Wednesday Short Cuts

(ok, not much of an article here, I mainly linked to it as an excuse to jot down a note: The exchange market share breakout in Wyoming is roughly 9,500 via WINHealth & 10,500 via BCBSWY).

The Connect for Health Colorado staff has recommended more than doubling the fee that insurers pay on each policy purchased on the exchange — a charge that is passed on to consumers.

The state marketplace would increase the carrier fee from 1.4 percent to at least 3.5 percent of the premium charged on exchange health plans — the same rate charged through the federal exchange, under the recommendation made Monday.

For a consumer holding a $4,000-a-year health plan, the increase would be $84 a year. The estimated increase in revenue for the exchange would be about $5.8 million.

The report finds that Massachusetts officials failed to hold CGI, the technology company contracted to build the website, accountable for shoddy work and missed deadlines. It did not provide CGI with adequate resources or proper state leadership. State officials apparently misrepresented the progress of the website to the Health Connector board and the federal agency overseeing Medicaid, according to the report.

On the one hand, the report was published by a "conservative think tank", so bias is presumably heavy. On the other hand, there's no denying that the 2014 version of the MA exchange was an absolute mess, and that hundreds of millions of dollars were flushed down the toilet via gross mismanagement, etc.

Thankfully, the 2015 overhaul appears to be a complete success, having enrolled over 125,000 people in paid private policies, plus another 286,000 Medicaid enrollees.

One fellow senator calls David Vitter’s years-long crusade to scrap health care subsidies for lawmakers and their staffers “disingenuous.” Another says it’s obviously being done “for political purposes.”

“I just don’t think he’s made a lot of progress on this issue,” a third senator says.

And those are just fellow Republicans talking.

Within the chummy confines of the U.S. Senate, Vitter has emerged as one of the most disliked members. The second-term senator’s effort to kill the federal health care contribution, worth several thousand dollars to lawmakers and their staffers, is a big part of it. But the two-year drive, his critics say, symbolizes an operating style that Vitter’s critics complain is consumed with public relations, even for an ambitious member of Congress: speeding in and out of meetings, railing about issues on the Senate floor but doing little to execute behind the scenes, firing off news releases left and right. In an institution in which the inside game is critical, Vitter doesn’t even pretend to bother with it.

The percentage of Texas residents without health insurance has dropped by nearly one-third since September 2013 when enrollment took place under the Affordable Care Act, a new report says.

However, no other state has a higher percentage or a higher number of uninsured people, according to a report by the Episcopal Health Foundation and Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.

The researchers noted the sharp drop in the percentage of uninsured adults aged 18-64 coincided with the full rollout of the landmark health care legislation enacted in 2010 under President Barack Obama. The percentage fell from 25 percent to 17 percent through March 2015, they said.

"This is a dramatic drop that's unprecedented in Texas," Elena Marks, a health policy scholar at the Baker Institute, said in a university news release. "It's almost entirely attributable to newly insured individuals who purchased their own health insurance plans. The drop in the uninsured rate occurred across all income levels and age groups, including younger adults."

And finally, some excellent news:

An Obamacare program designed to hold down Medicare costs and improve patient outcomes generated more than $384 million in savings in its first two years of operation, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said Monday.

The savings realized from participants in Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations-groups of medical providers that coordinate patient care in return for lump-sum Medicare payments-represents about $300 per Medicare beneficiary per year during 2012 and 2013, Burwell said, citing an independent evaluation report.