Consumer Power Report #501
In September 2009, President Barack Obama released a highly touted report on the state of health insurance prices in the United States, titled The Burden of Health Insurance Premium Increases on American Families. The report, which was published by the Executive Office of the President (EOP), painted a grim picture of health care costs.
“Health insurance premiums continue to rise for American families,” wrote the authors of the EOP report. “Premiums are rising in all states and far in excess of wage growth or inflation. If we do nothing, the soaring rise of health insurance premiums will mean that millions of families and businesses will be unable to afford these increases and will lose their coverage over the coming years. For families that manage to keep their health insurance, health costs will consume an increasingly large portion of their budgets.”
The EOP report called for substantial reforms Obama said would lower costs and increase access to quality health care services, including a ban on pre-existing condition restrictions. More than six years have passed since the EOP report was released and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law. A new analysis by Freedom Partners shows the promises and projections made by EOP in 2009 have not come to fruition. In fact, health insurance premiums continue to grow at rates similar to those experienced before ACA and wage growth has actually slowed. Between 2004 and 2009, average wages increased by 12.2 percent; since 2009, wages have risen by less than 9 percent.
In addition to rising premiums and falling wage growth, deductibles have also grown in recent years. According to data made available by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and analyzed by Freedom Partners, only five states and Washington, DC saw average Obamacare exchange deductibles decrease from 2015 to 2016. Twenty-one states had average Obamacare deductibles rise by $300 or more, including eight states with deductible increases topping $500.
Lower-cost “Bronze” plans experienced the most significant deductible increases, hurting lower- and middle-income families. Average Bronze plan deductibles fell from 2015 to 2016 in only two states: Alaska and Arkansas. In 34 states, Bronze plan deductibles rose by at least $500.
In March, the Obama administration celebrated the Affordable Care Act’s anniversary by proudly declaring, “Thanks to this law, 20 million more Americans now know the security of having health insurance, and our uninsured rate is below ten percent for the first time on record.”
There’s no denying the fact millions of Americans are now enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare or are receiving federal subsidies in an Obamacare health insurance exchange. But at what cost? If the mission of health care reform is to make tens of millions of people pay significantly more, have access to fewer health insurance options, be forced to purchase a product some people don’t want, and be required to contribute their hard-earned money toward health care services they are morally opposed to, then Obamacare has been a great success. This isn’t what effective health care reform looks like.
Instead of mandating how people live their lives, artificially manipulating health care markets, and raising taxes on an already over-taxed populace, pro-liberty health care reform gives more options, not less. It empowers states with the funding and freedoms they need to enact policies best designed to help the poor in their own local communities. It gives people the ability to purchase the health insurance they want rather than force them to buy from a select few options many people don’t need. It gives people the ability, using ground-breaking reforms such as health savings accounts, to save for their own health care instead of being forced to go through third-party insurance companies. It also doesn’t ask people to violate their deeply held personal or religious beliefs.
Pro-liberty health care reform ensures the nation’s most impoverished people are taken care of, but it also guarantees each person has the freedom to seek out the highest quality care possible and guarantees health care providers have the liberty they need to pursue the kind of innovation that has made the United States the most medically advanced nation in world history.
Freedom, not tyranny (however well-intentioned it may be) is the way forward.
— Justin Haskins
IN THIS ISSUE:
State lawmakers are working on the most substantial revision in nearly 15 years of the regulatory program governing the health care industry – the certificate of need program run by the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency.
After months of discussion, a negotiated revision of the certificate of need, or “CON,” law will be presented Wednesday in the health committees of both the Senate and House of Representatives.
If it wins legislative approval before the General Assembly adjourns for the year later this month, hospitals and other health care institutions will have substantially more authority to expand their facilities, initiate more services and buy major medical equipment without the state’s approval through the CON process. (Neither the current law nor the revisions affect doctors’ offices and their practices.)
Trying to win over conservatives, House Republicans are sweetening their budget proposal by putting several programs on the chopping block, including President Barack Obama’s health care law and tax credits for children of immigrants living in the country illegally.
But cuts to programs like food stamps are on hold and a drive to cap medical malpractice awards has faltered before a GOP-controlled committee, though cuts to Medicaid and a popular program that provides health coverage to children have advanced through a panel responsible for federal health programs.
Still, it may not be enough. And if the party’s broader budget plan sinks, the effort may fade.
The strategy behind the work is to increase support for the budget, a nonbinding measure that sets a more than $1.1 trillion overall cap next fiscal year for the operating budgets of federal agencies. Beyond the appropriations cap, the measure calls for sweeping spending cuts to benefit programs like Medicaid, the health care law, and food stamps. …
The tax-writing Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce panel have weighed in with cuts to a prevention fund established by the Affordable Care Act and a move to reclaim Obamacare subsidies from people whose income has unexpectedly increased. A temporary increase in the government’s contribution to a popular health care program for children from lower-income families would be repealed.
The tax panel also would require taxpayers claiming the refundable portion of the $1,000 child tax credit to claim it by filing their taxes with a Social Security number rather than an ID number commonly used by immigrants working illegally, saving $20 billion over the coming decade.
But an effort to save $44 billion by putting restrictions on medical malpractice awards unraveled in the Judiciary Committee last month. The measure was estimated to generate savings because doctors would be less likely to perform “defensive medicine.”
Gov. Doug Ducey’s office is scrapping a plan to move health care boards under the oversight of a single state agency, saying his proposal became too watered down during the legislative process.
The bill backed by the Ducey administration would have put 19 regulatory boards under the Department of Health Services and allowed the agency’s director to hire and fire the boards’ executive directors, reported The Arizona Capitol Times.
It also would have required that all new rules and regulations be vetted to make sure they aren’t anticompetitive.
Several lawmakers said they were concerned that the legislation tried to do too much too quickly. A Senate committee then stripped out all but six of the boards that were slated to move to DHS in 2017.
SOURCE: Associated Press
The cost of implementing the Affordable Care Act is expected to rise this year as more people enroll in Medicaid to take advantage of the law’s benefits, according to a report released Thursday.
Around 22 million people under the age of 65 in 2016 are expected to enroll in health care coverage provided by President Obama’s signature domestic policy accomplishment, driving up the cost of law to the federal government by $110 billion in 2016, according to new estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.
The budget office attributed the vast majority of the expected cost increase to greater-than-expected Medicaid enrollment numbers. Overall, CBO projected, the cost to the government of those enrolled in Medicaid and in the marketplaces created under the law will be $1.4 trillion over 10 years, which is $136 billion more than the scorekeeper previously expected.
The report comes one day after Democrats touted the success of Obamacare on its sixth anniversary. But the law remains politically divisive with congressional Republicans trying and failing to repeal it in recent years. The GOP is expected to continue to target the law this year in advance of the November elections.