Linda Qui is a NY Times Fact Checker, formerly of PolitiFact. She cited me as a fact-check source twice for PolitiFact: Once in October 2015 and again just before the election last fall (I can't find the link for that one). The first time around it was about Donald Trump's claim that premiums were skyrocketing (again, this was back in 2015, referring to 2016 rates increases). After a phone discussion, here's what I wrote her:
Yes, some people in some plans through some carriers in some states are, indeed, looking at rate hikes of “35 - 50%” if they stick with those plans in 2016. Alaska, Minnesota and Hawaii, for instance, are all looking at 30-40% average hikes, and individual plans (or individual carriers) in a few states are indeed jacking up rates by that much.
However, by my current estimates, here’s the state-by-state breakdown:
Back in January, I wrote a long rant about High Risk Pools. The general thrust was that in theory HRPs aren't necessarily a horrible idea; on paper they can be made to work...assuming the math adds up and they're properly funded on a permanent basis.
However, I also pointed out that due to the very nature of HRPs (i.e., segregating out a small, highly vulnerable group of people from the rest of society), it's incredibly easy for legislators not to properly fund or maintain them, especially after the initial funding comes up for renewal.
The latest iteration of the AHCA is supposedly being scheduled for a vote (for real, this time) sometime this week. The pressure is high on both sides, the whip counts are bouncing around, the tension is palpable, etc etc.
The first time around, the biggest tug-of-war was over Medicaid expansion. This time, the major issue seems to be Pre-Existing Condition coverage...and along with it, Guaranteed Issue and Essential Health Benefits; the three have to be pretty much joined at the hip, since removing one effectively makes the other two pointless in practice. It doesn't do most people much good to be told that yes, they'll be covered even if they have cancer if that coverage is gonna cost them $50,000/month.
Anyway, people are furiously scrambling to call their member of Congress and lighting up social media spreading the word...while Donald Trump, MIke Pence and Paul Ryan are running around DC desperately trying to squeak out 216 "Yes" votes from the Republican caucus.
Regular visitors know that I write an occasional freelance piece for healthinsurance.org. The only problem is that both that site and mine have pretty narrow audiences, comprised mainly of those who are already actively seeking out analysis/opinion about health insurance matters, as opposed to the general public.
I also cross-post my diaries frequently over at Daily Kos, where the ACA Signups project originated, of course.
I've attempted to fully explain how absurdly complex the U.S. healthcare system is (and thus why it's so difficult to make major changes to it) in a way which is easy for the average Joe to get (with a few poop jokes thrown in to keep within the Cracked tradition).
Anyway, I'm a long-time fan of Cracked, so I'm pretty geeked about this. Check it out!
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about health care -- Tucker Carlson interviewed you about six weeks ago when you were in the middle of health care negotiations. And you agreed with him that the health care bill wasn't going to help your supporters. That those who lived in rural areas, the older, were going to get hurt by that bill. And you told him--
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Excuse me, the health care bill is going to help my supporters.
"F*ck anyone who didn't support me, though."
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, hold on. Let me just finish the question, if I may, sir--
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Otherwise, I'm not going to sign it. I'm not going to do it.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, this is why I wanted to ask you. You said to Tucker, "We will take care of our people, or I am not signing it." You said you were going to negotiate.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, that's what I just said.
JOHN DICKERSON: So tell me what in the bill you've been negotiating to get--
New Analysis Shows Potentially Significant Health Care Premium Increases and Drops in Coverage If Federal Policies Change
California’s premiums could rise by 28 to 49 percent in 2018, and up to 340,000 consumers could lose individual market coverage if changes are made to existing federal policies.
The potential rate increase would mean billions of dollars in additional federal spending. The 1.2 million consumers who do not receive subsidieswould bear the entire brunt of these increases.
The potential decrease of 340,000 insured consumers would not only represent many individuals losing access to potentially life-saving care, but it would result in a sicker risk mix in the individual market and higher premiums for everyone.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A new analysis shows the dramatic consequences facing Californians if federal policies are changed from the current structure and there is no longer direct federal funding of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) reimbursements and the individual shared responsibility payment is not enforced when a consumer chooses not to purchase coverage.
The analysis found that Covered California health plan premiums could rise up to 49 percent if two key elements that have been in place for the past four years are changed: Cost-sharing reduction reimbursements are no longer directly funded as reimbursements to carriers, and the shared individual responsibility payment is not enforced.
I noted a week or so ago that according to David Anderson of Balloon Juice, rumor has it that many insurance carriers are making their actuaries work overtime to put together multiple rate filings for 2018 based on several different outlooks:
Trump/Price/GOP quit screwing around, officially fund CSR reimbursements, enforce the mandate penalty and generally implement the ACA in good faith.
Trump/Price/GOP cut off CSR funding but otherwise enforce the law somewhat reasonably
Trump/Price/GOP cut off CSR, don't enforce the mandate, keep mucking around with half-assed repeal/replacement bills
*(Disclaimer: No, that's not a direct quote from Dr. Molina, but it's a pretty damned spot-on paraphrase).
A couple of weeks ago I noted that a buttload of heavy players in the healthcare field sent a joint letter to Trump, Tom Price and everyone else under the sun making it pretty clear how vital resolving the CSR issue is, and what the consequences would be if Congress and Trump don't make good on them.
Today, Molina Healthcare, which has around 1 million ACA exchange enrollees at the moment (roughly 9% of all effectuated enrollees) lowered the boom even harder (via Bob Herman of Axios):
Molina will exit exchanges if ACA payments aren't made