Viewpoints: Stop 'bailout' of Obamacare; health law not to blame for all insurance woes; 'theft' of Medicare advantage money

Published on January 6, 2014 at 3:27 AM · No Comments

The Washington Post: Stop The Bailout -; Now 
Shrinking revenues and rising costs could bring on the "death spiral" -; an unbalanced patient pool forcing huge premium increases (to restore revenue) that would further unbalance the patient pool as the young and healthy drop out. End result? Insolvency -; before which the insurance companies will pull out of Obamacare. Solution? A huge government bailout. It's Obamacare's escape hatch. And -; surprise, surprise -; it's already baked into the law. Which is why the GOP needs to act (Charles Krauthammer, 1/2).

The Washington Post: The Affordable Care Act Is Here To Stay
Opponents of the law can hardly advocate going back to a system in which those who really need insurance can't get it. What they can do, and surely will, is make lots of noise by pretending that any problem with anyone's health insurance is due to the Affordable Care Act. Before Obamacare, millions of Americans had their policies canceled by the insurance companies every year. Millions more had their premiums raised, their coverage reduced or both. Now when these things happen, critics will try to blame the new law. ... The real problem with the ACA, and let's be honest, is that it doesn't go far enough (Eugene Robinson, 1/2).

The Washington Post's The Plum Line: The Three Stages Of Obamacare Acceptance
Now that Obamacare is clearly moving forward, Republicans are adjusting to a new reality: it may no longer be a realistic option to simply wait until the law collapses under its own weight and vanishes entirely. GOP lawmakers are increasingly discussing a range of responses, from proposing profound changes to finally embracing a comprehensive alternative. Which raises a question: Is it possible to envision a future in which Republicans and Democrats do enter into real negotiations over the future of the law and the health system, in which each side gets some changes it wants, in exchange for accepting some of the other's proposed changes? (Greg Sargent, 1/2). 

The New York Times: No Burden on Religion
Adding a level of absurdity to the controversy, Little Sisters of the Poor's insurance plan qualifies as a self-insured "church plan" under an insurance statute known as Erisa. The Justice Department has conceded that it has no authority to compel a third-party administrator of such a plan to provide contraceptive coverage. In this case, contraceptives would not be made available even indirectly to the nuns' employees. Like the cases of the private employers, the suit by the nuns' group boils down to an unjustified attempt by an employer to impose its religious views on workers (1/2).

The New York Times' Economix: Medicare Advantage And The 'Theft' Of $156 Billion
A theft of $156 billion should catch one's attention, especially if government is the thief. It warrants a closer look. For starters, what is the time frame of this $156 billion "theft"? Greater clarity on this point would have been helpful, lest readers think that this is an annual figure. In fact, it is the sum of projected future annual cuts off projected future total payments to Medicare Advantage plans over the decade 2013-2022 (see line 8 of Table 2, page 5 in this Congressional Budget Office projection). That point aside, what the Affordable Care Act has done to the Medicare Advantage plans lies, like beauty, in the eyes of the beholder (Uwe E. Reinhardt, 1/3).

Forbes: New Oregon Data: Expanding Medicaid Increases Usage Of Emergency Rooms, Undermining Central Rationale For Obamacare
For years, it has been the number one talking point of Obamacare supporters. People who are uninsured end up getting costly care from hospitals' emergency rooms. "Those of us with health insurance are also paying a hidden and growing tax for those without it-;about $1,000 per year that pays for [the uninsureds'] emergency room and charitable care," said President Obama in 2009. Obamacare, the President told us, would solve that problem by covering the uninsured, thereby driving premiums down. A new study, published in the journal Science, definitively reaches the opposite conclusion. In Oregon, people who gained coverage through Medicaid used the emergency room 40 percent more than those who were uninsured (Avik Roy, 1/2).

NBC News: How Not To Argue Against Medicaid Expansion
There are, by everyone's estimation, several hundred thousand folks in Mississippi who would benefit from Medicaid expansion. According to [Gov. Phil] Bryant, the state could help them, but he doesn't want to – because in his mind, Congress might repeal the health care law at some point in the future, and the state wouldn't be able to afford to pick up the slack. But even by GOP standards, it's impossible to take this seriously. For one thing, it's pretty obvious Congress isn't going to repeal the law, as even the most right-wing lawmakers on Capitol Hill are grudgingly conceding. For another, even in the extraordinarily unlikely event that the law is repealed sometime after 2017, Mississippi could simply revert back to its current policy once the federal well runs dry (Steve Benen, 1/2).

Journal of the American Medical Association: Realizing The Promise Of The Affordable Care Act-;January 1, 2014
Never has the landscape of US health care changed so dramatically in a single day as on January 1, 2014. The challenges facing the HealthCare.gov website notwithstanding, the implementation of key provisions of the ACA will proceed apace in the upcoming year. Whether one cheers or jeers the transformational events of January 1, 2014, the US health care system will never be the same again (John E. McDonough and Dr. Eli Y. Adashi, 1/2).

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