Viewpoints: Health law premium rates reveal 'mostly good news' but renew critics arguments; 'Cruz-ing for a bruising;'

The New Republic: What Obamacare Will Cost You: Now We Know
President Obama, President Clinton, and Senator Ted Cruz all spent a lot of time talking about Obamacare on Tuesday. But the real news came just as the day was ending, right at midnight, when the Department of Health and Human Services released data on insurance premiums available through the new Obamacare marketplaces. Several states had already released their data. With this report, HHS provided premium information for most of the rest. Overall, the numbers are pretty consistent with previous reports, albeit with some new and interesting wrinkles. It seems like mostly good news, though the law's critics would argue it vindicates some of their arguments, as well (Jonathan Cohn, 9/25).

Forbes: Double Down: Obamacare Will Increase Avg. Individual-Market Insurance Premiums By 99% For Men, 62% For Women
For months now, we've been waiting to hear how much Obamacare will drive up the cost of health insurance for people who purchase coverage on their own. Last night, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finally began to provide some data on how Americans will fare on Obamacare's federally-sponsored insurance exchanges. HHS' press release is full of happy talk about how premiums will be "lower than originally expected." But the reality is starkly different. Based on a Manhattan Institute analysis of the HHS numbers, Obamacare will increase underlying insurance rates for younger men by an average of 97 to 99 percent, and for younger women by an average of 55 to 62 percent. Worst off is North Carolina, which will see individual-market rates triple for women and quadruple for men (Avik Roy, 9/25). 

The New York Times: The Embarrassment Of Senator Ted Cruz
Like hard-liners in the far right corner of the House, Mr. Cruz has grabbed for every possible lever in his campaign against President Obama's health law, fully aware that he will not succeed but eager for the accolades and donations that will inevitably follow from the Tea Party's misguided faithful. In the process, he has demonstrated how little he understands Senate rules and, more important, how little he appreciates the public's desire for a collaborative Congress (9/24).

The Washington Post: Ted Cruz's Futile And Counterproductive Battle Against Obamacare
A Congressional Research Service analysis, provided at the request of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), has demonstrated that most of the health law would still be implemented even if Congress excluded funds for it from a temporary spending bill. Meanwhile, that bill, whose ultimate passage Mr. Cruz is obstructing, would peg the overall budget at the truncated level set in the sequester -; a limitation that we regard as indiscriminate and ill-advised but that the GOP could trumpet to its grass roots as a victory for small government, if not for Mr. Cruz's noisy crusade (9/24).

The Washington Post: Texas Senator Is Cruz-ing For A Bruising
They called him to the Strom Thurmond Room off the Senate floor, named after the late lawmaker who was famous for his filibusters against civil rights. They pleaded with their junior colleague to reconsider his plan to block a vote on legislation that would keep the government open. The filibuster, ostensibly in opposition to Obamacare, would do nothing to halt the hated health-care reforms, they said. It would make Republicans look foolish. It would leave House Republicans with too little time to avoid a shutdown. And it could cause Republicans to be blamed for that shutdown (Dana Milbank, 9/24).

The Wall Street Journal: The Obamacare Wars Are Just Starting
The Obamacare fight is turning hot and heavy. House Republicans have made an implausible threat to shut down the government to defund Obamacare, but a plausible motive is to create fear, uncertainty and doubt (which already exists in abundance regarding Obamacare) during the crucial sign-up period that begins next month. On the flip side, the administration's last-minute decision not to require income documentation in the first year can only do wonders for enrollment. A handy Kaiser Family Foundation calculator shows how: A single person who estimates his 2014 income as $33,000 would get a measly $6. Change the estimate to $30,000 and, hey, get $507 (Holman W. Jenkins Jr., 9/24).

The New York Times' Economix: Medicare's Lessons For The Affordable Care Act
Next week will not be the first time that the federal government has introduced a new, subsidized health insurance program for millions of people. The introduction of the Medicare program a half-century ago provides some indicators of how the Affordable Care Act's new health insurance marketplaces might evolve after they open on Tuesday (Casey B. Mulligan, 9/25). 

The New York Times' Economix: How To Gut Obamacare
If House Republicans want to fray the Affordable Care Act on the eve of its implementation, defunding it won't work. They'd be better off stripping or delaying the individual mandate. That's the conclusion of two recent studies that speak to one of the many moving pieces in this fall's vicious budget debate (Anne Lowrey, 9/24). 

Los Angeles Times: Contraception Coverage: A Hobby Shop Is Not A Church
A federal appeals court has thrown enforcement of one of the Affordable Care Act's mandates into confusion by accepting a bizarre argument: that businesses can refuse on religious grounds to include birth control in employee health plans (9/24).

The Washington Post: The Color Of Money: Michelle Singletary On Health Insurance Marketplaces
If you haven't already, you will probably be getting a notice from your employer about the new health insurance marketplaces through the Affordable Care Act. The notices, which are required by the health care reform law but carry no penalty if employers fail to provide them, are seen as just one more way for the government to get the word out about the marketplaces, which open Oct. 1 (Michelle Singletary, 9/24).

Des Moines Register: Why Critics Truly Fear Obamacare Might Succeed
The irony in this is hard to beat. So is the lie. An internet-based ad features a young woman on an examining table with her legs up in stirrups waiting to be examined. But instead of her doctor, a sinister looking Uncle Sam pops up holding a speculum and peering between her legs, as the screaming woman tries to back away. … Far from forcing actions on people against their wills, replacing trusted doctors with government bureaucrats or taking away women's choices, the new law expands them and gives consumers more power. It requires insurance companies to cover preventive services including drugs, contraception and sterilization (Rekha Basu, 9/24).

Bloomberg: Don't Be Alarmed By Obamacare's Failures
House Republicans trying their damnedest to stop Obamacare in its tracks aren't the only ones who foresee chaos when state health-insurance exchanges open one week from today. President Barack Obama himself has told Americans to expect "glitches" and "hiccups." That's an understatement. It's the surest bet since the 1936 presidential election: Things won't work perfectly when the gears begin turning on the giant new public health-insurance sales machine, the likes of which the U.S. has never seen. ... If things don't run smoothly from the get-go, it won't mean that this piece of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has failed (9/24).

Bloomberg: Economy Can't Be All That's Slowing Health Costs
A new set of projections released last week by Medicare's actuaries has drawn much attention, in part because it suggests the deceleration in the growth of health costs we've seen over the past few years is ephemeral. The actuaries attribute the slowdown to the "lingering effects of the economic downturn and sluggish recovery" and to increases in cost sharing. Both of these explanations have serious shortcomings -- and that, in turn, suggests something larger is in fact at work (Peter Orszag, 9/24).

Politico: Securing The Health Exchange Network
It's ironic this year that National Cybersecurity Awareness Month falls in October, because come Oct. 1, the new health insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act go "live" -; and they will unleash a host of new cyberactivity and cybersecurity threats that our health care system is not yet equipped to handle (Cindy Gillespie and Elizabeth Ferrell, 9/24).

JAMA Internal Medicine: Going After The Money
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act initiated a variety of experiments primarily focused on reducing spending on acute care, including rewarding hospitals for efficiency (part of its mix of metrics in value-based purchasing), penalizing "excessive" readmissions, having greater transparency through public reporting of provider charges, extending bundled payments around episodes of hospital care, and, ultimately, encouraging the growth of accountable care organizations. However, it is less clear if hospital care is a major source of cost growth-;and if it is not, then we may not be looking for savings in the right place (Dr. Ashish K. Jha, 9/23).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Obesity, Lack Of Preventive Care A Threat To Hispanics, Latinos
A closer look at the health and health care experiences of Hispanic and Latino Coloradans reveals troubling inequities. One in four (26 percent) Hispanic and Latino Coloradans report that they are in fair or poor health, compared to 14 percent of all Coloradans. In addition, Hispanic and Latino Coloradans are twice as likely to live in poverty, twice as likely to be uninsured and 3.5 times as likely not to graduate from high school compared to all Coloradans (Gretchen Hammer, 9/24).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from 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.



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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