Friday, May 24, 2013

It May Yet Work.

Back in March, the Nevada Legislature held a hearing on health care and uncovered complications in implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Yet despite earlier worries, Nevada has become a national model in successfully preparing for the arrival of ACA health insurance exchanges. And on top of that, the overall program still looks to be on track to come online this fall.

Today, we have even more big health care news. We've also seen plenty of hand wringing over "rate shock". It turns out that California is delivering some "rate shock"... That's actually even more unexpected.

In 2009, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that a medium-level “silver” plan —which covers 70 percent of a beneficiary’s expected health costs —on the California health exchange would cost $5,200 annually. More recently, a report from the consulting firm Milliman predicted it would carry a $450 monthly premium. Yesterday, we got the real numbers. And they’re lower than anyone thought.

As always, Sarah Kliff has the details. The California exchange will have 13 insurance options, and the heavy competition appears to be driving down prices. The most affordable silver-level plan is charging $276-a-month. The second-most affordable plan is charging $294. And all this is before subsidies. Someone making twice the poverty line, say, will only pay $104-a-month.

Sparer plans are even cheaper. A young person buying the cheapest “bronze”-level plan will pay $172 —and that, again, is before any subsidies.

California is a particularly important test for Obamacare. It’s not just the largest state in the nation. It’s also one of the states most committed to implementing Obamacare effectively. Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger —remember how that really happened?—California was the first state to begin building its insurance exchanges. The state’s outreach efforts are unparalleled. Its insurance regulators are working hard to bring in good plans and make sure they’re playing fair. If California can’t make the law work, perhaps no one can. But if California can make the law work, it shows that others can, too.

Exactly. If California can do it, and if Nevada can do it, then perhaps the entire country can make this work. And once we make it work, we'll really enjoy the results (better health care).

But of course, Senator Dean Heller (R-"TEA" Curious) refuses to let the ACA work. He's voted for the G-O-TEA amendment to repeal health care reform in March. And now, he's pushing his own amendment to block IRS funding going toward ACA implementation. And on top of all this, Senator Heller is desperately trying to connect the ACA to Scandal-mania while completely ignoring the real source of Scandal-mania.

Yet while Senator Heller continues pandering to irrational 21st Century Know Nothing fears, health care reform keeps chugging along. The Affordable Care Act faces unnecessary and ridiculous hurdles because of this, but it's nonetheless the law. And perhaps despite the additional unnecessary hurdles, it may yet work.

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