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The ACA Is in a Total PR Free-fall


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August 1, 2014


The ACA was just handed its worst opinion poll numbers yet. The Kaiser Family Foundations July poll found that 53 percent of respondents view the law unfavorably, up 8 percentage points since June. As WaPo reports, thats the highest unfavorable weve seen and one of the biggest monthly swings in either direction.


Something else besides the numbers make this anti-ACA spike significant, however. First is the fact that the poll shows this spike occurring just as holdouts are finally beginning to make up their mind about the ACA. The number of respondents who were without an opinion on the ACA was 11 percent in July, compared to 16 percent in June. More people are forming an opinion, and increasingly that opinion is negative. Second, there is no obvious cause for this shift:



Normally, when negatives go up, you can tie it to an event, said foundation chief executive Drew Altman in an interview. Events like a broken enrollment Web site, or people losing their health plans.


That doesnt seem to be case here, though. The poll was conducted before a federal appeals courts split on the legality subsidies in the 36 states with federal exchanges, and before House Republicans formally advanced plans to sue President Obama over his failure to enforce the laws employer coverage mandate. Yet, the poll was conducted after a string of surveys showing that the nations uninsured rate has dropped significantly since Obamacares coverage expansion took effect this year.

This is almost a worst-case scenario for the ACA. Even with a string of favorable (or an least not unfavorable) news prior to this poll, the public was in the midst of breaking against the ACA. Those who previously had no opinion are being won over to the opposition, and once a choice like that is made it takes a lot to swing someone back over to the other side.



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Top Florida Insurer to Increase Premiums by 17 Percent

The Affordable Care Act just got 17.6 percent less affordable. The largest insurance company in Florida will raise the premiums for its ACA plans by an average of that rate next year. Kaiser Health News:




According to the story, double-digit premium increases are not new in Florida: Insurers have raise prices by over 11 percent for at least the past four years. But even if the ACA isn’t the cause of an unusual spike in rates, it’s clearly doing nothing to slow this steady, year-on-year increase. The Affordable Care Act may be temporarily making health care more affordable for some people through the subsidies it provides, but only in the context of a system that is getting more unsustainable every year.

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Suddenly, Obamacare is more unpopular than ever
Jason Millman
August 1 2014

Even after survey after survey has recently shown a major drop in the nation's uninsured rate, Obamacare just had its worst month in a key health-care poll.

Kaiser Family Foundation, which has done arguably the best and most consistent polling on the health-care law in the past four-plus years, found that public opinion on the law sank to a record low in July. More people than ever (53 percent) last month said they viewed the law unfavorably, an increase of 8 percentage points since June — one of the biggest opinion swings ever.




"Normally, when negatives go up, you can tie it to an event," said foundation chief executive Drew Altman in an interview. Events like a broken enrollment Web site, or people losing their health plans.


That doesn't seem to be case here, though. The poll was conducted before a federal appeals courts split on the legality subsidies in the 36 states with federal exchanges, and before House Republicans formally advanced plans to sue President Obama over his failure to enforce the law's employer coverage mandate. Yet, the poll was conducted after a string of surveys showing that the nation's uninsured rate has dropped significantly since Obamacare's coverage expansion took effect this year.





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ACA not so affordable.:wallbash:

Especially if you actually need to use it for anything less than a hospital surgery.

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Doctors Begin To Refuse Obamacare Patients


Obamacare plans have shrunk payments to physicians so much that some doctors say they won’t be able to afford to accept Obamacare coverage, NPR reports.

Many of the eight million sign-ups in Obamacare exchanges nationwide already face more limited choices for physicians and hospitals than those in the private insurance market. But with low physician reimbursement rates, the problem could get even worse.

For a typical quick patient visit, Dr. Doug Gerard, a Connecticut internist, told NPR a private insurer would pay $100 while Medicare would pay around $80. But Obamacare plans are more likely to pay closer to $80, which Gerard says is unsustainable for his practice.

“I cannot accept a plan [in which] potentially commercial-type reimbursement rateswere now going to be reimbursed at Medicare rates,” Dr. Gerard told NPR. ”You have to maintain a certain mix in private practice between the low reimbursers and the high reimbursers to be able to keep the lights on.”Scissors-32x32.png


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Obamacare: Florida Consumers Slammed with Double-Digit Premium Spike


Before we relay the specifics coming out of Florida, let's take a moment to review the unequivocal promises made by President Obama regarding his healthcare overhaul. Pay special attention to the bit starting 49 seconds into the clip:



"We will lower your premiums by $2,500 per family, per year."


"...save a typical family an average of $2,500 on their healthcare costs..."


"Everybody will have lower rates."


The Miami Herald reports:


Floridians who buy health insurance on the individual market for next year will face an average increase of 13.2 percent in their monthly premiums, according to rate proposals unveiled Monday by the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation. The rate proposals affect all Affordable Care Act-compliant health plans on the individual market, whether they’re sold through the federally-run exchange or not. Small and large group health plans typically offered by employers were not included in the data released by the state. Fourteen companies filed ACA-compliant plans for Florida’s 2015 individual market, including three new companies that did not participate on the federally-run exchange last year. Of the 11 returning plans, eight filed average rate increases ranging from 11 to 23 percent, and three filed rate decreases ranging from 5 to 12 percent, the state’s insurance regulator reported.Scissors-32x32.png


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Attrition Puts Dent in Obamacare Sign-Up Numbers

August 12, 2014


Just because someone signs up for an Obamacare plan doesnt mean he or she will pay to keep it. For weeks now Obamacare supports have touted the high number of signups, as many as eight million according to some estimates. But Investors Business Daily reports that big companies like Aetna are seeing significant customer attrition as the newly insured cant keep up with paying their premiums:



The nations third-largest health insurer had 720,000 people sign up for exchange coverage as of May 20, a spokesman confirmed to IBD. At the end of June, it had fewer than 600,000 paying customers. Aetna expects that to fall to just over 500,000″ by the end of the year. [...]


That would leave Aetnas paid enrollment down as much as 30% from that May sign-up tally.


Aetna isnt the only one: the CEO of Cigna has also confirmed it is seeing some attrition.............(Snip)

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The Obama Administration Has Little to Tout About Obamacare


There has not exactly been an overabundance of good news on Obamacare. So it did come as some surprise two weeks ago when the Department of Health and Human Services issued a press release with the headline: “Consumers have saved a total of $9 billion on premiums,” and the subheading; “Health care law will return to families an average refund of $80 each this year.”


There is nothing unusual or even untoward about the Obama administration doing what it can to put a positive spin on the law. But what makes this item interesting is it reveals how little the administration actually has to tout about Obamacare and how far it must reach to manufacture a success story.


The purpose of the press release was to announce data on the effects of Obamacare’s “medical loss ratio” regulation, which “requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on patient care and quality improvement activities. If insurers spend an excessive amount on profits and red tape, they owe a refund back to consumers.”


For the 2013 plan year, insurers will be required to pay $332 million in premium refunds to 6.8 million individuals. That works out to $43.78 a person, or HHS’ figure of $80 per household for 4.1 million households. In other words, HHS is crowing that Obamacare benefited 2 percent of Americans by getting them small refunds from their insurers.Scissors-32x32.png


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Obamacare “Fix” Means Double-Digit Rate Hikes
August 14, 2014

President Obama’s attempt to fix widespread insurance plan cancellations earlier this year is now coming back to haunt him. According to Politico, many states—including Florida and North Carolina—are facing much bigger rate hikes than average. Some could be as high as 18 percent—more than double the 7.5 percent in other states. The reason for huge hikes in select states is that the president’s decision to allow insurers to continue offering some previously cancelled plans is having terrible knock-on effects:



The president’s decision is now having an impact on upcoming rates, insurers say. Many younger, healthier Americans — the category companies had counted on enrolling when they set their initial prices — stuck with their existing coverage. In states with the biggest numbers of these “transitional” policyholders, their absence from the Obamacare market is pushing premiums higher.




With “fixes” like this making rates spike dramatically in some states, it’s no wonder the law is more unpopular than ever. But a more fundamental problem remains: even in states that aren’t seeing these spikes, premiums are still rising by 7.5 percent. These year-on-year increases may not be quite as dramatic, but every year they bring us one step closer to a system we cannot afford any longer, period. Obamacare deserves all the scorn it will get for double-digit jumps in some states, but the bigger tragedy of the law is that we still have done next to nothing to make health care more sustainable over the long-term.

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IG: Obamacare’s Medical Device Tax Not Bringing In As Much Cash As Expected


Obamacare’s controversial medical device tax isn’t bringing in nearly as much cash as expected, according to a federal report issued Tuesday.

The Treasury inspector general for tax administration found that the number of filings for the medical device excise tax, instituted as part of the Affordable Care Act, is already lower than expected — and so is the resulting revenue. The was supposed to bring in $1.2 billion for the first two quarters of 2013, but the federal government only collected $913 million.

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Consumers Revolt Against ACA’s Narrow Networks

August 20, 2014


Consumer unrest over the Affordable Care Act’s narrow networks is boiling over in California. Fears about hikes in premium costs have dominated the coverage of the ACA, but a new lawsuit points to a different problem with the law. The LA Times reports that 33 customers of Anthem Blue Cross, a large insurer, are suing the company for limiting their choice of providers. More:




The Affordable Care Act has lately become more unpopular than ever, even though coverage has expanded (at least in name), and some states saw only average premium hikes. This lawsuit might point to a major reason why: Consumers don’t like to have their choices limited, especially as the result of having their plans cancelled.

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ObamaCare Slows Hiring, Raises Prices: Fed Surveys


ObamaCare may be among the reasons why the economic recovery is still searching for its third gear, suggest Federal Reserve surveys of businesses in five states.


While the law hasn't prevented solid job growth this year, it appears to have slowed gains at a sizable minority of firms.


In a Philadelphia Fed survey of regional manufacturers out Thursday, 18% said they employ fewer workers due to the Affordable Care Act than they would in its absence. Just 3% say employment levels are higher as a result.


Further, 18% said part-timers make up a greater share of workers due to ObamaCare, which absolves employers of responsibility for health care for those who work fewer than 30 hours a week. Just 1.5% said they've scaled back part-time work in response.


The Philadelphia Fed's monthly business conditions index hit its best level since March 2011. But the capital spending outlook was a relative weak spot, falling to a seven-month low.Scissors-32x32.png



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Lori Windham, Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, says:





This is latest step in the administration’s long retreat on the HHS Mandate. It is the
time in three years the government has retreated from its original, hard-line stance that only “houses of worship” that hire and serve fellow believers deserve religious freedom.


We look forward to reviewing the new rule and its implications for the
, including religious charities like Little Sisters of the Poor (
), Mother Angelica’s Eternal Word Television Network (
), and religious colleges like Colorado Christian University. Ninety percent of religious ministries challenging the mandate
from the courts, and we are hopeful the administration’s new rule will reflect the robust protections that have always been given to religious individuals in this country.


Religious ministries in these cases serve tens of thousands of Americans, helping the poor and homeless and healing the sick. The Little Sisters of the Poor alone serve more than ten thousand of the elderly poor. These charities want to continue following their faith. They want to focus on ministry—such as sharing their faith and serving the poor—without worrying about the threat of massive IRS penalties.


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HealthCare.Gov Set To Blow Past $1.7 Billion Budget


The Obama administration is on track to blow past the estimated $1.7 billion budget for HealthCare.gov, according to a federal report released Tuesday.

It’s taken 60 separate contracts with private companies to put together the federal Obamacare website, according to a report from the Health and Human Services Inspector General, at an original estimated cost of $1.7 billion.

But less than one year into the website’s operation — and before it’s even been completed — a third of HealthCare.gov-related contracts are overbudget. In 20 of 60 contracts, the IG reported, the amount obligated by February 2014 had already exceeded the original projections, a warning that the final price tag may grow significantly higher than $1.7 billion.

And that was only February. Since then, the administration has been working nonstop since then to build the backend of HealthCare.gov, which among other things, communicates enrollment information between the federal government and insurance companies. It’s more than likely that even more contracts will end up costing more than projected.Scissors-32x32.png


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Feds pick first CEO for HealthCare.gov


ObamaCare’s once-troubled federal insurance marketplace will gain a new leader ahead of the next enrollment period, federal health officials announced Tuesday.


Kevin Counihan, the leader of Connecticut’s insurance marketplace, will take charge of HealthCare.gov and a key ObamaCare policymaking office at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


The appointment of Counihan as CEO of the federal exchange is the latest in a series of management changes implemented by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who joined the department this year.


“We are building strong teams with the focus and know-how necessary to advance our mission and deliver impact for the people we serve,” Burwell said Tuesday in a statement.Scissors-32x32.png


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Kevin, what do you want to be when you grow up?



I want to be a faceless unelected bureaucrat with the power of life and death of the American people....or a fireman.

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