Wednesday Short Cuts

Four quick stories which aren't quite worth their own full entry:

There's not any new info here, but this bit pretty much summarizes what you'll be seeing across 2/3 of the country in a worst-case scenario:, the federally run exchange, is where 27-year-old Kathryn Ryan, a restaurant server in Philadelphia, turned for health coverage, as soon as the law took effect.

"I was excited because if it weren't for Obamacare, I wouldn't be insured at all," she says. "I wouldn't have the ability to go to the doctor."

She can afford health insurance thanks to a $200 a month subsidy that brings her premium down to $60 a month.

Ryan, who's also studying social work, is one of nearly 400,000 Pennsylvanians who have qualified for income-based financial assistance. But like a lot of people, she had no idea that a case before the Supreme Court puts at risk the subsidies in states like Pennsylvania that rely on the federally run exchange.

"You telling me this is, like my heart has sank a bit to the bottom of my stomach, because I was planning on keeping this insurance until I am gainfully employed with an agency that offers benefits," she says.

(To be honest, the "until I'm gainfully employed" part sounds a bit staged to me, but otherwise, it's dead-on target).

Again, not a whole lot new here; I'm posting it mainly because it's just a good, fairly written, state-specific piece about the dilemma facing state officials in the event of a King plaintiff win:

If the Supreme Court rules with the plaintiffs in King V. Burwell, not only will the subsidies end, but health care costs for all Wyomingites will increase, Wyoming Insurance Commissioner Tom Glause told lawmakers at Casper College.

...“Committee, if the government wins the lawsuit, it will be business as usual,” he said. “If they don’t and the (plaintiffs) win, then we’re going to be quite busy. But I think the first thing we’ll have to do is just watch how Washington reacts.”

...He said the state faces four options if the subsidies are cut:

  • Do nothing and hope the federal government acts.
  • ...Formally designate the federal insurance exchange as Wyoming’s insurance exchange.
  • ...Use state general funds to subsidize the Wyomingites receiving subsides. 
  • ...Establish a Wyoming marketplace.

I also applaud both WY Insurance Commissioner Glause and the article itself for being among the few King v. Burwell stories to call attention to the off-exchange rate increases which would be expected:

If the court decides to cut the subsidies, not all of the 16,937 Wyomingites will stop getting insurance, Glause said.

People who are the sickest will likely try to find a way to pay for it.

...When everyone is insured, the high medical costs of some people are evened out by the low costs of others. With the healthy folks no longer obtaining insurance, everyone is impacted, Glause said.

“Rates are going to increase, premiums are going to increase all across the board,” he said. “And you’re not going to be subject to those individual mandates. You’ll (affect) people outside the exchange as well.”

Why on earth would I link to a Town Hall story? Well, although the piece isn't entirely biased, I'm calling attention to it because they've dredged up an absolutely absurd survey conducted back in March by some right-wing think tank called the "Foundation for Government Accountability".

I've seen this FGA survey referenced a couple of other times in the past few days; the results supposedly show that most people would blame the Democrats for people losing their tax credits in the event of a King plaintiff win. However, I did some analysis of it at the time, and my conclusions were:

  • Half the survey tells us nothing that wasn't already known (i.e., Republicans don't like Obamacare in general).
  • The other half is essentially a push poll with highly biased questions and heavily skewed results.

That doesn't mean that it's wrong, mind you; it's entirely possible that it will be the Dems who take the hit after all...but I wouldn't use this particular survey to draw that conclusion.

Finally, in NON-King news...

Beneficiaries with Healthy Michigan Plan Coverage: 585,483

*Statistics as of June 8, 2015

I'm only including this to confirm that, as I observed back in March and April, Michigan's ACA Medicaid expansion has definitely plateaued at just shy of 600,000 people; it's been bobbling just below the 600K mark for nearly 4 months straight now.