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A possible path to give states more control over health insurance markets


Last week the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its analysis of the American Health Care Act (AHCA)—the House bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. While the headlines focused on the CBO’s estimate that 24 million people would lose coverage if the House bill passes, I was more interested to see what the analysis reveals about how Obamacare’s insurance regulations might be modified or repealed under the budget reconciliation process. After taking a closer look, the House bill may be missing an opportunity to put states back in control of their insurance markets. To fully repeal Obamacare today, Republicans would need a filibuster-proof...

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Unattainable expectation to fully and immediately repeal Obamacare risks deflating conservatives


On Monday House Republicans revealed draft language to repeal and replace Obamacare. The proposal met an immediate backlash from conservatives. Sen. Rand Paul called it “Obamacare Lite.” FreedomWorks, Heritage Action, the Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity (AFP) all offered similar critiques and pledged to launch campaigns to oppose the current language. Critics do have reason to complain and demand change, but the current response recklessly sets up the expectation of a full repeal among those in the conservative base, an expectation that Congress cannot meet. Upon failing to meet this expectation, the base may become needlessly demoralized and distrustful. Nearly everyone who pays close attention...

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Republicans do have a plan to replace Obamacare, but the repeal process is complicated


Over at MinnPost, Eric Black penned a rant claiming Republicans have no plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, which, according to Black, suggests Republicans are not serious about governing. Seriously? The notion that “a real plan doesn’t exist,” as Black writes, is simply false.  Last June Speaker of the House Paul Ryan released A Better Way, a comprehensive plan to replace Obamacare that received broad support among Republicans.  Importantly, Tom Price—President Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—is among the many Republicans who have publicly advocated for Ryan’s plan. Any reporter covering this area knows of the...

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Aetna’s arrival will enhance competition among health insurers, but what about providers?


Allina Health Systems and Aetna announced they were partnering to form a new health insurance company in Minnesota. The announcement comes at a time when insurers are bailing out of Minnesota’s individual health insurance market due to the enormous losses they experienced after the Affordable Care Act regulations were fully implemented. For 2017 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota pulled out of the market entirely.  HealthPartners dropped coverage in 56 of the 67 counties they covered in 2016, limiting coverage to the Twin Cities and St. Cloud region.  With these departures, many Minnesotans found themselves with only one option for insurance coverage...

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Minnesota GOP steps forward with first steps to address state health care crisis


Republicans in the Minnesota House and Senate began the 2017 legislative session with a plan to provide immediate and temporary relief to the thousands of Minnesotans who are stuck with outrageous premium hikes and canceled policies in the chaotic individual health insurance market. On top of this immediate relief to Minnesotans, the plan proposes a handful of regulatory reforms to improve Minnesota's health care system over the long-term. These are just the first steps being proposed by Republicans to fix the present crisis created by the imposition of the Affordable Care Act regulations on the state's health care system. What are these first...

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New federal law expands health plan options for small employers


In one of his last official acts, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act.  As summarized by the Washington Post, the bill “boosts funding for medical research, eases the development and approval of experimental treatments and reforms federal policy on mental health care.” Left unreported is a provision, tucked in at the very end of the bill, that allows small employers to establish a new type of health plan.  Specifically, the bill allows employers to establish a “health reimbursement arrangement” to reimburse employees who buy their own health insurance in the individual health insurance market.  These arrangements are more widely...

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Liberals Try to Scare Minnesotans On Health Care


Obamacare is a disaster, and MNSure is a fiasco. Pretty much all Minnesotans know that. Obamacare/MNSure has led to higher premiums, larger deductibles and smaller networks. This fall the crisis became acute, which partly accounts for voters' rising up against the status quo last month. But liberals are always ready with misleading, or downright false, statistics. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on a false claim by "the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation": More than one-in-five Minnesotans under age 65 had health problems last year that would give them a personal stake in the debate over repealing and replacing the federal health law. That's the...

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Is MNsure on Life Support After Election?


One of the biggest questions raised by the election results this week is what it all means for the unpopular MNsure state health insurance exchange. Minnesota was among a handful of states that chose to develop and operate its own health insurance exchange following passage of the Affordable Care Act. But all of a sudden, the survival of both the ACA and MNsure may be on the line due to new political realities, according to the Star Tribune's prognosis. Republican control in Washington plus increased GOP power in St. Paul clouds the future for Minnesota’s MNsure health insurance exchange. Republicans in the U.S....

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Sticker Shock! Why Many Young People Still Reject Obamacare


Why do so many young people still avoid Obamacare like the plague? The expectation was that the health insurance exchange would cash flow on the actuarial backs of millions of Millennials. But it hasn't worked out that way for obvious reasons, according to Generation Opportunity Policy Director David Barnes. We were promised that by this year’s open enrollment period, the Obamacare-marketplaces would be robust and stable. Instead, they are spiraling out of control as premiums rise by 25 percent and insurers and consumers decide they want no part in it. The pressure's on Washington with the media focusing on the new enrollment...

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