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The GOP’s Current Obamacare Bill, Coherently Explained

Pretty much all conservatives have been frustrated by the House's inability to pass Obamacare repeal and replacement. Something that seemed simple on the campaign trail has turned out not to be simple in practice. House Republicans now have produced a second version of the bill, which has been improved so as to draw support from the Freedom Caucus. But what exactly is going on? What would the new House bill do? Can the Senate improve it, and if so, how? And, should conservatives support the current House proposal? By far the most coherent discussion of these questions that I have seen...

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MN Medicaid Fraud Case Worth $12 Million, Feds Seize $2 Million

Another alleged case of Medicaid fraud in Minnesota is currently being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s office. The Star Tribune reports: In a highly unusual move, federal prosecutors have seized $2 million from a former Twin Cities mental-health agency accused of submitting fraudulent bills for home services involving hundreds of Minnesota children and adults. Medicaid-funded care services are a hot-spot for health care abuse. And without major changes to the scam-ridden system, Medicaid rip-offs will continue at the expense of both recipients and taxpayers. ...

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How to Thread the Repeal and Replace Needle

The Trump administration just revived talks on repealing and replacing Obamacare with a new offer to the House Freedom Caucus.  The proposal would allow states to opt out of certain Obamacare regulations that are inflicting the most damage and risk to the individual health insurance market. This is an incredibly positive step that tracks an approach I proposed a couple weeks ago.  However, it likely won’t seal the deal when moderates were already skittish over the previous package, which is likely why The Hill reports Speaker Paul Ryan tried to tamp down expectations today.  As Ryan explained to reporters, “These are...

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Fraud Strikes Again: MN Medicaid Scam Worth $1 Million

The jig is up, again. Three individuals have been charged with allegedly scheming to defraud Medicaid by preying on behavioral health patients. Two drivers and an interpreter serving low-income patients seeking mental health services allegedly conspired with the owner of a Northfield clinic to defraud the federal-state Medical Assistance program out of $1 million through false claims over more than three years, according to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed this week....

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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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How a Medicaid program for people who are disabled is funding politics

This is a classic tale of good and evil, and the little guy getting pushed around by the big guy. In the 1970s, our country moved away from institutionalizing disabled people, in favor of keeping them at home, with their family, whenever possible. Today some disabled people get certain benefits from Medicaid. They can use their Medicaid grant to hire personal care attendants (PCAs) to help them with daily living. Not only does this offer a superior care model, it is less expensive for taxpayers. Under a program known as “PCA Choice” disabled adults are able to hire a PCA, often a...

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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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