Friday, March 21, 2014

Obamacare's Risk Corridor Bailout Just Got Bigger - Much Bigger

Last Friday, the Obama administration quietly released 280 pages of rules that, among other things, increases Obamacare’s risk corridors (a.k.a. insurers’ "bailout"):

An example reveals how much this change increases the “bailout.” Say an insurance plan with $10 million cost target versus $11 million of allowable costs. Actual medical claims are $8.8 million. Using the formula for calculating its payout from the risk corridor, allowing 20 percent of administrative costs, the plan gets a $410,000 “bailout”. If it can add administrative costs up to 22 percent of allowable costs, the payout increases to $635,641 — an increase of 55 percent.

Read the entire column at John Goodman's Health Policy Blog or The Independent Institute's Beacon blog.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Snapshot of the Health Care Workforce

How is the health care workforce changing under Obamacare? This month’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics gives us a snapshot of employment in health care versus the rest of the economy.

Despite the widely touted notion that Obamacare is putting hospitals out of business, hospital employment barely budged from February 2013 through February 2014.

However, employment growth in health care has come from various ambulatory settings. Overall employment in health care increased 1.32 percent over the twelve months, versus 1.62 percent in nonfarm employment outside health care. The healthcare workforce remains 11 percent of the total nonfarm workforce.

The healthcare workforce is doing fine under Obamacare. Patients? Not so much.

Read the entire article at The Independent Institute's Beacon blog or John Goodman's Health Policy Blog.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Take The Money And Run? GAO Reports Significant Dropping Out Of Government Electronic Health Record Programs

The 2009 HITECH Act authorized billions of taxpayers’ dollars be spent to pay hospitals and physicians “incentives” to adopt EHRs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the total tab will be $30 billion from 2011 through 2019. The Government Accountability Office has just reported on the results so far.

Not surprisingly, with so much money being spent, there was a lot of uptake: 45 percent of eligible hospitals had EHRs in 2011, versus 64 percent in 2012. For physicians and allied professionals, the share went up from 21 percent to 48 percent. However, the high net adoption rate disguises significant drop outs:

Specifically, within the 36 states that had completed their determinations of which providers would receive incentive payments for the 2012 Medicaid EHR program year, 61 percent of professionals and 36 percent of hospitals that participated in the Medicaid EHR program in 2011 did not continue in 2012. Sixteen percent of professionals and 10 percent of hospitals participating in the Medicare EHR program in 2011 did not continue to participate in 2012.
Read the entire column at John Goodman's Health Policy Blog or The Independent Institute's Beacon Blog.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Lankford Introduces Legislation Giving Congressional Authority to Interstate Health Care Compact

In February, Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) introduced legislation (H.J.Res.110) that would give Congressional approval to states entering the Health Care Compact. This is an important step forward for one of the most innovative ideas that has been developed to reduce the degree of federal interference in regulating health markets. As Lankford notes in a recent Forbes op-ed, eight state legislatures have already voted to join the Compact.

All the Congressional Republican alternative health-reform bills recognize that regulating access to health care and health insurance from Washington, DC is a potential minefield. Adding Congressional recognition of a Health Care Compact is an important new development in the evolution of post-Obamacare health reform.

Read the entire article at John Goodman's Health Policy Blog or The Independent Institute's Beacon Blog.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

California's Latinos Can Do Without Covered California's Obamacare Coverage

Obamacare has been unpopular since it passed in 2009. Since launching last October, it has been recognized as a national threat to health, well-being, and jobs. And yet, here in California, Obamacare’s boosters don’t complain about those who have lost health insurance because of Obamacare, but that not enough Latinos have enrolled.

Leave the Latinos out of it.

Read the entire column at FlashReport.

VA and Defense Dept. Electronic Medical Records Can’t Talk to Each Other: $29 Billion Fix Already Abandoned

A recent survey noted that despite almost $27 billion dollars of federal money spent on implementing electronic health records (EHRs) in the private sector, 70 percent of physicians believe that the adoption of EHRs has not been worth it.

We should not be surprised: The government cannot manage to get EHRs in two of its own closely related departments, Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD), to talk to each other, despite a cost estimate of $29 billion.

Read the entire column at The Independent Institute's Beacon Blog.

Almost Anyone Can Claim Obamacare Tax Credits

What to make of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ notice that it will pay out retroactive ObamaCare premium tax credits and cost-reducing subsidies to people who have not yet signed up for ObamaCare?

This new executive amendment to ObamaCare does far more than give out subsidies to people who had to buy health insurance off-exchange because the exchanges crashed on take-off.

Read the entire column at John Goodman's Health Policy Blog.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Number of Adults with Consumer-Driven Health Plans Grows to 21 Million

A new survey from the Employee Benefits Retirement Institute (EBRI) reports that 21 million adults have health plans that qualify them to open a Health Savings Account or a Health Reimbursement Arrangement.

A number of sources confirm that these plans have succeeded in bending the cost curve of medical care. Although Obamacare is driving health-insurance premiums up ruthlessly, we can be grateful that Consumer-Driven Health Plans, Health Savings Accounts, and Health Reimbursement Arrangements have not been crushed by its regulatory onslaught.

Read the entire column at The Independent Institute's Beacon Blog.