Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2019. The final rule will mitigate the harmful impacts of Obamacare and empower states to regulate their insurance market. The rule will do this by advancing the Administration’s goals to increase state flexibility, improve affordability, strengthen program integrity, empower consumers, promote stability, and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens imposed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The RFI is not a serious attempt at gathering comments on how to stabilize the health insurance markets across the country. Trump and Price have already set in motion the slow dismantling of regulations that kept the ACA markets relatively stable. This is a thinly veiled attempt to generate regulation gutting suggestions that will further destroy meaningful health insurance for Americans. I can guarantee that any real suggestions that would work to contain health care costs, which are the real driver of ever escalating health insurance premiums, will be ignored.
Given the Republican philosophy that less government is better government, Covered California’s reason for existence may evaporate. But it all hinges on Trump’s term ‘transition’. Does he want to transition away from the Marketplace Exchanges, or is he merely suggesting transitioning away the Qualified Health Plans as a requirement for the tax credit?
The Tower Theater in downtown Roseville was the site of a peaceful, but loud, protest demonstration by residents of Republican congressional representative Tom McClintock’s district in Northern California. Rep. McClintock had scheduled one of his Town Hall meetings at the Tower Theater in Roseville. But I don’t think he was prepared for the hundreds of people who turned out to protest his support of President Trump’s Executive orders.
Covered California has been studying how different changes to the ACA will impact their ability to meet their projected budget and offer affordable health insurance to consumers. At the Covered California January Board meeting they released six reports they commissioned that studied consumer attitudes toward health insurance and potential changes to the ACA.
Under an Executive order signed by President Trump on January 20, 2017, he gave federal bureaucracies the discretion and authority to waive any provision of the Affordable Care Act that might impose a fiscal burden on individuals and families. Two of the most prominent fiscal burdens are the repayment of excess Advance Premium Tax Credits and the Shared Responsibility Payment also known as the individual mandate penalty for not having health insurance.
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones slammed President Trump’s Executive Order relaxing enforcement of the Affordable Care Acts provisions as potentially destabilizing to the health insurance market.
I try to be pretty pragmatic when it comes to presidential elections. Regardless of the promises made by any candidate, we rarely see any real change in the U.S. with the election of a new president. However, Donald Trump ran on a platform to repeal and replace Obamacare. Since 90% of my income comes from enrollment generated by the Affordable Care Act, I am facing a drastic reduction of my income if Trump fulfills his promise.
The one aspect of health insurance that the Affordable Care Act did not address is the cost of health care services. Without a governor on the prices that doctors and hospitals can charge, the health insurance companies must constantly increase their rates to cover the cost of health care expenses that seem to rise faster than the national average for inflation. One way to reign in the ever increasing costs of health care is by providing consumer information on the cost of health care services through price transparency. The Health Care Transparency Project has started an online petition to request the Trump administration implement price transparency for consumers.
Under the new GOP presidency and congress Obamacare looks to be repealed and the replacement to emphasize Health Savings Accounts. The economic rationale for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) is that when consumers pay for their health care out of the accounts, they will drive down the cost of health care by favoring the least cost procedures. Unfortunately, HSAs without price transparency for the consumer does nothing to bring lower prices or efficiency to the market place. HSAs in our current market place are just scams.