The Washington state legislature legalized Association Health Plans (AHPs) in 1995. The idea was to allow employers with 50 or fewer empoyees to buy high quality and affordable health insurance in the "large group market." Small employers could band together and form an AHP as long as they were in related industries.
Monday marked the fifth anniversary of President Obama signing the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) into law. The Administration is touting the "success" of the legislation. What is the reality?
Americans continue to oppose the law. Real Clear Politics averaged six recent polls and found that 52.5 percent opposed the ACA and 42.5 percent approved of the law. This ten percent difference remains constant since the bill was signed into law.
Republicans in both the U.S. House and Senate released proposed budgets this week. (Here)(Here)The House version cuts spending by $5.5 trillion and balances the budget in nine years. The Senate proposal cuts $5.1 trillion in spending and balances the budget in ten years. There is currently controversy within the Republican Party based on the amount of defense spending. (Here)
Local taxpayers could face a large tax increase when the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) “Cadillac Tax” on health insurance plans begins in 2018. This new tax will impose a 40 percent excise tax on health insurance plans the ACA sees as too generous, defined as $10,200 per year for an individual and $27,500 per year for a family. The cost of a health insurance plan above those amounts will be subject to the 40 percent tax.
Tomorrow, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear another case dealing with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare. This case, King versus Burwell, deals with the legality of the Internal Revenue Service giving subsidies to people who purchase health insurance in the federal health insurance exchange. Thirty six states either chose to use the federal exchange or were unsuccessful in establishing their own exchange.
The Washington State Health Benefit Exchange released the latest sign-up numbers for 2015. The goal was 213,000 total private-plan enrollees this year, which would include the 140,000 enrollees from 2014 and 83,000 new enrollees. The deadline for applications is February 15.
The numbers are not even close. To date, only 87,000 people (62%) have re-enrolled and only 40,000 individuals are new enrollees this year (48% of the anticipated). In other words the state exchange is 40% below the predicted enrollment.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released its latest estimates on the projected cost of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. (Available at www.cbo.gov) The CBO's original ten year estimate in 2010 was $940 billion. Its latest estimate is for the next four years (until 2019) and at $571 billion is evidently 20 percent lower than the original budget for that period.
Yesterday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence announced a three-year waiver from the federal government to expand Medicaid in his state. (Here) Indiana is the 27th state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare. The program is called Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 and is a continuation of the one-year plan initiated by Governor Mitch Daniels in 2007.
Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, did not include a "public option" health insurance plan, it did provide for federally-funded new companies to compete with existing carriers. These CO-OPs, or Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, were originally slated to receive $6 billion dollars of taxpayer loans at very favorable interest rates.
Yesterday, Governor Peter Shumlin announced he would not seak a single-payer health care system for Vermont. This is a huge shift in policy for the governor who has campaigned for a single-payer system for years. He barely won re-election last month, defeating a relatively unknown Republican candidate.
The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, provides $2.8 billion for states to develop "innovative" healthcare delivery plans (here). Washington state officials spent most of 2013 designing a very comprehensive plan called the Washington State Health Care Innovation Plan (SHCIP). The work was supported by a $1 million grant from the federal government.
Obamacare remains unpopular with the American public. The Gallup Poll from last month found that only 37 % of Americans approved of Obamacare and a startling 56% disapprove of the law. Many ideas are now circulating for meaningful health care reform.