Tag Archives: health law

Senators Propose Giving States Option to Keep Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON — Several Republican senators on Monday proposed a partial replacement for the Affordable Care Act that would allow states to continue operating under the law if they choose, a proposal meant to appeal to critics and supporters of former President Barack Obama’s signature health law.

But the plan was attacked by Democrats as a step back from the Affordable Care Act’s protections, and it was unlikely to win acceptance from conservative Republicans who want to get rid of the law and its tax increases as soon as possible. If anything, the proposal — by Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, a medical doctor, and Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate Republican — may show how difficult it will be for Republicans to enact a replacement for the Affordable Care Act.

Legislation that can pass muster in the more conservative House may not win enough support in the Senate. A bill with broad appeal in the Senate may fail in the House.

Under the proposal, states could stay with the Affordable Care Act, or they could receive a similar amount of federal money, which consumers could use to pay for medical care and health insurance. “We are moving the locus of repeal to state government,” Mr. Cassidy said. “States should have the right to choose.”

To read the full story, click here.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

Newest Policyholders Under Health Law Are Sicker and Costlier to Insurers

People newly insured under the Affordable Care Act were sicker, used more medical care and had higher medical costs than those who already had coverage, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association said Tuesday in a new study of its policyholders.

Because insurers’ premiums have to cover their medical expenses, the new report helps explain why Blue Cross plans have sought, and insurance commissioners have approved, substantial rate increases in many states. Another round of rate review is about to begin, with insurers generally required to file rate requests for 2017 in the next two months.

The findings are noteworthy because Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans operate across the country and have the largest share of the individual market in many states, giving them an unrivaled source of claims data.

In its report, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association examined the use of medical services by people who enrolled in its plans before and after major provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2014.

One of those provisions essentially required insurers to offer coverage to people who had previously been denied coverage because of their medical problems.

To read the full story, click here.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

New York Market Shrinking While Others Increase

Contrary to the national reports, the New York market is shrinking as carriers exit the market due to their requested rate increases being denied by the review board.

Several high-circulation outlets and beltway sources report the news of more insurers joining the marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act. The news is seen as good for the Obama Administration and the landmark health law. Fewer outlets cover news of a precipitous drop in the number of uninsured individuals in the United States, which was announced in the same speech and also bodes well for the ACA.

The Wall Street Journal (9/23, Radnofsky, Subscription Publication) reports that, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), more insurance companies are joining the health insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act. Out of the 43 states and Washington DC where insurers have formally stated their intentions, 33 will see at least one new company offer plans during the ACA’s second annual open enrollment period. In a speech before the Brookings Institution, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced the change, noting the new entries are projected to increase the total number of participating insurers by 25%, from 252 last year to 316. The department also released a report (PDF) on the new entrants.

The Washington Post (9/23, Millman) “Wonkblog” reports that Secretary Burwell used the occasion to tout the success of the landmark health law to date, saying “When you consider the law through the lens of affordability, access and quality, the evidence points to a clear conclusion: the Affordable Care Act is working.” She added, “Middle class families have more security, and many who already had insurance have better coverage.”

Fox News’ News Business Willis Report (9/23, 5:19 p.m. EDT) noted that, in addition to 77 incoming companies, “14 insurers are dropping out of the Obamacare system.”
Congressional Quarterly (9/24, Subscription Publication) reports that no state offering data so far will see a decrease in the number of insurers participating in an exchange, though 11 states will have exactly the same number as last year.
The Washington Times (9/24, Dinan) puts the latest ACA news in a broader context, citing continuing Republican opposition to the Obama Administration’s implementation of the law and uncertainties over the security and stability of healthcare.gov.

The Hill (9/24, Viebeck) reports that Burwell has been working “behind the scenes” to calm the often fiery opposition to the ACA, meeting with Republicans and emphasizing good news about the law.

Politico (9/23, Haberkorn, Norman) says the news shows the insurance industry is betting that the implementation of the ACA will continue, regardless of which party controls the Senate come January.

The New York Times (9/24, Pear, Subscription Publication) reports the numbers presented by the government “are generally consistent with reports by some insurers,” which have indicated they are “moving into additional states because they see the government-subsidized market as a business opportunity.”

For example, Reuters (9/23, Morgan, Humer) reports that UnitedHealth Group, America’s largest health insurer, plans to expand its exchange presence from a an extremely limited offering in a handful of states last year to giving consumers in most states access to its policies.

Also covering the news are the AP (9/24), CNN (9/23, Luhby), CNBC’s Power Lunch (9/23, 1:30 p.m. EDT), the Kansas Health Institute (9/23), the New Orleans Times-Picayune (9/24), the Chicago Tribune (9/23), Crain’s Chicago Business (9/23), Forbes (9/23, Japsen), The Hill (9/24, Ferris), the New York Business Journal (9/23, Robinson), the Washington Business Journal (9/24, Hoover, Subscription Publication), CNBC (9/24, Mangan), and Modern Healthcare (9/23, Demko, Subscription Publication).

Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

Young Adults Have Reduced Their ER Visits

Emergency department use slowed for young adults up to age 26 once they were allowed to stay on their parents’ health plans under the Affordable Care Act, according to new research.

A new study from Stanford University researchers published Monday in the September issue of the journal Health Affairs showed young adults ages 19 to 25 had a decrease of 2.7 emergency department (ED) visits per 1,000 people compared to an older group in the same period. Researchers looked at state hospital records from California, New York and Florida from 2009-2011 for their analysis.

Coverage of young adults was one of the earliest benefits of the health law, allowing people under the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ health care plan. Before the law extended health coverage to young adult in the fall of 2010, about one in four people ages 18 to 34 were uninsured in 2009, the study shows.

“Following implementation of the ACA provision, the younger group had a decrease of 2.7 ED visits per 1,000 people compared to the older group – a relative change of -2.1 percent,” researchers from Stanford wrote. “The largest relative decreases were found in women (3 percent) and blacks (3.4 percent). This relative decrease in ED uses implies the total reduction of more than 60,000 visits from young adults ages 19-25 across the three states in 2011.”

It’s an important finding since emergency department (ED) visits have “risen steadily for more than a decade,” researchers said. In addition, ED visits are often cited as an example of contributing to health costs when people without insurance seek treatment at the hospital rather than go to a doctor’s office, retail clinic or urgent care center.

“Our results suggest that the ACA’s dependent coverage provision is associated with a relative decrease in the number of E.D. (emergency department) visits for young adults, but a minimal relative decrease in the rate at which they ever used the ED,” Stanford researchers wrote. “Further expansions of coverage under the ACA could facilitate expanded ED use by reducing economic barriers to using the ED among newly insured populations. Such expansions could also facilitate these populations’ use of better non-ED care, which would tend to reduce the demand for ED care.”

To read more, click here.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

Health Care Law to Reduce Employment

According to a new analysis by Congressional Budget Office,  people are scaling back how much they work and instead getting health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. To read more, click here.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary