Cleaning Out the In Box: CHIP funding at risk; ACA a boon to private enterprise; MA exchange expenses exaggerated

Hat Tip To: 

My in box is once again flooded with ACA-related stories which are interesting but which I just don't have time to do full write-ups on...

Fate of Children’s Insurance Program Is Called Into Question at Senate Hearing

WASHINGTON — A Senate hearing on Tuesday set the stage for a coming debate over whether the federal government should continue financing a popular health insurance program for lower-income children who are now eligible for new coverage options under the Affordable Care Act.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, has helped cut in half the uninsured rate for children, to about 7 percent in 2013 from 14 percent in 1997, when it was enacted. It provides coverage for about eight million children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, the government health care program for the poor, but cannot afford private coverage.

Zenefits’ Leader Is Rattling an Industry, So Why Is He Stressed Out?

After a bout with testicular cancer a decade ago — from which he has recovered — Mr. Conrad became a self-taught expert on the byzantine particulars of the American health care market, and he is an ardent supporter of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s health reform law. Two years ago, after getting pushed out of his last job, Mr. Conrad realized that the new law was creating an opportunity for a start-up to remake the way small businesses buy health insurance. That process has been derided as needlessly complex, inefficient, opaque and antiquated. It is also extremely lucrative: The national health insurance brokerage market on which Mr. Conrad set his sights is worth, by one estimate, $18 billion.

Report: New Bay State health-insurance exchange may cost $1B

BOSTON -- The total cost of implementing a new health-insurance exchange in Massachusetts could exceed $1 billion over two years, according to a new report that is being roundly dismissed by the Patrick administration.

OK, hold the phone here. I know I said I don't have time for a full write-up on the MA "$1B" story, but I have to at least address this one briefly.

No, I'm not going to defend the disaster of an exchange in Massachusetts any more than I have Oregon's website; I've been pushing hard for people to read the Health Connector Autopsy Report, an insanely detailed analysis of everything that went wrong from start to finish. And yes, a mountain of money has indeed been wasted as a result.

However, as noted in the Lowell Sun article, that "$1 Billion!!" headline is still absurdly disingenuous.

  • First of all, that's spread out over 2 years, not one.
  • Secondly, apparently $105 million of the total was double-counted.
  • Third, if I'm reading the article correctly, up to $270 million of the "temporary Medicaid" total is being reimbursed by the Federal Government.

...and so on and so forth. It seems to me that this lops the 2-year total of $1.14 billion down to $765 million right of the bat. Presumably correcting other errors, double-counting and so on would bring the true 2-year total down to perhaps $600 million or so.

Again, that's still a ridiculous amount of money...but there's no need to exaggerate the Massachusetts mess when the reality is bad enough to begin with.