KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Obama’s ‘Cavalier Approach’ To Health Law; CBO Report’s Job Forecast Isn’t Bad News

The Washington Post: The Obama Administration Has A Mandate On The Health-Care Law, Too
The Obama administration on Monday announced that it was delaying, once again, enforcement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) "employer mandate." Yes, Republicans have done everything they can to impede implementation of this law. Yes, their "solution" — gutting the individual mandate — is an awful idea. And, yes, their public response to the administration’s action was predictably over-the-top. But none of that excuses President Obama's increasingly cavalier approach to picking and choosing how to enforce this law. Imagine how Democrats would respond if a President Rand Paul, say, moved into the White House in 2017 and announced he was going to put off provisions of Obamacare he thought might be too onerous to administer (2/11). 

The Washington Post: Another Day, Another Illegal Obamacare Delay
Yesterday, the Department of Treasury announced it was further delaying imposition of Obamacare's "Employer Shared Responsibility" provisions (aka, the employer mandate). These provisions were supposed to take effect at the beginning of this year. Last summer, however, the Administration pushed back the requirement until 2015. Yesterday, the requirement was pushed back another full year for companies with 50-99 employees and the 2015 requirements were relaxed for larger employers. (Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt.) Administration officials say this new delay is designed to help employers adjust to the law's requirements, but many observers see more political motivations (Jonathan H. Adler, 2/11). 

Reuters: Why You Should Ignore The Latest Attack On Obamacare
The latest example of deliberate obfuscation by universal healthcare's opponents comes with publication of the Congressional Budget Office's latest glimpse into the future, "The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024." ... What this all means is that some people now working for an employer to qualify for cheap company health insurance will stop working there. Though, as the CBO reports, this does not mean "a drop in businesses demand for labor." The vacated jobs will continue to exist and employers will seek to find others to take the place of the departed workers. With so many unemployed, most jobs will be easily and quickly filled, reducing the number of unemployed and maintaining economic growth. A headline writer could just as accurately have written, "Obamacare makes 2.5 jobs available over next 10 years" (Nicholas Wapshott, 2/11).

The New York Times' Economix: Demoralization Is Not A Policy Achievement
In the George W. Bush administration, for example, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation offered a mortgage modification program that created terrible work incentives. Then came the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, under which about four million people could earn more by remaining unemployed longer, because going back to work would erase federal health assistance and multiple sources of cash benefits. The latest is the Affordable Care Act, which has created a system of health assistance that withholds its benefits on the basis of income and, in most cases, on the basis of full-time employment. A part-time worker may actually have less to spend if he takes on a full-time position. This kind of situation will occur at least a million times under the new law (Casey B. Mulligan, 2/12). 

The Fiscal Times: Obama's Workforce: Discouraged, Disincentivized, Downsized
Is work becoming optional? In our zeal to alleviate poverty, and to protect our most vulnerable, have we invited Americans to put their feet up and take it easy? That’s how many read the recent CBO report predicting job losses courtesy of Obamacare. Data on the condition of our long-term unemployed, and the impact of extended unemployment compensation points in the same direction (Liz Peek, 2/12).

The New York Times: Medicaid Expansion, Red-State Style
Some 20 states have refused to expand their Medicaid programs to cover uninsured low-income people, an important element of the health reform law. Now several states that had been opposed, mostly for ideological reasons, are seeking to cover newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries through private insurance (2/11). 

The Hill: Medicaid Or Education?
In state capitals throughout America, a drama will play out this coming year and in every subsequent year for at least a decade. Legislators and governors will find themselves unable to provide decently for education without cutting back on the ambitious Medicaid expansion built into ObamaCare. Even in those states that opted not to participate in raising the eligibility levels for Medicaid — and took the out Chief Justice John Roberts gave them — the Medicaid rolls will rise as more of those previously eligible sign up through the well-publicized federal exchanges (Dick Morris, 2/11).

Bloomberg: Yes, We Can Trim Medicare Spending
More than 90 percent of all Medicare spending goes to treating the two-thirds of beneficiaries who suffer from more than one chronic health problem. Giving these people better care for the dollar is the key to increasing the value of the program overall. ... Fee-for-service reimbursement creates an incentive for hospitals and other providers to give more care rather than better care. Indeed, one possible explanation for the steady slowdown in Medicare spending is that most hospital executives, believing that a fee-for-service payment system will become less dominant in coming years, are already changing their practices (Peter Orszag, 2/11).

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