Appeals Court Seems Skeptical About Constitutionality of Obamacare Mandate

By Abby Goodnough

The New York Times, July 9, 2019

A panel of federal appeals court judges on Tuesday sounded likely to uphold a lower-court ruling that a central provision of the Affordable Care Act—the requirement that most people have health insurance—is unconstitutional. But it was harder to discern how the court might come down on a much bigger question: whether the rest of the sprawling health law must fall if the insurance mandate does. If the mandate is indeed unconstitutional, the next question is whether the rest of the Affordable Care Act can function without it. […]

Three Democratic Deceptions on Health Care During the Debates

By Sally Pipes

Fox News, July 1, 2019

Health care dominated the first two Democratic presidential debates. Among the most dramatic moments was when moderator Lester Holt asked the candidates to raise their hands if they supported outlawing private insurance and forcing everyone onto a new government-run, “Medicare-for-all” plan. During each debate, only two candidates—Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Bill de Blasio on night one, and Sens. Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris on night two—said they would. Hours later, Harris claimed she didn’t understand the question and walked back her support. But at least the hand-raisers are honest about wanting to kick people off their health insurance. The other 16 envision a much greater role for government in our nation’s health care system as well, one that at the very least includes a government-sponsored “public option” health plan. That may sound like a moderate alternative to “Medicare-for-all.” But it’s just a slow-walk to single-payer. And it’s one of my three Democratic debate deceptions on health care. […]

Federal judge upholds Trump’s expansion of non-ACA health plans

By Sam Baker
Axios, July 19, 2019

A D.C. federal judge upheld Friday the Trump administration’s expansion of insurance plans that don’t have to comply with the [expensive and restrictive] Affordable Care Act rules. The Trump administration last year created a new rule that allows consumers to keep “short-term” health insurance for up to three years— longer than the three-month limit the Obama administration had allowed. HHS does have the legal authority to change those limits as it sees fit, Judge Richard Leon ruled. [The Health Policy Consensus Group wrote in support of the Trump administration rule.] […]

Congress’ Current Approach to Surprise Medical Billing Could Have Unintended Consequences

By Doug Badger
Heritage, July 10, 2019

Congress is rushing forward with legislation on “surprise medical bills” that is conceptually flawed, legally dubious, and which could have profound and far-reaching consequences for the private practice of medicine.  At issue are medical bills that consumers receive from providers who aren’t part of their health plan’s network.  Insurers want the government to compel non-network providers to accept network rates; providers want the government to force noncontracting parties into binding arbitration, which they believe will yield higher reimbursement. Instead of choosing between flawed solutions advanced by those who profit from the problem, Congress should devise market-oriented proposals that preserve the freedom to contract. […]

Trump’s new rule will give businesses and workers better health care options

By Brian Blase

CNN Business, June 13, 2019

When President Trump took office, small businesses and hard-working, middle-class families were finding it increasingly difficult to afford health insurance. The Trump administration already has taken significant steps to help, and Thursday it took another one. A new Trump administration rule will provide an estimated 800,000 businesses a better way to offer coverage and give millions of workers new ways to obtain coverage through the expansion of Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). […]

New Administration Action Could Give 11 Million Workers More Health Insurance Options

By Grace-Marie Turner

Forbes, June 13, 2019

The Trump administration’s new HRA rule undoes an Obama administration action that forbade workers from using HRA funds to purchase health insurance policies offered outside their workplace. “President Trump’s new rule undoes this misguided restriction” that reduced choices for workers and especially for small businesses, White House economist Brian Blase explains. The new accounts have the potential to be transformative, much as 401(k)s were for retiree benefits, giving employees more control and portability with their health coverage. […]

Turner Testifies before House Hearing on “Pathways to Universal Coverage”

Galen Institute, June 12, 2019

Grace-Marie Turner testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday at a hearing exploring new ways to expand government’s role in the health sector. Turner acknowledged that “People are hurting, and they feel powerless against this system.” But she warned, “It is hard to see how consumers would be more empowered when dealing with a single government payer. In a country that values diversity, will one program with one list of benefits and set of rules work for everyone?” She also cited a new paper by Wharton Prof. Mark Pauly showing that the share of “government-affected” health spending in 2016 already totaled nearly 80%. She also cited Kaiser studies showing that nearly all of the uninsured who are in the U.S. legally already have options for coverage. More government is not the answer; more freedom, competition, cost transparency, and consumer choice will lead to more options for more affordable care and coverage and more people having health coverage. […]

Medicaid Expansion has Louisianans Dropping Their Private Plans

By Chris Jacobs

The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2019

If any state can serve as the poster child for the problems associated with ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion, it’s Louisiana, which joined the expansion in 2016. An audit released last year exposed ineligible Medicaid beneficiaries, including at least 1,672 people who made more than $100,000. But Louisiana’s Medicaid expansion has revealed another waste of taxpayer funds: the money spent providing coverage to people who already had health insurance. Via a public-records request, the Pelican Institute obtained data demonstrating that thousands of Louisiana residents dropped their private coverage to enroll in Medicaid under the expansion. Jacobs warns other states against expanding Medicaid and opening up a new channel for people to abuse Medicaid, a program designed for low-income, vulnerable Americans. […]

Another Short-Term Wager on Heath Care’s Status Quo?

By Tom Miller

American Enterprise Institute, June 7, 2019

In a new AEI paper published today, “Will Health Care’s Immediate Future Look a Lot Like the Recent Past?” Wharton School Professor Mark Pauly reviews the latest evidence on past and projected future health spending and concludes: The public-sector share of spending continues to creep upward, but so, too, does the share of health care delivered and administered through more “market-like” private-sector mechanisms. The working hypothesis is that while health care politics still ensures an increased stream of taxpayer subsidies for various forms of public and private insurance coverage, greater reliance on market-like mechanisms can deliver the goods somewhat more efficiently, with a greater range of choices. […]

Will Health Care’s Immediate Future Look a Lot Like the Recent Past?

By Mark V. Pauly

American Enterprise Institute, June 7, 2019

Prof. Pauly also details how government shapes a much larger share of spending than the faction it finances directly. He tabulates the share of government-affected spending in 2016 and shows it is nearly 80% of all spending—“not leaving much in the unfettered, market-based category.” The federal government finances nearly 55% of all “explicit and implicit” health spending, he reports–from Medicare, the federal share of Medicaid, ACA subsidies to tax preferences for employer-based health insurance. But it controls much more through regulations and mandates on alleged private plans. He suggests that policy proposals involving block grants to the states and greater flexibility could lead to better-targeted subsidies and more market competition. […]