Ever since President Donald Trump won the White House, Democrats, interest groups, and even some Republicans have argued that rolling back Obamacare would harm the health of millions. But a new study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests Obama’s healthcare law does little to actually improve patient’s health outcomes.
The research shows that while Obamacare expanded patient access to doctors, nurses, and hospitals, it’s provided little-to-no actual health benefits. The authors analyzed data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an annual medical survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control. After two years of observations, survey respondents reported they enjoyed greater access to health insurance, primary care, and routine check-ups. Yet the authors observed almost zero overall improvement in physical health after the patients got covered by Obamacare.
While President Donald Trump’s efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare have dominated the news, he also plans to reform a larger and arguably more broken program: Medicaid. In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show, Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway said Trump wants to “block-grant Medicaid to the states” to ensure “those who are closest to the people in need will be administering.”
Conway’s comments echo Trump’s campaign promise to “maximize flexibility for states via block grants so that local leaders can design innovative Medicaid programs that will better serve their low-income citizens.” Block grants would cap federal Medicaid funding and let states decide how to use those dollars. It would introduce flexibility and budget discipline to a program that sorely needs both.
Medicaid Soaks Money Away From Other Priorities
Since its inception in 1965, Medicaid has operated as an open-ended entitlement. The more state Medicaid programs spend on health-care programs for designated recipients, the more the federal government reimburses them. On average, states receive $1.33 for every $1 they spend on Medicaid.
While Medicaid’s current framework sounds like a generous deal for states, Medicaid’s funding formula incentivizes policymakers to expand the program at the expense of core state government functions. A report by the Mercatus Center shows that as Medicaid’s share of state budgets grow, state spending on roads, schools, and public colleges shrink.
Continue reading at The Federalist.
As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to enter the oval office, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) hopes to weaken ObamaCare through a process known as budget reconciliation. This will repeal most of ObamaCare but leave the law’s onerous insurance regulations in place and potentially worsen our already dysfunctional healthcare system.
Budget reconciliation is a parliamentary maneuver that allows Congress to pass budget-related bills with only 51 votes. Enzi plans to use this process to override a potential filibuster from Democrats and repeal ObamaCare’s tax and spending provisions, such as the individual mandate, employer mandate, health insurance subsidies, and Medicaid expansion.
“Congress already passed a repeal of ObamaCare in early 2016 using the same process, but President Obama vetoed the legislation,” said Enzi’s spokesman, Max D’Onofrio. “With a new president incoming who favors ObamaCare repeal, Congress has made it a priority to repeal and replace ObamaCare. This will provide relief to Americans whose premiums have risen wildly and who no longer have the healthcare options they had in the past.”
However, repealing ObamaCare’s subsidies and taxes without also scrapping its insurance regulations could make health coverage even more expensive.
Continue reading at The Hill.
Donald Trump is serious about wresting control of our healthcare system away from the federal government and giving power back to patients, and he just showed it by naming Rep. Tom Price to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
Price is both an ardent opponent of Obamacare and an enthusiastic advocate for a more patient-centered healthcare system.
While virtually every Republican in Congress opposes Obamacare’s one-size-fits-all approach, Price has actually proposed detailed policy alternatives that make health insurance more affordable and accessible to patients.
Price’s plan, the Empowering Patients First Act, would improve American healthcare in three important ways. First, it would eliminate Obamacare’s provisions that increase the cost of health insurance. It would abolish the ACA’s “essential health benefits” — rules that force people to buy coverage for a range of expensive services they may not need or desire. These mandatory benefits include maternity care, newborn care, as well as pediatric vision and dental care, even if someone doesn’t have children.
Continue reading at Washington Examiner.
Contrary to the popular belief that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protects American consumers from dangerous drugs produced by malicious drug companies, FDA drug regulations actually benefit big pharma. And this benefit occurs by increasing the cost of prescription drugs for the poorest Americans. We can see this injustice in the recent EpiPen controversy.
The drug company Mylan recently announced that they were increasing the price of their drug known as the EpiPen by nearly 500 percent since 2007. The EpiPen is a device that allows someone suffering from potentially fatal allergy symptoms to inject epinephrine into their system, reducing the symptoms and possibly saving their life. Since the drug is widely used and so important for many people, the price increase ignited a political and media firestorm. Pundits from both sides of the aisle are outraged, saying that the company should be forced to lower the price.
But the drug company is not the only organization at fault. Like any other corporation, Mylan is in business to make money. The FDA, on the other hand, whose official vision is that “public health is advanced and protected,” goes against this mission every day.
Continue reading at RealClearHealth.