END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (42 states)

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Thursday Short Cuts

This International Business Times article raises a fair point: Having affordable policies doesn't necessarily equal having affordable care:

 Nearly 12 million people signed up for health coverage plans on exchanges created under Obamacare, according to the website ACAsignups.net. [ed: hey, that's me!!]

But more than half of the adults who bought such plans had deductibles of $1,500 or more, Families USA, a Washington nonprofit organization focused on health care, found. Adeductible is the cumulative amount a person has to spend on health care before his or her insurance company starts to pay. Despite receiving tax credits to help offset the cost of coverage, these deductibles were prohibitively expensive.

“Simply having health insurance is no guarantee that consumers can afford to pay for health care,” the report noted. When people decided to forgo medical care, fees that would have to be paid out of pocket were a major contributing factor, the report, which surveyed adults with lower- and middle-income levels, found.

The funny thing about this next story is that I've been reporting for a year and a half the fact that members of Congress and their staff (around 15,000 people in all) have been enrolling in their policies via the DC Health Link since last year, which automatically means that every one of them would be in the clear if the King plaintiffs win. Yet for some reason the optics of that bit of data escaped me until now:

WASHINGTON — If the Supreme Court rules the way most Republicans want in the latest health overhaul case, GOP lawmakers who now have insurance coverage under President Barack Obama's law might have some explaining to do.

Members of Congress, staffers and dependents actually get their health insurance under a little-known provision of "Obamacare." But if the Supreme Court strikes down government health care subsidies for millions of people in more than 30 states, legal and benefits experts say coverage for lawmakers from those states won't be affected.

...And there's a second reason why congressional coverage would be safe: The District of Columbia health insurance exchange that lawmakers and staff use is considered a state-run marketplace. The court case only threatens the subsidies for states using the federal exchange.

Congress got shifted from the federal employee plan to the health care law's insurance exchanges because of an amendment by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa back when the law was being debated. The tortuous path the law has since followed was unforeseen at that time.

Scratch ANOTHER anti-Obamacare talking point off the list:

WASHINGTON — A flood of tax payments pushed government receipts to an all-time high in April and left the country with the largest monthly budget surplus in seven years.

In its monthly budget report, the Treasury Department said Tuesday that the April surplus totaled $156.7 billion, up from a surplus of $106.9 billion a year earlier. It was the largest surplus since April 2008.

Government receipts totaled $471.8 billion, the largest monthly total on record.

Of course, the annual deficit will still likely end up around $486 billion, since tax revenue is front-loaded due to the April 15th income tax filing deadline, but still.

Meanwhile, some rare good news about the finances of a state-based exchange:

Though the state’s health exchange soon will consider boosting insurance assessments, Access Health CT officials said Tuesday Connecticut’s program is on sound financial footing — unlike many other state exchanges.

The finance subcommittee of Access Health’s Board of Directors unanimously recommended that the full board consider two options to increase modestly its assessments on all individual and small-group insurance plans sold in the state.