Moving Deadlines Is ‘Wrong Way’ To Fix Health Law; Expand Medicaid To Close ‘Racial’ Health Gap
Commentators assess the health law and its implementation.
Los Angeles Times: The Wrong Way To Fix Obamacare
The sprawling 2010 Affordable Care Act has proved so hard to implement that the Obama administration has delayed or waived multiple provisions of the law in the hope of avoiding even more breakdowns and confusion. Last week the administration put off for another year the requirement that larger employers provide coverage for some or all of their workers. It's also reportedly considering a longer delay in implementing the law's minimum standards for insurance policies. Although the administration may have the right motives, its aggressive use of executive power to change deadlines and weaken requirements sets an unwelcome precedent. It also risks subverting some of the goals of the law the president is trying to protect (2/17).
The Wall Street Journal: At the ObamaCare Improv
President Obama predicted at the House Democratic retreat on Friday that "10 years from now, five years from now" people will look back on the Affordable Care Act as "a monumental achievement." He's right in the limited sense that, given the delays he has sanctioned so far, it will take years before anyone can tell if it works. Now that we've had more time to parse this week's announcement of a second delay of the employer mandate, the political reason for the carve-out is becoming clearer (2/14).
The Washington Post: New GOP Health-Care Plan Is A Starting Point For A Conversation, Not A Replacement
For years, Republicans have sniped at the Affordable Care Act without offering a reasonable alternative. Three GOP senators are trying to change that. Richard Burr (N.C.), Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Orrin G. Hatch (Utah) have offered an outline of a health-care-reform package that they say could take the ACA's place. Given the shrill rhetoric from the GOP side, one might expect that Republican reform would have nothing in common with Obamacare. But there are only so many ways to preserve the patient protections that the ACA offers, which Republicans say they want to keep, while maintaining a private insurance market and assisting those who can’t afford coverage (2/14).
The Washington Post: The Poetry Of Bad News Around Obamacare
Cognitive dissonance is a rational response to recent news that Obamacare will reduce the workforce .... Freeing people not to work has never been a national goal that I can recall, though everyone acknowledges the problem of tying insurance to employment. This is why Republicans have argued, belatedly, for portable insurance. In the meantime, what the economy needs least is a federal program that prompts lower- and middle-class workers to drop out of the workforce. This is in addition to the many who are losing their jobs involuntarily or having their hours cut by their employers who want to avoid the mandate to buy insurance or the fine for failing to do so (Kathleen Parker, 2/14).
Bloomberg: Obamacare And Christie Have Plenty In Common
These two story lines -- one involving Democrats, the other about Republicans -- share common elements; they entail significant political fallout. Obamacare, even as the results get better, will hurt Democrats, perhaps seriously, in this year's congressional elections. And a blow has been delivered to the presidential aspirations of Christie, who just three months ago was virtually coronated by Time magazine as the Republicans' great hope for 2016. Both demonstrate that once a narrative is established in U.S. politics, it's very hard to shake (Albert R. Hunt, 2/16).
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Good News For Obamacare
More than four months since its disastrous launch, Obamacare has finally found its mojo — at least based on enrollment statistics released by the administration. Those figures show that nearly 3.3 million Americans have signed up for private health insurance plans since October and that enrollment grew rapidly in January. There are still glitches with the system, and the mix of enrollees remains a concern, but these new statistics show conclusively that there is a ready market for the private plans offered on government-run online marketplaces. Simply put, millions of Americans need health insurance, and they are finding affordable plans on the exchanges (2/17).
USA Today: Expand Medicaid To Close Racial Health Gap
The Affordable Care Act has great potential to shrink the racial gap in coverage. But we can't tell how it's doing without data on race and ethnicity. HHS officials say they're collecting only some data and don't know when, or even if, they will be released. That's inexcusable. For the law to work, we need to be able to track its results. ... Data or no data, one thing is certain: The law's promise of closing this gap is threatened — not by Washington politics, but by state decisions to reject funds to expand Medicaid. (LeeAnn Hall and Brian Smedley, 2/16).
Raleigh News & Observer: McCrory Needs To Change Course On Medicaid
[North Carolina] Gov. Pat McCrory has another three years in office and possibly another four after that, but what may determine his success as governor is the issue that arose early in his tenure and continues to shape it: Medicaid reform. ... From the outset of his administration, McCrory declared Medicaid "broken." He said that there were bloated management costs and chronic budget overruns. It was so broken, he said, he could not in good conscience accept federal money to expand it under the Affordable Care Act until the program was overhauled. ... Leaving so many trapped in North Carolina might have been easier to justify if the McCrory administration had spent the past year improving Medicaid operations and shaping a legislative consensus around structural changes. That has not happened (2/15).
The Richmond Times-Dispatch: Health, Wage Ideas Pose Big Risks
The problematic implementation of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, has become a major issue during this session. Although media accounts have referred to the debate over this issue as "Medicaid expansion," that description is not entirely complete. Were it not for the passage of Obamacare in 2010, there would likely be no proposal to expand Medicaid under consideration in Virginia today. Dramatically expanding Medicaid is as integral to Obamacare as the individual mandate, the penalties placed on individuals and businesses, and the nationalized coverage mandates inherent in the program (State Sen. Ryan T. McDougle, 2/16).
Deseret News: Expanding Medicaid
The governor and the Legislature should do everything possible to keep as many of Utah's ACA tax dollars here in Utah. Expanding Medicaid to Utah’s neediest adults is the most straightforward way to accomplish this. Expanded Medicaid coverage will not only satisfy what seems to us a vital humanitarian obligation, but analyses we trust suggest the potential for Medicaid expansion to act as an investment in improved health outcomes. Properly administered, Medicaid expansion should increase access to preventive and primary care, thereby driving down uncompensated costs for costly emergency room visits and crisis intervention (2/16).
The Star Tribune: MNsure Makes A Better Pitch As Deadline Looms
Paul Bunyan and Babe are taking a welcome break from their tougher-than-expected gig marketing the state's new MNsure online health insurance marketplace. New radio ads now airing have shifted from lighthearted spots featuring the accident-prone lumberjack to ones with a straightforward voice-over outlining the advantages of using MNsure, such as the ability to comparison-shop for coverage and the possibility of qualifying for federal tax credits to help pay for monthly premiums. (It's also worth noting that MNsure clients may also learn if they qualify for even-more-affordable medical assistance programs, including MinnesotaCare, the state's popular health plan aimed at working families.) The shift to more informational ads comes as a major deadline looms (2/14).