...I'm working on my latest crudely-produced-but-hopefully-informative explainer video!
It's actually a two-parter. The first part gives an overview of how Risk Pools actually work and why quarantining sick people into a separate High Risk Pool is such a terrible idea. The second part goes into why Donald Trump's recent Short-Term/Association Plan executive order will make a problem which already existed in 2017, made worse by design in 2018, even worse starting in 2019.
Here's a sneak peak. I hope to have Part One uploaded this week and Part Two either towards the end of the week or early next week.
Time and opportunity still exist to replace Obamacare.
...I reported in January that a number of conservative groups, under the leadership of former Sen. Rick Santorum, was working hard to craft a new Obamacare replacement...Behind the scenes, those groups...have continued to meet and tweak their plan, and they seem just a few weeks away from being able to unveil it.
...I listened in on a March 21 conference call among numerous interested parties, and received further updates within the past week from Santorum.
After years of fighting Obamacare, Gov. Scott Walker is now seeking to stabilize the state marketplace under the law.
Wisconsin plans to permission to cover expensive medical claims for health insurers on the marketplace, which should lower premium increases and could bring back companies that dropped out, the governor said in an interview with reporters on Friday ahead of his election-year State of the State address Wednesday.
The state will also ask to permanently continue SeniorCare, a prescription drug program Walker has previously sought to pare down, he said.
Walker also said he’ll ask the state Senate to pass a bill authored by Democratic lawmakers and passed by the Assembly that would enshrine into state law access to private insurance for people with pre-existing conditions.
In the most significant of his health care proposals, Walker will ask the Legislature to join a few other states in adopting a reinsurance programto prop up the individual market, which is used by some 216,000 residents, in a state innovation waiver allowed under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Health care was a top issue to voters. Health care was ranked as a top issue for 52% of voters (15% saying it was the most important issue and another 37% saying it was very important). Only 19% said it was not that important or not important at all.
Conor Lamb won big especially among voters for whom health care was a top priority. Among voters who said health care was the most important issue for them, Lamb beat Rick Saccone 64-36 and among the broader group of voters who said it was either the most important or a very important issue Lamb beat Saccone 62-38.
On health care, voters said Lamb better reflected their views by 7 points (45% to 38%) over Saccone. With independents, that gap widened to 16 points with 50% saying Lamb’s health care views were more in line with theirs to only 34% for Saccone.
A week or so I noted that activists in Utah had managed to secure enough ballot petition signatures to get full, no-strings-attached ACA Medicaid expansion placed on the ballot this November...superseding legislation signed by the Governor which would otherwise only expand it to fewer than half as many people, while also imposing a work requirement on enrollees:
If approved, the initiative would require the state to expand Medicaid to people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, and would prohibit enrollment caps.
Under ObamaCare, the federal government would cover 90 percent of the costs of expansion. The state share would be funded through a 0.15 percent increase in the sales tax.
...The ballot initiative would cover more than 150,000 people.
Enrollment in the federally facilitated marketplace has dropped 9 percent over the past two years, with a nearly 40 percent drop in new enrollment, while enrollment in state-based marketplaces remained steady during the same period.
Nothing new under the sun here; this is the core of what I do at ACASignups.net. In fact, this press release underplays the point slightly: The official enrollment tallies are down 10% on the federal exchange since 2016 and up 1.5%, although the discrepancy might be partly due to Kentucky shifting from state-based status to federal status in 2017.
I know I tend to pitch for folks to support my work here at ACA Signups fairly frequently, but today I want to pass the hat a bit for my friend Chris Savage of Eclectablog (and yes, there's even a healthcare angle here). From his post earlier today:
You may recall that earlier this year, I had a run-in with a bad dude named Diverticulitis that put me in the hospital for ten days. As it turns out, I need to have surgery next month to keep that scary situation from ever happening again. Because this is happening during the time when we normally hold our annual fundraising party, we are going to postpone the party until late August when I am back on my feet.
The upshot is that the Eclectablog bank account is nearly depleted and won’t be significantly refreshed until almost September. Therefore, this quarterly fundraiser is more important than most. We need to raise enough money to keep paying our fabulous contributors until the annual party.
At first it looked like CMS was planning on allowing doctors to "balance bill" Medicare patients. Balance billing is already a controversial issue with private insurance; it's the practice of a doctor/hospital charging the patient directly for the difference between what the doctor wants to be paid and what the insurance company agrees to pay them.
Former Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt and Huffington Post healthcare reporter Jeff Young have each written up a fairly comprehensive list of the various types of ACA/healthcare sabotage which the Trump Administration and/or other Republicans in Congress or at the state level have attempted (or are in the process of attempting today).
As I noted last week, the Republican-controlled Michigan state Senate rammed through a draconian work requirement bill for ACA Medicaid expansion enrollees in spite of the fact that it would serve no positive purpose and would only "save money" by kicking thousands of low-income Michiganders off their healthcare coverage while actually harming the economy.
I further noted that while I was pretty sure the bill would easily pass the state Senate (where the GOP holds a supermajority) and will likely pass the GOP-controlled state House as well, there is a decent chance that it could be vetoed by GOP Gov. Rick Snyder. Snyder is guilty of a long list of sins during his time as Governor, including being indirectly responsible for the water supply for the entire city of Flint being poisoned a few years back. At the same time, oddly, once in a blue moon he'll actually do something decent and good, and the one he deserves the most praise for on this front is pushing to get Medicaid expansion through in the first place.
WAIT, I MISSED THIS: The Trump Administration DIDN’T INCLUDE OFF-EXCHANGE ACA POLICIES in their 100K - 200K projection?? I heard something about it but assumed they were just pulling numbers out of their asses. This is actually worse in some ways. https://t.co/S2qJetjdTS
It's important to keep in mind that they knew damned well that killing the mandate penalty without replacing it with some other type of "negative inducement" to encourage people to enroll in a fully ACA-compliant policy was a really, really bad idea. Proof? Both the GOP House and Senate versions of their ACA "replacement" bill included an alternative to the mandate penalty:
(sigh) Dammit, sure enough, as I expected, the full Michigan state Senate has gone ahead and passed the state Senator Mike Shirkey's "God's Safety Net" bill which would impose 29-hour-plus work requirements on 680,000 low-income Medicaid enrollees even though the vast majority of them already work, go to school, are medically fragile, take care of other medical fragile family members, elderly relatives or children and so forth. It was, as you'd expect, a party-line vote:
Able-bodied Medicaid recipients in Michigan may soon have to choose between finding a job or losing health insurance.
...Democrats condemned the proposal as harmful to thousands of Medicaid recipients who would not meet the several exemptions spelled out in SB 897 and said such a move is also illegal. Majority Republicans brushed aside those objections, and the bill passed 26-11.