Wednesday Short Cuts

With just over a day left before a government shutdown, the legislature passed a final budget on Monday evening. The Washington budget included $110 million in funding for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. The funding level, and how it is allocated, is nearly identical to the House proposal released last week.

President Barack Obama will discuss his signature health care law Wednesday at Taylor Stratton Elementary School in Madison.

Although the closed event is at a school, Obama chose a city local leaders frequently tout as the health care capital of the country for his latest speech on the Affordable Care Act.

CodeBaby, a global customer engagement and intelligent virtual assistant (IVA) technology provider, today announced that Anthem has selected CodeBaby to help improve the enrollment experience for Anthem customers by better engaging them through education and navigation assistance.

Rose & Kiernan's health insurance marketplace has grown to 42 companies and 22,000 employees and family members during the 18 months since the brokerage created its private insurance exchange.

Keith Dolan, senior vice president at Rose & Kiernan, said the East Greenbush, New York firm's insurance marketplace is poised to grow much faster following last week's Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act narrowly escaped a judicial decision that would have shrunk its reach Thursday when the Supreme Court ruled the IRS could continue distributing insurance subsidies nationwide. Now, with the law no longer under an immediate meaningful threat of repeal, some are looking to stretch Obamacare further.

Specifically, governors in several states are renewing their push to expand Medicaid, hoping to bring the federal low-income health insurance program to more of their state's residents.

The Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell last week preserved the Affordable Care Act's subsidies for all enrollees, and Chief Justice John Roberts’s vehement dismissal of the plaintiffs’ arguments signals that the Court is averse to further efforts to repeal Obamacare through litigation. The contest over health care reform therefore shifts from the courts back to politics: The ACA likely will be an issue in the 2016 election. But what should be done to improve it? 

President Obama is taking his Medicaid expansion pitch to Tennessee this week to urge Republican officials to expand the low-income insurance program through the Affordable Care Act.

Expect more of that. After the law survived its latest potentially devastating legal challenge, Medicaid expansion will be a legacy-defining issue for the president during his last 18 months, one that will determine whether Obamacare achieves its full, desired impact.

When the Supreme Court struck down the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, jubilant board members meeting at Trinity Health burst into cheers and applause.

"We're ecstatic," says Ben Carter, chief financial officer of the Livonia, Illinois-based not-for-profit Catholic hospital system with 84 hospitals in 21 states. "A total victory for working people. That's what we're celebrating."

Last week’s ruling in King v. Burwell affirmed the provision of tax-subsidies through the federally-facilitated marketplace (FFM), a decision which may have affected over 6.4 million Americans currently receiving subsidies in the 34 states that have opted for the FFM model. The ruling has asserted the place of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with state leaders continuing to play a critical role in determining how to implement the law most beneficially for the citizens of their states. Statements issued by governors in light of the ruling hint at the future direction of potential reforms across states.

House Republicans' lawsuit against the Obama administration might have gotten an unexpected boost this week from the Supreme Court.

In a new legal filing Tuesday, attorneys for the House GOP said there's a fresh precedent supporting their suit challenging the administration's implementation of Obamacare—the Supreme Court's ruling Monday on congressional redistricting.

A New Jersey Congresswoman is proposing to make pregnancy an open enrollment event where people can either switch insurance or go on the Exchange and get insured outside of the normal open enrollment period.  I think covering pregnancy, pre-natal care, and post-partum care is an important policy objective but using the open enrollment system is not an optimal way of doing so.

Obamacare is here to stay. That’s the message from President Barack Obama and other supporters of the Affordable Care Act after their victory at the Supreme Court last week. But dodging a lethal legal bullet is not the same thing as ensuring long-term success. And if health care reform is going to achieve the latter, it’s going to need reforms of its own.

“We’ve got more work to do,” Obama acknowledged after the high court ruled in his favor on Thursday.

The week before King v. Burwell was announced, I confidentially polled an elite group of health policy and legal experts to get their personally-assessed prior probability that the King plaintiffs challenging ACA subsidies would actually win this case. The somewhat-arbitrary group included leading health economists, political scientists, journalists covering the case. It also included several legal antagonists who had written briefs on the various sides.