Overnight Healthcare: ObamaCare risk fund nearly depleted, warns S&P

The ObamaCare "risk corridor program," which is intended to cushion health insurers from high costs, is facing a massive cash shortage going in 2016, Standard and Poor's said Thursday.

"We estimate that that the 2015 ACA risk corridor will be significantly underfunded, as was the case the previous year," S&P analyst Deep Banerjee predicted in a report Thursday.

The risk pool now has only about $1 to cover every $10 in claims – an equation that is not likely to improve until the market stabilizes.

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Banerjee said external funding would likely be needed to add to the funds in 2016, a move that would likely have to be made by Congress.

While he said the situation could improve this year as more insurers increase their premiums, the more certain way to bolster the fund is to use leftover cash from ObamaCare's other risk program, known as the reinsurance program.

The reinsurance risk fund, which compensates plans for high-cost enrollees, had $800 million left at the end of 2014. Read more here.

RYAN NOT RULING OUT ABORTION RIDERS: Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanGOP divided over care for transgender troops Want bipartisan health reform? Make the debate honest again Ex-CBO directors defend against GOP attacks on ObamaCare analysis MORE (R-Wis.) is leaving his options open on defunding Planned Parenthood, even as he emphasizes a House investigation into the group has barely begun.

Ryan was asked at a press conference on Thursday how realistic it is to defund Planned Parenthood through the government spending bill, and if he could commit to avoiding a government shutdown ahead of the Dec. 11 deadline. The Speaker made no such commitment. Read more here.

WH STARTS THE CLOCK ON TRADE DEAL: Obama told Congress on Thursday afternoon that he planned to sign the 12-nation trade deal, kicking off a period of at least 90 days of close congressional scrutiny.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which had its text released early Thursday morning, faces a tough path, in part due to controversial pharmaceutical provisions. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin HatchHatch shares gif of dumpster fire: ‘Checking in on Dodd Frank’ Senate panel advances Trump's tax policy nominee Healthcare debacle raises pressure for GOP on taxes MORE (R-Utah), who has expressed concern about the TPP's final details, said that an intention to sign the agreement does not mean the Obama administration's "duty is over to convince Congress that this TPP is the best agreement possible." Read more here.

BIRTH CONTROL MANDATE BACK AT SCOTUS?: Justices are expected to announce as soon as Friday whether they will take up another challenge to ObamaCare's birth control mandate -- a case that could deliver a second major blow to the health law's contentious provision in two years.

Court watchers believe the justices will take up one or more petitions from religious organizations challenging the contraception mandate, which was amended this summer to give women access to low-cost birth control even if their employer objects on religious grounds. Read more here.

HEALTH POLICY MOVES: Craig Obey is joining the liberal healthcare advocacy group Families USA as deputy executive director. He was once deputy legislative director for former Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

J.P. Paluskiewicz is leaving Rep. Michael BurgessMichael BurgessMedicaid efficiency is needed now, more than ever In the politics of healthcare reform, past is prologue New hope for ObamaCare repeal? Key GOP lawmaker working on amendment MORE's (R-Texas) office to join the staff of the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee. Danielle Steele will move up to be Burgess's senior health policy advisor. 

 

Friday's schedule:

The National Institute for Healthcare Management Foundation will hold a briefing at the Rayburn Office Building.

What we're reading

Debate over Medicare, Social Security divides GOP (Washington Post)

Remaining ObamaCare co-ops need help (Washington Examiner)

Thousands could be uninsured if Kentucky freezes Medicaid (Five Thirty Eight)

State by state

Planned Parenthood records raided in Austin (Austin Chronicle)

Hospital officials push back against Gov. Scott's price gouging claims (WUSF News)

Judge says Justice Department can't impose medical marijuana limits on states (Tribune News Service

How Texas is learning to like ObamaCare (Kaiser Health News)

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Uninsured rate at new low under ObamaCare 

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