The midterm elections abruptly shifted the health-care landscape across the country, resulting in a divided Congress that could mean most changes unfold on the state level. Health care was the No. 1 issue among voters this election, according to an AP survey of about 90,000 people. The voting results suggested a rebuke to repeated Republican efforts to roll back the health law, and that many Americans care deeply about issues such as coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. The split between red and blue states means that statehouses will continue to pursue opposite directions in health care. Voters approved Democratic-backed ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid in three states—Idaho, Utah and Nebraska—while rejecting a similar proposal in Montana.
Remember when Democrats promised that if you liked your plan or your doctor you could keep them? Now they’re pushing another bogus claim, accusing Republicans of wanting to take away health insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Here’s the truth: everyone — Republicans and Democrats — support protecting people with pre-existing conditions.
Late last week, President Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced a plan to deal with the high cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. relative to the price of the same drugs in other developed countries. The reason for this disparity is well-known: Other countries impose socialized medicine price controls on prescription medicines, while here in the U.S. the price charged is closer to the true market price of the product.
HHS wants to cancel its plans to postpone imposing new ceiling prices for the 340B drug discount program. The agency issued a proposed rulemaking on Wednesday that suggested the long-delayed rule will now be effective Jan. 1, instead of July 1, 2019, as originally announced earlier this year.
HHS has delayed the effective date of the ceiling price rule five times, which would cap the prices drugmakers can charge hospitals that participate in 340B. The American Hospital Association and several other medical trade groups sued the agency last fall to force it to publish the delayed regulations.
The battle over coverage for pre-existing conditions has become a central front in the 2018 midterm elections, but however heated their rhetoric and whatever their positions have been in the past, there is operatively no difference between Republicans and Democrats on the issue.
What I mean by that is no matter who controls Congress at the end of this process, Obamacare’s ban on allowing insurers to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions is going to remain intact.
Between the election campaign and incidents of terrorism ranging from attempted bombings to a synagogue shooting, an obscure regulatory proposal by the Trump administration has yet to captivate the public’s attention. However, it has the potential to change the way millions of Americans obtain health insurance.
In August 2018, the Trump administration finalized a rule to strengthen short-term plans by allowing individuals to keep them for a period of up to 364 days. This standard is the same one that existed for nearly twenty years, until—eight days before the 2016 election—the Obama administration suddenly prohibited consumers from buying short-term plans for longer than three months at a time. The new rule also provides consumers with the opportunity to renew these plans annually for up to three years.
The new rule is one of several strategies the Trump administration has pursued to offer more affordable options to millions of Americans who were priced out of the insurance market by skyrocketing premiums. Premiums in the individual market more than doubled between 2013 and 2017 and premiums for the benchmark plan in the individual market increased by another 37 percent on average in 2018.
While Obamacare has been neither repealed nor replaced, it is being superseded. As President Donald Trump said, “We will deliver relief to American workers, families, and small businesses, who right now are being crushed by Obamacare, by increasing freedom, choice, and opportunity for the American people.”
The total number of Americans with health insurance rose from 292.3 million in 2016 to 294.6 million in 2017, the Census Bureau reports. Some of the following new reforms have helped 2.3 million more Americans enjoy medical coverage and alternatives under Republican leadership rather than Democrat mismanagement.
Ever since efforts to legislatively repeal Obamacare ended ignominiously with a “thumbs down” from the late Sen. John McCain on the Senate floor, the Trump administration has been hard at work doing what they can to give families more and better healthcare choices than what Obamacare saddled them with. In so doing, they have created several welcome escape hatches from Obamacare, or what Phil Kerpen from American Commitment calls “Making Obamacare Optional.”
Many readers no doubt take comfort in living thousands of miles away from the tax and spending misadventures of Illinois or Connecticut. But fair warning: One of the worst deals in state spending is coming to a red state near you, and that’s expanding Medicaid to adult men above the poverty line. The perversity of spending more on childless men than pregnant women is reason enough to reject expansion, but there are others. Every state that has expanded Medicaid has blown the budget by spending more money on more people. The cost overruns are more than double on average.