Remember all those taxes and fees meant to pay for the Affordable Care Act?
The ones that keep getting delayed, suspended, postponed – or put into effect and then halted again?
The big end-of-year spending and tax bill Congress plans to approve this week will eliminate three big taxes – the health insurance tax, the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices, and the so-called Cadillac tax on certain high-value employer plans. They were to have provided billions to cover the cost of coverage expansion. (An extra 0.9 percent Medicare tax on income above a certain threshold is still in effect.) Continue reading
Kaiser Health News and Capital News Service have been publishing a series called “Baltimore’s Other Divide” – the state of health in a city which has vast disparities in health status, and some of the country’s best known hospitals.
The latest installment, by Jay Hancock, Rachel Bluth and Daniel Trielli, focuses on asthma “hot spots.” Drawing on rich hospital data, they identified the worst places for asthma in the city – ZIP code 21223. People there, like 9-year-old Keyonta Parnell, go the emergency room more often, and call 911 more often. The hospitals know that. But it’s not in their financial interest to fix it. Continue reading
Senior services will likely be under severe pressure in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration. While it is impossible to know now which program budgets will be cut – or by how much – services funded through the Older Americans Act (OAA) such as Meals on Wheels, adult day care, and information assistance could all be targeted.
Significant changes to the Affordable Care Act could affect how care is delivered through Medicare and Medicaid. Those programs also could face even bigger changes, since Trump and House Republicans say they want to restructure both. The changes may increase out-of-pocket Medicare costs for seniors and limit the federal contribution to Medicaid. Continue reading
We’ve just posted a tip sheet to help you understand four main ways the big year-end tax and spending deal passed by Congress affected the Affordable Care Act.
The limits on paying health plans their full risk corridor payments (what Marco Rubio insists on calling an “insurance bailout”) was renewed for another year. Three taxes that helped finance the ACA – the Cadillac tax, the medical device tax and the health insurance tax – were delayed or suspended for two years (one year for the insurance levy.) The tip sheet explains them, looks a bit at what could happen next and includes links for more reading and analysis. We’re also updating the relevant sections of our health reform glossary and key concepts. Continue reading
On March 4 the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell. A ruling is expected in late June – though it’s possible it could come earlier. The plaintiffs argue that the health insurance subsidies should only be available to people living in states running their own Affordable Care Act health insurance exchanges or marketplaces, not the 34 states using the federal exchange via HealthCare.gov. They cite four words in the text of the law “established by the state” to make this argument. The Administration says it’s clear from reading the full text of the 906 page law that subsidies were to be available in all 50 states, no matter what kind of exchange they have.
By Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Roberts Court (2010-) – The Oyez Project) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
So the Supreme Court has heard the King v. Burwell challenge to the Affordable Care Act.
Much of the coverage suggested that the March 4 oral arguments seemed to favor the administration, particularly because Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the deciding swing vote on the court, asked some questions showing skepticism of the plaintiff’s case.
But all that tells is precisely that – he asked some questions showing skepticism. He won’t necessarily vote that way. He backed scrapping the entire statute back in 2012 and made clear at that time that he detested the law.
Oral arguments are interesting and important – but rarely decisive. If you think you know how the court will rule – well you have a 50-50 chance of being right.
A few things did come out that health journalists should note. Continue reading