Viewpoints All Eyes On Insurers An Employers Perspective On Health Law Budget
Los Angeles Times: Obamacare: Silence Of The Insurers When will the insurers revolt? It’s a question that’s popping up more and more. On the surface, the question answers itself. We’re talking about pinstriped insurance company executives, not Hell’s Angels. One doesn’t want to paint with too broad a brush, but if you were going to guess which vocations lend themselves least to revolutionary zeal, the actuary sciences rank slightly behind embalmers (Jonah Goldberg, 12/17). The Washington Post’s Plum Line: Morning Plum: Insurance Industry Bets On Obamacare. GOP Bets On Failure. The Wall Street Journal reports that insurance companies are set to unleash hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising to entice potential customers on to the exchanges created by Obamacare. … All this is a reminder of just how much of a stake the industry has in the law’s success, and how much it is willing to spend to try to make that happen. What’s striking is that this comes even as the absolute certainty among Republicans that the law cannot do anything other than fail spectacularly — indeed, that this has already happened — has only hardened (Greg Sargent, 12/16). The New York Times’ The Conscience Of A Liberal: The Big Money Bets On Obamacare As Greg Sargent has been pointing out for some time, the startup troubles of Obamacare have divided both the general public and the political class into two different intellectual universes. On one side, Republicans — both the base and the political leadership — have decided that health reform is already a failure; that conviction is actually helping the leadership rein in some of the crazies, by telling them that now is the time to wait and let the political payoff from Obamacare’s collapse fall into their laps. On the other side, Democrats see a law that got off to a terrible start but is getting rapidly better (Paul Krugman, 12/16). Los Angeles Times: Employers Cut Health Coverage, Find Scapegoat: Obamacare If there’s been one inexorable trend coming out of the HR departments of major employers, it’s been the steady erosion of worker pay and benefits. Razor-thin raises, defined benefit pensions replaced by 401(k) plans, shrinking healthcare–if you’ve been on a big company’s payroll, you know the drill. Expect the trend to continue or even pick up steam, because employers have an ideal scapegoat right now: the Affordable Care Act. It looks like the blame-Obamacare game is having some effect. According to an AP poll released over the weekend, three-quarters of those with private or employer-based insurance think the Affordable Care Act is the reason for changes in their health coverage for 2014 (Michael Hiltzik, 12/16). The New York Times: What The New Health Insurance Law Means For My Workers In America, I told my workers, health insurance pays for three kinds of care: routine, chronic and catastrophic. Under the old system, my company bought a single policy and used it to pay for all three. And as a business owner, I got to choose whatever policy I thought was best but without good information about the various plans that were available. … I also had no idea what our premiums might be from year to year. The insurance companies could jack our rates up or down for any number of reasons without explanation — although it appeared that if someone in the company got sick, we could expect a large increase in premiums the next year. So we always had that hanging over our heads. Now, the Affordable Care Act has removed that risk (Paul Downs, 12/16).The Fiscal Times: Why The GOP Shouldn’t Count On An Obamacare CollapseThe disastrous rollout of the HealthCare.gov website has so far kept enrollment well below the levels the Obama administration had sought. Yet as the administration works to fix the numerous technological problems that have plagued the site (it now says that the error rates with the problematic “834 transactions” that transmit enrollment data to insurers have been close to zero since the beginning of December), HealthCare.gov will be getting some outside help in trying to lure consumers to sign up for insurance plans (Yuval Rosenberg, 12/16). The Washington Post’s The Monkey Cage: Five Myths About The Future Of Obamacare Both liberals and conservatives believe they are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with the Affordable Care Act. With the HealthCare.gov Web site running more smoothly, liberals are confident that Obamacare will soon be entrenched. Just as Republicans in the 1950s came to accept Social Security to avoid electoral defeats, ACA supporters insist that conservatives are courting political disaster if they continue to oppose the law. Republicans have a different perspective. They point to millions of cancelled insurance policies, ongoing enrollment problems, and repeated implementation delays as signs that the law is on the brink of collapse. The ACA remains fundamentally flawed, they claim, and all these Band-Aid improvements will never repair a program that was defective from the start. But what do we really know about the dynamics of “policy entrenchment”— that is, whether programs survive after Congress creates them? (Eric Patashnik and Julian Zelizer, 12/16). The Washington Post: Auto Bailout Could Be Harbinger For Obamacare When will the criticism of Obamacare finally end? I’ve done some research on the question, and by my calculations, judging from current trends, this will happen approximately . . . never (Dana Milbank, 12/16).Bloomberg: Make Obamacare Cool, Or Make It HurtInstead of outreach programs and sappy TV ads with parents imploring their kids to sign up for Obamacare, President Barack Obama needs to start thinking creatively if he wants his signature legislative achievement to be a success. What motivates kids? In fact, what motivates any of us? Incentives (Caroline Baum, 12/16).Fox News: Is President Obama ‘Too Big To Jail?’A Chinese proverb says, “May you live in interesting times.” We certainly do. Historians will look back on this time as “the Obama criminal years.” How lawless is the Obama administration? Many of the dirty deeds and scandals of Obama & Co. are public knowledge. Let’s start with the most astonishing. Many citizens are aware that because of ObamaCare, millions of Americans are losing their health care coverage. Is this incompetence, or criminal fraud? (Wayne Allyn Root, 12/16). Fox News: The Impossible Trinity Of ObamaCareThe problem with ObamaCare is not that it is poorly designed or sloppily implemented. The problem is in the nature of things: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as it has been envisaged, is inherently impossible. To see this, forget ObamaCare for the moment. Think health care in general (Michael S. Bernstam, 12/16). And on other issues -Los Angeles Times: Federal Budget Peace In Our Time? Not For Long. It’s hard to see a happy ending to this drama. For Republicans, the debt limit provides a rare opportunity to force changes in entitlement programs that spend ever-increasing amounts on autopilot. The GOP’s solutions typically involve shifting more of the cost of those programs onto beneficiaries, or narrowing eligibility and trimming benefits. Democrats, who are loath to cut benefits or reduce eligibility, say they’ll curb entitlements only as part of a package that also ends tax breaks for corporations and higher-income Americans. But while [Rep. Paul] Ryan and his colleagues are willing to extract higher fees for government services, raising tax revenue is a nonstarter. Even Democrats have to concede that health-related entitlements (most notably Medicare and Medicaid) are the biggest threats to the federal government’s fiscal health over the long term (Jon Healey, 12/16). USA Today: Ensure That Genetic Tests Are Accurate: Our View Opening the door to genetic testing and its potential health benefits to anyone with $99 and the desire to spit into a test tube is an exciting prospect. But only if the tests are accurate, the interpretations meaningful, and the results understandable to the average consumer (12/16). USA Today: FDA Oversteps On Genetic Testing: Opposing View The FDA worries that giving Americans more information about their own genomes might lead some to get too much medical care — or not enough. … But are Americans really so foolish with their own health? The FDA can’t cite a single example of someone actually being hurt because of 23andMe. Indeed, 23andMe has peer-reviewed research showing that its customers are no more likely to over- or under-estimate their risks (Berin Szoka, 12/16). Viewpoints: All Eyes On Insurers; An Employer’s Perspective On Health Law; Budget Peace May Not Last Long This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.