Obamacare’s most expensive provisions will cost about $9 billion less than expected, according to the latest estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.
CBO said the law’s coverage provisions — a set of policies that includes the law’s insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion — will cost the federal government about $1.5 trillion over the next decade.
The latest analysis doesn’t cover the whole law, and CBO reiterated that it expects the law to reduce the federal deficit. Tuesday’s analysis was confined to the law’s coverage provisions, and didn’t include Medicare savings or new taxes on drug and medical-device companies, which offset the costs of expanding coverage.
The $1.5 trillion spending estimate is about $9 billion lower than estimates from last year, due in part to CBO’s estimate that roughly 1 million fewer people will obtain health insurance on the exchanges and 1 million fewer people will sign up for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Plan, due to the rocky rollout of HealthCare.gov.
Among CBO’s other justifications for lowering the cost are that insurance companies priced exchange premiums lower than the agency had anticipated, and that the agency now expects to receive more from insurance companies than it will pay out in a program designed to protect insurers who get a particularly unhealthy—and expensive—mix of enrollees.
CBO estimates that 24-25 million Americans will get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges and 12-13 million Americans will gain Medicaid or CHIP coverage. But some Americans—roughly 6-7 million—will lose their employer sponsored coverage, according to the projections, as some employers and employees choose instead to seek health insurance on the exchanges.
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The Signal app is fast becoming the new favorite among those who are obsessed with the security and untraceabilty of their messaging. Just ask the Democratic National Committee. Or Edward Snowden. As Vanity Fair reports, before news ever broke that the DNC's servers had been hacked, word went out among the organization that the word "Trump" should never be used in their emails, lest it attract hackers' attention. Not long after, all Trump-related messages, especially disparaging ones, would need to be encrypted via the Snowden-approved Signal.
The Republican Study Committee may lose several members of the House Freedom Caucus next year, "potentially creating a split between two influential groups of House conservatives." The Freedom Caucus was founded at the inception of the current Congress by members who felt that the conservative RSC had gotten too cozy with leadership, "and its roughly 40 members have long clashed with the RSC over what tactics to use when pushing for conservative legislation." As many as 20 members may not join the RSC for the new Congress next year.
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday issued emergency authorization for a Zika diagnostics test from Swiss drugmaker Roche, skirting normal approval channels as the regulator moves to fight the disease's spread." Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that a new study in Nature identifies "about a dozen substances" that could "suppress the pathogen's replication." Some of them are already in clinical trials.
According to 37 newly released audits, "some private Medicare plans overcharged the government for the majority of elderly patients they treated." A number of Medicare Advantage plans overstated "the severity of medical conditions like diabetes and depression." The money has since been paid back, though some plans are appealing the federal audits.
"GOP leaders and House Democrats are already laying the groundwork for a short-term continuing resolution" on the budget this fall "that will set up a vote on a catch-all spending bill right before the holidays." As usual, however, the House Freedom Caucus may throw a wrench in Speaker Paul Ryan's gears. The conservative bloc doesn't appear willing to accept any CR that doesn't fund the government into 2017.