Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on Tuesday invoked her own state’s experience with health reform as evidence that there is still time for Obamacare implementation to succeed.
“What I can tell you all from [the Massachusetts] experience is that getting everyone into the health care system wasn’t easy and it wasn’t quick,” the senator said in a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing Tuesday on the troubled rollout of HealthCare.gov. The committee is hearing testimony from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner on the status of improvements to the website.
President Obama spoke in Boston last week about the success of health care reform in Massachusetts under Mitt Romney’s governorship. The Affordable Care Act has been compared to the state’s system on a larger scale.
“Our enrollment period for subsidized insurance lasted almost a full year, yet it was only in the last month that 20 percent of the total pool got themselves enrolled,” Warren said. “We learned in Massachusetts that when it comes to enrolling in health care, many wait until the end to get it done.”
Tavenner agreed, saying that the administration always expected the greatest enrollment surges to come in mid-December and at the end of February. Those who more desperately need insurance are expected to be part of the December wave to get coverage beginning Jan. 1. Younger, healthier individuals — the group crucial to keeping overall premium rates low — are expected to enroll close to the March 31 deadline, to avoid the individual-mandate penalty.
“It’s important to get the problems fixed in November,” Tavenner said. “But yes, I think we have time.”
Warren emphasized the importance of looking at the bigger picture in implementation. “The experience in Massachusetts suggests it might be prudent for us to take a deep breath about this,” she said.
CORRECTION: This article previously quoted Sen. Warren as saying 25 percent of the Massachusetts pool enrolled in the last month of the enrollment period. She actually said 20 percent.
What We're Following See More »
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.