As Hope Of Sweeping Health Initiatives Fade, Biden Looks To Build On ACA
President Joe Biden and Democratic lawmakers came into office promising major health initiatives. But that is proving hard. They have revamped parts of the Affordable Care Act, adding more than a million people to the insured rolls and reducing costs for many families. But those gains will only last two years and Democrats are divided on how to move forward with health policy.
The Wall Street Journal:
Democrats Lower Their Sights On Healthcare Changes
Many progressive Democrats and President Biden are facing the political reality that far-reaching healthcare overhauls aren’t likely to succeed in the short term, which means their hopes may rest instead on building on recent Affordable Care Act changes and reducing prescription drug costs. Nearly 1.4 million uninsured people have become newly eligible for the ACA’s subsidies following revisions to the health law through pandemic relief legislation passed in March. In addition, many people who already have plans have seen their premiums reduced. The changes marked the biggest overhaul to the health law since its passage in 2010, and have resulted in consumers saving an average of $70 a month, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Armour, 5/22)
The Tortured Saga Of America’s Least-Loved Policy Idea
By the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on a lawsuit seeking to overturn the entirety of the ACA. For the second time, the core legal argument confronting the Court involves the ACA’s “individual responsibility requirement,” better known as the “individual mandate” that requires most Americans to obtain health insurance. For 33 years, and especially since President Barack Obama signed the ACA into law in 2010, the mandate has been a prize and a booby trap for Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and progressives alike, rarely at the same time. Initially a policy favored by many Republicans and conservatives and reviled by most Democrats, both sides swapped roles during the ACA’s creation between 2008 and 2010. Since then, the mandate has been the least favored part of the now popular health law, and the most disputed feature of one of U.S. history’s most contested laws. (McDonough, 5/22)
Affordable Care Act Sign-Ups Continued Surge In Arizona, U.S. In April
Health care coverage in Arizona under the Affordable Care Act is at its highest level in three years, as enrollment continued to climb in April during a special open enrollment period, according to the latest government data. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported that 17,081 Arizonans had selected insurance plans for 2021 from Feb. 15 through April 30. They were just some of the 939,575 Americans who got coverage during that period. (Long, 5/22)
Health Insurance Companies Owe Refunds To Millions Of Consumers — Maybe You?
Among the proposals in President Joe Biden's recently announced American Families Plan is an indefinite extension of the expanded Obamacare subsidies originally passed in March as part of the administration's $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan. If that weren't already enough good news on the health care front, private insurance companies are also expected to dole out $2.1 billion in rebates to more than 10.7 million policyholders this fall, according to analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation. That sum will be the second-highest amount ever issued under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) after last year’s record-breaking $2.5 billion in refunds. (Forberg, 5/22)
In other insurance reform news —
The CT Mirror:
CT Public Option Bill Dies After Governor Threatens Veto
Proponents of a measure that would create a public option insurance plan for small businesses and nonprofits said Friday that the proposal will be shelved for a third consecutive year because Gov. Ned Lamont threatened not to sign the bill if it passed the General Assembly. A watered-down version of the public option bill cleared the House in 2019 but did not come up for a vote in the Senate. And a similar proposal raised last year was suspended after the state Capitol shut down at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Carlesso, 5/21)