Viewpoints: What's next for employer mandate; SCOTUS and retiree health plans; the 'next big issue'

Los Angeles Times: Should We Kill Obamacare's Employer Mandate?
As complaints and cavils about the Affordable Care Act fall by the wayside, one piece of the law looms ever larger as its most controversial element: the employer mandate, which in 2016 will impose a penalty on businesses with 50 to 99 employees for not offering them health coverage (Michael Hiltzik, 5/12). 

Politico Magazine: Will Employer Health Plans Become A Casualty Of Obamacare?
Welcome to the new conventional wisdom: Employer-sponsored health insurance, which developed by accident in World War II and subsequently became the main pillar of our health system, is in danger of disappearing. A new study by S&P Capital Research, a financial research firm, predicts that the employer-based system will most likely disappear by 2025. Even Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the architects of the president's health care reforms and the brother of former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, says in his new book that the bill's health care exchanges will eventually supplant the existing system. If true, this would be a disruptive development, as 170 million Americans now get their insurance via their employers (Troy, 5/12).

Los Angeles Times: The Supreme Court Saddles Up For An Attack On Retiree Benefits
In an era in which corporations have been trying every possible stratagem to cut employee benefits (see our look at the Obamacare employer mandate earlier today), a new threat to retirement benefits has just arisen. The source of the threat is the Supreme Court, which earlier this month agreed to rule on when or whether employers can unilaterally end retiree healthcare benefits, even when they're negotiated as part of a union contract (Michael Hiltzik, 5/12). 

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: The Next Big Health-Care Issue 
The next big brouhaha for the Affordable Care Act will be how much premiums go up in the non-group insurance market. Premiums for 2015 are starting to be released by state insurance departments as insurers submit them and will continue to dribble out over the year. Here are two things to keep in mind as this issue unfolds: First, 85% of those who purchase insurance in the new marketplaces will get a government subsidy in the form of a tax credit to help defray the cost of the premium. That means that most people buying in the exchanges won't pay much even if their premium cost goes up significantly. Here is an example (Drew Altman, 5/12).

Washington Post's The Plum Line: Morning Plum: Are Republicans Surrendering On Obamacare?
CNN's new polling mirrors Kaiser's recent finding that only Republicans support repeal and that only Republicans want the Obamacare debate to continue. And it's a reminder that at this point, attacks on the law -; such as they are, anyway – are all about keeping the base lathered up in advance of the midterm elections. But there are still six months to go, and already even some Republican officials appear to be realizing that the anti-Obamacare energy is draining away (Greg Sargent, 5/12).

National Review: Notice Not Obamacare
Whenever somebody says that an argument is settled, you can be sure that it is not. If it were settled, there would be no need to say so. No president will hold a press conference to announce that the argument over the prohibition of alcohol is settled, precisely because it truly is settled. So when President Obama declared the debate over his health-care law "settled" and "over," as he did at an April 17 press conference, his performance was self-refuting (Ramesh Ponnuru, 5/12).

The New York Times' The Upshot: Staying On Parents' Plan May Lead To Healthier Paychecks 
One of the earliest pieces of the health-care law to go into effect -; and one of the easiest to understand -; was the one that allowed adults under age 26 to remain on their parents' insurance plan. It has long been clear that the policy has somewhat increased the insurance rate among young adults. Now a new study suggests the effects may be much broader, also leading to increases in educational attainment and the wages of young adults (Austin Frakt, 5/12).

Pacific Standard: The High Cost of Living With Cancer
Pharmaceutical companies are businesses, focused on money-generating innovations. Yes, they have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to maximize profits. Certainly, no one wants to slow innovation nor temper the pharmaceutical companies' ability to bring truly life-saving cancer drugs to market. However, the price paid for cancer drugs should reflect their clinical impact on patient survival. While one cannot discount the high cost of drug R&D and the time and cost incurred in bringing a new treatment to market, there must be a balance between innovation/profit maximization and cost to society in terms of lives lost and rising overall health care expenses (June M. McKoy, 5/12).


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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