Thursday, May 15, 2014

Quicky Obamacare Schadenfreude

No time for much commentary, or even thoughtful editing today, so you'll get a quickie or nothing, like it or not.

Why Obamacare’s Employer Mandate Isn’t Necessary in the Chamber of Commerces opinion:
Here’s a quick refresher. Under Obamacare, employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees must offer affordable (defined by Washington) health coverage or potentially pay a penalty. The mandate’s penalty is calculated based on the number of full-time employees, which has been redefined as those working 30 hours or more per week. This has created a perverse incentive to cut workers’ hours and hire more part-time workers. This is already happening in both the private and public sectors.

The report states that eliminating the employer mandate “will remove labor market distortions that have troubled employer groups and which would harm some workers."
For example, employers wouldn’t have an incentive to cut workers’ hours to below 30 hours per week, and those small businesses just under 50 employees would no longer have the employer mandate as a barrier to hiring.

The employer mandate penalizes business for hiring employees. That makes no sense when putting people to work is so critical. By eliminating the employer mandate, we can remove one less burden keeping employers from hiring.
NPR explains all taxes and mandate costs in ObamaCare story
. . .a close-up look at one employer in Cleveland, the catalog retailer AmeriMark, which has 700 employees and a skyrocketing cost problem with health-insurance premiums. None of this will surprise ObamaCare critics, even while the law’s supporters insist that nothing serious is amiss. This profile is worth an extended look, though, because it drives to the heart of who pays for mandates, taxes, and other imposed costs:
AmeriMark, like most businesses, has been coping with rising health insurance premiums for years. This year, the company’s initial estimate from a broker was a 30 percent increase in the price of premiums if they stayed with the same insurance provider. Lyons said they shopped around, chose a new company and changed some of the policy’s benefits – such as increasing the deductibles and co-pays that employees pay as their contribution to their own health coverage. Such changes in plans have become increasingly common nationally in recent years as annual increases in health care premiums have become normal.
For many medium-sized companies, like AmeriMark, the new costs of the Affordable Care Act are an added burden on top of the health insurance premiums that have been rising for years. The largest of the new Obamacare costs, is the health insurance provider tax, or HIT. It’s a tax that the federal government charges insurance companies and the size of the fee depends on how many people the insurer is covering.
Insurers then pass that cost on to employers. And employers, in turn, pass some or all of the cost on to their workers.
It’s a kind of trickle-down sales tax, according to Clare Krusing, a spokesperson for America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group.
Speaking of passing costs, California taxpayers got a rude surprise from Gov. Jerry Brown, a big fan of ObamaCare (via Breitbart):
Enrollment in California’s healthcare program for the poor has soared as the state implements President Obama’s federal overhaul, pleasing advocates who have sought expanded coverage but also presenting new costs for the state.
Nearly one-third of California’s total population — roughly 11.5 million people — will be enrolled in Medi-Cal next year, according to Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration.
Enrollment is expected to exceed previous estimates by 1.4 million, and administration officials said it would cost the state $1.2 billion more than originally thought.
While unveiling his newest budget proposal on Tuesday morning, Brown said expanded healthcare coverage represented “a huge social commitment on the part of the taxpayers of California.”
“I’m proud we did it,” he said. “But we also have to take into account this thing is growing.”
What's a billion (with a "b") extra dollars? And California is considered one of the successful Obamacare exchanges.

From DrewM at Ace's. Why Conservatives Must Always Say, "No" And Occasionally, "Hell NO!"
Via Kristina Ribali, a cautionary tale from Arkansas about the dangers of Republicans working with Democrats and getting fleeced in the process.
The Republican majority leader of the Arkansas House, Bruce Westerman, is running for Congress and is being attacked as supporting the state's failed expansion of Medicaid through ObamaCare. Avik Roy recaps the story and says Westerman is getting a bad rap.
Republicans were leery of the proposal, but agreed to hear out the governor. On January 25, 2013, Bruce Westerman introduced a shell bill, H.B. 1143, that could be later used, once amended, as a vehicle for sweeping, private-sector-based Medicaid reform in Arkansas.
A few weeks later, Beebe came back from a meeting with Kathleen Sebelius and announced Sebelius has agreed to give us about everything that we've asked for. What that really amounts to is taking the Medicaid population that would be expanded . . . and use those federal Medicaid dollars to purchase insurance through the exchange. So they would buy private insurance through the exchange for the entire population, and [HHS has] given us permission to do that.
You can guess what happened next.

Sebelius went back on her word and reneged on all the supposed "market" reforms in the plan and stuck Arkansas with a choice of standard Medicaid or nothing. Naturally there were enough turncoat Republicans who split from the party and sided with the Democrats to pass the Sebelius ObamaCare plan.

And the punchline for this GOP bipartisan effort? Arkansas' Medicare costs have skyrocketed and they want a federal bailout.

Roy says that Westerman withdrew his name from the "shell bill" and led the opposition against the plan that passed and shouldn't be tarred as an ObamaCare supporter.
Based on what Roy lays out (and you should read it all) I disagree.

Westerman is an idiot. The GOP takes control of the legislature for the first time since 1874 and one of the first things they do is open up negotiations to implement the Democrat's signal national program?

What exactly is the point of the GOP then?
New York Times: You'll take your narrow networks and like them, dammit:
Says this article in the NY Times.

Why, who would have thought it? But don’t worry, what you hated in the 90s you’ll love in the twenty-teens. Because you’ll have to.

And because we’ll break you of the choice habit. Sort of like quitting smoking, it’ll be good for you:
“We have to break people away from the choice habit that everyone has,” said Marcus Merz, the chief executive of PreferredOne, an insurer in Golden Valley, Minn., that is owned by two health systems and a physician group. “We’re all trying to break away from this fixation on open access and broad networks.”
That foolish “choice habit”—which has been extremely important to me my entire life, and for which I’ve always been willing to pay extra if need be—who knew it was such a bad one?

Oh, and you can keep your doc…that is, you can keep your something-or-other. You can keep something, right?
Speaking of quickies:

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