March 8, 2014
As national Democrats prepare to run against the GOP on income equality issues, a giant union has issued a scathing Obamacare document that could undermine that case.
“The Irony of ObamaCare: Making Inequality Worse” is the title of the UNITE HERE (Culinary parent) document that is posted here and soon to be making its way to Capitol Hill. It is devastating to the Democrats. To wit:
Ironically, the Administration’s own signature healthcare victory poses one of the most immediate challenges to redressing inequality. Yes, the Affordable Care Act will help many more Americans gain some health insurance coverage, a significant step forward for equality. At the same time, without smart fixes, the ACA threatens the middle class with higher premiums, loss of hours, and a shift to part-time work and less comprehensive coverage.
The paper argues that the Affordable Care Act will transfer a billion dollars in wealth to insurance companies, create an unlevel playing field in the market, force employers to cut back hours and result in pay decreases. It lays it out in detail, with examples of union workers affected by Obamacare.
via Union research document says Obamacare will hasten income inequality | Ralston Reports.
March 8, 2014
The Obama administration has, for months now, been peddling nice-sounding numbers as to how many people are gaining health coverage due to Obamacare. But their numbers have been inflated on two fronts. First, not everyone who has “selected a marketplace plan” under Obamacare has actually paid the required premiums, payment being required to actually gain coverage. Second, only a fraction of people on the exchanges were previously uninsured. A new survey from McKinsey gives us a better view into the real numbers. Of the 3.3 million people that the White House has touted as Obamacare exchange “sign-ups,” less than 500,000 are actual uninsured people who have actually gained health coverage.
via McKinsey: Only 14% Of Obamacare Exchange Sign-Ups Are Previously Uninsured Enrollees.
March 7, 2014
House Republicans have found another back-door way to attempt a dismantling of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Next week, the lower chamber is expected to vote on legislation that would permanently repeal Medicare’s physician payment formula and which might include a provision to either repeal or delay the ACA’s individual insurance mandate as a way to pay for the sustainable growth-rate fix. But as before, their efforts are certain to die in the Senate, making another temporary SGR patch more likely as a March 31 deadline rapidly approaches.
via Healthcare Reform Update: Bill to fix SGR could repeal or delay ACA’s individual mandate | Modern Healthcare.
March 7, 2014
Conservative political leaders and free-market policy analysts painted a picture of what true market-based health reform would look like if consumers had more control over choices in a truly competitive market, during a conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on February 27.
The conference on “Fresh ideas and a new vision for health reform” was co-sponsored by 11 market-oriented think tanks to describe the vision, policy, and politics of free-market health reform.
via Conservatives Unite Around Health Reform Ideas.
March 7, 2014
Occupational licensing laws have been relaxed in a large number of U.S. states to give nurse practitioners the ability to perform more tasks without the supervision of medical doctors. We investigate how these regulations may affect wages, employment, costs, and quality of providing certain types of medical services. We find that when only physicians are allowed to prescribe controlled substances that this is associated with a reduction in nurse practitioner wages, and increases in physician wages suggesting some substitution among these occupations. Furthermore, our estimates show that prescription restrictions lead to a reduction in hours worked by nurse practitioners and are associated with increases in physician hours worked. Our analysis of insurance claims data shows that the more rigid regulations increase the price of a well-child medical exam by 3 to 16 %. However, our analysis finds no evidence that the changes in regulatory policy are reflected in outcomes such as infant mortality rates or malpractice premiums. Overall, our results suggest that these more restrictive state licensing practices are associated with changes in wages and employment patterns, and also increase the costs of routine medical care, but do not seem to influence health care quality.
via Relaxing Occupational Licensing Requirements: Analyzing Wages and Prices for a Medical Service.
March 7, 2014
What determines government attention to emerging health issues? We draw on research in agenda setting and policy diffusion to explore the determinants of public health attention in the fifty American states. We find that intergovernmental influence has a strong and consistent influence over state attention to tobacco and vaccines from 1990 to 2010. While national attention to tobacco or vaccines also sparks attention in the states, this effect is smaller than the internal impact of gubernatorial attention and the horizontal influence of neighboring state attention. We find some support that problem severity matters; however, these results are highly dependent on the measures used. Finally, we find no evidence that interest groups influence the attention that states pay to tobacco or vaccines. Our results suggest that institutions play a critical role in explaining government attention to health policy.
via Public Health and Agenda Setting: Determinants of State Attention to Tobacco and Vaccines.