OVERNIGHT HEALTHCARE: O-Care subsidy fight

The Department of Health and Human Services released a report Wednesday which found about 3.2 million people are paying less than $100 per month for health insurance thanks to subsidies on ObamaCare's federally run exchanges.

Price of premiums under the new healthcare marketplaces has been a political lightning rod and is expected to play an important role ahead of the November midterms.

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Republicans continue to warn of a devastating double-digit rise in premiums that could bankrupt families and businesses while Democrats have called their warnings overblown.

HHS says almost 70 percent of people who receive federal assistance to pay for their premiums are paying less than $100 a month and 46 percent of those people are paying less than $50 a month.

The department says the tax credits offered through provisions in the Affordable Care Act are a lifeline for people who can’t afford health insurance and noted that subsidies reduced the cost of the average premium from $346 to $82. Read more: http://bit.ly/1lDLU2H

WAXMAN TO GOP: I TOLD YOU SO: Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) touted the report soon after it was released, saying it proved that GOP fears of rising premiums under ObamaCare were wrong.

“The report proves conclusively that premiums in the new health insurance marketplaces are not only very affordable, but are often significantly less expensive than what was available in the individual market before reform, while offering superior coverage,” said Waxman, the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a letter to Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.).

Waxman called the HHS report “authoritative” proof that consumers are paying less under ObamaCare.

“This new report contradicts an analysis you released a year ago, which asserted that premiums under the Affordable Care Act would rise by as much as 400 percent,” he said.

Critics, though, said the report was misleading and that the cost of ObamaCare’s subsidies will be too large to maintain. Read more: http://bit.ly/1pjoW2j

PROJECTED PREMIUMS: Premiums on ObamaCare's health insurance exchanges will rise an average of 8 percent next year, according to an initial analysis of nine states released Wednesday. 

Consulting firm Avalere Health found that the average premium for a silver plan will rise from $324 to $350 in the states studied.

Premium hikes will range from 2.5 percent in Rhode Island to 16 percent in Indiana.

Oregon was the only state surveyed that will see prices fall on average, with a projected price decrease of 1.4 percent.

Most of the proposed rate increases defy the dire predictions made by ObamaCare's critics, who said sick enrollees on the exchange would force insurers to drive up prices for 2015.

The average projected increase of 8 percent was also slightly lower than before the Affordable Care Act took effect.

Studies have indicated the premiums on the individual market grew by double digits before the law was implemented. The Commonwealth Fund, a research foundation, recently pegged the figure at 10 percent every year. Read more: http://bit.ly/1qf2PtD

YOUNG INVINCIBLES: ObamaCare supporters are launching a new campaign to encourage millions of younger people to sign up for health coverage on the exchanges outside of the official enrollment period.

Young people who are considered more healthy are key to the success of the healthcare exchanges as they are expected to even out the risk of enrolling older and potentially sicker consumers.

Young Invincibles, a non-profit group, said its effort is designed to educate millennials about the important life events that can qualify them for the marketplaces at any time.

Transitions like graduating college, getting married, having a baby and moving can make people eligible for new health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The summer campaign will include digital ads on Facebook and Twitter, outreach at local events and a variety of online resources about health insurance for people ages 18 to 34. Read more: http://bit.ly/1uDJTVi

REFORMING MEDICARE: The chairman of a key House subcommittee suggested Wednesday that he would pursue legislation to reform Medicare benefits with the help of a congressional advisory board.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who leads the Ways and Means Health subcommittee, said Medicare's benefit design needs an overhaul and that his panel is ready to look at the issue.

"This committee has spent a ton of time on the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, and on coming up with a fairly historic agreement on how we permanently reimburse our doctors," Brady said at a committee hearing.

"Now we are turning to how we improve the Medicare progress. We will build on some of the recommendations [from MedPAC] and adjust them on a bipartisan basis."

Brady was referring to a set of reforms proposed last week by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which advises Congress on Medicare policy.

Washington policymakers have long debated whether to unify Medicare benefits under a single deductible with a cap on seniors' out-of-pocket costs. Read more: http://bit.ly/1lDLYzA

$1B BAILOUT FOR INSURERS?: An ObamaCare revenue-sharing program amounts to a taxpayer bailout of insurance companies, the chairman of a House Oversight subcommittee said Wednesday, adding the bill could run more than $1 billion just in 2014.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs panel, disputed a previous Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that the so-called risk corridors would cost the government nothing.

The Temporary Risk Corridors Program was set up under the ACA to distribute funds from insurers with healthier, less expensive consumers to those with sicker, more costly enrollees.

The program is intended to spread the cost of risk in the early stages of the new healthcare law.

Democrats on the panel disagreed with Jordan’s characterization and said it was only the latest attempt to falsely criticize the ACA. Read more: http://bit.ly/Ucg1o6

GAO CALLS FOR MORE OVERSIGHT: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said Wednesday that state and federal Medicaid auditors need to increase their oversight of managed care organizations. 

In a new report, the GAO says Medicaid auditors are focusing their efforts on fraud and waste from fee-for-service payments while neglecting managed care organizations.

The agency recommends the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issue guidance to require states to audit payments to and by managed care organizations.

It also recommends CMS give additional support for oversight of such organizations by helping audit existing contractors.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee who requested the report, said it was “particularly troubling” and called on CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to implement GAO’s recommendations. Read more: http://bit.ly/1jzGUbd

 

STATE BY STATE:

NJ ObamaCare prices highest in the nation: http://on.app.com/1jzGVfm

Report says MNsure system is flawed: http://on.sctimes.com/1r9CBIA

Idaho work group discusses Medicaid redesign options, but lawmakers might not budge: http://bit.ly/1qf3o6B

Audit: W.Va. at risk of losing Medicaid funds: http://bit.ly/1lDM6ip

Medicaid expansion not a ‘partisan issue,’ McAuliffe says during Loudoun visit: http://bit.ly/1l3LPWh

UnitedHealthcare cuts Missouri physicians from Medicare Advantage: http://bit.ly/1phcTAP

New York lawmakers announce measures to confront heroin epidemic: http://reut.rs/1spdKVH

 

LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS: 

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP/ Sensormatic Electronics

 

READING LIST:  

Businesses urged to track workforce health: http://usat.ly/1imOECB

The second VA scandal: http://on.wsj.com/1pjpTHZ

What would it cost to ‘fix’ Obamacare?: http://wapo.st/UMS6w6

GAO tech chief says Washington should start small on big projects: http://nyti.ms/1iax19d

HHS will enforce disputed rule on drug discounts: http://bit.ly/SV6bpm

FAQ: Hospital observation care can be costly for Medicare patients: http://bit.ly/1pJrqce

  

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED AT THE HILL: 

How many women are included in clinical trials? Dems want to know: http://bit.ly/1oI2Usq

E-cig execs scorched on Capitol Hill: http://bit.ly/1pJMAHf

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