Since it was signed into law by now-former President Barack Obama in March 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been a mixed bag. On one hand, the ACA, which is better known as Obamacare, wound up giving more than 20 million people the ability to get healthcare insurance. Many of these individuals were previously shut out of the healthcare system because they either couldn't afford it or had pre-existing health conditions and were unable to obtain coverage.
Obamacare made it so that all persons looking for health insurance were accepted, regardless of their health histories. Likewise, the law provided ample subsidies that allowed lower- and middle-income individuals and families the opportunity to lower their monthly premiums and doctor visit costs.
On the other hand, Obamacare also had beefed up minimum essential benefits that caused some insurers to cancel, rather than update, their plans, displacing millions of previously covered Americans who were now forced to find a new plan, and potentially, a new doctor. Obamacare also never controlled premium pricing as expected.
In 2017, the benchmark silver plan premium (second-lowest cost silver plan) for the 39 states covered by HealthCare.gov went up by an average 25%! Even with such ludicrous price hikes, most national insurers found the ACA exchange unsustainable and reduced their coverage significantly.
Continue reading at The Motley Fool....
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which represents insurers in every state, Cigna Corp and Humana Inc said on Friday they would attend a meeting between the health insurance industry and President Donald Trump on Monday.
Cigna’s chief executive officer, David Cordani, and Humana CEO Bruce Broussard will attend, spokesmen for both companies said.
Bloomberg reported earlier on Friday that top executives from U.S. health insurers would attend a meeting, based on unnamed sources. The White House has not confirmed the Bloomberg report.
Trump has pledged to repeal and replace Obamacare, former President Barack Obama’s national healthcare law that redesigned the U.S. insurance market for individuals. It is not clear yet what Republicans will agree upon to replace the current insurance. Insurers say any new plans are not likely to hit the market before 2019.
Insurers have also asked for changes to the individual insurance market that would go into effect for 2018 to make the market more attractive to the industry, where some plans have lost hundreds of millions of dollars because member costs were higher than they expected.
Read more at One America News Network....
Health insurance company Humana announced Tuesday that it would leave the Obamacare market in 2018.
The insurer said it would offer plans through 2017, but that the market has not stabilized enough to participate next year.
Humana said it was losing money from taking on too many sick people without enough healthy people to balance the pools.
The decision came after Humana scaled back participation and raised premiums, among other changes.
"All of these actions were taken with the expectation that the company’s Individual Commercial business would stabilize to the point where the company could continue to participate in the program," the company said in a statement.
"However, based on its initial analysis of data associated with the company’s healthcare exchange membership following the 2017 open enrollment period, Humana is seeing further signs of an unbalanced risk pool."
“Therefore, the company has decided that it cannot continue to offer this coverage for 2018. Through the remainder of 2017, Humana remains committed to serving its current members across 11 states where it offers Individual Commercial products. And, as it has done in the past, Humana will work closely with its state partners as it navigates this process.”
Continue reading at The Hill....
The leader of one of the U.S.’s largest health insurance agencies — who has been saying for months that Obamacare is on the ropes -- said Wednesday that statistics indicate that the law has now entered a “death spiral.”
Aetna’s CEO Mark Bertolini told The Wall Street Journal that the health law’s market is nearing failure because healthier people have dropped out while premiums continue to climb.
Health insurer Humana announced it is leaving the law’s public insurance exchanges for next year as it regroups after ending its proposed combination with rival insurer Aetna. Humana Inc. covers about 150,000 people on exchanges in 11 states.
The Trump administration took steps Wednesday intended to help calm jittery insurance companies and make tax compliance with former President Obama’s health law less burdensome for some. The administration's actions signal a change in direction.
For consumers, the proposed rules mean tighter scrutiny of anyone trying to sign up for coverage outside of open enrollment by claiming a "special enrollment period" due to a change in life circumstances such as the birth of a child, marriage, or the loss of job-based insurance. Also, sign-up season will be 45 days, down from the current three months.
Read more at Fox News....
Major blow to Obamacare mandate: IRS won't reject tax returns that don't answer health insurance question
How much difference does a single line on a tax form make? For Obamacare's individual mandate, the answer might be quite a lot.
Following President Donald Trump's executive order instructing agencies to provide relief from the health law, the Internal Revenue Service appears to be taking a more lax approach to the coverage requirement.
The health law's individual mandate requires everyone to either maintain qualifying health coverage or pay a tax penalty, known as a "shared responsibility payment." The IRS was set to require filers to indicate whether they had maintained coverage in 2016 or paid the penalty by filling out line 61 on their form 1040s. Alternatively, they could claim exemption from the mandate by filing a form 8965.
For most filers, filling out line 61 would be mandatory. The IRS would not accept 1040s unless the coverage box was checked, or the shared responsibility payment noted, or the exemption form included. Otherwise they would be labeled "silent returns" and rejected.
Instead, however, filling out that line will be optional.
Keep reading at Reason.com....
Hundreds of thousands of customers’ credit and debit card information may have been stolen after it was discovered that malware had been installed on payment systems and cash registers at hundreds of Arby’s restaurants in the U.S.
Arby’s was not made aware of the security breach until mid-January. At the request of the FBI the company did not go public about the incident, which could involve over 355,000 different credit and debit cards.
With over 3,330 restaurants in the United States, the breach may have affected hundreds of the chain’s locations but no franchises were affected, according to Krebs on Security. Approximately one–third of Arby’s stores are corporate-owned.
Continue reading at Fox News....
Republicans love cutting taxes, especially if they were authored by a president named Barack Obama. But as they push their wobbly effort to erase his health care overhaul, they're divided over whether to repeal the levies the law imposed to finance its expanded coverage for millions of Americans.
It's a trillion-dollar dilemma - actually closer to $1.1 trillion. That's the 10-year price tag the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office puts on revenue the government would lose if the law's taxes on wealthy people, the insurance and pharmaceutical industries and others were eliminated.
Republicans and President Donald Trump have been edging away from their promise to quickly eliminate Obama's entire law. Still, annulling its taxes would be a partial victory and is irresistible for many GOP lawmakers and the conservative voters at the core of their support.
"We should do full repeal," said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a leading House conservative. "And full repeal means not taking the taxes" from people.
Yet voiding those levies erases a mammoth war chest Republicans would love to have - and may well need - as they try replacing Obama's law. It's a major rift GOP leaders face as they try crafting a health care package that can pass Congress.
"These are sources of revenue you just can't discount," said Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., a member of the Tuesday Group of GOP pragmatists. He said the money could help "create a soft landing and coverage for those who currently rely on Obamacare."
Republicans know they'll need tons of cash, whatever they devise. The figure is currently unknown.
Read the full story at the Associated Press....
House Republicans during a closed-door meeting Tuesday discussed how to protect themselves and their staffs from protesters storming town halls and offices in opposition to repealing Obamacare, sources in the room told Politico.
House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers invited Rep. David Reichert, a former county sheriff, to present lawmakers with protective measures they should have in place. Among the suggestions: having a physical exit strategy at town halls, or a backdoor in congressional offices to slip out of, in case demonstrations turn violent; having local police monitor town halls; replacing any glass office-door entrances with heavy doors and deadbolts; and setting up intercoms to ensure those entering congressional offices are there for appointments, not to cause chaos.
“The message was: One, be careful for security purposes. Watch your back. And two, be receptive. Honor the First Amendment, engage, be friendly, be nice,” said Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.). “Because it is toxic out there right now. Even some of the guys who have been around here a lot longer than I have, have never seen it to this level.”
He later added: “For those of us who have children in grade school and that kind of thing, there’s a factor in all of this, saying: How far will the progressive movement go to try to intimidate us?”
The conference discussion comes as Democratic activists around the nation ramp up protests against Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare. Protesters have disrupted town halls and other public events, jeering and yelling at Republicans just as conservatives did to Democrats when they were writing the law eight years ago. Conservative protesters in 2009 and 2010 were accused of spitting on and hurling racial epithets at Democratic lawmakers ahead of their votes to pass Obamacare. Republicans denied the accusations at the time.
Read more at Politico....
House Republicans voiced frustrations Tuesday about slow-moving efforts to unwind Obamacare, urging their leaders to pick up the pace on a top campaign promise.
“Let’s get rid of it,” Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio told reporters at a forum for House conservatives. “That’s what we told the voters we’d do.”
He wasn’t alone.
“I, too, am frustrated with the pace,” said Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. “America needs to know what we stand for. We should vote on something.”
“We should get a plan together that we all, at least we can vote on and decide where we have the votes and where we don’t and where we need to do some work and what policies we can agree upon. And I think the failure to do that over the last four years has caught us somewhat flat-footed,” Perry said.
Continue reading at Bloomberg.com....
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