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March 2017
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Will The Media Finally Notice Health Care Costs Rising Under Obamacare?

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There was lots of big news on the ObamaCare front today, and it has caused a reexamination of the effects of this law since it was signed. Will the media finally notice health care costs rising under ObamaCare? Two court decisions issued conflicting decisions regarding the massive federal subsidies used to bribe consumers help consumers afford approved plans under ObamaCare. In the aftermath of these decisions, the Left is pointing fingers at Conservatives for cheering higher healtcare costs, in a tacit admission that – as written – ObamaCare does nothing to lower premiums or the cost of delivery of health care. This fact is buttressed by recent reporting that shows the real world increase in costs.

The first case, Halbig v Burwell, was hailed by opponents of ObamaCare as effectively nullifying the employer mandate in the 34 states that chose not to set up state based exchanges. As reported by Sean Hackbarth of the US Chamber of Commerce blog,

The legal question of involves whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows people to receive subsidies for health plans purchased on federally-run exchanges—covering 34 states and the District of Columbia–or only through state-run exchanges. In a 2-1 decision, the DC Circuit ruled in Halbig v. Burwell that under the law, only those buying through state-run exchanges are eligible.

In the second case, King v Burwell, the subsidies were updheld in a unanimous decision. Hackbarth explains the significance:

Why is it important to know who is eligible for a health plan subsidy? As the DC court’s Judge Edwards explains in his dissent, it triggers the employer mandate, [emphasis mine]:

Specifically, the ACA penalizes any large employer who fails to offer its full-time employees suitable coverage if one or more of those employees “enroll[s] . . . in a qualified health plan with respect to which an applicable tax credit . . . is allowed or paid with respect to the employee.” (linking another penalty on employers to employees’ receipt of tax credits). Thus, even more than with the individual mandate, the employer mandate’s penalties hinge on the availability of credits. If credits were unavailable in states with federal Exchanges, employers there would face no penalties for failing to offer coverage. The IRS Rule has the opposite effect: by allowing credits in such states, it exposes employers there to penalties and thereby gives the employer mandate broader reach.

No subsidies, no employer mandate penalties.

This question is significant, because of the paltry 8 million signups for ObamaCare plans, upwards of 4.7 million of them could find themselves unable to afford their new plans without the subsidies. The ACA is dependent upon these new signups to help pay for the Ponzi scheme framework of the new law. Michael Cannon of the CATO Institute has claimed that if the Halberg decision is upheld, an estimated 57 million workers from over 250,000 firms nationwide would not be subjected to the employer mandate.

Does that mean ObamaCare is doomed to collapse? There are lots of variables that make that question unclear, but one thing that is very clear is that the promises of lower premiums, better coverage and ‘bending the cost curve’ have all failed to be met by the ACA. Many recent reports have made it clear that ObamaCare fails to deliver and is the giant albatross on our economy and on individual lives that many of us predicted it would be.

A report in Politico earlier this month detailed several of the problems that are on the rise for backers of ObamaCare:

Obamacare open enrollment closed March 31. The White House’s Obamacare war room did not.
Most state health insurance rates for 2015 are scheduled to be approved by early fall, and most are likely to rise, timing that couldn’t be worse for Democrats already on defense in the midterms.

So they’re trying to avoid — or at least, get ahead of — any September surprise.

In a coordinated effort to proactively undermine any effort by GOP campaigns to take advantage of this bad news, the White House is directing talking points to all levels of Democrats, “coordinating with Hill Democrats, funneling localized background analysis and talking points to each state’s delegation“.

This is a slick, no-nonsense marketing effort:

For months, the half-dozen White House communications and policy aides have been assembling state-by-state histories of health insurance rates before the Affordable Care Act was implemented, the drop-offs between initial rate proposals and final rates, and an analysis of the law’s effects and projections for 2015 — all condensed to fit on a two-page background and talking points document tailored for each state.

Then they wait, closely tracking developments in the states in order to be ready to pounce when rates are announced.

Not only are health care premiums set to rise, with a significant effect on out of pocket spending just for a household’s privilege of carrying insurance, but the promise that ObamaCare would ‘bend the cost curve’ has failed to materialize (again, as predicted before the passage of the ACA). Kristina Ribali of the Foundation for Governmental Accountability writes,

There’s little doubt health care costs were rising prior to ObamaCare.  But President Obama, Democrats, and their media allies promised in the lead up of the passage of the Affordable Care Act that the law would increase access, provide affordable care and “bend the cost curve,” ie: lower the rate of growth in health care spending.

But what happens if those goals are incompatible with health care in the real world? That’s what Aaron E. Carroll a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine and health research and policy blogger is suggesting.

One of the most important facts about health care overhaul, and one that is often overlooked, is that all changes to the health care system involve trade-offs among access, quality and cost. You can improve one of these – maybe two – but it will almost always result in some other aspect getting worse.

You can make the health care system achieve better outcomes. But that will usually cost more or require some change in access. You can make it cheaper, but access or quality may take a hit. And you can expand access, but that will increase cost or result in some change in quality.

Really?  You can’t give millions of people free care, (Medicaid) or at a drastically reduced cost (subsidized by taxpayers) and crowd an already burdened system without an impact on quality of care?  And it may be expensive to boot?  So these examples here, here, here, and here aren’t just coincidental?  I’m shocked.

ObamaCare has always been an unworkable idea, but the details of how unworkable it is are really starting to have real world effects. If the Halbig decision is upheld in a likely Supreme Court hearing, it is hard to envision how the law can be sustained.

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