Viewpoints: Health law didn't simplify anything; possible 'blowback' in 2016; now is the time for a 'doc fix'

The New York Times: Why I'm Jealous Of My Dog's Insurance
Nelson's health insurance covered 90 percent of the costs after a reasonable $500 deductible. I'm happy he has such good health coverage. He's my dog. And I'm jealous of him. He has the kind of health care that I'd hoped the Affordable Care Act would usher in for those who, like my wife and me, have to buy health insurance on the open market (Eric L. Wee, 3/25). 

Los Angeles Times: Democrats May Face Bigger Obamacare Blowback From Voters In 2016
If Democrats think the botched rollout of the Obamacare web site has handicapped them in the 2014 congressional elections, they should be ready for worse to come. Unhappiness with the negative effects of the health care law could produce even nastier consequences for Democrats in 2016 (David Horsey, 3/25).

Los Angeles Times: Matt Drudge's Crazy Obamacare Tax Adventure
Matt Drudge, whose news aggregation website, the Drudge Report, still has the power to drive huge traffic to articles he links to, also still has the power to make grownups at the White House (and maybe the IRS) sit up and go, "Huh?" That's the conclusion one can draw from the weird exchange of claims and counterclaims he has engaged in during the last few days over the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, the terms and timing of the penalties the act imposes on individuals who don't acquire health insurance this year (Michael Hiltzik, 3/25). 

The Washington Post: Voters Should Know Who's Holding Up Their Health Care
Amid the misinformation and fear-mongering, however, lies a real opportunity for Democrats to increase support for the ACA and win more races in November. Consider the recent special election in Florida's 13th Congressional District, where Republican David Jolly's victory is being widely interpreted as a rebuke of the Affordable Care Act. Polls suggest that it wasn't Obamacare that hurt Democrat Alex Sink but the same factor that often hurts Democrats in midterm elections: low turnout. To combat this, what if Democrats organized a clear, concerted effort to demonstrate how Republicans are denying millions of Americans access to health insurance? There are already signs that raising awareness is working (Katrina vanden Heuvel, 3/25). 

Bloomberg: Medicaid Is The World's Smallest Hammock
Free health care for the poor was supposed to lull the able-bodied into lives of dependency. Maybe it just takes awhile. As of Jan. 1, half the states used funds that are newly available under Obamacare to offer Medicaid to those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line. The other half didn't. As I wrote in December, that's a human tragedy, but it's also a natural experiment: Will more people in the expansion states drop out of the labor force as a result? We now have the first batch of data to address that question, and the answer is, not really (Christopher Flavelle, 3/25).

The Washington Post: Fix The Medicare 'Doc Fix' With A Long-Term Solution
Of all the manifestations of Washington dysfunction, none is more absurd than the annual "doc fix." The origins of the problem lie in a 1997 attempt by Congress to rein in Medicare physician reimbursements. Lawmakers devised a "sustainable growth rate" that was supposed to link payments to statistical indicators of doctors' costs and workload. Alas, the growth rate perversely encouraged excessive tests and procedures; when it actually began to reduce physicians' pay rates significantly in 2003, medical lobbies got it temporarily repealed in what turned out to be the first of 16 doc fixes. The cumulative cost of these fixes now exceeds $150 billion, and the most recent one expires March 31 (3/25). 

The Washington Post: Relative Value Health Insurance, Consumer-Directed Health Care, And Pay-For-Performance
This is the last of four posts on the idea of "relative value health insurance" that I've been promoting. ... To recap, the idea behind RVHI is for a government-sponsored organization to rate medical treatments on a scale of 1-10, based on their relative cost effectiveness. This would enable private insurers to offer, and consumers to purchase, health insurance that would cover only medical interventions that satisfy a particular cost-benefit standard (Russell Korobkin, 3/25). 

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.


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