By now, you may have heard of the campaign to undermine Obamacare that the conservative group FreedomWorks is running. If not, read Sarah Kliff's article on it in the Washington Post. The article will take you inside the "Obamacare resistance," as she calls it, where leaders are printing up fake Obamacare cards and urging young people to burn them in protest.
The implementation of Obamacare is an awfully difficult subject to cover. It requires following developments in Washington and in the 50 states, each with its own unique challenges and politics. It requires speaking with people in government and business, with insurers and employers and advocates, with the people who provide health care and, of course, with the people who use it. It’s a sufficiently difficult task that few writers have even tried to summarize it all in one place.
As recently as a week ago, everybody watching the Supreme Court seemed convinced of one thing: The justices had made up their minds about the Affordable Care Act. They hadn’t issued a decision and, perhaps, they were fine-tuning the legal arguments they would make in their written opinions. But they knew how they were ruling. They just weren't telling anybody about it. Now a new rumor is making the rounds: Five justices have decided to invalidate the individual mandate but they have not settled on what else, if anything, to invalidate along with it. Does the story have any basis in fact?
When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act two years ago, the law's proponents (including me) were confident of two things: That it would become more popular with time and that it would make our health care system more humane and efficient. History has not been kind to the first prediction. Most of the law’s components command broad support: Overwhelming majorities still support the requirement that insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions, for example. But overall the Affordable Care Act is unpopular.
[Guest post by Harold Pollack. Cross-posted from The Incidental Economist] It’s disappointing but unsurprising to read that Super-committee Democrats may cut the Affordable Care Act’s ten-year $15 billion Prevention and Public Health Fund. The Obama administration had already signaled a willingness to scale back the initiative, having previously proposed of a 25 percent cut as part of one of its deficit reduction deals. Super-committee Democrats have now called for cuts roughly twice as big, or $8 billion. The Fund is less than two percent of new spending initiated under health reform.
Economists and other analysts that follow health care talk a lot about the "medical arms race" -- that is, the race to provide more expensive services, of dubious value, simply to attract more reimbursement dollars. It's complicated to explain, particularly if you're trying to discuss the implications for the economy. Gregory Warner at Marketplace has taken a shot at it, by producing an animated video. It's positively brilliant. Oh The Jobs (Debt?) You'll Create! from Marketplace on Vimeo. h/t Sarah Kliff
Some of the most interesting developments in health care policy these days aren’t taking place in Washington. They’re taking place in Sacramento and the rest of California, where public officials, private sector leaders, and activists are working to implement the Affordable Care Act. Remember, under the terms of the law, states must must do everything from setting up new insurance exchanges to slapping regulations on insurers.
You hear a lot about state officials trying to fight the Affordable Care Act, whether by challenging it in the federal courts or refusing to implement its provisions. But plenty of states officials are enthusiastic about the law. And perhaps none are moving as quickly, or effectively, to follow through on the law as Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. Sarah Kliff has the story in Politico Pro (subscription required): Maryland has, in some ways, flown under the radar on implementing the Affordable Care Act.
Although I’m not part of the Tea Party movement and I don’t share its values, I usually understand what its followers are trying to do. But their latest gambit on health care has me genuinely baffled. The idea is to oppose the Affordable Care Act not in the Congress or the courts, where they’ve been fighting so far, but in the state legislatures. As you may recall, the Act calls upon states to create the new “exchanges,” through which individuals and small businesses will be able to buy regulated insurance policies at affordable prices.
Via Politico's Sarah Kliff, I see that the latest Republican idea for repealing health care reform is to use the "doc fix" as a political wedge. As my colleague Jonathan Chait explains, Medicare reimbursements for physicians include an annual update that the federal government keeps postponing. Because the formula is, in effective, cumulative, allowing the update to go into effect now would result in a fairly dramatic cut in doctor reimbursement—enough, possibly, to disrupt seniors' access to care.