Thanksgiving Table Setter: What You Need to Know About Obamacare

Obama Serves Thanksgiving Dinner
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Repealing Obamacare remains a contentious conversation for many Americans, especially when the Republicans’ tax reform proposal would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate.

Here’s what you should know about Obamacare for the inevitable Thanksgiving conversation:

1. The House passed the Obamacare repeal bill known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in May, yet the Senate failed to pass an Obamacare repeal bill on two separate occasions.

2. There is hope, however, to repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate. The GOP Senate tax reform bill includes a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate. The Senate plans to vote on the legislation the week after Thanksgiving.

3. Eighty percent of Obamacare mandate fines are paid by those that make less than $50,000 per year. The Internal Revenue Services (IRS) reported that of the 6.67 million families paying the Obamacare mandate fine, 5.3 million Americans (or 80 percent) of those make less than $50,000 a year. Almost all of those Americans paying the Obamacare mandate fine make less than $200,000 every year.

4. Next year is not looking good for Obamacare. A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) study reported that, by 2018, 1,524 counties, almost half of counties nationwide (more than 2.6 million Americans) could only have one insurer on the Obamacare exchanges.

5. A recent Avalere Health analysis revealed that premiums on Obamacare exchange “silver” plans will rise by an average of 34 percent in 2018.

6. Despite media reports about Obamacare enrollment surging, a recent CMS report estimated that less than one-quarter of Obamacare signups are new customers.

7. None of the Obamacare repeal bills, including the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Senate leadership’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the Graham-Cassidy block-grant repeal, or Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) clean repeal bill, would have eliminated protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

8. With these repeated failed attempts, Democrats, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times argued that Trump’s decision to end the Obamacare subsidies known as the cost-sharing reduction payments has led to “policy uncertainty” that led health insurers to hike rates.

9. With ever-shrinking competition on the Obamacare exchanges, Investor’s Business Daily contends that Medica and other Obamacare exchange health insurers want to abuse their newfound monopoly status to raise premiums and blame Trump. The Investor’s Business Daily editorial charged, “Not surprisingly, Medica has used its newfound monopoly status to push for increasingly higher rates, while trying to pin the blame on President Trump for the increases.” However, a McKinsey and Co. study found that the Obamacare regulations known as “guaranteed issue” and “community rating” were primarily responsible for the significant increases in premiums. McKinsey’s analysis revealed that these mandates were responsible for 41 to 76 of the premium increases over the four-year period analyzed. In Tennessee, these two regulations led to 73 to 76 percent of the 314 percent average monthly premium increase.

10. Some Republicans, however, proposed some ideas to lower Americans’ healthcare costs. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) proposed their Consumer Freedom Amendment to allow Americans to purchase cheaper health insurance options. The amendment would allow health insurers to offer plans that do not comply with Obamacare regulations as long as they offer plans that do follow the Obamacare rules. McKinsey found that the Consumer Freedom Amendment could lower Obamacare-compliant plans for a 40-year-old as much as 30 percent and premiums for non-Obamacare compliant plans could be 77 percent lower compared to Obamacare plans. Former U.S. Senator Jim DeMint said, “What Sen. Cruz and his allies would allow in his amendment would allow a private market to co-exist with a heavily regulated and subsidized federal insurance market. This is not ideal by any means, but it would, perhaps, allow innovation, lower costs, a variety of product offerings to exist in many states.”

11. While Americans wait for Republicans to pass an Obamacare repeal bill, President Trump signed an executive order in October that opened up more affordable health insurance options for Americans. Americans can choose to purchase less expensive short-term health insurance plans, while companies and other voluntary associations can create association health plans. Sen. Rand Paul praised the action as “the biggest free-market reform of health care in a generation,” adding that it was a move towards allowing Americans to purchase health care across state lines.