Daily on Healthcare: Lack of bare counties doesn’t solve Obamacare’s problems – Washington Examiner

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Lack of bare counties doesnt solve Obamacares problems: Supporters of Obamacare have been celebrating that as of last week, every county will have at least one insurer offering plans on the exchange in 2018. Though that is better than a catastrophic scenario in which people in large swaths of the country do not have any options to buy insurance on the individual market, to celebrate this is to substantially move the goalposts for Obamacare. Even though there will be no bare counties, nearly a quarter of the counties will have only one insurer and nearly half of the counties will have a choice of two. That is a far cry from the way the law was sold as providing a wide array of options just like Orbitz or Expedia, but for health insurance. My guiding principle is, and always has been, that consumers do better when there is choice and competition, former President Barack Obama said in making the case for his healthcare law before a joint session of Congress in September 2009.

Costs still rising for consumers: Those who do not qualify for subsidies under Obamacare are facing significantly higher costs for their policies. And those whose current insurer isn't providing coverage for 2018, whether subsidized or not, likely will have to change doctors and hospitals to make sure they aren't slammed with high out-of-pocket medical expenses. The cutoff for when people have to pay full price is at a gross income of $48,240 a year for an individual and $98,400 for a family of four. For Carol Ray, 62, who lives in Arizona and whose gross income is $70,000 a year, premiums that she pays this year doubled to $1,182.78 a month. The bronze-level plan carries a $6,500 deductible for an individual or $13,100 for her and her husband. "I can write the check for it, so I guess you could say it's affordable," Ray said. "What I vacillate on is whether it's reasonable ... I'm not of unlimited funding ... At some point, I have to be pretty careful about what I'm spending.

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Sen. Dean Heller between a rock and a hard place: The Nevada Republican is confronting attacks over his votes on legislation to repeal Obamacare by touting his vote for a bill that was never supposed to become law. Heller, who is up for re-election in 2018 and is considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans, angered conservatives when he flip-flopped by voting against a bill that he voted for in 2015 that would have immediately gutted Obamacare without a replacement. He also faces attacks from his Democratic challenger, who says he went back on a promise to not strip healthcare away from millions of people. That has left the senator to defend a bill that many Republicans didn't want to become law: the "skinny" repeal bill that eliminated only Obamacare's individual and employer mandates and some of its taxes. Some Nevada political observers were confused by Heller's decision to vote for the skinny bill after voting down straight repeal and the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. "If you were going to write a guidebook on how not to handle an issue, Dean Heller has got one for you," said Jon Ralston, longtime political reporter and editor of the Nevada Independent, on KNPR's State of Nevada last month. "He could be a best-selling author: Don't do this.'"

Tom Price declares national emergency after Harvey: The Health and Human Services secretary declared a public health emergency in Texas as Hurricane Harvey made landfall Friday night. "HHS is taking the necessary measures and has mobilized the resources to provide immediate assistance to those affected by Hurricane Harvey," Price said in a statement posted to HHS.gov. Price has given the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicare beneficiaries and their healthcare providers more flexibility in meeting emergency healthcare needs.

Texas asks insurers to give flexibility to Harvey victims: Texas insurance regulator is calling on insurers to waive any penalties for people who get healthcare outside of their network.

The states insurance commissioner said Saturday that the storm could force enrollees to evacuate their residences and location where they normally get healthcare. Insurers should waive any penalties for going out of network as a result of the disaster, the state said. Harvey brought torrential rain and floods that have forced tens of thousands of people in Texas to flee their homes.

FDA cracks down on stem cell clinic: The Food and Drug Administration warned a Florida stem cell clinic for peddling unauthorized stem cell products. The warning letter issued Monday to U.S. Stem Cell Clinic in Sunrise, Fla., is part of a larger crackdown on fraudulent stem cell clinics. The warning letter from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb found that the clinic manufactured products in unsanitary conditions and marketed products that werent reviewed or approved by the agency.

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MONDAY , Aug. 28

Aug. 28-31. Paralyzed Veterans of America Annual Summit. Details.

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 30

1 p.m. Rural Health Information Hub, CDC and National Cancer Institute hold webinar on rural cancer. Details.

THURSDAY, AUG. 31

7 p.m., Rockville, Md. Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin holds a town hall to discuss healthcare at Johns Hopkins Universitys Rockville, Md., campus. 9601 Medical Drive. events2@cardin.senate.gov

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 6

10 a.m. 430 Dirksen. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on stabilizing the Obamacare exchanges. State insurance commissioners will testify.help.senate.gov/hearings/stabilizing-premiums-and-helping-individuals-in-the-individual-insurance-market-for-2018-state-insurance-commissioners

THURSDAY, SEPT. 7

9 a.m. 430 Dirksen. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a second hearing on stabilizing the Obamacare exchanges, with several governors testifying. help.senate.gov/hearings/stabilizing-premiums-and-helping-individuals-in-the-individual-insurance-market-for-2018-governors

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Daily on Healthcare: Lack of bare counties doesn't solve Obamacare's problems - Washington Examiner

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