to just dump the U.N.

The Post reported that the Feb. 2 memo was sent from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva.

“Recent reports have assessed the negative impact that this reform may have on the right to health of almost 30 million people in the U.S.,” the letter says.

“I wish to express serious concern over the impact of these measures on the rights to the enjoyment of the highest sustainable standard of physical and mental health and the right to social security of the people in the United States of America.”

Dainius Puras, the “special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health,” signed the memo.

Xabier Celaya, an OHCHR spokesman, told the Post that Puras signed the letter but cannot comment on it until it becomes public.

Puras reportedly plans on discussing the inquiry at the U.N. Human Rights Council’s next session in June.

House GOP Looks at Repeal Plan B

I’ll believe it when I see it.

Washington (CNN)Republicans insisted they had no “Plan B” for their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. But a few days later, after crashing into what might be the new third rail of American politics, Republicans are talking publicly and privately about … Plan B.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spoke with several House members over the weekend to discuss a path forward, a senior administration official and Republican official with knowledge of the discussions told CNN. And House Speaker Paul Ryan — despite saying Friday that “Obamacare is the law of the land” — appears ready to keep going as well.

Trump himself isn’t giving up.

“I know we’re going to make a deal on health care, that’s such an easy one,” Trump told a bipartisan group of senators and spouses at a White House reception Tuesday night.

Obamacare Repeal Dead

Seriously… why even bother supporting national Republicans?

“Hello, Bob,” Trump began. “So, we just pulled it.”

Trump was speaking, of course, of the Republican plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, a plan that had been languishing for days amid unrest throughout the party as the president and his allies courted members and pushed for a vote.

Before I could ask a question, Trump plunged into his explanation of the politics of deciding to call off a vote on a bill he had been touting.

Republicans withdrew the American Health Care Act moments before a scheduled vote on March 24, after failing to woo enough lawmakers to support it. Here are the key turning points in their fight to pass the bill. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

The Democrats, he said, were to blame.

“We couldn’t get one Democratic vote, and we were a little bit shy, very little, but it was still a little bit shy, so we pulled it,” Trump said.

There’s a lot of blame to go around. In no particular order, those responsible are:

  • Trump and his supporters. Trump is not a conservative and supported the continuation of some Obamacare provisions like forcing companies to cover preexisting conditions, keeping kids on their parents’ plan until 26, etc. This forced the House to create a bill that pleased nobody.
  • House conservatives who refused to vote for a 90% repeal bill thus leaving all of Obamacare in place. Idiots.
  • Senators Paul and Cruz who agitated the House members in order to build their own egos and national profiles.
  • Speaker Ryan. He has a strong majority and couldn’t get this through his own caucus. He needed to be a Speaker that would crack heads, replace committee chairmen, campaign in his members’ districts, etc. in order to get this done. I think he just doesn’t have enough bully in him to do what needed to be done.
  • And finally, Trump is right. Democrats are also to blame. They don’t give a rip about the people being harmed by Obamacare and didn’t even pretend to work on fixing it. They are willing to sacrifice them on the altar of socialized healthcare. Socialists are always to sacrifice people.

Obama won. Obamacare is here to stay. Our nation is worse off for it.

GOP Releases Obamacare Repeal Plan

The real fight begins.

Washington (CNN)House Republicans introduced their bill to repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate that also aims to maintain coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and allow children to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26.

The measure would offer individuals refundable tax credits to purchase health insurance and restructure the country’s Medicaid program so that states receive a set amount of money from the federal government every year — changes experts warn could result in millions of people losing access to insurance they received under the Affordable Care Act.
It also largely would keep Obamacare’s protections of those with pre-existing conditions, but allows insurers to charge higher premiums to those who let their coverage lapse.
In my perfect utopia, they would just repeal Obamacare, tear down some of the regulatory barriers that were driving up the cost of health insurance before Obamacare (like allowing insurance across state lines), and let the free market go to work providing coverage to the American people. But we are far, far from my utopia.
In the real world, Trump has indicated that a repeal must preserve some Obamacare provisions, like forcing insurers to accept those with pre-existing conditions. Also, Obama was successful in establishing yet another entitlement in the form of insurance subsidies. While they don’t amount to much money for most people, they will still be angry if we wrench them away before the market can make more affordable health insurance plans available.
Given the realities in play, I would encourage Congressional Conservatives to fight to mitigate some of these Obamacare relics, but get this passed. Perhaps they can get some of these provisions scaled back or put a sunset date on them. But in the end, they must repeal Obamacare before winter or it will never die.
Make the arguments. Take the vote.
Get. It. Done.

GOP Working on Obamacare Repeal

Get. It. Done.

House GOP lawmakers are preparing to introduce their bill to repeal major portions of Obamacare, with a committee markup expected the week of March 6, leadership sources told CNN.
Republicans are still planning to include “replacement” measures in the repeal bill that involve the expansion of Health Savings Accounts, significant changes to Medicaid and tax credits, sources said.
The strategy allows the GOP to move simultaneously on repealing and replacing some parts of the healthcare law and attempt to quell widespread opposition to rolling back Obamacare without any clarity on an alternative.
Top policy aides last week continued drafting legislative language while consulting with the Congressional Budget Office on how much elements of the bill would cost and how many people would be insured, according to sources. The price tag of the Obamacare repeal legislation and the impact on coverage will be critical to whether party leaders can sell the proposal to rank-and-file members across the board.
Here’s the thing… repealing Obamacare is going to be messy. The Democrats intended it to be difficult to undo and had years to make it so. But those same Democrats weren’t too concerned with the details, unintended consequences, costs, or any other such niceties when they passed it. Remember how we had to “pass it to see what’s in it?” So these same Democrats are being utterly hypocritical and disingenuous when they criticize Republicans for not having a fully baked replacement plan with every T crossed.
Rip off the band-aid and trust the American people and economy. Get. It. Done.