Emails Reveal Jonathan Gruber’s Obamacare Work Was Of ‘Key Political Importance’
A top Obama administration health official considered putting MIT economist Jonathan Gruber to work on Obamacare to be an initiative of such “key political importance” that it was expedited because of “political push” from the Obama administration, emails released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reveal.
The agency released 750 pages of heavily-redacted records on Monday to The Daily Caller and other news outlets in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
In one telling exchange after Gruber’s Obamacare work was first reported in 2010, one HHS analyst told another that having Democrats in charge “across the board” would “stop some scrutiny” into the arrangement. Gruber’s work attracted scrutiny because the Obama administration failed to disclose the academic’s support for the health-care law without disclosing that he was paid $392,000 to help craft it....
Failing Obamacare Co-Ops Offer Lavish Executive Pay — And May Violate the Law
...Eighteen of the 23 co-ops paid their top executives prodigious salaries ranging from $263,000 to $587,000, according to 2013 IRS tax filings.
The high take-home pay for the “nonprofit” executives appears to violate both federal law and Obamacare rules prohibiting “excessive executive compensation.”...
Obamacare’s Oligopoly Wave
...The five largest commercial health insurers in the U.S. have contracted merger fever, or maybe typhoid. UnitedHealth is chasing Cigna and even Aetna; Humana has put itself on the block; and Anthem is trying to pair off with Cigna, which is thinking about buying Humana. If the logic of ObamaCare prevails, this exercise will conclude with all five fusing into one monster conglomerate. . . .
[T]he economics of ObamaCare reward scale over competition. Benefits are standardized and premiums are de facto price-controlled. With margins compressed to commodity levels, buying more consumers via mergers is simpler than appealing to them with better products, to the extent the latter is still legal. Synergies across insurer combinations to reduce administrative overhead and other expenses also look better for shareholders.
The mergers reflect the reality that government—Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage and the ObamaCare exchanges—is now the artery of insurance profits, not the private economy. The feds “happen to be, for most of us now, our largest customer,” Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said this month at a Goldman Sachs conference. . . .
A healthier market would have many new competitive entrants given the transformative pace of technological and biomedical discovery. Health-care finance and delivery ought to be evolving along with these innovations, but the only disruptive force under ObamaCare is government. So five years into the glories of “health-care reform,” the same antiquated incumbents dominate as they did before, only with less accountability to patients. Cartels don’t care about quality, safety or costs to consumers....
Thanks, Obama. Health insurance rates jumping up… again
...Health insurance companies around the country are seeking rate increases of 20 percent to 40 percent or more, saying their new customers under the Affordable Care Act turned out to be sicker than expected. Federal officials say they are determined to see that the requests are scaled back.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans — market leaders in many states — are seeking rate increases that average 23 percent in Illinois, 25 percent in North Carolina, 31 percent in Oklahoma, 36 percent in Tennessee and 54 percent in Minnesota, according to documents posted online by the federal government and state insurance commissioners and interviews with insurance executives.
The Oregon insurance commissioner, Laura N. Cali, has just approved 2016 rate increases for companies that cover more than 220,000 people. Moda Health Plan, which has the largest enrollment in the state, received a 25 percent increase, and the second-largest plan, LifeWise, received a 33 percent increase...