Health Care Reform
now browsing by tag
We’re getting a lot of conflicting information about how the health law will shape our future—and unsurprisingly, neither the current inhabitant of the Oval Office nor the man who would replace him is giving us the full picture. The AP parses President Obama and Mitt Romney’s biggest assertions:
- President Obama says those with health insurance “will keep” their current plans. In fact, the law doesn’t guarantee that; your boss can still change or eliminate your coverage.
- Mitt Romney says 20 million people could lose their coverage. True, employer-based coverage could shrink as the market shifts and more individual options become available. But 20 million is the Congressional Budget Office’s “worst-case scenario”: It’s more likely to be 3 million to 5 million people.
- Obama claims that almost 13 million people will be getting health insurance rebates this autumn. Yes, 13 million people will be affected by those rebates, but most will come to employers, not individuals.
- Romney holds that “ObamaCare adds trillions to our deficits and to our national debt.” Actually, it would shrink the federal deficit by some $210 billion over the next decade, and would slowly continue to reduce the deficit in the ensuing years.
- We’ve all heard that ObamaCare is a “job-killer,” a sentiment Romney has echoed. While the workforce will shrink by half a percent, according to the CBO, that’s not necessarily a bad thing: It’s largely the result of people opting to retire or go part-time because health insurance will be more available outside the workplace.
The Supreme Court’s ObamaCare decision is putting many states in a tight place: They’ve got to set up exchanges, the law’s health insurance markets, by Jan. 1, 2014. But by Jan. 1, 2013, they have to show those exchanges will be ready on time—or the feds will swoop in to “establish and operate” the exchanges for them.
That poses a particular challenge to the many states that haven’t taken action yet, hoping that the law would be overturned; only 10 states and Washington, DC, have implemented exchange laws, the New York Times notes. But even after the decision, some Republican-controlled states may choose to do nothing.
In the case of Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker says his state “will not take any action to implement ObamaCare” on the hopes that the law will be overturned if Republicans gain power in November. And USA Today reports that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said today his state will not be setting up an exchange. Meanwhile, states also must determine whether they’ll follow the law’s expansion of Medicaid. Republican governors in Mississippi, South Carolina, Virginia, and Nevada have indicated they’re skeptical of the expansion, the Wall Street Journal notes, even though the feds are willing to cover the costs for the first three years, and 90% of the costs thereafter.
Stephen Moore, an economist with the Wall Street Journal, appeared on Fox News recently to discuss the ramifications of the president’s new health care law…and his analysis is sure to come as a shock to those who haven’t been following the matter closely.
Though Barack Obama assured the middle class he would not raise taxes on those making less than $200,000 a year, Moore’s research shows that in reality, a significant percentage of the burden will be shouldered by those making $120,000 or less by the year 2016.
Here are rough numbers of how the costs will increase over the next few years:
“Why do you think that somehow,” host Alisyn Camerota asked, “this equates to a tax to everyone?”
“Well, the court decided this the other day, didn’t they Alisyn?” Moore responded with a smile.
“And you know there’s an old saying that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. I’ll tell you this, for Americans who are going to have to pay these fines, penalties, taxes, whatever you want to call them…What we found is it’s going to be pretty darn expensive. The taxes phase in over time so next year they might be pretty modest, by about 2015 or ‘16, for families that choose not to buy health insurance, you’re talking about a fine, Alisyn, that could be over $2,000 a year.”
From there, Camerota said that she had an example of these fines, “or taxes, as you call them.”
Rather than reiterate that a primary reason the bill was upheld was because it was determined to be a tax by the Supreme Court, Moore concluded: “You remember the president’s promise that when he was elected, no one making under $200,000 would pay a dime more in taxes…Again, whatever you want to call it Alisyn, fines, taxes, penalties, but three quarters of those costs will fall on the backs of families who make less than $120,00 a year, so it’s a big punch in the stomach to middle class families.”
Watch the entire exchange, below:
One of the loudest cheers for the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding ObamaCare came from none other than Sarah Palin, who described it as a heaven-sent gift to the Republican Party. “Thank you, SCOTUS,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “This ObamaCare ruling fires up the troops as America’s eyes are opened. Thank God.”
She said the ruling shows that the health care law is “the largest tax increase in history,” although the tax penalty only applies to those who can afford health insurance but refuse to buy it, the Los Angeles Timesnotes.
Another strong reaction came from Rick Santorum, who accused Obama of disregarding the Constitution and displaying arrogance that surpasses that of Richard Nixon,Politico reports. He warned that Obama would be “a very dangerous president to re-elect.” On the other side of the partisan divide, Michael Moore was feeling triumphant. “The right wing has just had their worst smackdown since the day O was elected,” he tweeted. “The path of history continues to head toward univ health care.”
The Supreme court said Congress was acting within its powers under the Constitution when it required most Americans to carry health insurance or pay a penalty. It upheld the mandate as a tax, in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts.
But the justices found fault with part of the health-care law’s expansion of Medicaid, a joint federal-state insurance program for the poor. The justices made some changes to the Medicaid portion of the law.
Q: Does this mean the health overhaul law is in place for good?
A: The decision effectively upholds the law for now, but its future depends on which party controls the White House and Congress after elections in November. President Barack Obama and most Democrats consider the law a signature achievement and want to move forward implementing it. Republicans, including presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, have pledged to overturn it. They say they would offer an alternative proposal but haven’t been specific about what it would include.
Q: What happens to any benefits I already get because of the law?
A: They will stay in place for now. Parents will still be able to keep their children on their insurance plans up to age 26, and Medicare recipients will keep getting discounts on prescription drugs to close a gap in coverage known as the “doughnut hole.” New levies under the law, such as the 10% tax on tanning services, also stay put.
Q: When will I see the big changes from the law?
A: Most of the mandates don’t start until 2014. That is when most Americans will be required to carry insurance or pay the penalty at issue in the Supreme Court case. The penalty will start at $95 a year or up to 1% of a person’s income, whichever is greater.
Tens of millions of Americans are expected to get insurance coverage under the system that starts in 2014. Some of the poorest Americans will become newly qualified to enroll in the federal-state Medicaid program—although the court appeared to make some changes to how that program will work. Another batch of people who earn more but still have low incomes will get tax credits to offset their insurance costs. Consumers will be able to comparison shop for policies in newly created exchanges that will operate like popular online travel websites.
Insurance companies will have to sell coverage to everyone, regardless of their medical history, and will have to restrict how much they vary premiums based on age. Companies with 50 workers or more will be required to offer insurance to their workers or pay a penalty.
Q: What if I already have insurance?
A: You may see changes to your plan. Unless your employer has “grandfathered” your insurance benefits’ structure, your plan will have to meet new regulations under the law, such as covering more preventive services without out-of-pocket costs. There has been speculation that some employers will stop offering coverage and funnel workers toward exchanges once they open, but most companies say they have no immediate plans to do that.
Q: What will happen to my insurance premiums?
A: Most consumers can expect to keep seeing increases in premiums and co-payments because the underlying cost of health care is expected to rise. The law contains a few mechanisms to curb premiums, but it also requires that many insurance providers make their benefits more generous, which will raise their cost. Older people could see their premiums go down because of the new age rating rules insurers will face. People who buy policies without the help of an employer could get a better deal by being able to shop on the exchanges, where comparing plans will be easier than before.