OVERNIGHT HEALTHCARE: Premium hikes could spell long summer for Dems

Democrats could face an unusually hot summer as states begin releasing their 2015 premium rates in the run up to the midterms. If premium rates go up, as expected, it could boost Republicans, who have hammered Democrats over ObamaCare.

A survey by The Hill of state insurance commissioners found that news about ObamaCare premiums will hit nearly every week this summer providing ample opportunity for Republicans to play up significant premium hikes.

Key battleground states like Colorado and Louisiana, where the GOP is targeting Democratic Senate incumbents, are expected to publish their proposed premium prices in June.

Other states such as West Virginia and Arkansas will wait until later in the summer to publish their numbers. Sen. Mark PryorMark PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (D-Ark.) voted for the Affordable Care Act, a fact that his opponent, Rep. Tom CottonTom CottonOnly Congress can enable drone technology to reach its full potential Senate Dem offers patent reform bill Sasse: Someone subscribed me to Nickleback emails as a prank MORE (R-Ark.), has repeatedly raised.

Sen. Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (D-N.C.), another top GOP target, will see her state publish rates on Aug. 15 or later.

ObamaCare’s critics have already warned that insurance providers are likely to raise premiums to compensate for competitively low prices this year. Some experts, though, argue it is too early to make such claims and markets are more likely to stay competitive, keeping premium costs down.

House Democrats Thursday released a report to calm concerns. "There appears to be no basis for the dire predictions that health insurance premiums will skyrocket in 2015," the report said.

They pointed to states like Virginia and Washington where they say premium increases are expected to be less than what has been observed in years before the Affordable Care Act came into effect.

MEASURE COULD DELAY MANDATE. Tennessee Republicans in the House and Senate proposed legislation Thursday to create a trigger to delay the employer mandate under ObamaCare.

The bill would require the CDC and the Government Accountability Office to conduct annual studies of the mandate. If their report found the provision would have a negative impact on small business health insurance premiums or jobs the mandate would be delayed for a year.

MEDICAID BACKLOG. Top Republicans in both houses also announced Thursday they had sent a letter to Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, asking her whether the agency was planning on penalizing states with a backlog of Medicaid applications.

The lawmakers blamed the backlog on the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov and said it would be unfair to punish states for a problem caused by the federal government’s mistakes.

OVERPRESCRIBED DRUGS. Top lawmakers on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Thursday voiced concerns over the conclusions of a new Government Accountability Office report that found foster youth are being overprescribed psychotropic drugs.

The report was put together at the request of Sens. Tom CarperTom CarperDems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Overnight Energy: Lawmakers challenge Trump's proposed EPA cuts Overnight Energy: Tillerson maintains support for Paris deal despite Trump decision MORE (D-Del.), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsSunday shows preview: Senate healthcare debate heats up GOP Medicaid cuts will be disastrous for millions with Alzheimer’s Rocky rollout for Senate healthcare bill MORE (R-Maine), Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySenate panel questions Lynch on alleged FBI interference The Hill's 12:30 Report GOP senator surprises top Dem with birthday cake MORE (R-Iowa) and John McCainJohn McCainFrustrated Dems say Obama botched Russia response Coats: Trump seemed obsessed with Russia probe The Hill's Whip List: Senate ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-Ariz.).

“We have a fundamental responsibility to provide for the health and well-being of the children in foster care in the United States,” said Collins.  “This includes ensuring that they are not inundated with unnecessary medications.”

The report included case studies of foster children receiving medical and psychological treatment and concluded more needs to be done to prevent overprescription of psychotropic drugs.


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