February 10, 2014
The Obama administration continues to delay and dismantle ObamaCare, with news today that it is postponing for one more year the mandate that some employers must provide health insurance to their workers.
This pushes one wave of bad news past the 2014 elections. It may be just a coincidence that the announcement is being made now: The president met privately with Democrat members of Congress last week at their retreat, and he no doubt got an earful about how frightened they are about facing the voters while trying to defend the unpopular law.
Today’s announcement may provide a measure of relief. It means that employers with 100 or fewer workers will not be required to provide health insurance next year. The law exempts businesses with fewer than 50 workers.
The delay also does not change the individual mandate, which requires most Americans to purchase insurance. But that shoe may be dropping next, probably as soon as the open enrollment period in exchanges is completed on March 31 (unless that is extended, too).
via The end of ObamaCare draws nearer | Galen Institute.
February 10, 2014
Taxing 35 percent of employer-based benefits earns the same political blowback as taxing 100 percent of employer-based benefits. Including the entire value of employer-based benefits as taxable income would raise enough money to give every American a tax credit to buy health insurance, whether individually or from her employer. Md most of us would see higher after-tax incomes as a result.
The Senators’ proposal goes in the right direction, but not nearly far enough. Although its approach to reforming private health insurance for working people will struggle to be accepted by Americans, it elevates the debate by re-introducing the possibility of a health-insurance tax credit as an alternative to Obamacare.
via Senate Republicans’ Health-Reform Proposal Leaves Significant Room for Improvement – Forbes.
February 3, 2014
But the apparent discrepancies between what policy makers expected and how many of the intended beneficiaries of ObamaCare seem to be behaving reminds me of the divide described in Charles Murray’s 2012 book “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.” Mr. Murray, my colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, documents the sharp differences in behavior between the upper (in education and income) 20% and the bottom 30% of white Americans.
The upper group has low rates of divorce and single parenthood and high rates of what Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam calls social connectedness. They belong to voluntary associations and churches; they vote and follow public-policy debates. They tend to be connected, engaged and conscientious. The lower (income and education) group has high rates of divorce and single parenthood and low rates of social connectedness. They tend to be disconnected and disengaged, and sometimes heedless. It should not be surprising that they may not respond to the same health-care mandates, incentives and nudges that policy makers and others in the upper group do.
via Michael Barone: How ObamaCare Misreads America – WSJ.com.
January 31, 2014
According to the Center for Health and Economy—H&E for short—the Coburn-Burr-Hatch plan will actually cover slightly more people than Obamacare. “By 2023,” H&E writes, “the number of insured under the proposal is estimated to be 1 percent higher than under current law.” That’s despite the fact that the GOP plan doesn’t contain an individual mandate or an employer mandate, and despite or because it repeals most of the other regulatory impositions of Obamacare.In addition, the plan would reduce the deficit over ten years by a total of $1,473 billion. As I mentioned, the biggest chunk of the deficit reduction comes from changing the tax treatment of employer-sponsored health insurance.
via So It Turns Out That The Senate Republican Plan To Replace Obamacare Raises Taxes — And That’s A Good Thing – Forbes.
January 30, 2014
In January 2014, Senators Richard Burr (NC), Tom Coburn (OK), and Orrin Hatch (UT) made public a proposal—the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment (CARE) Act. The CARE Act would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HCERA)—with the exception of all provisions relating to Medicare—and replace it with several reforms. Key provisions include a premium credit for all individuals earning less than 300 percent of the federal poverty limit, a cap on tax-exempt income spent on employer sponsored health insurance, and a capped allotment funding design for Medicaid, among others. This report details the findings of the Center for Health and Economy’s (H&E) Under-65 Microsimulation Model on the proposal’s impact on health insurance premium prices, insurance coverage, patient access to providers, medical productivity, and the federal budget.
via The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment Act | Center for Health & Economy.
January 30, 2014
The truth is that the Burr-Coburn-Hatch plan would provide substantial net tax relief to the American people. All of Obamacare’s tax hikes would be repealed, and only a fraction of the work force would be affected by the upper limit on the tax preference for employer-paid premiums. When this plan is scored, it would not be surprising to see that it provides hundreds of billions of dollars in net tax relief over the coming decade.
via Much Better than Obamacare | National Review Online.
January 29, 2014
There have been calls from the Right and the Left over the last several months for Republicans to unite behind a single health reform bill to show how they would replace ObamaCare.
I think expecting them to unite behind a single bill is not likely to happen and also a bad idea, as I explained in my Forbes column in December. Republicans first need to explain their vision and principles to the very skeptical American people before they get bogged down in the messy and confusing details of legislative language.
via How The GOP Will Replace Obamacare – Forbes.
January 27, 2014
Today, however, a trio of experienced Senate Republicans—Tom Coburn Okla., Richard Burr N.C., and Orrin Hatch Utah—have put forth the most thoughtful and constructive plan yet developed to repeal and replace Obamacare. The plan seeks to ensure that as many Americans have health coverage as Obamacare does. It’s a proposal grounded in the real-world tradeoffs that all serious reformers must make.
via Senate Republicans Develop The Most Credible Plan Yet To ‘Repeal And Replace’ Obamacare – Forbes.
January 23, 2014
The purpose of this justification is to obtain approval to issue a contract for the development of urgently needed Federal Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) functionality. The FFM serves the needs as described within the Affordable Care Act, and enables consumers to obtain affordable health care coverage through the Healthcare.gov website application. The development services to be provided by Accenture Federal Services, LLC (AFS) are outlined below (see paragraph 3) and are critical to the successful national deployment and operation of the Marketplace.
CMS believes the current FFM development contractor is not going to be able to complete the development of the required functionality by the required date. The need for the FFM to perform the functions above by mid-March 2014 remains and the implementation dates for this functionality remain unchanged.
If this functionality is not complete by mid-March 2014, the Government could make erroneous payments to providers and insurers. Additionally, without a Financial Management platform that accounts for enrollments and associated program costs (i.e. Advance Premium Tax Credits (APTC), Cost Sharing Reductions (CSR), payments to insurance plans, etc.), that integrates with the existing CMS Accounting platform (HIGLAS), the entire healthcare reform program is jeopardized.
January 18, 2014
Instead of expanding coverage to those without it, Obamacare is replacing the pre-existing market for private insurance. Surveys from insurers and other industry players indicate that as few as 11 percent of those on Obamacare’s exchanges were previously uninsured. If these trends continue, the probability increases that Obamacare will eventually get repealed.
via Coverage Expansion Fail: Less Than One-Third Of Obamacare Exchange Enrollees Were Previously Uninsured – Forbes.