Top Articles of the Week From the Galen Institute’s ObamaCareWatch.org

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Written by John Biver

Conservatives continue to produce so much information — too bad it doesn’t reach enough people. Here is the content from just ONE email newsletter from the Galen Institute:

IRS to Target Citizens Who Aren’t Buying Obamacare Insurance
Grace-Marie Turner
Forbes, September 21, 2016

As many as 20 million Americans soon will be getting a letter from the Internal Revenue Service “suggesting” they sign up for Obamacare insurance. Getting a letter from the IRS can be a threatening and nerve-racking experience; it seldom is seen as a suggestion and more of a threat.  But at President Obama’s direction, the IRS is “reaching out” to people who paid the tax penalty for not buying mandatory health insurance or who claimed an exemption in hopes of “attracting” more people to sign up for Obamacare insurance. House leadership responded with a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen Wednesday emphasizing that the use of sensitive taxpayer information to identify these individuals is not legal and demanding more information about the planned IRS letters.

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Obamacare Individual Mandate Fine Hit 8 Million People This Year
Jed Graham
Investor’s Business Daily, September 19, 2016

Roughly 8 million people faced Obamacare individual mandate penalties this year totaling more than $3 billion, an analysis of the latest IRS data reveals. Despite the controversy and high-stakes legal battle that has surrounded the individual mandate, most attention has focused on Obamacare’s latest and most glaring problems: weak enrollment, surging premiums, and insurer losses that have provoked the exit of UnitedHealth, Aetna and Humana from most state exchanges. However, the root of all of those Obamacare problems is that far too many people—even those eligible for big subsidies—see the plans as either unaffordable or such a bad deal that they’re willing to risk paying a fine.

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$11 Billion Missing in ObamaCare Subsidies from Mass Tax Noncompliance
Brian Blase
Forbes, September 21, 2016

Administering the ObamaCare subsidies has produced a major tax compliance problem as billions of 2014 and 2015 advance premium tax credit payments are unaccounted for. Although the desire to provide lower-income people with larger subsidies is understandable, the ACA’s complicated subsidy structure has turned millions of people into inadvertent lawbreakers and has led to the misspending of a substantial amount of taxpayer dollars.

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We need to start over on Obamacare
Grace-Marie Turner
Chicago Tribune, September 21, 2016

Hillary Clinton surely is hoping health reform remains a side issue the presidential campaign as bleak news of its failures have propelled Obamacare back into the spotlight.  Clinton owns Obamacare after telling Iowa voters: “I will defend the Affordable Care Act, but as president I want to go further.”  She actually wants to double down, even after seeing public support for the health law tumble. She wants to create another big government “public option” that would have unlimited calls on taxpayer dollars and government force and would quickly drive remaining private insurers out of the market, leaving people with only the “choice” of a government-run health plan.  We can and must do better than Obamacare, and the voters know it.

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House Republicans Pounce on Rising Premiums, Closing Co-Ops
Mary Ellen McIntire
Morning Consult, September 14, 2016

Republicans raised concerns about how rising premiums have affected their constituents, as well as the potential for fraud under the Obamacare exchanges at a joint Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing Wednesday. The subcommittee released a slate of reports earlier this week that slammed the future sustainability of the federal and state-based exchanges. Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) said it’s hard to tell the state of health insurance premiums when state-based exchanges are not financially self-sufficient. “When you talk about premiums being down, the fact that they’re subsidized is phony,” he said. He also questioned whether the remaining six insurance co-ops created under Obamacare would have enough capital to make it through 2017.

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Health Care Costs Rise by Most in 32 Years
Patrick Gillespie
CNN, September 16, 2016

Prices for medicine, doctor appointments, and health insurance rose the most last month since 1984. The price increases come amid a broader debate about climbing health care costs and high premiums for Obamacare coverage. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation report forecasts that the average family health care plan will cost $18,142, up 3.4% from 2015. That’s faster than wage growth in America. Medical care costs altogether rose 1% just in one month from July to August, according to the Consumer Price Index. Enrollees on the Obamacare exchanges will face double-digit premium increases in 2017.

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Report: Obamacare Adds to Medicaid’s Unsustainable Spending Trajectory
Ali Meyer
The Washington Free Beacon, September 19, 2016

The Affordable Care Act has expanded Medicaid and has added to its unsustainable spending trajectory, according to a report from Brian Blase at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. About 50% more people are enrolled in Medicaid than CBO projected.  In addition to higher-than-expected enrollment, spending per newly eligible Medicaid enrollee is much greater than expected. And government spending on newly eligible enrollees equaled about $6,366 in 2015—an amount 49% higher than its projection of $4,281 from just one year earlier.

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Will the Blues Be Next to Leave Obamacare?
Lauren Clason
The Hill, September 15, 2016

The premium-stabilization programs of Obamacare will expire this year, and even insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield—once considered the companies of last resort are considering leaving the exchanges. While many Blues plans continue to assert their commitment to the Obamacare market, successive rate hikes and insurer withdrawals from the exchanges temper their assurances. “These Blue Cross plans will stay longer, but they can’t stay forever,” said Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates and former insurance executive. Laszewski added that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas lost 40% of its reserves in the first two years of Obamacare. “They can’t continue losing surplus forever.”

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Colorado Health Insurance Rates to Jump 20% on Average for Individual Buyers in 2017
John Ingold
The Denver Post, September 20, 2016

Residents who buy their health insurance themselves will pay 20% more on average next year, and, for the first time, residents in 14 counties will have the choice of only one carrier offering plans in their area via the state health insurance exchange. The increases are the largest in Colorado since the 2014 launch of the Affordable Care Act. In some parts of rural Colorado, premium increases will top 40%, according to figures approved Tuesday by the Colorado Division of Insurance.

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New York Revolts Against Obamacare Component
Seth Chandler
Forbes, September 15, 2016

New York has  revolted against a critical component of the Affordable Care Act: Risk Adjustment.  If its revolt survives an almost certain legal challenge, a number of states are likely to double down on New York’s actions and remove one of the few remaining props for Obamacare. Critics say the program transfers too much money among insurers and is actually destabilizing the market.  New York is the first state, however, to put money behind the critique.  Starting with plans in 2017, however much money the federal government transfers among New York small group insurers using Risk Adjustment, New York will seek to undo up to 30% of it. Moreover, New York is explicitly reserving the right to extend its revolt to the individual market.


Article originally published at JohnBiver.com.

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