Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Government follies ---- Hello HillaryCare: ObamaCare Deadline Extended Beyond Obama's Term and risk corridor payments could hit 5.5 billion for 2015 - that would the taxpayer bailout risk corridor ! File under " we are so screwed " -- Shocker: Federal government’s fiscal deterioration almost 5 times official deficit .........

Obamacare.....


Health insurance marketplaces signing up few uninsured Americans, surveys say

By Updated: Thursday, March 6, 3:00 PM

The new health insurance marketplaces appear to be making little headway so far in signing up Americans who lack health insurance, the Affordable Care Act’s central goal.

A pair of surveys released on Thursday suggest that just one in 10 uninsured people who qualify for private health plans through the new marketplace have signed up for one — and that about half of uninsured adults has looked for information on the online exchanges or plans to look.

Taken together, the snapshots shown by the surveys provide preliminary answers to what has been one of the biggest mysteries since HealthCare.gov and separate state marketplaces opened last fall: Are they attracting their prime audience?

One of the surveys, by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., shows that, of people who had signed up for coverage through the marketplaces by last month, just one-fourth described themselves as having been without insurance for most of the past year.

The survey also attempted to gauge what has been another fuzzy matter: how many of the people actually have the insurance for which they signed up. Under federal rules, coverage begins only if someone has started to pay their monthly insurance premiums.

And, the survey show, that just over half of uninsured people said they had started to pay, compared with nearly nine in 10 of those signing up on the exchanges who said they were simply switching from one health plan to another.

The second survey, by researchers at the Urban Institute and based on slightly older data from December, shows that awareness of the new marketplaces is fairly widespread but that lower-income Americans and those who are uninsured are less likely to know about this new avenue to health coverage than other people.

The surveys are not a perfect way of showing who exactly is gaining coverage, and whether the marketplaces are reaching parts of the U.S. population that need insurance the most. But they begin to fill in blanks that both advocates and opponents of the sprawling, 2010 health-care law all say are critical to understand.

“If there is one point to the law, it is to lower the number of uninsured,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy organization. “Ultimately, that has to happen for the law to be judged a success.”

With just over three weeks remaining in a six-month sign-up period, the question of how many uninsured people are gaining coverage so far is eluding both Obama administration officials and most of the private health plans being sold through the new marketplaces.

Inside the Department of Health and Human Services, staff analysts who have been producing monthly enrollment updates are confronted with a major hindrance to examining the question of people’s prior insurance status: the wording of the HealthCare.gov applications themselves.

The paper versions of applications, used by a small fraction of people who are signing up contain a multiple-choice question asking whether people in a household currently have insurance. “No” is one of the boxes people can check.

However, the online application, used by most people to enroll, asks whether people want to apply for coverage but does not give them a place to indicate whether they have insurance now or have had it in the past. As a result, HHS analysts have no way of assessing how many of the online enrollees were uninsured n the past.

“We are a looking at a range of data sources to determine how many marketplace enrollees previously had coverage,” said Julie Bataille, director of the Office of Communication in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the HHS agency overseeing the insurance marketplaces. “Previous insurance coverage is an important metric, and we hope to have additional information in the future.”
In the absence of information from people who have enrolled, Obama administration officials have drawn attention to recent outside polls, which suggest that the overall number of uninsured Americans is declining. It is not clear, however, whether the trend is because of the health-care law or other reasons.

So far, of 14 states that are operating their own insurance exchanges, instead of relying on the federal one, only New York has given any indication about how many uninsured people are signing up. Last month, the NY State of Health, the state’s marketplace, reported that 70 percent of the half-million people who had enrolled since it opened in October were uninsured at the time they signed up.
The McKinsey survey, its fourth since late November to measure the behavior of Americans in the new insurance marketplaces, is based on a national sample of about 2,100 people. It shows that 27 percent of people who had bought coverage by early February had been uninsured, compared with 11 percent a month earlier.

It defined uninsured people as those who qualify for private health plans sold through the exchanges. It does not include anyone who is uninsured and has an income low enough that they qualify for Medicaid, a public insurance program that is being expanded under the law in about half the states. The Urban Institute survey includes people eligible for Medicaid in its definition of the uninsured.
McKinsey’s survey also includes people who bought insurance outside the new marketplaces. Asked at a conference on Thursday how many Americans are buying insurance on their own, apart from the new marketplaces, Gary Cohen, the outgoing director of CMS’s Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, said that federal health officials have not yet tried to collect such information. “I think it is a really important question because obviously the goal is to get as many people insured as possible,” Cohen said.

The McKinsey survey also found, as it had during the previous few months, that, of people who are uninsured and do not intend to get a health plan through the marketplaces, the biggest factor is that they believe they could not afford one.





and....




Hello HillaryCare: ObamaCare Deadline Extended Beyond Obama's Term

Tyler Durden's picture






In what is becoming an epic embarrassment, the WSJ reports that theObama administration announced today that consumers can keep insurance plans that don't comply with the federal health law for another two years, pushing a potential firestorm over cancellations and broken promises that "you can keep your health plan". As The Hill adds, the unprecedented move will protect vulnerable Democrats in the midterm elections by staving off a wave of cancellation notices and for some consumers, rather stunningly, Obamacare will not be in place for all Americans when President Obama leaves office. Sickeningly,the administration explicitly gave cover to 13 vulnerable Democratic lawmakers by saying the extension was developed in “close consultation” with those members.

The Obama administration announced Wednesday that consumers can keep insurance plans that don't comply with the federal health law for another two years, pushing a potential firestorm over cancellations until after midterm elections.

Previously, some consumers could keep insurance plans that didn't comply with the 2010 Affordable Care Act until roughly the end of this year, as long as their state regulators and insurance company allowed it. Now, consumers will have up to an additional two years to do so, putting their plans in place until roughly 2016.
The policy also means that one of the key features of the Affordable Care Act — minimum healthcare benefit requirements — will not be in place for all Americans when President Obama leaves office.
The administration's spin...
Senior administration officials insisted that the change will not substantially alter the Affordable Care Act and emphasized that their focus was on flexibility for individuals.
But the reality is politics as usual...
President Obama and many Democratic lawmakers made promises that consumers could keep their current coverage under the healthcare law, and Republicans were eager to use those statements as leverage in their effort to retake the Senate.

The administration explicitly gave cover to 13 vulnerable Democratic lawmakers such as Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) by saying the extension was developed in “close consultation” with those members.
Meaning that you can keep your health plan (well beyond the Tea Party's original demands that were so rancorously disavowed last year by the Democrats)...
The policy prolongs the administration's “keep your plan” fix from last fall and applies to the individual and small-group insurance markets, potentially affecting 12.5 million people, officials said.

The timetable will allow consumers to renew old health plans for the last time on Oct. 1, 2016, meaning some plans will continue into 2017 under the next president.


Administration officials denied that the 2016 campaign season will see its own wave of cancellation notices, predicting that most people will have migrated into the new marketplaces by then.
Welcome to HillaryCare...





Shocker: Federal government’s fiscal deterioration almost 5 times official deficit

POSTED AT 8:01 PM ON MARCH 5, 2014 BY DUSTIN SIGGINS

 
In Fiscal Year 2013, the official federal deficit was $680 billion. Liberals have cheered this drop while subsequently ignoring how this deficit is both larger than all of Bush’s pre-recession deficits and is expected to grow dramatically over the next several decades.
However, the Treasury Department’s annual report on the finances of the U.S. federal government shows that not only is $680 billion an incomplete measure of the federal government’s finances, it’s off by nearly a factor of five.
The U.S. Treasury has just released its annual “Financial Report of the United States Government,” which provides an account of the federal government’s finances using accounting standards like those that the government requires of large corporations. Because the federal budget is not bound by these standards, it does not have to account for all of its fiscal obligations.
For example, the Treasury report reveals that the federal government owes $6.5 trillion in retirement and health benefits to federal employees and veterans. This legal responsibility amounts to $53,000 for every household in the United States, but none of these liabilities are reflected in the 2013 budget deficit or national debt.
….
During the federal government’s 2013 fiscal year, the official federal deficit was $680 billion, but this comprehensive accounting reveals that the federal government’s fiscal position deteriorated by $3.3 trillion or an average of $27,000 for every household in the U.S.
There are two basic ways the federal government calculates its obligations. The first does not account for the obligations of Social Security, Medicare, and other programs in the same way the federal government requires of private corporations.
The method the Treasury report uses is far more complete. It includes long-term obligations and liabilities unaccounted for in the deficit and debt measurements.
In this year’s report, Treasury says the government should initiate deficit reduction measures (cuts and/or tax increases) equivalent to 1.7 percent of GDP every year for 75 years. This means, just in 2014, Treasury is recommending a cut in deficits of approximately $274 billion just to prevent a fiscal crisis – and these cuts will grow in size every year for the time period Treasury examined. Waiting 10 or 20 years makes things even worse.
And even these cuts are grossly undersized. First, this would still leave America’s publicly held debt-to-GDP ratio the same as it was in 2013, which the Congressional Budget Office has said is problematic.
Additionally, Treasury assumes in its report that the Affordable Care Act will reduce long-term health care costs. And, finally, these cuts are recommended to reduce “primary” deficits, those that do not include the enormous interest payments the federal government is expected to incur.
In short, not only is the federal government in financial trouble, it’s in worse shape than we ever realized. After compiling all of the data in the Treasury Report, Just Facts found that the full obligations of the U.S. federal government total $71 trillion, or $580,000 per household.



http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-04/insurers-obamacare-losses-may-cost-u-s-5-5-billion.html




Health insurers such as WellPoint Inc. (WLP) andHumana Inc. (HUM) stand to gain $5.5 billion next year to cover losses from Obamacare in a program the law’s opponents label a bailout.
The money, outlined in President Barack Obama’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins in October, is designated to help insurers who find the cost of the law higher than expected, based on the percentage of older, sicker people who sign up compared with younger enrollees.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, insurers who record a profit of 3 percent or more on their Obamacare business would put some of the gains into a government-controlled fund. Companies whose claims cost at least 3 percent more than their premium revenue can access the money.
Related:
“If you want to insure the uninsured, and you want to set up a competitive marketplace and drive health-system improvement, you’re not going to do that without off-loading some of the risk for insurance providers,” Dan Mendelson, the president of Avalere Health, a Washington consulting firm, said in a telephone interview.
The administration expects to collect enough from profitable insurers to cover the costs of payments to other companies in the risk corridors program, Emily Cain, a spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget, said in an e-mail.

‘Safety Valve’

The program is “an important safety valve for consumers and insurers as millions of Americans transition to new coverage in a brand new marketplace,” Cain said. “The Administration intends to operate the risk corridor program in a budget neutral manner, with payments in equaling payments out.”
About 4 million people have so far signed up for private health plans from companies under the act known as Obamacare. Insurers participating in the law’s new health exchanges are required to cover everyone who applies for a plan, regardless of their health.
The risk corridors program was adopted from earlier federal health programs that rely on private insurers, including Medicare’s prescription drug benefit. It was designed to protect insurers temporarily while the new health program is introduced and expires after 2016.
At least one insurer, Louisville, Kentucky-based Humana, has said it expects to seek money from the pool. The company said in a Jan. 9 regulatory filing that it expected new Obamacare customers to be sicker and costlier than anticipated, after the U.S. government’s decision to let healthier people keep their existing plans.

Republican Criticism

Republican opponents of the Affordable Care Act have called the program a handout to insurers, warning that payouts may exceed the amount collected.
“The risk of a bailout has always been high,” Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, said at a Feb. 5 hearing. “As many of us predicted, these exchanges have not attracted enough young and healthy people to sign up.”
Rubio said Obama increased the likelihood of the program costing taxpayers when the president announced a policy last fall to allow healthy people to keep their existing insurance plans. About 2.6 million Americans received cancellation letters from their insurance carriers at the end of 2014, according to a study published online today by the journal Health Affairs. The letters caused a political headache for the president, who had promised that people with insurance they liked wouldn’t have to change plans under Obamacare.

Repeal Dropped

House Republicans earlier this year considered legislation that would repeal the risk corridors. Those plans were dropped after the Congressional Budget Office said on Feb. 4 that the health law’s programs to reduce risk for insurers, including risk corridors, would save the government $8 billion over the next 10 years.
Obama’s budget plan also proposes to save about $402 billion over the next decade mainly by reducing spending in Medicare, the $513 billion program for the elderly and disabled, and Medicaid, the state-run program for low-income people that will cost the federal government $308 billion this year.
The budget targets drugmakers for much of the cuts, including paying $117 billion more in rebates for medicines used by federal health program beneficiaries. Obama’s 2014 budget contained a similar proposal that Congress didn’t adopt.
Obama also proposes to spend about $14.6 billion over a decade to train new health providers. The U.S.shortage of primary care physicians is estimated at 8,000 doctors by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.