OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Healthcare spending growing at slowest pace on record

The White House on Wednesday released a report that shows healthcare spending has grown at the slowest rate on record under the Affordable Care Act. The report, produced by the Council of Economic Advisers, comes as the administration tries to emphasize positive news about the new law amid stories about its troubled website and the cancellation of millions of individual health plans. The report said healthcare spending between 2010 and 2013 grew at an annual rate of only 1.3 percent. That’s the lowest rate dating back to 1965, when the metric was first calculated. Brendan Buck, the press secretary for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said the numbers are depressed because the economy continues to struggle. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

BREAKING: A bipartisan delegation from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) met today in the Oval Office of the White House with President Barack Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and other top administration officials to discuss issues surrounding the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act. The NAIC is particularly concerned about the White House’s proposal to allow insurance companies to continue offering limited plans in an attempt to comply with Obama’s promise that "if you like your healthcare, you can keep it."

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NAIC statement: “State insurance regulators stressed their concern that different rules for different policies would be detrimental to the overall insurance marketplace and could result in higher premiums for consumers, without addressing the underlying concern of gaps in coverage. They also emphasized the importance of deferring to the states to protect consumers, and highlighted the solid track-record of effective regulation by insurance departments across the country.”

NAIC president Jim Donelon: “Since the passage of ACA, state regulators have been working to ensure that plans are compliant with the new rules. These proposed changes are creating a level of uncertainty that we must work together to alleviate. We share the President’s goal of affordable coverage for consumers, and we will work with the insurance companies in our states to implement changes that make sense while following our mandate of consumer protection.”

Pressure: The Obama administration is pressuring state officials in Nebraska to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. White House deputy senior adviser David Simas will join two Democratic state senators on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday “to discuss the importance of expanding Medicaid coverage in Nebraska, which would help an additional 48,000 residents get insurance by 2016.”

The Medicaid expansion has been one of the few bright spots for ObamaCare so far, with nearly half a million people signing up in the first six weeks. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have so far opted into the expanded Medicaid program. But the other 25 states, mostly run by Republican governors or legislatures, have said they would not move forward on the expansion at this time. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

Pressure: Americans for Prosperity, a conservative outside group backed by the Koch brothers, is launching a $4 million ad blitz attacking six vulnerable Democrats on ObamaCare. The ads attack three senators and three congressmen for the program's disastrous rollout and accuse the lawmakers of breaking voters' trust. All use female narrators and are aimed at persuading women voters. The targets: Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Kay Hagan (N.C.), and Reps. Ron Barber (Ariz.), Joe Garcia (Fla.) and Patrick Murphy (Fla). Cameron Joseph at The Hill reports.

Gallup: “The percentage of the uninsured who say they will buy insurance rather than pay a fine dropped slightly in mid-November. Between Nov. 9 and Nov. 19, 62% of those who are uninsured and have not purchased insurance for 2014 said they will get health insurance, down from 67% in the last part of October.”

 

State by State:

Virginia’s governor-elect is signaling no retreat on expanding Medicaid, The Virginian-Pilot reports. 


The Cover Oregon online launch target is Dec. 16, according to The Associated Press. 


Amid trouble at HealthCare.gov, Medicaid enrollment has been brisk in many states, notes NPR.

 

Reading List:

ObamaCare could doom Dems in 2014, by Stan Veuger at The National Interest.

Republicans are determined to make ObamaCare fail, by Jeff Shesol at The New Yorker.

How Republicans could lose the ObamaCare fight, by Brian Beutler at Salon.

Time to ditch ObamaCare and move on, by Liz Peek at The Fiscal Times.

 

What you may have missed at HealthWatch:

Dems propose ‘copper plans’ under ObamaCare.

‘Uh oh’: HealthCare.Gov crashes on Sebelius.

 

Comments / complaints / suggestions?

Please let us know:

Jonathan Easley/ jeasley@thehill.com / 202-407-8014 / @joneasley


Elise Viebeck/ eviebeck@thehill.com / 202-628-8523 / @eliseviebeck