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Labor and Business Unite Against ObamaCare

ObamaCare: What's New in the News 6/24/13

Affordable Care Act multistate program not sparking competition (Politico)

Background: “The Multi-State Plan Program — which was the closest thing to a watered-down “public option” that made it into the final health law — is eventually supposed to provide at least two new insurance options in every state.”

  • Benefits big business:  “And some insurance regulators believe that the Department of Health and Human Services wrote the multistate plan regulations so that the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, a nonprofit umbrella group of Blue Cross affiliates, could be counted as the nonprofit contractor, even though some of its members are for-profit companies.”  
  • Unfeasible:  Only a small group of insurers are capable of offering new plans in 31 states next year, said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute and a consumer representative at NAIC. “…it’s hard to see how anyone could come in and offer something that is genuinely different.” 
  • Consumers won’t benefit: “…consumers won’t really be getting anything new.”

Why the Obamacare Law Can't Stop Soaring Healthcare Costs (Money Morning)

Background: “Basically, the Obamacare law focuses mostly on who will pay and how they pay - the insurance side of the equation - rather than why costs are so high and rise much faster than the overall inflation rate.”

  • ObamaCare Ignores Real Problem: “[Journalist Steven] Brill determined that the real problem of accelerating healthcare costs lies in the providers, and specifically with the hospitals - an area the Obamacare law mostly ignores.”
    • “What Brill found was shocking. Comparing the line items on the bills of numerous individuals to what each actually cost the hospital revealed huge markups - often 100%, 400% and even 1,000% and higher -- on everything from gauze pads to lab tests.”
    • “In one case a patient was charged $199.50 for a test that Medicare had determined should cost just $13.94.”
  • Lack of Competition: “Competitive market forces that drive prices lower are virtually non-existent in healthcare.”
  • ObamaCare Consolidation: Obamacare provides for something called Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), which are supposed to improve care and reduce costs by allowing different types of healthcare providers to affiliate with each other… some worry that further consolidation of the healthcare providers will give them more power to cut the discounts they give to the insurance companies.
  • Increase in use: “In addition, another goal of Obamacare - ensuring that the 30 million or so American who don't have health insurance will be able to get it - could also help push costs higher.”
  • ObamaCare Restrictions will raise costs: “…insurers cannot deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions and cannot impose maximum dollar limits on how much they will pay out in a year or a lifetime, will inevitably push insurance premiums higher for everyone.”

Editorial: The messy rollout of Obamacare (Chicago Tribune)

  • Costs go up: The cost of health insurance in California and the rest of the country will spike for many people, especially the young. At the same time, millions of Americans will be pushed into fledgling, sure-to-be-glitchy exchanges to buy that insurance.
  • Implementation way behind schedule: With roughly 100 days before the Oct. 1 opening of exchanges nationwide, federal and state officials have blown deadlines and remain tangled in regulatory confusion, according to twin reports last week from the Government Accountability Office.
  • “No wonder one top Democrat fretted that the Obamacare rollout would be a "train wreck."”

Column: Dear entrepreneur, we are canceling your health insurance (Reuters)

Background: “the nearly 22 million people who are self-employed will see some of the most dramatic changes, with perhaps half of them headed for the new health exchanges in the fall.”

  • I'm one of them - I recently received notice that the insurance I had been buying for three years would "terminate." I will be shopping for coverage on one of the new health insurance exchanges…In late May, I received notification from The Entertainment Group Insurance Trust that my existing insurance - an Oxford Health sole proprietor plan in New York - would terminate December 31…"We will not have other plans to offer you," TEIGIT noted in a follow-up email. "No other brokers will have alternate options available."… With New York state's health insurance exchange not yet open and no way to shop immediately for a new plan, I felt the momentary rush of panic. 

U.S. government begins 'Obamacare' outreach campaign (Reuters)

Background: “The Obama administration on Monday kicked off its public education campaign to get the uninsured to sign up for health coverage, with a new call center and a revamped website intended as the market entry point for millions of new consumers.”

  • “The campaign is expected to target 2.7 million younger consumers between the ages of 18 to 35”
  • “Two non-profit groups with strong ties to the Obama administration - Enroll America and Organizing for Action - kicked off their campaigns last week …”
  • “Consumers can also get information about coming benefits through a new 24-hour-a-day call center that offers services in 150 languages.”

Obamacare starts in 99 days. These 99 things need to happen before then (Washington Post)

Background: This article provides a helpful list of what needs to be done before ObamaCare starts.

Organized Labor And Business: The Latest Strange Bedfellows To Unite Against Obamacare (Forbes)

Background: “Organized labor and the business community are the latest unlikely pair to unite in opposition to the healthcare reform law. Both groups are discovering that Obamacare will substantially increase the cost of providing health benefits — to the detriment of the workers they represent or employ.”

  • Raises costs on businesses: “Businesses are focusing their ire on Obamacare’s employer mandate which requires every company with more than 50 full-time employees furnish their workers with “affordable” health care coverage starting in 2014… “The mandate will therefore saddle businesses with huge new costs.”
  • Companies are moving employees from full-time to part-time: AAA Parking, for example, has said that it will shift many full-time positions to part-time. Circle K Southeast convenience stores did the same. Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, has said that his restaurants have started replacing full-time workers with part-timers. And Walmart has been hiring more temp workers than ever before…Retailers have been cutting hours at the fastest rate since 1980.” 
  • Major cost to workers: “Even with the assistance of federal subsidies, a worker making $12 an hour could have to pay as much as $140 a month for an exchange plan, according to the Wall Street Journal.”
  • Unions have serious concerns: “At issue are so-called “Taft-Hartley” plans. These multi-employer health plans are jointly run by labor unions and employers — and provide about 20 million union members and their families with coverage. Starting next year, Taft-Hartley plans will have to comply with many of Obamacare’s cost-inflating mandates — including its ban on lifetime benefit limits and a new $63-per-enrollee fee to help cover people with pre-existing conditions… Obamacare actually punishes its supposed allies in organized labor… Union firms and workers will have to shoulder the entire cost of their health plans — while their non-union competitors will be able to get subsidized coverage through the exchanges.
  • Local Governments Concerned:Even local governments are fretting about how they’ll pay for health care once the law takes full effect next year. Birmingham, Mich., announced in May that it would be reducing hours for most of its seasonal employees. “We simply can’t afford the Affordable Care Act,” explained city commissioner Gordon Rinschler.”

Obamacare hurts those who most need help (The Washington Times)

Background: “It is becoming increasingly apparent that Obamacare is going to make health care unaffordable to a shockingly large number of poor people — many of them single and childless.”

  • Increase Regulatory Burden: “The burden of regulation falls all too often disproportionately on the relatively poor…” … “As Utah State University economist Diana Thomas has demonstrated, the cost of regulation can absorb six to eight times as much of a poor household’s income as that of a high-income household.”
  • Premiums Skyrocketing: Last week, the Ohio Department of Insurance announced an average expected jump of 88 percent in individual-market health insurance premiums as “consumers have fewer choices and pay much higher premiums for their health insurance starting in 2014,” according to a statement by Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. This sobering statement comes hard on the heels of calculations by Manhattan Institute analyst Avik Roy showing that premiums in California’s individual market are set to almost double next year.
  • The poor feel the increase: [Referring to the state of California] If your income exceeds 183 percent of the federal poverty level, you are ineligible for either expanded Medicaid or any subsidies — and you’ll see your premiums almost double. With an annual income of as little at $21,000, a young childless adult could be shelling out $183 monthly, compared to the current rate of $74 for a plan with a large deductible and substantial co-pays, a far cry from the original promises of Obamacare.”
  • Regressive Tax: “Obamacare was long on promises about helping the poor, but it’s delivering a regressive tax.”