Tuesday Short Cuts

Spotlight here is on Alabama in my continuing close look at how many low income ACA private plan buyers accessed Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) subsidies by buying silver plans. (Yesterday, HHS released detailed county-level data about buyers of private plans on healthcare.gov, the federal exchange, enabling a close look at state stats.)

CSR is available to buyers with household incomes below 251% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), and strongest for buyers under 201% FPL. It is available only with silver plans, the second-cheapest of four metal levels available on ACA exchanges -- a fact that's less than obvious to the average shopper, Buyers under 201% FPL are leaving a really strong benefit on the table if they don't buy silver plans (see the note at bottom for more detail). I consider the percentage of buyers under 201% FPL who select silver an important measure of how well the exchange is functioning in a given state. (Those in the 201-250% FPL range are likelier to have good cause to forego the relatively negligible CSR provided at that level.)

ObamaCare's victory at the Supreme Court is putting new pressure on Republican presidential candidates to map out a replacement to the healthcare law — a task that has eluded the party for more than five years.

With President Obama’s law twice affirmed by the nation’s high court, congressional Republicans now say a victory in 2016 is their best chance to tear down the statute and replace it with a GOP-favored alternative.

“I definitely think there will be pressure on these guys to put something out there,” said Lanhee Chen, the policy director for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. “They will need to have a plan.”

In the aftermath of King v. Burwell, it is worth going back and recounting what actually happened leading up to the enactment of Obamacare, and reflect a little bit on what might, and what should, happen going forward.

A gusher of Obamacare money is fueling a merger frenzy in U.S. healthcare.

The latest jolt came Thursday when Woodland Hills insurer Health Net Inc. agreed to be bought by Medicaid insurer Centene Corp. for $6.8 billion.

And more billion-dollar deals are in the works as health insurers, hospitals and drug companies bulk up in size so they can seize on government spending in Obamacare exchanges, state Medicaid programs and Medicare Advantage for the baby boomers.

Despite a key win in theSupreme Court and pressure from liberal activists, North Carolina's legislative leaders said this past week that they have no plans to expand the state's Medicaid rolls through President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law.

At its core, Obamacare has one main goal: delivering affordable health care to most Americans.

And now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of one of its key provisions, the health-care overhaul should continue working toward that goal — at least until the next president and Congress are sworn in.

It has been five years since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law, and new data and numerous real-life stories are beginning to reveal how close or how far the ACA has come toward meeting its objective in Washington state.

The Alliance for Health Reform hosted a discussion on health care insurance enrollment. Panelists talked about coverage trends from the previous open enrollment period, including who gained coverage, who was still uninsured, and the reasons some were still uninsured.