Headlines about "Health plans - policy"

Gathered from the web by the editors at BenefitsLink.com.
Obamacare and the Early Retiree: Health Law Offers Relief
"The system was designed to make health-care costs comprehensive and affordable at all income levels. Right or wrong, by ignoring assets as a criteria, the system can also provide benefits for those who are relatively affluent. Whether or not the early retiree is eligible for subsidies or prefers to shop outside the exchanges, advisors now have better tools for predicting future health-care costs than in the past." (Morningstar Advisor)

Early Estimates Indicate Rapid Increase in Health Insurance Coverage Under the ACA
"[N]either the Marketplace enrollment figures nor the CMS Medicaid report provide an accurate picture of how many uninsured people have gained coverage since open enrollment began, because both sets of enrollment figures may include newly insured people as well as those who had other sources of coverage before 2014. [The authors] use the March 2014 Health Reform Monitoring Survey (HRMS) to examine changes in health insurance coverage in early March 2014 relative to coverage over the prior year, including more disaggregated information on coverage changes and additional details on the statistical precision of the estimates." (Urban Institute)

[Opinion] Jobs, Income Inequality and Taft-Hartley Benefit Plans (PDF)
"Necessary policy and regulatory changes include permitting the plans to participate directly in the health-care exchanges, allowing low-wage plan participants access to ACA subsidies and giving the retirement plans greater flexibility to adjust benefits and contribution rates.... Federal policy is chiefly focused on compliance issues for the plans, with little effort to encourage their growth in spite of their proven ability to train and maintain workforces. A better approach would be for the federal government to provide the financial resources necessary to address the plans' challenges, both through tax benefits to health-care plans and regulatory relief to pension plans." (Kraw Law Group, via Bloomberg Pension & Benefits Daily)

Census Survey Revisions Mask Health Law's Effects
"An internal Census Bureau document said that the new questionnaire included a 'total revision to health insurance questions' and, in a test last year, produced lower estimates of the uninsured. Thus, officials said, it will be difficult to say how much of any change is attributable to the Affordable Care Act and how much to the use of a new survey instrument.... In the test last year, the percentage of people without health insurance was 10.6 percent when interviewers used the new questionnaire, compared with 12.5 percent using the old version." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)

[Opinion] The Twilight of the British Public Health System? (PDF)
"The NHS -- like all health care systems -- is, and always has been, imperfect. Yet replacing it with a semi-privatized, commercialized, corporatized, and fragmented body -- still funded by general taxation but otherwise a pale reflection of its former self -- will only exacerbate its weaknesses, while hollowing out its universal, moral core." (Andrew Gaffney, in Dissent)

[Opinion] Flaws in Bobby Jindal's Health Reform Proposal
"Like the Republican Study Committee's plan, Jindal's proposal replaces the current exclusion of employer-based tax benefits with a standard tax deduction. The problems: It is regressive, giving more tax relief, the higher your income tax bracket. It is not helpful to the half of the population that does not pay income tax." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)

HHS Secretary Resigns After Obamacare Launch Woes
"U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning after overseeing the botched rollout of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, a White House official said ... Obama has chosen Sylvia Mathews Burwell, his budget director, to replace Sebelius, the White House said. Well-known inside Washington, ... Burwell will have to manage the program through its next major challenges in the height of elections season." (Reuters)

Health Goal Met, White House Reviews Missteps
"In an hourlong interview they requested, the officials said one of their biggest mistakes in the disastrous health care rollout last fall was worrying about the wrong thing. They said they focused too much on their ultimately unfounded fear that not enough insurance companies would participate in the health marketplaces and that premium prices would be too high. In turn, they said, they ignored what became the real problem, a website that was virtually inaccessible in its opening days." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)

[Opinion] Health Insurance Reform Under the ACA: Rube Goldberg Survives
"The precise number of signups doesn't matter much for the functioning of the law, and there may still be many problems despite the March surge. But ... they're missing the forest for the trees. The crucial thing to understand about the Affordable Care Act is that it's a Rube Goldberg device, a complicated way to do something inherently simple. The biggest risk to reform has always been that the scheme would founder on its complexity. And now we know that this won't happen.... [G]iving everyone health insurance doesn't have to be hard; you can just do it with a government-run program." (Paul Krugman in The New York Times; subscription may be required)

Slowing Health Costs Thwart Fed's Inflationary Medicine
"A welcome relief from rising health-care costs for U.S. consumers is being less warmly received at the Federal Reserve. The slowdown is frustrating the efforts of Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues to lift inflation out of the doldrums, suggesting they will need to press on with record-low interest rates.... The cost of health-care services rose just 0.8 percent in February from a year earlier, compared with an average 2.6 percent pace in the prior 10 years. Prices of medical goods such as prescription drugs rose 2.2 percent, down from the 10-year average of 2.7 percent." (Bloomberg)

[Opinion] Here's How to Repeal the Employer Mandate and Cut the Deficit (And Then Some)
"The goal of health care reform isn't only to insure more people -- it's to make health insurance personal and inject more consumerism into the market. Mandating employers to cover workers, fining them if they don't, and then taxing them on benefit packages that will be offered by three-quarters of employers in 2029, is about as insane as it gets. As such, Obamacare reformers -- both Democrat and Republican -- have their work cut out for them, and should be looking to eliminate entirely the requirement for employer sponsored coverage." (Forbes)

Wellpoint Leads $13 Million Battle on California Health Insurance Rates
"Health insurers stand to lose control over raising rates in the most populous U.S. state at a time of dramatic growth in the customer base.... The ballot initiative would require insurers to disclose publicly and justify proposed rate changes and give the state insurance commissioner authority to reject increases. It would apply to every plan that covers individual and small-group policy holders." (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Ezekiel Emanuel Further Explains His Prediction That Employers Will Drop Health Insurance
"[T]he assumption, behind my claim is that the exchanges are going to get better, that they're going to be desirable shopping places, the options are going to be highly desirable, there's going to be more choice for people. If the products available on the exchange are not equivalent to what responsible large private employers are doing, they're not going to send their workers there. It's just that simple." (The New York Times; free registration required)

Surprise Medical Bills Lead to Patient Protection Laws in New York
"New York this week extended patient protection laws to restrict out-of-network providers from 'balance-billing' consumers for emergency care or when patients can't choose their doctors. Balance-billing occurs when health workers who don't accept a patient's insurance try to collect the difference between their charge and the insurer's reimbursement.... Patients most often receive these surprise bills in emergency cases, when they can't choose the doctors who treat them." (Bloomberg)

CalPERS Shift in Contracting Strategy Reveals Kaiser Permanente Weakness
"CalPERS will save $21.3 million after most of its members moved into lower-cost health plans during open enrollment. Members had more plan choices because CalPERS added Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, Sharp Health Plan and UnitedHealthcare to its list of HMO options. Previously, the CalPERs contract had exclusively been held by Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Permanente. The purchasing coalition decided to expand competition based on a member survey that showed many were price sensitive." (HealthLeaders InterStudy)

[Opinion] Can Obamacare Be Fixed? Part II
"The reason we have so many problems in health care is that almost everywhere we look, people face perverse incentives -- patients, doctors, employers, employees, etc. When they respond to those incentives they do things that make costs higher, quality lower, and access to care more difficult than otherwise would have been the case.... In a well-run insurance marketplace, people will pay the full cost and reap the full benefits of every change they make. That leaves them with an undistorted economic incentive to buy insurance and to choose the insurance that best meets their individual and family needs." (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)

U.S. House Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Treasury's Final Employer Mandate and Employer Reporting Regs
"[T]he Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on the implications of the recently released final regulations implementing the employer mandate and employer information reporting requirement provisions of the [ACA]. This hearing will allow the Subcommittee to hear directly from the U.S. Department of the Treasury about how the Administration reached decisions to further delay the employer mandate, as well as explain the complicated reporting requirements.... The hearing will take place on Tuesday, April 8, 2014[.]" (Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives)

The Cost of the Affordable Care Act to Large Employers (PDF)
15 pages. Excerpt: "The cost of the ACA to large U.S. employers (10,000 or more employees) is estimated to be between $4,800 to $5,900 per employee. These large employers will see overall ACA-related cost hikes of between $163 million and $200 million per employer, or an increase of 4.3 percent in 2016 and 8.4 percent in 2023 over and above what they would otherwise be spending.... The total cost of the ACA to all large U.S. employers over the next ten years is estimated to be from $151 billion to $186 billion." (American Health Policy Institute)

[Opinion] Forget the Spin: Was Obamacare Worth It?
"Are enough people getting coverage who didn't have it before to justify the sacrifices the people who were already covered -- in the individual, small group, and large employer market -- are making or will make?... Forget the Obama administration's spin over hitting 6 million. Forget all of the opposition spin over Obamacare's failings. The country's judgment should and will come down to a simple answer to this simple question." (Bob Laszewski's Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review)

Deadline Nearing But Health Signups Show Disparity
"With the first open enrollment period set to end Monday, six months after its troubled online exchanges opened for business, the program widely known as Obamacare looks less like a sweeping federal overhaul than a collection of individual ventures playing out unevenly, state to state, in the laboratories of democracy." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)

ACOs Gain Wide Traction in Vermont as State Eyes Move to Single-Payer in 2017
"Vermont is pushing full speed ahead on accountable care initiatives in both public and private health insurance markets as it experiments with cost-control measures to prepare for a shift to a single-payer system planned for just three years from now.... Options for financing the full-scale single-payer program, which could cost an estimated $1.6 billion, include a payroll tax and other new taxes. In addition, the state would need to apply to CMS for a waiver in order to roll Medicare and Medicaid into the overall program." (AISHealth)

ERISA Advisory Council to Look at Outsourcing and Shift to a 'Non-ERISA' World in 2014
"[The] Department of Labor ERISA Advisory Council voted Wednesday to spend 2014 investigating outsourcing best practices for plan sponsors and the shift from retirement plans covered by [ERISA] to what council members called a 'non-ERISA world.' ... [T]he 15-member council ... will also look at pharmacy plan fee disclosure." (Pensions & Investments)

Taking Stock of SHOP Marketplaces
"So far only Vermont, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., have tried to merge the individual and small-business markets, combining their risk pools. The concern here is that such mergers could raise premiums for small businesses, since the risk pool in the individual market will be somewhat unpredictable for the next few years. However, merging the two markets entirely once the individual market has stabilized could have the advantage of broadening the risk pool for both individuals and small business and lowering premiums, particularly in smaller states." (The Commonwealth Fund)

America's Underinsured: A State-By-State Look at Health Insurance Affordability Prior to the New Coverage Expansions
"[In] 2012, there were 31.7 million insured people under age 65 who were underinsured. Together with the 47.3 million who were uninsured, this means at least 79 million people were at risk for not being able to afford needed care before the major reforms of the Affordable Care Act took hold. At the state level, the percentage of the under-65 population who were either uninsured or underinsured ranged from 14 percent in Massachusetts to 36 percent to 38 percent in the five highest-rate states -- Idaho, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas[.]" (The Commonwealth Fund)

Ramifications of Hobby Lobby ACA Case Could Go Beyond Birth Control Coverage
"'If we get a very broad opinion in favor of Hobby Lobby's position, it isn't just contraception, but a host of other federal regulations that may be challenged based on the idea that they substantially burden a person's religious exercise,' Darrell Miller, JD, law professor at Duke University, [said] ... 'Corporations, or their owners or directors, may assert that they can refuse to cover HIV treatment, or blood transfusions, or vaccinations.'" (MedPage Today)

[Opinion] Letter from House Oversight Leaders to Treasury Secretary Questioning Treasury Authority to Unilaterally Delay Obamacare's Employer Mandate (PDF)
"[T]here are more than two thousand attorneys in the Department of Treasury, and the official responsible for tax policy cannot recall a single one inquiring into the legal authority for the employer mandate delay ... Furthermore, Mr. Mazur's responses are inconsistent with the Department's claim that it relied upon an asserted authority under Section 7805 of the Internal Revenue Code.... Information obtained by the Committee suggests that last year's decision to delay the employer mandate was made by the White House and not the Treasury Department ... We were surprised to learn that the White House Chief of Staff knew about the employer mandate delay prior to the head of the department implementing the program. This finding raises serious questions about whether the White House directed the delay of the employer mandate for political reasons." (Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives)

Health Overhaul May Spell End to Employer Coverage
"Ezekiel J. Emanuel, who helped devise the [ACA] ... expects the law to produce an unadvertised but fundamental shift in where most working Americans get their health insurance ... By his estimation, the proportion of private-sector workers who receive health care from employers will fall below 20 percent by 2025.... Avik Roy, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute ... said shifts would be most likely among retailers and restaurants with heavy concentrations of low-wage workers eligible for public subsidies." (The New York Times; subscription may be required)

Obamacare's Risk Corridor 'Bailout' Just Got Bigger -- Much Bigger
"The table below shows 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[.]" (John Goodman's Health Policy Blog)

[Opinion] Republicans Considering Proposing High-Risk Pools: Health Insurance Ghettos?
"A high-risk pool proposal would likely mean the Congress giving states the flexibility, and perhaps funding, to set up these risk pools. Risk pools by definition are a place where people can go when they are not able to buy health insurance in the regular market because they have a health problem. That means Republicans would be turning the clock back to a time when insurance companies could turn people down for health insurance because of their health status." (The Health Care Blog)

ML Strategies Health Care Update, March 17, 2014 (PDF)
Topics include: [1] SGR fix advances in the House, action planned in Senate; [2] Senate presses HHS for details on budget following House testimony; and [3] House lawmakers warn against Medicare Advantage cut. (ML Strategies, LLC)

Evaluation of Tools and Metrics to Support Employer Selection of Health Plans (PDF)
91 pages. Excerpt: "The report describes a conceptual framework of health plan features, evaluates the current availability of quality measures and decision tools to employers, and describes how employers make decisions when choosing a health plan. This report will be of interest to national and state policymakers, employers and employer coalitions, consumer advocacy organizations, measures developers and health researchers, and others with responsibilities related to achieving better transparency on the quality that different health plans provide and facilitate employer decisionmaking." [Editor's note: The report is dated 2013, but it was first announced and posted online by DOL on March 12, 2014.] (RAND Corporation, produced for the U.S. Department of Labor)

House Leaders Request Enrollment Numbers from Every Obamacare Insurance Provider
"House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today sent letters to every insurance provider participating in the Federally-Facilitated Marketplace requesting specific enrollment data, including the number of individuals who have paid their first month's premium and those who are identified as previously uninsured. The letters seek data to create a more comprehensive picture of the health care law's enrollment as the White House has failed to provide a complete assessment." (Committee on Energy and Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives)

The Future of Healthcare Benefits: Employers' Opportunity for Strategic Change in the New Healthcare World (PDF)
"The value proposition for private exchanges is likely to improve over time.... The private exchanges may enable more aggressive delivery-based strategies over time.... Key issues in 2014 are the employer 'pay or play' penalties and related reporting.... There is a big correlation between happy employees and business outcomes.... Much of the corporate interest in private exchanges is coming from leadership and finance, not HR." (PricewaterhouseCoopers)

Obamacare CO-OPs Win Market Share, Defy Forecasts
"Obamacare opponents predicted early on that insurance co-ops created by the law would fail, and that much of the $2.1 billion they were loaned to get started would be lost. Instead, the 23 co-ops that now exist nationally have enrolled about 300,000 people in health plans by combining low premiums with a certain homespun appeal, according to company executives." (Bloomberg)

[Opinion] Is the ACA Here to Stay?
"Among the many reasons that state leaders believe the ACA will remain in place are two key points: [1] Many states have already begun implementing the law and providing coverage, meaning a full repeal of the law would be complicated at best, if not impossible. [2] The law seems to be gaining traction and enrollments are on the rise. Nearly 3.3 million people have signed up through Feb. 1 for health care coverage under the law. The White House also reported that during the month of January alone, one million people across the country signed up for private insurance under the law." (William Gallagher Associates)

CBO: Proposed Five-Year Individual Mandate Delay Would Mean 13 Million More Uninsured, Higher Premiums
"Consistent with earlier CBO and outside analyses of the effects of repealing the mandate entirely, the new CBO figures show that the bill ... would undermine health reform's implementation and produce serious harm. Without the individual mandate, many fewer uninsured people would enroll in job-based coverage, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), subsidized private coverage through health reform's new marketplaces, and other sources of health coverage." (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

HHS Issues February Exchange Enrollment Report
"There are a number of questions the enrollment report does not answer. The first is how many individuals who selected a plan were previously uninsured. This is apparently not a question that is being asked of enrollees. A recent McKinsey report found that only ten percent of the exchange-coverage-eligible uninsured individuals surveyed had signed up for coverage for 2014, and of those who had signed up for coverage in February, only 27 percent were previously uninsured.... In any event, the exchanges seem to be having an impact on insurance coverage." (Timothy Jost in Health Affairs Blog)

[Opinion] Replace Obamacare, Stat!
"With a uniform tax credit, 90 percent of the problems the Obamacare exchanges are now having would go away in a flash. Signing up for insurance would be easy. Insurance companies and brokers would be able to sign people up outside the exchanges without asking privacy-invading questions about their income and assets.... Further, with a tax-credit approach, employers and employees would no longer face perverse incentives to buy wasteful insurance. (Under the current system, the more costly the insurance, the greater the tax benefit.) Instead, they could buy insurance that meets their core needs and increase take-home pay with the savings, with no tax penalty. This would lower the cost of employment and encourage hiring." (National Review)

Five Takeaways from Gallup's Poll on the Uninsured
"The Gallup poll doesn't fully answer how many have signed up because of the law, but it shows that the rate of people who say they're primarily covered by Medicaid increased from 6.6 percent to 7.4 percent since the end of 2013.... The rate of people who say they're covered by a current or former employer dropped from 45.5 percent to 43.4 percent from the end of 2013. Meanwhile, the rate of people who say they're covered by a plan paid for by themselves or a family member increased from 17.2 percent to 18.1 percent over the same time." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)

[Opinion] Healthcare Lessons From Europe
"[At] the same time Obamacare has created an expanded federal role in health care, other countries that have been operating government-run health programs for decades are furiously seeking to reform their dysfunctional and financially unsustainable systems before they unravel. Perhaps most notably, 'enlightened' social democracies in Europe are looking toward market-based solutions to meet the twin challenges of accommodating consumer flexibility and choice while containing high costs." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

ERISA Advisory Council to Meet on March 26
"The purpose of the open meeting, which will run from 1:30 p.m. to approximately 4:30 p. m. Eastern Standard Time, is to welcome the new members, introduce the Council Chair and Vice Chair, receive an update from the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration, and determine the topics to be addressed by the Council in 2014. Organizations or members of the public wishing to submit a written statement may do so ... on or before March 18, 2014[.]" (Employee Benefits Security Administration)

[Opinion] Progressive Deterioration Taking Place in Health Plans Offered by Major Employers
"In the last half century, the best coverage has been provided mostly through large employers ... These employers have been very concerned about rising health care costs, and now they know that they will have to live with our highly flawed version of comprehensive reform -- the [ACA]. They see very little in this Act that will provide them relief, so they are moving forward with their own measures." (Physicians for a National Health Program [PNHP])

Obama Administration Rewrites ACA Policies by Providing Further Extension
"The rule changes will touch essentially every sector affected by the 2010 health-care law. It will buffer more health plans in insurance exchanges from high patient costs, give states more time to decide whether to run their own marketplaces, and spare certain unions from a fee they have resented. The administration also is raising the possibility that small-business workers in some states might not be given a choice of health plans -- potentially undermining a significant aspect of the law that federal health officials already have delayed once." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)

[Opinion] Extending the Obamacare Cancelled Policy Moratorium: One More Contortion in the Pretzel
"As a person whose policy is scheduled to be cancelled at year-end, I am happy to be able to keep my policy with a better network, lower deductibles, and at a rate 66% less than the best Obamacare compliant policy I could get. But for the sake of Obamacare's long-term sustainability, this is not a good decision. The fundamental problem here is that the administration is just not signing up enough people to make anyone confident this program is sustainable." (Bob Laszewski's Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review)

[Guidance Overview] Treasury Department Fact Sheet: Final Regs Implementing Information Reporting for Employers and Insurers Under the ACA
"Employers that 'self-insure' will have a streamlined way to report under both the employer and insurer reporting provisions.... [T]he final rules provide for a single, consolidated form that employers will use to report to the IRS and employees under both sections 6055 and 6056, thereby simplifying the process and avoiding duplicative reporting.... For employers that provide a 'qualifying offer' to any of their full time employees, the final rules provide a simplified alternative to reporting monthly, employee-specific information on those employees." (U.S. Department of the Treasury)

Obama to Allow Two-Year Renewal of Old Health Insurance Policies
"Americans who kept their health plans that didn't comply with Obamacare requirements will be able to renew those policies for two more years, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Obama administration, which has been deliberating the issue since November, is expected to announce today the extension of the health plans, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the decision wasn't yet public." (Crain's Chicago Business)

[Opinion] The Three R's of Health Insurance
"Mastery of reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic, however, in no way guarantees you'll grasp the intricate web of regulations underlying the [ACA], where the Three R's refer to something very different: risk corridors, reinsurance, and risk adjustment.... The Three R's would likely have remained invisible to the public if the law's critics hadn't labeled them taxpayer bailouts of the health insurance industry. Even a cursory glance at the evidence shows they're no such thing." (The Commonwealth Fund)

Employer Mandate Delay II: Nothing to See Here
"[M]odel results indicate that this additional delay until 2016, as compared to full enforcement, will result in: [1] Few workers losing coverage through their employer: the size of the workforce employed by non-offering large firms grows by 100,000 (or 0.1% of the workforce) from 2.3 million to 2.4 million workers. [2] Most firms continuing to offer coverage: the number of firms failing to offer coverage increases by 1,000 (or 0.02% of all firms) from 23,000 to 24,000 firms. [3] Modest revenue losses: the delay for medium-sized firms reduces federal revenue by $2.7 billion to $8.6 billion from the $11.3 billion that would have been collected in penalties if the employer mandate were fully enforced." (RAND Corporation)

[Opinion] A Proposed Simple Solution to Obamacare's Employer Mandate Problems
"Employers that decide not to provide health coverage for their employees would be required to pay a percentage of payroll as a tax to cover health care, just like employers do now for FICA ... Instantly, the cliff impact is gone, both in terms of hours and number of employees. Employers could either provide coverage to all employees, or pay for health coverage in the same manner as FICA, a regular cost of adding an employee, with a marginal increase in cost for each hour someone works. There is no advantage to hiring someone for less than 30 hours or keeping under 50 employees.... Paying a percentage of payroll instead would make it much more affordable to hire low-and-middle income wage earners than it is now." (The Huffington Post)

Another Court Upholds Provision of Premium Tax Credits in Federally Facilitated Exchanges
"A second federal trial court (this time in Virginia) has rejected a challenge to the IRS regulation that makes health care reform's premium tax credits available in federally facilitated Exchanges (FFEs) as well as in state-based Exchanges.... The court dismissed the case, noting that while the challengers' argument seemed 'comprehensible' when viewed in a vacuum, it became 'implausible' when viewing the statute as a whole." [King v. Sebelius, No. 3:i3-CV-630 (E.D. Va. Feb. 18, 2014)] (Thomson Reuters / EBIA)

CBO Cost Estimate for Proposed Legislation to Change ACA Definition of Full-Time to 40 Hours Per Week
"CBO and JCT estimate that enacting H.R. 2575 would increase budget deficits by $25.4 billion over the 2015-2019 period and by $73.7 billion over the 2015-2024 period. The 2015-2024 total is the net of an increase of $83.0 billion in on-budget costs and $9.3 billion in off-budget savings (the latter attributable to increased revenues)." (Congressional Budget Office)

[Opinion] Text of Comments by Employers Council on Flexible Compensation, on Proposed Amendments to Excepted Benefits Regs (PDF)
Topics include: Clarification of Application of Excepted Benefits Rule to Stand-Alone Self-Funded Dental or Vision Only Plans; Availability of Health FSAs to Employees without Access to Employer-Provided Health Coverage; Technical Clarification for Proposed Limited Scope Wraparound Excepted Benefit; and Application of Excepted Benefits Rule to Wellness Programs. (Employers Council on Flexible Compensation [ECFC])

Health Policies Purchased Off-Exchange Because of Troubled State-Run Websites Are Eligible for Federal Tax Credits
"HHS said state residents who were unable to sign up because of technical problems may still get federal tax credits if they bought private insurance outside of the new online insurance exchanges. The federal policy change is significant because until now the administration has stressed that the only place to get taxpayer-subsidized insurance under President Barack Obama's health law is through the new online markets, called exchanges." (The Washington Post; subscription may be required)

Section-by-Section Summary of Republican-Proposed Tax Reform Act of 2014 (PDF)
Internal Revenue Code changes related to retirement plans include elimination of the ability to establish new SEPs or new SIMPLE 401(k)s; elimination of deductible contributions to IRAs; modification of the required distribution rules; elimination of ability to undo a Roth IRA recharacterization; reduction in minimum age for allowable in-service distributions; modification of rules governing hardship distributions; and inflation adjustments for qualified plan benefit and contribution limitations. Changes related to welfare benefits include repeal of education assistance plans, termination of deductions and income exclusions for contributions to Archer Medical Savings Accounts, and a new limitation on the exclusion of employer-provided housing from an employee's income. (Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives)

Text of Brief by Little Sisters of the Poor, on Appeal to 10th Circuit in Challenge to Contraceptive Mandate (PDF)
74 pages. Excerpt: "[If] the government actually believed EBSA Form 700 to be legally meaningless, it would make no sense at all for the government to have contested the issue all the way to the Supreme Court, and to still be contesting the issue here. Nor would it make sense to threaten the Little Sisters with millions of dollars in fines to get them to sign a supposedly meaningless form. Actions speak louder than briefs, and the government's actions demonstrate that they view their Form as very important.... The government may think the Little Sisters should reason differently about law and morality, but their actual religious beliefs -- the beliefs that matter in this case -- have led them to conclude that they cannot sign or send the government's Form." [Little Sisters of the Poor v. Sebelius, No. 1:13-cv-02611-WJM-BNB (on appeal from D. Colo. Feb. 24, 2014)] (The Becket Fund, on behalf of Little Sisters of the Poor and Christian Brothers Services)

Expanding Health Coverage Provides Financial Protection Too
"As the share of Massachusetts residents with health coverage rose by about 7 percentage points, residents' credit scores improved, personal debt fell 22 percent on average, and the likelihood of bankruptcy fell 18 percent, after controlling for other personal and macroeconomic factors. The positive financial effects of health coverage were especially pronounced among residents who had lower credit scores prior to health reform, though residents across the income spectrum benefited." (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

Report to Congress on the Impact on Premiums for Individuals and Families with Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance from the Guaranteed Issue, Guaranteed Renewal, and Fair Health Insurance Premiums Provisions of the ACA (PDF)
"There is considerable uncertainty as to whether small employers will decide to terminate their existing offer of health insurance coverage and send their employees to individual market Exchanges. Many factors may be relevant to their decisions.... Once the new premium rating requirements go into effect, it is anticipated that the small employers that offer health insurance coverage to their employees and their families would have average premium rates. Therefore, we are estimating that 65 percent of the small firms are expected to experience increases in their premium rates while the remaining 35 percent are anticipated to have rate reductions.... This results in roughly 11 million individuals whose premiums are estimated to be higher as a result of the ACA and about 6 million individuals who are estimated to have lower premiums." (Office of the Actuary, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Aetna CEO Bertolini Outlines 'Creative Destruction' of Healthcare
"Not too far away from now -- in the next 6-7 years -- 75 million Americans will be retail buyers of healthcare. And they'll come to the marketplace with their own money and either a subsidy from their employer or a subsidy from their government. And it doesn't much matter -- they'll be spending their money." (Forbes)

House Subcommittee to Examine Benefits of Self-Insured Health Plans February 26
"Although stop-loss insurance is regulated by the states, in February 2013 the New York Times reported Obama administration officials 'were considering regulations to discourage small and midsize employers' from using stop-loss insurance. In correspondence with the committee, the administration has refused to confirm or deny whether it will issue a regulation affecting stop-loss insurance. [This] hearing will provide members an opportunity to examine the benefits of self-insurance and discuss concerns about regulating stop-loss insurance at the federal level." (Committee on Education and the Workforce, U.S. House of Representatives)

Aetna CEO: We Can't Afford It
"What is required, [Aetna CEO Mark] Bertolini asserted, is a change in the current mindset around health care, a system that was designed in 1945.... Bertolini gave three prescriptions for America's ailing health care system: aligned incentives (payment reform), changing the way chronically ill are cared for, and investing in wellness for the next 25 to 30 years." (Employee Benefit News)


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