Obamacare Must Dodge More Bullets in the Coming Months

Obamacare Must Dodge More Bullets in the Coming Months

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Efforts to repeal and replace President Obama’s signature healthcare overhaul plan aka Obamacare died in Congress. Trump has threatened to cut off federal subsidies, but in August he approved a multibillion-dollar payment to insurers.

More Hidden Threats to Obamacare

Trump is enforcing Obamacare’s individual mandate, and no county has a shortage of insurers, as experts had warned. However, some experts believe Obamacare is not out of the woods and must dodge at least three more bullets from Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services, local governments, and Congress.

Here are the three hidden threats that could kill Obamacare in the months ahead:

1. Trump’s HHS is unusually silent on the enrollment even though the full enrollment period for Obamacare is just a couple of months away. HHS has no plan to educate the American people on insurance options and encourage the young and healthy to buy coverage. Groups that relied on federal funding for education efforts said the Trump administration hadn’t renewed the contracts.

2. Because of uncertainty, many insurers don’t know what to do next, or they leave low-profit markets altogether. Trump doesn’t offer any certainty about the federal subsidies even though he made the first payment this month. No one knows if the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments will keep pouring in.

 “The looming ax hanging over the CSRs is very worrisome,” one industry expert noted.

The expert noted uncertainty “spooks insurers” and generates instability on the markets.

Medicaid In Peril

3. Another threat is the efforts by the HHS and local governments to reduce the Medicare expansion. If the HHS grants a Medicaid waiver to Arkansas, the state lawmakers will be able to put restrictions on people seeking to enroll in Medicaid such as work requirements or drug tests. In Arkansas alone, 60,000 people could be forced out of the program.

Other states have applied for Medicaid waivers too. Five states want to impose a work requirement for enrollment, even though many Medicaid recipients have a hard time in finding a place to work.
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