The Vox.com policy podcast The Weeds gives a great recap on last week’s demise of GOP efforts to repeal the ACA. Link on Player.FM.
With GOP efforts to repeal the ACA currently stalled, a bipartisan group has begun meeting in order to improve on the ACA framework and stabilize its insurance markets.
“The roll out of their stabilization agenda follows months of private meetings between various members involved in the House’s centrist caucuses about ways to stabilize Obamacare if the GOP’s repeal effort sputtered.”
These efforts put lawmakers at odds with the President, who continued to suggest allowing (and causing) the ACA markets’ collapse.
“These problems have been exacerbated by a president who has publicly predicted that the Affordable Care Act will ‘implode’ and appears determined to help fulfill that prophecy. Mr. Trump has repeatedly threatened to cut off the subsidies, known as cost-sharing reduction payments, which reimburse insurers for cutting deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for millions of low-income people. Without them, insurers would almost certainly raise premiums…”
Continue reading Health Policy Updates: August 6 2017
One of the arguments from Republicans to support the BCRA’s steep cuts to Medicaid is that it is “bad insurance” – that having Medicaid somehow causes its beneficiaries to have WORSE health outcomes than those without insurance at all. Clearly, this is an extraordinary claim; how could having health insurance make one worse off? Is there “extraordinary evidence” to support the notion that Medicaid is harmful?
Health policy experts Austin Frakt and Aaron Carroll examine the available evidence. Moving beyond purely correlational studies (Medicaid patients are also quite poorer than average Americans, and so have many reasons to be unhealthy besides having Medicaid), it becomes clear that Medicaid does not, in fact, harm people.
“Findings from more recent studies looking at expansions in enrollment, in the 2000s and then under the Affordable Care Act in 2014, are consistent with older ones. One can argue that Medicaid can be improved upon, but the credible evidence to date is that Medicaid improves health. It is better than being uninsured.”
Continue reading Health Policy Updates: July 8 2017
This week Republicans made some amendments to the AHCA before continuing it along its legislative course to passage. Including work requirements for Medicaid recipients and large tax cuts for high-income Americans, these changes seem oriented more towards placating hard-Right opponents such as the Freedom Caucus rather than fixing the many problems with the bill that health policy wonks – both left and right – have been pointing out.
“These aren’t changes that address the core problems the GOP health care bill will create for voters, insurers, or states; instead, it’s legislation that tries to solve some of the problems the bill creates for conservative legislators….None of these provisions meaningfully change the underlying legislation, nor any of its flaws. These are mostly tweaks meant to win over hardcore conservatives and Congress members from New York.”
Ultimately, however, these efforts were not effective in winning enough support among Republican members of Congress. Rather than see the bill go down in defeat, Speaker Ryan pulled the bill from the House floor on Friday before any vote took place. The consensus is that this means efforts to repeal the ACA *currently* dead.
“Then, the Friday vote was abruptly canceled, as Republicans failed to whip enough votes for the bill. And so, Ryan concluded, Obamacare remains the law of the land.”
Continue reading Health Policy Updates: March 25 2017
The big health policy news this week was the revelation of the new GOP “repeal and replace”/Trumpcare plan, which has been named the American Health Care Act or AHCA.
Vox.com’s Sarah Kliff explains how some of the biggest proposed changes would work:
“In 2020, enrollment in the Medicaid expansion will “freeze” and states with no longer be able to sign new enrollees up for the program. Legislators expect that enrollment would slowly decline, as enrollees’ incomes change and they shift off the program…
On the surface, the tax credits for the oldest Americans seem the most generous. People in their 60s, for example, get twice as much help as those in their 20s….But under the Republican plan, insurers would be allowed to charge the oldest Americans five times as much as the youngest Americans. Their financial help would not scale nearly as much as their premiums would.”
I liked this “high yield” layout from the NYTimes of what the GOP plan will keep, change, or get rid of from Obamacare.
Conservative health policy expert Avik Roy weighed in on the plan in Forbes:
“Leading House Republicans have included a number of transformative and consequential reforms in their American Health Care Act, the full text of which was published Monday evening. But those reforms are overshadowed by the bill’s stubborn desire to make health insurance unaffordable for millions of Americans, and trap millions more in poverty.”
Continue reading Health Policy Updates: March 11 2017
Donald Trump garnered some eye-rolls from health policy experts when he stated last week that “nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated,” in relation to why repealing and replacing Obamacare has been taking longer than he initially estimated.
Because, of course, everyone who takes healthcare seriously already knew that.
More from the NYTimes:
“And no governor was ready to say publicly that he or she could accept a replacement health law covering fewer people than the Affordable Care Act, which has extended coverage to 20 million Americans. A bill drafted by House Republicans could cover fewer people. It would roll back the heath law’s expansion of Medicaid…”
Continue reading Health Policy Updates: March 4 2017