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 Lunsford 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 CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonBipartisan group introduces retirement savings legislation in Senate Overnight Defense: Fallout from tense NATO summit | Senators push to block ZTE deal in defense bill | Blackwater founder makes new pitch for mercenaries to run Afghan war Hillicon Valley: DOJ appeals AT&T-Time Warner ruling | FBI agent testifies in heated hearing | Uproar after FCC changes rules on consumer complaints | Broadcom makes bid for another US company | Facebook under fire over conspiracy sites MORE (R-Ark.), has repeatedly raised.

Sen. Kay HaganKay Ruthven Hagan2020 Dems compete for top campaign operatives Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Politics is purple in North Carolina 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 CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Fewer than half of school districts test for lead | Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act | FEMA avoids climate change when discussing plan for future storms Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act Full interview: Democratic candidate Kerri Evelyn Harris discusses her Senate campaign in Delaware MORE (D-Del.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Russia furor grips Washington Overnight Health Care: Novartis pulls back on drug price hikes | House Dems launch Medicare for All caucus | Trump officials pushing ahead on Medicaid work requirements Senate panel to vote next week on banning 'gag clauses' in pharmacy contracts MORE (R-Maine), Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight Andrew Wheeler must reverse damage to American heartland Senators push to clear backlog in testing rape kits MORE (R-Iowa) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainObama, Bush veterans dismiss Trump-Putin interpreter subpoena Controversial Trump judicial nominee withdraws Trump vows to hold second meeting with Putin 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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