About 25 Washington, D.C., area journalists met on Sept. 30 to learn about how the Affordable Care Act was affecting a local brewery and discover how the district’s health insurance exchange was working to help such small employers gain coverage for their employees. Continue reading
There’s a lot of speculation about what outgoing House Speaker John Boehner may or may not accomplish in his last weeks in office.
Ending the acrimony about the Affordable Care Act is not one of them.
Not only is the House now rapidly moving ahead with another attempt to gut key sections of the law through a budget tool known as reconciliation (which President Obama would veto), Boehner has another ACA legacy. He was pivotal in filing the House of Representatives lawsuit charging that President Obama and his administration overstepped their authority in implementing the health law. Continue reading
For the past two months, new data on the rate of the uninsured in the United States have reached what appear to be historic levels.
Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released the latest numbers, reporting that the percentage of Americans who were uninsured last year dropped by 2.9 percentage points from 2013, the largest percentage-point decline since 2008.
In an article for Kaiser Health News, Julie Rovner went further, quoting Paul Fronstin, director of health research for the Employee Benefit Research Institute. The decline of almost 3 percent is, “probably the biggest drop ever,” Fronstin said. Continue reading
A recent post by Bruce Japsen at Forbes makes a quick supplement to a post we did recently highlighting how hospitals are faring in Medicaid expansion states vs. nonexpansion states.
Japsen knows a lot about the business side of the hospital industry and has written about the ACA’s impact on hospital finance. Recently he’s been paying attention to second-quarter earnings reports of publicly traded hospital companies. (As he notes, it’s the sixth quarter since ACA coverage expansion began.) Continue reading
President Barack Obama’s trip to Alaska this week is aimed at highlighting climate change and the environment, but his health care overhaul has turned up in the news, too.
This particular story by Alaska Public Media’s Annie Feidt paints the Alaskan health landscape in full relief, profiling the state’s top health official amid wrangling over the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, or so-called Obamacare. Continue reading
The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, created by the Affordable Care Act, is trying new ways of delivering health care and testing new incentives and payment models. Some ideas are likely, even expected, to fail. Others may lead to new ways of delivering higher quality care for less money.
CMMI also is supposed to help spread new ideas so they’ll take root in the real world. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has the authority to expand approaches that reduce spending – and halt those that do not. This is a more flexible approach than officials had with “demonstration projects” prior to the ACA.
The agency’s website is a goldmine of health care innovation. Read more about what CMMI is tasked with doing, how it will do it and how the success or failures of its projects will be determined in this new tip sheet.
When drafting the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Congress wanted to foster competition among health insurers. So it offered loans to nonprofit organizations that wanted to start health insurance consumer oriented and operated plans (called co-ops) in the states.
In theory, the co-ops are a great idea to increase competition and consumer choice. Congress included $2.4 billion in the ACA to establish these member-operated health insurance plans. The co-ops are particularly important today because five of the largest health insurers could soon be reduced to three if Anthem acquires Cigna and Aetna merges with Humana. Continue reading
We’ve all written a lot about the “Medicaid gap” – the low-income people who can’t get coverage under the Affordable Care Act because their states have opted out of Medicaid expansion. The Kaiser Family Foundation has estimated that 4 million people fall in this gap.
According to Moody’s Investors Service, nonprofit hospitals in expansion states have seen their bad debt from unpaid bills drop an average of 13 percent as they treated more patients who have coverage. In non-expansion states, bad debt rose.
Reuters’ Robin Respaut recently looked at how the Medicaid gap has affected two iconic urban safety net hospitals who treat a lot of low income people – Cook County in Chicago and Grady Memorial in Atlanta. Continue reading
Guy Boulton, a veteran health reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, took a look at some of the conservative health care policy proposals we’ll be hearing more about as the 2016 campaign gets underway.
Conservative critics of the Affordable Care Act, in and out of government, haven’t rallied around a specific replacement plan, or even a specific repair plan.
But Boulton notes that proposals by conservatives generally allow more flexibility in designing health plan benefit packages. Insurance might be cheaper for some people – but more expensive for others. And without standard requirements it might be harder for consumers to compare their options. Continue reading
The court ruled that the subsidies were integral to the functioning of insurance markets under the ACA, and that Congress constructed the law with that in mind. The Court did not use an alternative legal argument to uphold the subsidies – saying that the law was ambiguous but the executive branch (in this case the IRS) had the right to interpret it so that subsidies are available in both state and federal exchanges. This is not a minor distinction – that latter interpretation (used by one of the lower courts) would have meant that a future administration could come in and change the subsidy policy. The 6-3 court ruling bars a future administration from doing so. (A future Congress could still change the law regarding subsidies but a future administration couldn’t just flip a switch and stop them.) Continue reading