Health law opinions: 'Improvised explosive' device tax; Iowa legislators force role for brokers on insurance exchanges

Published on May 30, 2012 at 12:44 AM · No Comments

The Wall Street Journal: Improvised Explosive Device Tax
"Taxmageddon" isn't only about the half-trillion-dollar blow to the economy that arrives in 2013 on the end of the Bush-Obama tax rates. Several of the Affordable Care Act's worst tax increases kick in too, such as the new excise tax on medical devices. The 2.3 percent levy applies to the sale of everything from cardiac defibrillators to artificial joints to MRI scanners. The device tax is supposed to raise $28.5 billion from 2013 to 2022, and it is especially harmful because it applies to gross sales, not profits (5/28).

Des Moines Register: Don't Force Consumers To Use Insurance Brokers
If all goes according to plan, Iowans will be able to purchase health insurance through a new "exchange" in 2014. The cornerstone of the health reform law, these state-based marketplaces will be where uninsured Americans go to buy coverage. … Although many in the Republican Party have tried to torpedo the entire law, they are working overtime to manipulate how an exchange will eventually work. The goal of some Iowa lawmakers is to use it to provide a little help to their insurance agent friends. Before it adjourned this month, the Legislature passed a bill requiring navigators to be licensed agents (5/26).

The New York Times: In Medicine, Falling For Fake Innovation 
Health care reform may quash pseudo-innovations, but that simply directs capital and creativity away from technologies that don't improve outcomes or lower costs and toward ones that do. That should not be confused with killing innovation (Ezekiel J. Emanuel, 5/27).

The Wall Street Journal: Four More Years?
A second Obama term would guarantee no repeal or significant repair of ObamaCare for at least four more years, allowing it to push its tentacles into every aspect of our health care. It will give the health and human services secretary free rein in her decisions about new mandates and about which organizations or entities can be granted exemptions from them. This would give her and the president a new way to reward favored special interests (Pete Du Pont, 5/28).

The New York Times: Obama Should Seize The High Ground 
Barack Obama is a great orator, but he is the worst president I've ever seen when it comes to explaining his achievements, putting them in context, connecting with people on a gut level through repetition and thereby defining how the public views an issue. Think about this: Is there anyone in America today who doesn't either have a pre-existing medical condition or know someone who does and can't get health insurance as a result? Yet two years after Obama's health care bill became law, how many Americans understand that once it is fully implemented no American with a pre-existing condition will ever again be denied coverage (Thomas Friedman, 5/26).

Philadelphia Daily News/Philadelphia Inquirer: Supreme Court Tipping Scales Of Partisanship
Just a few weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court's hearings in March on the constitutionality of several parts of the Affordable Care Act -- a/k/a Obamacare -- an overwhelming majority of the nation's legal scholars predicted that the law would be upheld. … Silly them: They were looking at the law and how easily it fit in with eight decades of legal precedent, and figured that members of the U.S. Supreme Court would do the same. … But during the three days of legal arguments, it became clear (and alarming) that the questions of several of the conservative justices simply parroted Republican "talking points" about the legislation (5/29).

Philadelphia Inquirer: Your Coverage May Get Much Better Under Health Reform
A recent study financed by the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund revealed just how big the difference is between individual and employment-based coverage. … It found that over half of all individual policies cover less than 60 percent of medical costs. (This percentage is known as the policy's actuarial value.) Another third covers only between 60 and 69 percent. … This situation will change under health reform. Starting in 2014, policies that are sold directly to individuals must cover at least 60 percent of medical costs. They must also include a broader range of benefits, including treatment for pre-existing illnesses (Robert Field, 5/25).

iWatch News: Could Nonprofit Health Insurance Plans Be The Real Reformers?
When members of Congress who led the effort to overhaul the U.S. health care system saw the public option slipping away, some of them suggested that a viable alternative would be the fostering of nonprofit health insurance CO-OPs (Consumer Oriented and Operated Plans) throughout the country. I was among the many who belittled the idea. Having spent two decades in the health insurance industry, I knew how difficult it is for even the biggest insurers to establish a presence in markets where one or two other insurance firms dominate. And there are hardly any markets left where that is not the case (Wendell Potter, 5/29).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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