Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Grinches Threaten Kids' Health Care

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Grinches Threaten Kids' Health Care

Article excerpt

In a world of health care controversy, one issue is clear: Children deserve health care.

Children have CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program.

In Florida, it's called KidCare. In Georgia, it's called PeachCare for Kids.

Yet Washington, with its incessant nastiness, is messing around with CHIP despite wide bipartisan support. It has been caught in the fighting over Obamacare.

Congress has yet to fund the program now, two months past its deadline.

The fight involves funding. The House agreed to charge higher premiums to wealthier Medicare recipients, cut money from Obamacare and shorten the grace period for Obamacare recipients who fail to make premium payments.

As reported by Kaiser Health News, states are warning families the program may not be available. Without federal money, states could freeze enrollment or suspend operation.

This affects 9 million children and 370,000 families nationally, families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Congress needs to get to work for the American people and not leave for the holiday break until this is resolved.

MAKING MONEY ON OBAMAcARE

Insurers are finally making money on Obamacare. That's the good news.

The bad news: They're doing it by raising rates.

As Politico reported, health plans raised premiums on the Obamacare exchanges by an average of 20 percent this year, which created sticker shock for consumers.

"The turnaround follows three years of financial bloodletting for insurers in the Obamacare markets," Politico reported.

Some large insurers like UnitedHealth and Aetna largely abandoned the Obamacare markets. Nearly half of America's counties nationwide have just one insurer selling Obamacare policies.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is not helping matters by undercutting subsidies to insurers that they use to make up for large numbers of sick people in their insurance pools.

In health insurance markets generally, consumers have been asked to take on more of the cost burden with higher deductibles and co-pays.

In 2016, out-of-pocket costs by consumers rose faster than at any time since 2007, reported Health Affairs in The Washington Post.

The share of people in high-deductible plans rose from 20 percent to 29 percent from 2014 to 2016. And the size of the deductibles rose from 7 percent to 12 percent.

DRUG PRICES ZOOM

One of the causes of high out-of-pocket spending for consumers involves prescription drugs.

A panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommended urgent steps to rein in outrageous increases.

In a 201-page report, the panel blasted marketing directly to consumers and efforts by drugmakers to block or delay lower-priced versions.

"There is little value in new drugs that patients cannot afford," the panel reported. …

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